'I'm just thinking about burning it in the rubbish bin" - Judith Collins on the RMA

By Kevin Harrison

It could be goodbye to the Resource Management Act. That was part of Judith Collins' first election policy announcement as leader of the National Party today. It was received well by the Auckland City crowd who were also promised a huge injection into the city's infrastructure if National become government.

That news was welcomed by NZ First's Northland candidate, Shane Jones, who says that for 30 years the RMA has stalled progress and it has done nothing to improve the environment. He says Ngāpuhi needs jobs right now and that the RMA stops businesses from investing in the region.

Collins said the RMA is a barrier to future developments. The new leader says a National government would repeal the Resource Management Act but would respect stakeholders including mana whenua.

She said at a press conference this morning that "Aucklanders and all New Zealanders are sick of the diabolical processes and never-ending, insincere consultation process."

Collins wants to replace the 1991 Act with two new acts - an environmental standards act and an urban planning and development act, which she says will be implemented in the first 100 days if National makes it into government.

"We simply cannot let the RMA stand in the way of urgently needed infrastructure projects," she said.

The purpose of the RMA is to promote sustainable management of physical and natural resources. Recognition of tikanga Māori and application of Treaty of Waitangi principles are necessary under the RMA.

But questions remain over whether doing away with the RMA will take the country back to the days of the Public Works Act that saw hundreds of hectares of Māori land acquired for national development purposes. Collins has said a National government would consult mana whenua in conversations. However the alternative legislations are focused on the environment and urban planning,  what inclusion of Mana Whenua looks like in those proposed laws is yet to be seen.

"We will, however, be respectful of local government and local stakeholders, most particularly mana whenua."