Saturday, September 13, 2014

Frank Newman: RMA racketeers

Unfortunately the population at large do not appreciate how much the Resource Management Act (RMA) has destroyed the economy. I guess they don't because they are not engaged in the RMA process so it does not affect them directly.

Bob Jones summed up some of the problems in an article called "Councils promoting rackets of cultural correctness a disgrace" (NZ Herald of the 9/9/14). It's well worth a read. Here are some snippets from the article.

The story involves one of his buildings, a 17 story office tower in downtown Auckland. A tenant had blocked out some of the windows so when they vacated Jones wanted to restore the window panes. Simple enough one would have thought. No so.

Jones says, "..we were then informed by a planner my Auckland office uses for council dealings (which can be laborious) that under the new council rules, changes to a building's appearance require resource consent and we would be subject to penalty if we simply put back the window...we were then told that under the new Draft Unitary Plan, not yet enacted, our building being within 50 metres of a designated Maori heritage site, we needed RMA approval (for a new shop window, for God's sake), this instantly forthcoming at a cost of $4500 plus the approval of 13 iwi."

It turns out that not just one iwi needed to be consulted, but 13 ranging from Taranaki to Whangarei! The nonsense gets worse, as Bob Jones describes.

"One respondent bearing that fine old Maori name of Jeff Lee, representing something called Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, contacted the planner...after advising the planners verbally that no Cultural Impact Assessment Report was required for the window, he nevertheless asked them to consider it - brace yourselves - given his ancestors, centuries ago, gathered in the vicinity.

Lee then wrote, outlining his terms for 'assessing the window's cultural impact' which, he said, would take him 'a total of six to eight hours'. For this he sought $90 per hour plus GST and 'travel expenses of 0.77c p/km.'

At this stage we became involved and told the planners to tell Mr Lee to get stuffed. In the words of my company's manager, a historian knowledgeable in Maori history and who speaks the language: 'It's a classic case of bureaucrats worried about cultural correctness without thinking through the consequences.'

I more succinctly call it a racket..."

Bob Jones is right... it's a racket, and its been going on for years. Iwi are not the only ones jumping onto the RMA racket and creating a revenue stream from taniwha and other important issues like the spiritual significance of a window.

An entire industry has been created from RMA mumbo jumbo:  lawyers, hearings commissioners, consultants, and experts of every ilk - they are all at it, squeezing more juice from the poor lemon who was foolish enough to apply for a resource consent and naive enough to think others would respect his initiative.

I personally don't point a finger of blame at these racketeers - they are smart people and know a honey pot when they smell  one. The finger should be pointed at the decision makers and regulators who allow these rackets to continue.

While some in central government have acknowledged the serious economic damage the RMA is doing, our local councillors (as a collective) either approve of it, are not bright enough to see it, or not courageous enough to speak out about it.

What's worse these rackets are being created behind closed doors - away from the public eye. A case in point is the behind closed door discussion the Whangarei District Council had last week about appointing unelected iwi representations to the council's standing committees. That no doubt would lead to more cultural assessments at $90 an hour and 77 cents p/km, the requirement to tick an infinite number of boxes, and pay a bottomless amount of money to the Council and RMA racketeers in the hope that a worthy project may get the green light.

No rational person would waste their time with that sort of nonsense. No wonder welfare is the largest industry in the north. 


Barry Tomlin said...

I thought Jones's article was great when I read it in the Herald and I think you have made it even better by adding your comments. Bravo!

Brian said...

This sort of racket from Local Government certainly is not surprise. But let us look at why this happens.
Firstly and not least, is the fact that David Lange destroyed the Local Government system in 1984 with his "amendments" to the Local Government Act. Subsequent acts have only created more bureaucracy and expense.

This has resulted in virtually a carte blanche to Councillors to do what they like, spend what the want and never have to face any possible judicial enquiry.
If Directors of Companies had this sort of liberal dispensation, the recent collapse of shonky lending Institutions would be widespread.

What is needed is a complete reform of the aspects of Local Government and its administration processes.

A case in point being the Auckland Council and its idea of a State House as a symbol of New Zealand.
Perhaps instead of an expensive chandelier a "P" lab with an appropriate aroma, would be more in tune with today's New Zealand!

Only a Local Government concerned with local & core issues is needed, and more to the point is all we can afford.

paul scott said...

A truly amazing story and one which may come to symbolize the complete failure of the successive NZ Nat Governments failure to deal with Geoffrey Palmer's monster. It was the boy genius Simon Upton who introduced the RMA to us, then he started up a think tank to improve in the early 1990's. Now 30 years the monster baby is the racketeer
herein described.

Alan Kinnear said...

Instead of giving in to paying contributions to any iwi, an applicant or his/her consultant should invoice fees to the requesting iwi on a time and expenses basis, being the cost of providing further information given, and in attending meetings with iwi or any other group.

Dianna Dawson said...

Paul Scott, the National Party has tried to reform the RMA in the term just gone, but was defeated by all the other Parties who had voting power. So unless we go back to an electoral system of either first past the post or Preferential Voting or something that gives a clear majority decision, then our Government System is stymied. MMP is a really stupid electoral system.

Anonymous said...

Your Iwi example isn't what people justifiably worry about. The developers code is "profit first and up you".

Mark Winter said...

In reply to Anonymous about developers' code being "profit first and up you" this is the sad belief of many who are either jealous or brainwashed by the stereotype the media has placed on the role of developers in society. Where Anonymous would be the great cities of the world - or any cities or even towns for that matter - without developers? Without the vision and risk taking of developers we would all still be nomads. And I am not a developer - but I do admire them - not all of them of course but that is not unique to developers!

Glenn G said...

Why would a developer invest millions in a project & not make a profit ? Anonymous, do you you go to work & not expect to be paid ?
Without them we would be going backwards & they deserve a medal not scourn for dealing with all the half witted fools that act like little hitlers in the name of the RMA. You could put together a library of encyclopedias on the hurdles thrown up by the RMA, none if which have any credible reason for their existence other than to create a gravy train that has no rival other than the Waitangi Tribunal Trough

Anonymous said...

Talking about "the great cities of the world" is cherry picking, you wont get anywhere with that argument. As for the argument about who would do it if a developer didn't: another developer?
The issue here is externalites that aren't priced (that's why we have an RMA).
As for risk taking, immigration policy takes care of that and the government comes under heavy pressure whether it is good for the country overall or not.

Mark Winter said...

Anonymous, how can talking about the great cities of the world be cherry picking? Without developers - upon whom you choose to heap scorn - they simply wouldn't exist. And if you think people don't worry about Iwi you must live in a vastly different world to me. As to the balance of your subsequent comment all I can say is ??????????

Glenn G said...

I can see where our anonymous friend is coming from, he would like the government to do it. What a disaster that would be. That would make the development costs blow out & the time to build would also be twice what it should be because all the warm & fuzzy feeling people ( that work in govt departments ) will give away money hand over fist & delay things so that the maoris can get on their grass skirts & poke their tongues out while checking to see if they dropped some KFC bones anywhere near the site. All this because they simply don't know what they are doing & have no concept of what things should cost or how long things should take to get done because they rely on consultants to tell them how to do their job & must consult their book on culturally sensitive crap so that they don't hurt anyones feelings. Hopefully some common sense will come into play now that the govt can have another go at the RMA that is an absolute dog that was dreamt up by the same fools!!!

Anonymous said...

Bob Jones should have told the previous tenant to restore the building to its former self. It is usually written in tenancy agreements isn't it. Maybe if all this was understood by tenants, then they may not be inclined to make alterations without first getting approval for reinstatement as well.

Glenn G said...

You are missing the point. Bob Jones should be able to restore it to the condition that it was originally without a whole lot of interference from all quarters that only have one thing on their mind which is stuff the owner, he has money & we want it, & now that we have changed the laws to legalise extortion in our favour we will get it!!!!!

gbijohn said...

Where I live, if you are native and over two metres need a resource consent for a hair cut !
Or something like that, might be 3 metres, so you need to stand on the table to be a crim.

With a decent majority the Nats can fix the RMA but they don't really understand what is wrong with it. They do not see the huge industry of bureaucratic wank that has been created to achieve nothing except aggravation, expense and luddite satisfaction. It is the little people who are suffering.
While the Nats have a decent majority, they might like to give us a Constitution that could return property rights and neat stuff like that.