Wednesday 27th January 2016
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Prime Minister John Key isn't ruling out ditching concessions made to the Maori Party over Resource Management Act reform if other parties were prepared to support the National Party's preferred approach.
His comments follow a speech last night by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in which he complained his party supported fundamental reforms to the RMA which other parties had rejected, but the government had not approached NZ First for support.
In a state of the nation speech in Auckland today, Key said more work needed to be done to lift the supply of new houses in the city to meet its growing population and the government’s priority was reforming the RMA.
He said if other groups say they’re concerned about Auckland housing, “you should tell them they need to support the RMA reforms”.
Peters used his state of the nation speech in Orewa yesterday to claim that the current draft changes to the RMA, which included concessions to the Maori Party, were leading down the path of separatism.
Peters said virtually none of the reforms the government were initially speaking about were in the current bill, but that NZ First supported reforms of the purposes clauses, Sections 6 and 7, which National had been forced to drop because its support partners and Labour would not support them.
Speaking after his speech today, Key said if Peters wanted to come up with his own set of proposals for RMA reform and vote on it “we’re more than happy to sit down and discuss that”. However, he declined to answer direct questions about whether he would drop concessions to the Maori Party in the process.
“What we need is 61 plus votes to get it out of the select committee and we’re happy to work with any political party to make that happen,” Key said.
Concessions to win Maori Party support included giving iwi the right to be consulted at the front end of resource management and council planning through iwi participation agreements and allowing corporate farmers to take drinking water for stock without a resource consent.
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said today that Peters's claims that National had been "brown-mailed" into making policy concessions to the Maori Party had tapped into people’s irrational fears of honouring Treaty of Waitangi rights, and takes away the rights of others.
“The changes proposed to the RMA, which will require councils to engage with local iwi on the management of natural resources, are a common-sense solution to ensuring Maori and the Crown honour their Treaty of Waitangi obligations,” he said.
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