Remniscent of Three Waters, local government and Federated Farmers have vocalised strong opposition to the Resource Management Act replacement this week, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
Complex and consequential reform still on the slate
Christopher Luxon and Chris Hipkins exchanged barbs about Wednesday’s policy “reset” announcement in Tauranga yesterday. Even with that policy offload, the government still has a very large slate of complex and consequential reform ahead of them. Three of them have elements that converge around the other subject Hipkins and Luxon verbally sparred about – mitigating or adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Poll shows low support for Three Waters
As the upper North Island braces for Cyclone Gabrielle, the impact of the flooding in Auckland two weeks ago seems to have done nothing to bolster support for Three Waters. The floods were labelled a wake-up call on the need for the reform as extreme weather puts water infrastructure under increasing pressure. A new poll from Labour’s pollsters conducted between January 26 – 31 (the flood hit on January 27), shows only 17% of people support the reform while 42% are against. Three Waters is currently locked in the government’s fix-it factory with changes likely to be announced in the coming weeks. There is also increasing doubt that the legislation required to price agricultural emissions will get through before the election.
Opposition to RMA reform growing
With everything that’s been going on, it’s understandable that the select committee hearings on one of the bills to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Natural and Built Environments Bill (NABE), didn’t get a lot of pick-up. But as Politik’s Richard Harman reports (paywalled), while the prime minister was putting out policy fires, “a new blaze was starting in a select committee as submitter after submitter came along to attack the NABE”. As with Three Waters, Federated Farmers and Local Government NZ aren’t happy at all. Newsroom’s Tim Murphy reports on Auckland Council’s draft submission on the other RMA replacement bill, the Spatial Planning Bill, which says it goes too far in diminishing the influence of local communities in favour of a cabinet minister’s sole powers.
James Shaw wants to accelerate climate adaptation component of RMA reform
In the wake of the Auckland floods, the RMA has cropped up in discussions of what we haven’t done well in the way we have built our cities and the difficult issue of managed retreat. AUT’s Kathy Waghorn says past changes to the RMA have made it “a lot easier to chop down trees.” The canopy of a single mature tree intercepts 40% of the water that falls during a storm so it doesn’t reach the ground. Auckland Council has a goal of increasing the city’s tree canopy to 30% across urban areas. It’s currently 18%. Climate change minister James Shaw wants to accelerate work on the third leg of the RMA reform stool, a bill on climate adaptation, which would cover managed retreat. That was sitting on a to-do list but Shaw is looking for cross-party consensus to get it passed before this year’s election. National’s climate change spokesperson Todd Muller says the goal is “a relatively tall order.”