Politician crusades on costly paperwork

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Outspoken Opposition MP Judith Collins is promising wholesale changes to the Resource Management Act to reduce costs and speed up the planning process.

The former National government minister, who visited Queenstown this week, argues that RMA compliance costs contribute “a big chunk” to the price of sections and houses in New Zealand.

“If you go back to the Act itself, it’s not bad.

“The problem is it’s now being interpreted in such a way that it’s very anti anything happening.”

The Act, she says, has grown like topsy, “and it’s become like some book in the Bible that you can’t question”.

“The other problem is unless you are a big developer with a lot of money, it’s going to get too expensive for you and you end up selling out to the big guys. If delays meant you got a better product, I wouldn’t be so grumpy about them.

“But when delays just mean that you get a less-good product, because the delays are costing money, I’m not happy with it.

“A lot of money is now being spent trying to deal with the paperwork, and overdoing everything, so that people no longer have the money to spend on the quality of the build or the architecture or the landscaping.”

Collins says she’s planning to have a bill overhauling the RMA ready or nearly ready to go to Parliament next year.

Long-time resort developer David Broomfield says: “I agree 100 per cent, but we’ve been hearing this for over 12 years from politicians, and it makes no difference which government’s in, all they do is talk. There’s going to have to be radical [action] to sort the problem, in my opinion.”

The RMA, he says, has stymied growth.

“The intent of it, to protect resources, is perfect, but the way our local council interprets it and polices it is miles away from what’s required to be economic.”

Minister for the Environment David Parker is keen to comment but was unavailable this week.

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