So I checked my dictionary this morning to discover that the words "building" and "construction" are essentially synonyms for each other.
the action or trade of constructing something.
"the building of motorways"
synonyms: construction, erection, putting up, raising, establishment, fabrication, production, assembly
"a moratorium on the building of new power stations"
the action of building something, typically a large structure.
"there was a skyscraper under construction"
building, erection, putting up, setting up, raising, establishment, assembly, manufacture, fabrication, forming, fashioning, contriving, creation, making
"the construction of a new airport"
This is apparently news to the new Prime Minister, however, who used to have a minister who oversaw housing and a minister who oversaw building (which, both being Nick Smith, did neither) but who is now simply a minister of building and construction. Speaking grammatically then, he’s a minister of redundancy.
It’s true that in a world without central planning we would not a minister for any of the above. But in our hampered market in which the activity of building houses is severely hampered by activities overseen by the ministers for finance, environment, building and local government, and business, innovation and employment, it’s tremendously helpful if there is one person who can be seen to carry the can for their multiple failures.
You can blame councils, as the Prime Minister was doing this morning, but you must also blame the government for writing the laws that empower council’s spending and planning abuses and refuse to rein them in.
And as everybody who’s still paying attention to politics must know, this relabelling is simply a ruse to remove responsibility from the minister most to blame, who has overseen the Resource Management Act (for example) as far back as 1997 yet who has elected for years to kick his various cans instead of address them.
But it doesn’t make the crisis go away, does it.
Nor remove that man’s responsibility for his role in helping create it.
PS: And do you think it somehow predictive of what’s to come that Bill English has elected to begin his longed-for premiership by electing to fight back on the country’s biggest crisis with nothing more than a failed minister and a transparent euphemism?
UPDATE: David Hargreaves at Interest.Co.NZ reckons Bill English's cute tactic of removing one the country's perceived biggest problems from the list of ministerial names may come back to bite:
Bill English's decision to go into an election year without a housing minister by name would appear to me to be his first serious mistake as Prime Minister.
You can argue, as English undoubtedly will, that 'what is in a name?' and that effectively the jobs a 'housing minister' would do are being done by Amy Adams as social housing minister and Nick Smith under the building and construction label.
I would argue, however, that it's a bit deeper than just a name game.
It is a further adaptation of the tactic of attempting to deal with a problem by refusing to acknowledge its existence.
Housing as an issue is not, however, going to go away just because the new Prime Minister has decided to try to wash his hands of it.