The Government is at loggerheads with councils over the reforms, designed to take key planning decisions away from local government and streamline decision-making.
In parliamentary debate last night, Opposition MP Steven Griffiths said while “it is fair to say that the development lobby likes” the changes, “the community groups that have contacted me are vehemently opposed to it”.
“(That’s) because they don’t understand it,” replied Rau.
“Because they’re morons.”
Rau today sent a statement to InDaily, saying the comments were “referring in general terms to critics making false statements about the contents of the Planning Bill”.
“The language was however inappropriate and I apologise for using it,” he said.
Griffiths told parliament the complainants saw the reforms as “a diminution of the rights that are currently provided to them”.
Rau conceded there were “some people who you can never make happy, and we will continue not to make them happy, under our new arrangements”.
“Where the present system manifestly fails is that most people have no idea what the zoning requirements are for where they live, and the first time they find out is when somebody wants to put something next door to them that they really, really hate, and they say, ‘And by the way, why didn’t somebody tell me that thing was coming?’” Rau said.
“What I am trying to do is to move that conversation right up to the beginning of it so that communities actually have a chat at the very beginning about what is going to be okay in our community.
“That takes all the heat out of this assessment point, which is where the rubber hits the road at the moment, because everyone is completely in the dark until somebody wants to put something next door to them.”
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