Maori Party does another deal with National on RMA reform

National nuts out an agreement with the Maori Party, rejects ACT/United Future offer.

The Māori Party has headed off a rival bid by government support partners United Future and the Act Party, reaching a deal to support an overhaul of the Resource Management Act which includes a framework to protect iwi rights.

Co-leaders Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox today said the Maori Party will support the remaining stages of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.

The Māori Party had been holding out for greater protection of community input on issues such as a regional ban on genetically engineered crops, having already secured beefed-up iwi rights. The party had said it wouldn't support the third reading of the bill until Environment Minister Nick Smith removed ministerial override powers.

"The Māori Party recognises the importance to New Zealand of increasing housing supply and the essential role that the RMA plays in supporting development in the areas where it is needed most –  Auckland and Christchurch," they said in a statement. "However, this should not be at the detriment to this country's natural and cultural taonga."

The party says it can't release details of the deal it struck but will in coming days.

Just moments before the Maori Party's statement, Environment Minister Nick Smith poured cold water over ACT and United Future’s proposed changes to the bill.

Dr Smith told reporters the government’s position has not changed from when Messrs Seymour and Dunne last approached the government about this issue.

He says the government has been in “good faith negotiations” with the Maori Party, which supported the RMA changes at the first and second reading.

“I’m quite confident their support will remain for the third reading.”

He says there are some “some relatively minor technical issues” to work through to get the Maori Party’s support but he remains confident the bill will pass with the two votes of the Maori party.

“We’re still in detailed discussion with the Maori Party – they are assuring me that they will continue to support the bill.

The ACT offer

ACT leader David Seymour and United Future leader Peter Dunne said they would have given the government an alternative way to pass the bill providing it was amended to recognise property rights and excludes proposed ministerial powers to override local plans and excludes proposed additional iwi consultation requirements.

The pair had already made the same offer to then prime minister John Key a year ago but he turned them down.

Dr Smith says the government's position hasn't changed from then.

Mr Seymour says neither ACT nor United Future can support the bill as it stands because it adds "disproportionate powers that undermine local communities and ultimately fails to improve housing affordability.”

“We have waited a year and we thought maybe we need to make it clear again that National actually have other options.”

Mr Dunne says he and Mr Seymour are giving National a “last chance to be reasonable in the interest of New Zealanders.”

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