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Prime Minister John Key says the National Party is determined to include economic growth and infrastructure in the purpose clauses of the Resource Management Act, despite weekend reports that he is willing to seek a "less confrontational approach" to the government's reform objectives.
A potential resolution to the argument over Sections 6 and 7 of the RMA was raised in a media statement by the Environmental Defence Society following its conference in Auckland, an annual peak event for environmental policy discussion, last week.
Objections from National's small party support parties, the Maori and United Future parties, have stalled legislation intended to merge Sections 6 and 7 into one and to add economic benefit and infrastructure needs to definitions of the Act's purpose - a major plank of National Party policy which remains unachievable without a larger working majority in Parliament.
National is making no change to the over-arching clause, Section 5, meaning "sustainable management" remains the primary purpose of the act, which governs environmental regulation.
EDS executive director Gary Taylor said National Party MP Maggie Barry had confirmed at the conference "the Prime Minister’s undertaking to EDS and other environmental non-government organisations at a meeting last week that a new National-led government would take a fresh look at the present proposals and explore a less confrontational approach."
At his post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, Key said: "All the advice I’ve seen so far is that we would still want to progress a merger of 6 and 7 and within the purpose clause have economic activity and infrastructure as a core part of that.
"Now, we’re always trying to find a constructive way through these issues as best we can. At the moment, our policy we’ll be taking to the election is going to be very much based on the legislation that’s held up before Parliament."