• John Luxton
Commerce and Industry

Minister of Commerce and Industry this morning told the Master Builders Federation Annual conference that he believed the Resource Management Act(RMA) was being abused by some lobby groups, neighbours and competitors of resource consent applicants

Mr Luxton said today, ``There is a growing concern from significant groups of industry and business, including the building sector, over frustration's with the RMA.

``I believe some people are abusing the Resource Management Act.

``There appears to be an increasing prevalence of vexatious objections being raised to a wide range of private and business projects. Indeed in Wellington there have been reports of neighbours accepting substantial payments from people who wish to apply for consents in order that they will not object. This is not good.

``There are further concerns with the RMA being used by competitors to prevent progress and to try to obstruct plans of opponents as much as possible. For example often the major objectors to supermarket developments are their competitors, who's only interest is anti competitive rather than resource management.

``One is also aware of similar abuse by lobby groups for political purposes. It leads to the RMA being attacked because it is being abused by such people and groups.

``In addition we have further concerns such as the time and delays experienced in obtaining building and other consents, the level and type of fees being charged by some local authorities, variations in interpretations of the Act,and inconsistent rulings.However few in industry are questioning the overall objectives and basis of the legislation.

``New Zealand families should not have to pay more for their washing machine because there are delays getting a resource consent to build additional storage for the manufacturer. Home owners should not have to pay off their neighbour in order to build on an extra bedroom. And competition should not be prevented because a competitor objects to resource consents.

``The building industry is often between a 4by2 and a hard place in this area,'' the Minister told the gathering of builders.

The Minister said his Commerce Ministry has been undertaking some research and consultation with business over the nature and extent of the various concerns and issues raised. ``Once the Ministry has completed its analysis, a firmer course may then be set towards attempting to resolve some of these problems and issues,'' Mr Luxton concluded.