The government is striving to reform the unclear RMA, the main law that restricts development in New Zealand.
The reform will focus on increasing affordable housing and radically reducing complexity, while increasing the quality of freshwater and combating climate change.
It could have gone so far as to split the bill into several parts and even take away the part of the power that current legislation has in the local governments.
The government will soon adopt an immediate bill that will determine several issues in the law, while at the same time it will carry out a comprehensive review of the entire law, which it is due to issue by June 2020.
Environment Minister David Parker said that the law is 30 years old and that it has to be changed urgently, and subsequent reforms only complicate – the doubling of the length of the original law.
"It is unacceptable that this basic law will not be successful in a country that appreciates the protection of the environment and at the same time adequately feeds its people," Parker said.
"Our goal is to create a renewed law that will fit the purpose of the 21st century and will reduce complexity and costs while at the same time better protecting our environment.
"Although it is not the only cause of the housing crisis, the planning rules are partly wrong. The environmental results were disappointing. The quality of freshwater was going back.
"Currently planning processes take too long – often more than three years old when democratically elected saints look at them."
More direct amendments to the law intend to address urban development and improve the quality of fresh water, rather than changing the core of the law.
This will be the task of a broader review – which will also examine whether the key part of the law that determines what is "sustainable development", which has been the subject of several legal decisions, should be divided into its own legislation.
"We will examine whether we need a new law on urban development that is separate from the law that protects us [the environment]"Parker said.
The audit powers make it possible not only to consider the RMA, but also to how it interferes with traffic rules and the local government.
The expert advisory group to carry out the review will be headed by the retired Judge of the Court of Appeal, Tony Randerson.
Its task is to reduce the complexity of legislation, strengthen environmental "lower borders" and acknowledge that there is a goal of housing and infrastructure development, to ensure that the system has built-in climate resilience and ensure that Maori has enough contributions.
The review will also have the task of assigning applications to various institutions under the legislation. At present, many believe that the local government is too empowered by law.
Parker asked that not only the report be included in the review, but also the draft legislative changes, but there will be no time to change these changes before the elections in 2020.
"I'd like to fix it on the back of the envelope, but I can not," said Parker.
State RMA reform representative Judith Collins said the government is leaving the reform so late in the electoral cycle as it will not be able to get to the Greens and NZ First with a serious reform.
"The last thing they want or need New Zealanders is another working group that touches on an important issue until the next election," Collins said.
"RMA is no longer suitable for the purpose and is too light. One of the problems is that businesses can hinder the development of nearby businesses because they are anti-competitive.
"The next is that developers are trying to prevent someone else from developing their housing development because they want to sell their houses first in order to get the highest value."
"RMA prevents things from happening quickly. People can meet all the requirements set by the saints, and they still go through a lengthy and expensive process.
"The law has become very tied to bureaucracy. This is an incredibly complex area, which must return to what has to be started: to enable legislation."
Citizens failed to seriously reform the RMA in nine years of government, although they wanted it. Smaller parties that supported the government were paying attention to any changes, although ACT constantly insisted on reforms.
Head of ACT David Seymour welcomed the news and said that National is a worse RMA.
"We welcome a government that is ready to reform the RMA. Even when ACT and National together had a majority in Parliament, the National refused to make significant changes." When National, ACT and United Future held the majority, it instead decided that the RMA would be worse when she jumps into bed with Māori party, "said Seymour.
"ACT is willing to work with the government in reforming the law. This is an important work that the national government does not want to do.
Parker said that the slight change in National in RMA actually worsened things. He was convinced that the Laburist would win the next election, but he would work with any party that came forward.
SUPPORT TO THE SECTOR
The private sector interest group, which advocated the reform of the RMA, welcomed the announcement.
The Association of Employers and Producers (EMA), Society for Environmental Protection, New Zealand Infrastructure and BusinessNZ were all in the background of the reform.
"The hope for environmental protection and the objectives of the original 1991 law has not yet been fully realized, and the current system can not cope with economic growth and rapid urban development," said EMA executive Brett O'Reilly.
"Environment Minister David Parker has taken an important step in identifying these issues and deciding to review the review in a highly independent manner."
Fish and NZ Games have also been confirmed.
"The public wants our rivers and streams to be clean and safe for swimming, fishing and collecting food. Our mission is to fight for the health of our waterways so that our children can catch fish in our rivers," said the CEO Martin Taylor. .
"We agree that it is time to discuss if the RMA should be split into two separate laws – a law on planning and a law on environmental protection."
"It is of the utmost importance, however, that the case-law and legal precedents that have helped to clarify environmental protection in the RMA are not unnecessarily discarded. There are also key parts of the RMA that we see as inviolable and will fight for survival."