It must be with a wry smile – or more likely a howl of frustration – that National Party MPs Nick Smith and Amy Adams have watched the government announce Resource Management Act reforms to fast-track resource consents as part of the Covid-19 response.
Smith and Adams were environment ministers in the John Key-led government that took nearly a decade to achieve far less RMA reform than the current Environment Minister, David Parker, expects to achieve in the next six weeks.
Adding insult to injury, these far-reaching reforms are likely to spend barely a week in front of a select committee before being passed into law to allow 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects to proceed without delay.
Decisions will be made by an expert committee comprising a minimum of three people, chaired by a retired or current Environment Court judge or, if they're in short supply, a senior environmental lawyer.
Local government and iwi representatives make up the other two mandatory appointments. They will have 25 days to make decisions, or 50 days for very large projects.
There will be no public hearings, although appeals to the courts will be possible on points of law. This last element will be the only way that frustrated objectors can seek to hold projects up.
Amazingly, the original architect of the 30 year-old RMA, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, appears to be on-board with this ramrod approach to major legislative reform, presumably because it has a built-in kill switch. It will apply for only two years.
He has described the proposals to the Politik newsletter as a "green National Development Act".
For National, this is gob-smacking. Sir Geoffrey's staunch opposition to every stage of the Key administration's RMA reforms was one of the main reasons they turned out so runty.
However, that is the way of the world under Covid-19. Things that used to take forever and/or were regarded as dubious, can happen overnight with any rough edges smoothed away by an appeal to the need for a 'no regrets' approach to crisis decision-making.
On one hand, that approach is entirely justified during the initial phases of a crisis.
There is merit in the argument that even a 'shovel-ready' project could still take a year to get started from the moment it's issued with a resource consent. If the imperative is to use infrastructure to create jobs and momentum to recover from the biggest shock to the New Zealand economy since 1948 (apparently), then so be it.
However, there is one significant fly in the ointment.
As of today, the government doesn't have the numbers to pass these hasty reforms into law.
All the signals from the Green Party are that they will oppose such rushed short termism.
Not only is the idea of 'shovel-ready' a trigger for Greens supporters who hear in that phrase the diesel-fumed roar of earthmoving equipment.
The party is also deeply opposed to large-scale infrastructure advancing without public input.
With its polling drifting dangerously close to levels that could see it out of the next Parliament, this doesn't seem like the sort of issue where the Greens will be willing to be, figuratively or literally, steamrollered.
If anything, it feels like the kind of issue the party could tear itself apart over, should the Captain Sensible wing of the party under co-leader James Shaw look like falling into line with the government's wishes.
There is, of course, the National Party.
Its 55 votes would be more than enough to clear the hurdle the government requires to pass this law, and National has acted responsibly and in the national interest by backing emergency Covid-related reform in recent days.
Moreover, its spokeswoman on RMA reform, Judith Collins, readily agrees that National "agrees in principle" with the proposed legislation.
This should be easy, right?
Collins is hanging as tough as you'd expect for a politician of her reputation, and one who may yet have a crack at the National Party leadership after the Budget.
She's already ropeable that the government succeeded earlier this year in amending the RMA to insist that climate change be considered in future resource consent applications. The dismissive attitude that Parker took to her overtures for collaborative involvement in this reform has also rankled.
Now, not only has the government not provided any briefing, Cabinet papers or draft legislation for National to examine, but it has taken no notice of its request to be at least consulted on the range of shovel-ready projects that are likely to be unveiled in the next week or three.
"We want to see the criteria at the very least" for shovel-ready projects, she says. "Given the supply chain issues and finances being tied up possibly for decades, the Leader of the Opposition should be part of the decision-making process.
"If we see stupid projects that we have no interest in whatsoever, why would we agree to it?"
On the other hand, "we may look favourably on it if we can look at it."
She also wants a longer select committee process – a plea the government is also hearing from environmental groups. The Environmental Defence Society, for example, is walking a tightrope as it seeks to support the short term need for economic momentum without alienating its core supporters.
In the end, it is hard to imagine National not finding a way to support this legislation.
It agrees with it in concept and has to weigh up the politics of being seen to obstruct a popular government's attempts to kick-start post-Covid recovery.
The government is counting on this.
But National will want something in return, even if it gets no voter recognition for allowing the reforms to pass.
Exactly what that 'something' is needs to emerge swiftly, if the government's efforts to build momentum out of the lockdown is not to be impeded by a range of entirely legitimate questions about whether this reform isn't all just a bit too rushed.