Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Act wants Resource Management Act dumped

Dr Whyte will make his first speech as party leader at the annual conference in Villa Maria Estate Winery Auckland. Photo / Natalie Slade
Dr Whyte will make his first speech as party leader at the annual conference in Villa Maria Estate Winery Auckland. Photo / Natalie Slade

New Act leader Jamie Whyte will today announce that Act wants the entire 826-page Resource Management Act to be dumped, describing it as a law that interferes with people and their use of property.

The radical policy move goes a lot further than the party's current policy of modifying it.

"There are far too many powers currently being given to various times of groups and bureaucrats around the country to interfere with people and the use of their property," Dr Whyte told the Weekend Herald.

Dr Whyte, a philosopher and writer, is due to speak to his first speech as party leader in Villa Maria Estate Winery Auckland today at the annual conference dubbed the "thriller at the villa".

John Banks relinquished the leadership last night at a closed-door annual meeting in Newmarket.

Reporters were barred from Mr Banks' farewell speech by the board.

Mr Banks announced his resignation in December, after being committed for trial on filing a false electoral return relating to his Auckland mayoral campaign.

The party is planning a proper farewell to Mr Banks, the sole Act MP in the current Parliament, after his court case has finished.

Dr Whyte won the leadership in a contest with former party president John Boscawen, who says he plans to attend the conference.

He has already given notice of his intention to take the party back to the policies of the 90s - cutting the role of the state and taxes in people's lives.

People have tried to fix it, fix it, fix it - but it is inherently an ill-conceived piece of legislation.

- Act leader, Dr Jamie Whyte

The Resource Management Act sets the rules around large and small-scale development and protection of the environment.

It was largely developed under Labour but passed by National in 1991, with many major amendments since.

He said the Resource Management Act had been bad law from the start.

"People have tried to fix it, fix it, fix it - but it is inherently an ill-conceived piece of legislation."

The only justification for law of its kind would be to address a serious market failure and if there was no remedy through the common law."

"We may have another environmental kind of a law, but it would be nothing like the RMA in its ambition."

Dr Whyte paid tribute to Mr Banks last night, telling the Weekend Herald that the party was grateful getting the party's charter schools policy implemented.

"This is a sad end," he said.

"We don't know yet if he will be convicted. We hope not. But he was alone in Parliament and he got through the partnership schools stuff, and the party is incredibly grateful to him for that."

In speaking notes for last night's meeting, Mr Banks said Act's success this election year was critical.

"There is no future is one seat parties."

He advised the party that "less policy is better than more policy".

"Our policy must be consistent with our values. Our messages must stay on target, delivered with clarity and passion and repeated time and time again."

Dr Whyte made headlines this week for departing from his party's message rather dramatically in answering questions about his personal view on incest laws - that there should be none for consenting adults.

Last night, he said he had sent of apology to the Act board - "not apologising for my opinions but saying I'm sorry; that was pretty amateurish. I let you down and I'm sorry about that. That's what I said".

Meanwhile, long-serving party official and founding member John Thompson was confirmed last night as the new party president.

Mr Thompson, a fruit exporter, has contested every election since 1996 for Act, standing in Clevedon, Hunua and Manurewa.


Act Leaders

Roger Douglas: 1994 to 1996
Richard Prebble: 1996 to 2004
Rodney Hide: 2004 to 2011
Don Brash: 2011 to 2009
John Banks: 2009 to 2014
Jamie Whyte: 2014 -

- NZ Herald

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