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Let’s be honest: Resource management is always political regardless of who makes the decisions

Summarised by Centrist

The Fast-track Approvals Bill, criticised for granting excessive power to three cabinet ministers and risking conflicts of interest, is blatantly political, but perhaps honest. 

Researcher Jeffry McNeill writes; 

“Effectively, the RMA removes politicians from resource management decision making – but not politics. Instead, it privileges other types of knowledge and decision makers.”

Historically, the Resource Management Act (RMA) faced implementation issues, despite being fundamentally sound. 

The proposed new bill allows pro-development ministers to fast-track projects, potentially overriding environmental panel recommendations. 

This highlights a central issue with the RMA: resource management decisions are intrinsically political, influencing who benefits and how resources are allocated. 

The attempt to depoliticize resource management through the RMA favoured technocratic decision-making by planners, scientists, and lawyers, sidelining politicians but not politics itself. 

The Fast-track Approvals Bill reintroduces political accountability, reminding us that resource management decisions impact communities and prioritise certain interests. The challenge for any government is balancing political involvement in resource management with safeguards against power abuse.

Editor’s Note: The obvious yet often overlooked truth is that appointed, unelected decision makers or advisers are frequently a whole additional layer of politics, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary. This process is used frequently in NZ, for instance, the control of state-owned media.

Read more over at The Conversation

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