Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Real building reform? You have to be joking.

Fair play to TVNZ's 'Close Up' programme, which in successive nights has highlighted the iniquities and bureaucracy of the Resource Management Act, the Building Act and the NZ Building Code. 

On Monday night we saw the would-be supermarket on the North Shore whose doors have been kept closed for years by the Resource Management Act [see 'Supermarket'], and last night we heard stories of two small projects whose Building Consent applications cost up to a third of the cost of the buildings themselves [see 'Permits'].

One could almost begin to think there was some collusion between the 'Close Up' programme and a reforming government, eager to soften us up for sweeping reforms to these two handbrakes to growth, and significant contributors to housing cost inflation.

If only.

Instead of talking to either of the new ministers responsible for the Building or Resource Management Acts, Rodney Hide was wheeled out as the new Minister of Local Government.  Yes, he talked about what he'd like to do about regulations generally -- if he can; if John Key lets him; if he had responsibility for these acts -- but neither he nor his interviewer seemed aware that his ministerial warrant for Local Government doesn't extend to doing anything to either the Resource Management Act or the Building Act.

mo For that you need to look to the ministers who actually are responsible for these two acts.  Which means (for the Building Act) Maurice Wimpianson, the minister for signs, the man responsible as a former Minister of Transport for imposing the new lifetime driving licenses on us; and (for the Resource Management Act) Nick the Dick Smith,  the man who calls the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation," and who in the nineties administered the Act for three years without change.

So far from expecting any real change, I suggest all we can expect is disappointment.  Neither of these two either understands or is even interested in the real and serious problems with these two Acts.

Nick Smith for example promises no change at all to the heart of the RMA, which is where the real poison lies -- he exhibits explicit disinterest in property rights (which is what is so desperately needed at the heart of the RMA) -- and no interest at all in making the RMA work better for you and me: only in making it work better for the government's Think Biggish public works programme.

In fact, only last month Nick the Dick was telling audiences around the country that instead of expunging the poison at the heart of the act "National supports the underlying principles of the Resource Management Act..."

Just so you know what that means, the underlying principles of the RMA are stated in those sections of the Act Smith has promised not to change.  These stated principles uphold the toxic collectivism of kaitiakitanga - or "stewardship" - while completely ignoring ownership, which means property rights (in fact, in all its 455 pages the RMA fails to even mention property rights, even once, while harbouring a savage penalties regime if you do things on your own property of fines up to $200,000, and up to two years in jail!); the principles uphold the nonsense of 'intrinsic values' while destroying distinctively human values; they tout 'effects-based planning' while prescriptively regulating and prohibiting human activities; they have empowered an enormous army of consultants to interpret and manage the Act, and of bureaucrats to administer the consents required by the Act;  they protect trees, rocks and mud puddles while providing no protection for human life and human property; they "protect" "future generations" while doing over and impoverishing this generation.

These are the underlying principles that the National Party supports.   More power for planners, politicians and consultants ... and none at all for you.

So don't expect much from either of these National Party ministers.


  1. Hi Peter

    Mr Hide wasn't on Close Up as Minister for Local Government, but in his new role as Minister for Regulatory Reform.

    The RMA and Building Act are two prime candidates for the minister toget his teeth into

  2. Yes, we're all doomed. May as well give up now. Sigh.


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