Eight years and three election victories have not been enough for National to push through reform of the Resource Management Act. While the Government can count on the Act Party's vote, neither of its other two Parliamentary partners, United Future and the Maori Party, are willing to overturn the core of the RMA.

While the RMA is not top of mind for every business leader, there are industries and sectors which see it as a major impediment to progress.

About half of CEO respondents to this year's survey would like to see the RMA scrapped. They want Government to start again from scratch with new resource management legislation. This represents a shift in opinion from last year when just 30 per cent of bosses wanted to tear up and replace the existing RMA.


Two out of five CEOs would prefer government to continue seeking minor changes that can get enough support from Parliament. Only 3 per cent are willing to give up and accept the status quo.

It's not just the Act's tendency to prioritise environmental concerns over development needs. Nor is it the ability for objectors to step in and block development.

Business leaders find dealing with the RMA is overly complex with the legislation running to more than 800 pages. There is also concern about the way the RMA governs the plan setting process for local councils and again, that this leads to complexity.

More than four out of five business leaders want central government to exercise more control and direction over the way councils handle the RMA.

Another concern in the boardroom is the business differential which means companies pay higher council rates than householders. BusinessNZ says companies pay more than half of all rates in New Zealand, a disproportionate share of the total. Almost half the CEOs surveyed are against business differential rates while almost 30 per cent are in favour.

The idea that councils can compete with the private sector is more controversial with almost two out of three CEOs saying there should not be any competition.

Just one boss in five is happy with councils competing.

What the CEOs say should be done

Substantial reform of the Resource Management Act is currently difficult to achieve in Parliament. What is more useful?

• 57 per cent - Continue seeking minor changes to the RMA that will gain enough Parliamentary votes

• 34 per cent - Start again and draft new resource management law

• 2 per cent - Give up and accept the RMA as it is