At long last, the vexing RMA is bound for the dustbin – but we are not being rushed to bring in replacement legislation

Latest from the Beehive

Before Point of Order had wrapped up the previous bulletin, the busy bees in the Beehive were releasing the most comprehensive review of New Zealand’s resource management system since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was enacted in 1991.

At much the same time, the Government was signalling its intention to introduce legislation to allow it to recover some of the costs for managed isolation and quarantine.

This isolation measure is something of a rarity in the run-up to the election – it will result in the Government collecting money rather than borrowing to give it away in billions.

The RMA review is reported in New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand,  commissioned by Environment Minister David Parker and prepared by an independent review panel led by retired Court of Appeal Judge Tony Randerson QC.

Among its recommendations is the replacement of the existing RMA by two separate pieces of legislation, a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

The review panel said the proposed new Natural and Built Environments Act (NBEA), taking a substantially different approach from the RMA, would focus on enhancing the quality of the environment, housing and achieving positive outcomes to support the wellbeing of present and future generations.

The proposed Strategic Planning Act would embed integrated spatial planning across all regions of New Zealand. It would set long term strategic goals and help integrate legislative functions across the resource management system including the proposed NBEA, the Local Government Act, the Land Transport Management Act and the Climate Change Response Act. This will allow a broad range of matters to be reconciled to ensure better future planning, including for infrastructure and housing.

Greater use of national direction by the Environment Minister is recommended along with a more streamlined process for council plan-making and a more efficient resource consent process.

The report also proposes a new separate law to address issues related to climate change adaptation and the managed retreat from areas threatened with inundation.

The Panel’s view was that any future resource management system should give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi

“ … and provide a clearer role for Māori in decision-making”.

This looks like a recommendation for some Maori to be given a greater role in decision-making.

The critical sections of the proposed new Act have been drafted by the panel and are included in the report.

But it looks we don’t have to rush to digest the proposals and ensure we get it right before we come up with new laws. As Environment Minister David Parker said:

“It is for the next Government to consider the report, and decide which aspects to adopt and decide whether to implement it in whole or in part.”

Parker said he expected political parties would develop their policies for the upcoming general election campaign in light of the report’s findings.

The full report is available here https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rmreview.

Support for the RMA review recommendations came from

Managed isolation

Legislation to allow the Government to recover some of the costs for managed isolation and quarantine is being introduced to Parliament today, to allow the government to charge for managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Megan Woods, the Minister in charge of this aspect of the Government’s efforts to deal with Covid-19, is proposing to limit charging to New Zealanders who enter temporarily or who leave New Zealand after the regulations come into force.  Temporary visa holders would have to pay unless they were ordinarily resident in New Zealand before the border closure, and left before the border closure.

Woods intends to seek Cabinet agreement to a charging structure of $3100 per person in a room, $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the room. There will also be mechanisms to allow charges to be waived in full or in part.

Unlike the RMA replacement legislation, there will be no mucking about with this one.  The legislation will be passed next week before the House rises for the parliamentary term and will enable regulations to be developed.

But we don’t have all the information yet.  Further details of the charging scheme and when it will come into force will be announced “soon”.

The Government has set aside a total of $479 million to pay for the costs of Managed Isolation facilities until the end of the year.

Regional apprenticeships

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones – whose flair is for distributing public funding – tells us the first five apprenticeship schemes under the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative (RAI) have been approved, opening up 300 apprenticeships.

Just over $12m has been approved for the five schemes to be run by

  • TradeUp ($8m) to act as a third party to facilitate smaller firms to get in on the apprenticeship scheme), and
  • HEB ($1.6m), Cook Brothers ($1m), Acrow ($1.4m) and Brazier ($400,000) to employ and train apprentices in their businesses.

Eligibility criteria as explained in the press statement suggest some ethnicities are being given a better deal than others.  Jones said:

“In total this will mean jobs and training for over 300 new apprenticeships focusing on people who have been displaced from their jobs and Māori and Pasifika peoples.”

This suggests Māori and Pasifika peoples don’t have to be displaced from their jobs to get a slice of the action

Jones announced in mid-June he had reprioritised funding of $40m ifrom the Provincial Growth Fund to support regional apprenticeships because of the impact COVID-19 was having on regional economies and employment.

The Regional Apprenticeship Initiative is part of the wider Apprenticeship Support Programme

The initiative allows for up to $40,000 of support per apprentice. This includes a wage subsidy of up to $16,000 for the first year of training and up to $8000 for the second year. It also includes additional funding to help with other business support and pastoral care so the employer and apprentice can successfully maintain the apprenticeship.

For more information: https://www.growregions.govt.nz/get-funding/projects-we-can-fund/he-poutama-rangatahi/

More detail about the schemes and the regions that will benefit can be found in the press statement.

Child welfare

The Government has begun removing “the subsequent child policy” (which places obligations on parents to look for and return to work earlier if they have an additional child while receiving a main benefit) from the Social Security Act 2018.

Removing this “punitive” policy builds on the Government’s work to make the welfare system “fairer”.  This means the system will be made more generous for parents and more burdensome for taxpayers.

This legislative change is planned to come into effect in November 2021, allowing time for the legislation to be passed and for the systematic change to be implemented.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommended removing some obligations and sanctions, including the subsequent child policy, and as part of the Confidence and Supply agreement with the Greens, the Government committed to overhauling the welfare system and removing excessive sanctions.

Auckland City Hospital work

The next stage of work at Auckland City Hospital has started, to replace 50-year-old infrastructure and ensure the delivery of high quality care.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins visited the hospital today to confirm the release of an additional $262m for the second stage of core infrastructure works.

Hipkins said most of the infrastructure at Auckland City Hospital is almost 50 years old and the majority of the site relies on services from the central plant building.

The hospital will get a new central plant and service tunnel, and new tanks, pumps and air-handling systems.

The Ministry’s Health Infrastructure Unit is leading a work programme to improve infrastructure delivery and asset management, including a national framework with service design standards, maintenance and renewal strategies, planning guidance and more focus on equity and sustainability.

Budget 2018 allocated $275m for the DHB to begin upgrading key infrastructure, including lifts, fire protection systems, boilers, electrical substations and water systems.

Today’s funding, from Budget 2019, brings investment in core Auckland DHB assets to more than half a billion dollars in two years.

Here’s how these decisions were announced by the Beehive publicists:

 Release

29 JULY 2020

Legislation for managed isolation payments

Legislation to allow the Government to recover some of the costs for managed isolation and quarantine will be introduced to Parliament today, said Minister of Housing Megan Woods.

Hon Dr Megan Woods

Housing

Release

29 JULY 2020

First regional apprenticeships schemes approved

The first five apprenticeship schemes under the Regional Apprenticeship Initiative (RAI) have been approved, opening up 300 apprenticeships, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said today.

Hon Shane Jones

Regional Economic Development

Release

29 JULY 2020

Government removes another punitive child policy from welfare system to put children first

The Government has taken further steps to put children first as part of its welfare overhaul, by starting work to remove the subsequent child policy from the Social Security Act 2018, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced today.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni

Social Development

Release

29 JULY 2020

Next stage of infrastructure works at Auckland City Hospital underway

The next stage of work at Auckland City Hospital has started – to replace 50-year-old infrastructure and ensure the delivery of high quality care, Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Hon Chris Hipkins

Health

Release

29 JULY 2020

New direction for resource management system

The Government has welcomed the most comprehensive review of New Zealand’s resource management system since the Resource Management Act (RMA) was passed in 1991.

 

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