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.