Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Labour would support home affordabilty RMA changes

Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / File
Labour leader David Cunliffe. Photo / File

Labour Leader David Cunliffe has reached out to the Government over its stalled Resource Management Act reforms, saying his party would support proposed measures to speed up home building but not changes to the Act's underlying purpose.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday confirmed that his Government's third round of Resource Management Act (RMA) amendments which include a fundamental change to the Act's purpose had been parked until after the election given allies the Maori Party and United Future had refused to support them.

But Mr Cunliffe this morning said he understood the bill had two purposes, the first was to address the issues of home affordability by speeding up consent processes and the second was to revise the Act's core principles.

"I'd like to invite the Government to consult the Labour Opposition on the first part. We're willing to assist if the text is reasonable to speed up measures on housing affordability and potentially offer bipartisan support on that part of the bill.

We will not, however, support measures that would undermine the core principles of the Resource Management Act."

Mr Cunliffe said Labour was reaching out to the Government, "because the printer left the housing chapter out of the Budget, that it would be really good to push the gas pedal on measures that would improve home affordability for New Zealanders and we'd like to offer support for that depending on the context."

Mr Cunliffe said the offer was being made in good faith.

"I know we're exposing ourselves to some risk on this but the issue's important and we're willing to work with the Government on this."

Mr Cunliffe said Labour hadn't previously said it would support parts of the bill because "they haven't provided a draft text".

With the Maori Party and United Future saying they wouldn't support a bill that changed the Act's principles, "The Government may now wish to separate the bill into two bills and seek broad bi partisan support for the housing affordability measures."

But speaking earlier to reporters, Environment Minister Amy Adams was cold on the idea of splitting the bill so that the Government's support partners could "vote for the bits they like and not the bits they don't".

"It's the usual thing. If you want different outcomes then you've got to be prepared to do things differently and we know that at the moment we're not getting enough land made available for housing, we're not getting enough new jobs and new businesses being created in some of our regions and know a big part of that often is down to the way the RMA works so in our view if you really want to make a difference in those things you've got to be prepared to acknowledge that the RMA is there to both protect our environment and provide for all the needs of our communities."

Ms Adams said the Government could have watered down the RMA bill "and not made them do very much".

But "at the end of the day we knew the RMA needed substantial reform if it was make a difference and we stand by that so we'll take it to the election."

Meanwhile, Ms Adams refused to comment on news South Island iwi Ngai Tahu had pulled its support for the massive Ruataniwha irrigation project in Central Hawke's Bay.

Last week Ms Adams and Conservation Minister Nick Smith gave the board of inquiry which will decide on the future of the project a time extension to reach their final decision.

The board of inquiry has given initial approval but introduced wide-reaching environmental conditions for the affected catchment which project supporters say will affect its viability.

- NZ Herald

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