6 Apr 2015

Fish and Game urges open debate on RMA

1:07 pm on 6 April 2015

Fish and Game is calling on the government to have an open and honest discussion with the public over planned changes to the Resource Management Act.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters' win in the Northland by-election last month meant the government National no longer had a majority to pass all the planned changes.

Nick Smith

Dr Smith was confident a bill on RMA changes would go before Parliament this year. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was back to the drawing board for the proposed legislation but he was still confident of a revised bill going to Parliament this year.

The government wants to recognise urban planning and prioritise housing affordability in its overhaul of the law.

Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said the government needs to define the problems with the existing law.

Weakening protection for forests, waterways and coastal areas would not help ease Auckland's housing shortage, said Mr Johnson.

"Most importantly, the government needs to break down what it perceives as problems with the present RMA into those which affect urban areas like Auckland and especially those affecting rural areas.

"All the ministerial rhetoric has been about urban problems, but there is wide suspicion that this is just a Trojan Horse to remove environmental protections to suit rural interests," he said.

Mr Johnson urged the government to release a draft of the bill to the public.

"That way, everyone can see what is being proposed. It is far better to have a properly informed public debate about the issues early on, than inflame and entrench attitudes by trying to do things in secret. That will just slow a bill's process through Parliament."

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