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Government’s timing of RMA process submission period questioned

right timing

Regional Mayors are astounded that submissions on two significant bills are spanning the Christmas shutdown and busy summer holiday period.

Mayors at this week’s Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Zone 3 meeting said the timing is a sign that central government has little interest in the views of elected members and communities.

Councils are being asked to provide feedback on The Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill which are integral to the reform of the Resource Management Act. Government’s Environment Committee is inviting submissions from 23 November 2022 to 30 January 2023.

Co-chairs Mayors Andy Watson and Craig Little said the Resource Management Act is a huge piece of legislation and under the reforms the current proposal is to replace the RMA with one major piece of legislation, the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), and two more minor pieces of legislation: the Spatial Planning Act (SPA) and the Climate Adaptation Act (CAA). 

“The two bills have been three years in the making and it does not make sense to now rush the submission period over the busiest time of the year.

The Mayors questioned the timing of the submission period saying it raises real concerns, particularly around the impact this has on local democracy. “It’s important our community understands that this timing is going to impede our opportunity to have our say and our community’s opportunity to engage in this process.

“The government has acknowledged the system is incredibly complex and will require a long transition period, expected to be roughly 10 years – so why then would they rush the submission period and not take the Christmas/New Year shutdown period into consideration. We need to slow down the process and ensure we take our communities on the journey and get the right outcomes.

“These bills are a once in a generation opportunity and represent a significant change in how we manage the environment. The public need to know the levels of pressure central government is putting on local government. 

“We have new Mayors and elected members who are upskilling and bringing themselves up to speed. They need time to understand the consequences of the changes. It is incredibly inappropriate for a Council to be forced to focus its elected member and staff focus on a proposal with such far-reaching impacts at such a time.

“Councils throughout the country as constantly engaging and consulting with their communities, as they are required to do under legislation, yet the very authority that sets that legislation is not following its own rules. We are getting very tired of trying to work in partnership with a government that just won’t listen.”

The proposed legislation is available to view at Submissions can be made through the New Zealand Parliament website:

29 November 2022

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