Monday, March 14, 2016

Muriel Newman: Submissions on the RMA reform bill close today

Submissions on the RMA reform bill to introduce tribal co-governance of local authorities close today. If you haven't sent in a submission, please do so here:
Here is my submission so you can see the format etc, but please don't copy it - all submissions should be in your own words. Short and sweet is best!

14 March 2016
Local Government and Environment Committee
Select Committee Services
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160
Re: Resource Legislation Amendment Bill
This submission is on behalf of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a public policy think tank established in 2005 by former MP Dr Muriel Newman.
Many thousands of New Zealanders, who follow our work, share our concern about the radical nature of the separatist policies being advanced in this Bill by the National Government on behalf of Iwi Leaders.
Described by the Minister for the Environment Nick Smith as a mechanism to “improve Maori participation in resource management”, Iwi Participation Agreements - proposed through Clause 38, new sections 58K to 58P - will undermine democracy and the Rule of Law by enabling unelected tribal representatives to veto decision-making by democratically elected local authority councillors.
In other words, under the guise of innocuous-sounding amendments to fine tune environmental planning laws, National is proposing sweeping changes to our constitutional arrangements. Once embedded into law these Iwi Participation Agreements would introduce the Maori tribal co-governance of New Zealand’s local government sector.
Their effect would be to undermine the fundamental principle of equality under the law by giving each tribal member two opportunities to influence local government decision-making - once as an ordinary citizen and another through their co-governance arrangement. In a society based on democracy and the Rule of Law, is this really the intention of Parliament?
Iwi Participation Agreements will also be used to facilitate tribal control of New Zealand’s fresh water resources - in spite of the fact that the question of whether iwi should have greater rights over the management and control of fresh water than other citizens is currently the subject of an on-going public consultation process.
Since submissions on the Government’s Next steps for fresh water do not close until April 22nd, shouldn’t the changes to enable iwi control of fresh water be withdrawn from this Bill until the results of the public consultation process is known?
Or are the demands of Iwi Leaders more important than the views of the New Zealand public?
Specifically, by providing an accelerated pathway for tribal groups to gain resource consenting powers under section 33 and 36B of the RMA, these Iwi Participation Agreements will enable tribes all over the country to fast-track their plans to become resource consenting authorities for the management and control of fresh water and other natural resources in their area.
Until now, the only formal mechanism to advance such tribal ambitions has been through Treaty Settlements. This was demonstrated last year through the establishment of a Joint Management Agreement under section 36B of the RMA between the Gisborne District Council and Ngati Porou as a resource consenting authority over the Waiapu Catchment. The tribe has already stated that it intends to seek a section 33 transfer of powers to become a full Iwi Consenting Authority with control over the whole of the Gisborne area within 5 years.
In summary, once bedded in, not only will Iwi Participation Agreements enable tribal authorities to control democratically elected local authority decision-making through the right of veto, but they will also enable vested interest tribal authorities to gain control of resource consents in their regions, including fresh water, even though the public consultation on these measures has only just begun.
The NZCPR believes these changes are of such a magnitude that the Government should have fully informed the pubic about the long-term impact of their proposed Iwi Participation Agreements, when the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill was first introduced. In the absence of proper information, it is clear that significant Maori tribal control over the local government sector will be enacted without the wider public really being aware of what is at stake. This is an affront to the public and the democratic process.
The NZCPR hopes the Select Committee will recommend that all reference to Iwi Participation Agreements should be withdrawn from the Bill.
Surely Members of the Select Committee cannot condone this attempt by Iwi Leaders, through the Maori Party and the National Party, to progress their agenda for the co-governance of New Zealand and control of the country’s natural resources?
The NZCPR opposes Iwi Participation Agreements, all other race-based provisions, and the Bill itself. We recommend that the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill be withdraw.
Dr Muriel Newman
New Zealand Centre for Political Research


Angry Tory said...

Come on Muriel: " We recommend that the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill be withdraw and the RMA repealed in toto"

paul scott said...

I agree with Angry Tory, the RMA is a shame, but we can only do what we can.