Wednesday, 28 June 2006

The house that Norm could no longer build

There are some odious politicians in the House these days, perhaps none moreso than Clayton Cosgrove. Perhaps there's just one who's more odious: Nick Smith.  So, given their combined odium, watching these two square off is like watching Australia play England -- you really want both to lose.

Anyway, yesterday in the House Cosgrove was out to capitalise on Bob Clarkson's comment that prospective home owners should be able to construct dwellings free of the massive regulatory hurdles that today stand in the way of anybody wanting to build their own house -- on which of course Clarkson is absolutely right. Smith reminded Cosgrove that Labour's one time PM Norman Kirk had built his own house entirely by his own hands. Note the clueless Cosgrove's descent into ambiguous waffle.
CLAYTON COSGROVE: I have received a report that a member of this House plans to promote a member’s bill that: “would allow New Zealanders to build their own homes, licensed or unlicensed.” That would allow the status quo to remain, whereby anyone could slap on a tool belt, call himself or herself a builder, do shonky work, and create havoc—which is what National gave us when it deregulated the industry in the 1990s. That report comes from Mr Bob Clarkson, associate spokesperson on building and housing for the National Party. Of course, as with Mr Clarkson’s comments on selling State houses made at a select committee last week, it may be that more senior members of the National Party will denounce these comments, as well.
NICK SMITH: Has the Minister visited the Kaiapoi home of former Labour Prime Minister Norm Kirk—in the Minister’s electorate—that he built with his own sweat and toil, including making his own blocks, a feat now outlawed by the Minister’s complex licensed building practitioner regime, which would have required Norm to have a licence for concrete work, a licence for blocklaying, a licence for roofing, a licence for carpentry, and a licence for external plastering; why does the Minister want to destroy with his politically correct red tape the proud New Zealand tradition of Kiwi battlers being able to build their own homes, when there is no evidence that the leaky homes problem was caused by DIY builders?
CLAYTON COSGROVE: Unlike that member, yes, I have. And I can say to that member that the Government, unlike the previous National Government, has struck a common-sense balance. On the one hand we are not going to destroy 100-plus years of good old-fashioned DIY tradition, but on the other hand we are mindful of the need to run the cowboys out of the system. Therefore we have allowed the good old-fashioned DIYers to do basically what they can do now. For example, they can build a deck, a bathroom, or a woolshed. But significant work—that is, on the structural integrity of a building—has to be supervised or done by a licensed building practitioner. I say further to that member that Norman Kirk, if he were alive today, could indeed build every aspect of his home, but for parts of it he would have to be supervised by a licensed building practitioner. He could do the roof, he could do the concrete—he could do all of those things—but for parts of the work he would have to be supervised and a licensed builder would have to sign them off
NICK SMITH: I seek the leave of the House to table a picture of the house in Kaiapoi that Norm Kirk built—which, contrary to the member’s assertion, I have visited—making the blocks himself as well, and for which he would not have had a hope of paying the cost of a bureaucratic supervisor for its construction.
MADAM SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
If we didn't know that Smith was a huge fan of his own particular brand of red tape -- ie., the RMA, which he calls "far-sighted environmental legislation" -- you'd almost be impressed. As it stands, however, his point here is a good one.

Politics-NZ, Building, Politics-National

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