Parliament had a good week passing the Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Emergency Relief Act.

Normally, quite simple legislation takes months to wind through the Byzantine Parliamentary process. This Act was done and dusted in a week. Even better, the Act makes it easier to get on and do things. Most legislation makes it harder. It passed with unanimous support.

It means farmers can get on and fix quake damage. They don't have to first get resource consent. The Kaikoura Harbour will be able to be dredged without the normal years of delay and frustration. Good job.

Minister Gerry Brownlee is also enabled to give the okay to push landslips into the sea. That's where the land was heading and with a bit of care that's where it should be put. It makes no economic or environmental sense to be trucking all that material out.


Parliament and all parties should be proud. They have done their bit.

But the legislation does leave a couple of awkward questions. If getting on and doing things in Kaikoura and Hurunui is now a good idea, why isn't it a good idea for the rest of the country? And why is it only a good idea after a natural disaster?

The usual provisions of the Resource Management Act are a major handicap for the recovery of Kaikoura and Hurunui. But they are also a major handicap to the development of the entire country.

If the stupid Act can be suspended in a week following a disaster, why can't the entire country enjoy some relief?

What's good for the quake-damaged regions would also be excellent for the rest of the country.

Besides, the earthquakes show just how puny we are in the landscape. The earth never applies for a consent before ripping up the countryside and uplifting the seabed. And yet we have to waste time and money to get permission for the most trivial of jobs on our own land.

Parliament clearly understands the RMA is a handicap. It's way past time the shackles were removed for the entire country.