Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mike Hosking: Resource Management Act plans - if climate change is the driver, we are dead in the water

Are we getting mixed messages around the Government's grand plan to amend the Resource Management Act?

It is reported that at the heart of it is climate change, we'll come back to that.

But first the bit we are all agreed on, the thing is a mess. It's a gargantuan, tangled, bungled, bureaucratic mess. Everything takes too long, costs too much, and it can be used by those who want to, as an excuse mechanism to achieve nothing by tying people, projects and ideas up in knots forever.

So the concept of change is more than welcome.

But here's our first hurdle; this idea is not a new idea. The previous government had a major crack at it and failed. In fact, they had two major cracks at it and failed. The last attempt got through, just. But it was only because the Māori Party got on board and it was a very, very watered down affair.

For a while, it seemed possible Labour, now in government, would get on board with the then government, and give it the sort of numbers push major reform of this nature really needed. They failed to do so, and from memory, it was because they got hung up on community and cultural rights.

Now, one of two things has happened. Either Labour have realised their mistake and are sorting it now. Or they are approaching this with the same stance as last time, which means there will be a very big gap between what they say they want to do, reform it, and what they actually do - talk about it and tinker.

Which brings us back to climate change. If, as reported, climate change is at the heart of this, then we are dead in the water. Climate change, whether you love it or not, is about cost. Look at the farmers and the Emissions Trading Scheme last week, that was about climate change. And farmers will pay more to be farmers.

The reform we are looking for is about less cost, less time-wasting, and more efficiency. If climate change is your core principle that means those who are in love with climate change will be expecting everything that involves the RMA will have a climate change component.

That is, what does your project do for the environment? Does your project enhance water quality? Does your project pollute? Does your project affect wetlands, birds, or air quality?

The more you say stuff like that, the more you realise that it isn't a lot different from what we have already, which is a stalling mechanism for fanatics to wreak havoc with progress.

So unless your project is turning carbon into gold to power EVs and feed poor children, the frustration level might be going nowhere.

I hope I'm wrong. The obligatory chat fest is now under way. But if climate change and the obsession is driving it, if it's real reform you want, you will pass out holding your breath.

Mike Hosking is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB, who has hosted his number one breakfast show since 2008 - see HERE.

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