Tag Archives | Nick Smith

RMA reform approved – but central issue of competence still needs work

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill – Environment Minister Nick Smith’s revision of the Resource Management Act – passed its third reading on Thursday, without the support of Act’s David Seymour or United Future’s Peter Dunne but courtesy of the Maori Party’s 2 votes.

Dr Smith, as usual, mentioned 2 factors at the heart of the changes – the exorbitant rise in Auckland house prices and the many voices demanding a freeing up of land supply.

Also as usual, he refrained from mentioning 2 other factors. The first has come in 2 parts – the immigration spike under Labour in 2003-04, which got supply & demand seriously out of kilter, followed by the longer run of high net immigration under National that started in late 2012 and was well underway in 2014.

The most important factor

The second, and I think most important factor in the whole resource management hubbub, is that the Resource Management Act has been widely condemned but the failure to balance supply & demand falls entirely to incompetence.

The first factor in that incompetence concerns the supply of potential residents. Natural growth is predictable and the supply of migrants can be controlled, at least to some extent. The return of Kiwis from a depressed Australian economy is outside the norm, but ought to have been taken into consideration in the allowance of other migration.

Both Labour in 2003 and National now have used immigration to boost the economy. Their consideration of the impacts has been negligible, until too late.

Through the Regional Growth Forum devised in 1996, expansion of Auckland’s urban footprint was anticipated to allow some of the growth to a population of 2 million over the next 50 years, but the notion of a compact city had arrived and the bulk of growth (70% of it) was expected to occur within the existing metropolitan urban limits.

Quite how another 200,000 homes were to be dropped into place was never quite worked out, but the fact that they’d be needed was evident over 20 years ago.

All very well, but Auckland had 7 territorial councils & one regional council, Auckland City followed by Manukau collected the bulk of the region’s business rates, and the fringe councils (including Waitakere) struggled to supply adequate infrastructure on a diet of residential rates.

The fringe councils looked for ways to increase their rating bases, such as encouraging business, and developers looked to the fringes for cheaper land for housing, only to find themselves entering an intense battle, certainly between regional & local politicians, sometimes also between the competing urges of different localities.

Attempts to expand those urban limits were contested by the Auckland Regional Council, which focused more on environmental protection, although expansion of the limits was envisaged.

The 2003-04 immigration spike necessitated more housing, but the supply was inadequate, and political thinking on what was required was abysmal.

None of the above involves hindsight. Certain measures were plainly required 21 years ago and after 5 years of strong growth – and some of the how-to is still awaiting a decision.

The ability to intensify development has been made easier by Auckland’s new unitary plan, but funding of infrastructure was an issue then and remains largely unresolved today. Sewage overflowed into the harbour then, the issue was recognised, and it still overflows.

Intensification will include more housing redevelopment, not necessarily medium-rise apartment buildings, in suburban streets. The supply of new suburban subdivisions has started via housing accords & special housing areas, but also through standard subdivision.

Smith sees many positive impacts

Enter Dr Smith & the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. “The reforms in this bill will help increase the supply & affordability of housing, grow the economy with more jobs & higher incomes, support infrastructure investment and improve environmental management,” he said after the third reading was passed on Thursday.

The 700-clause bill makes 40 significant changes to the Resource Management Act, Public Works Act, Conservation Act, Reserves Act and the Exclusive Economic Zone (Environmental Effects) Act. They include:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity & cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for councils to free up land for housing
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other acts like Reserves, Conservation & Exclusive Economic Zone
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions, and
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements.

“These reforms will reduce the number of consents required by thousands. Councils will have a new power to waive the need for consents for minor issues, and a new 10-day fast-track consent will be available. This boils down to things like homeowners wanting to build a deck having to consult only with an affected neighbour, and no consent being required for issues that involve minor or temporary rule breaches.

“This Bill is pivotal to resolving New Zealand’s long-term housing supply & affordability problems. The cost of a section in Auckland has increased 10-fold over the past 25 years, from $53,000 to $530,000, as compared to the 3-fold increase in the cost of building, from $120,000 to $360,000. The key solution is making sections easier to create and more affordable. This bill introduces a specific requirement on councils to free up land, removes appeals on residential developments, reverses the presumption in favour of subdivisions and removes the double charging system of financial & development contributions.”

Links:
Resource Legislation Amendment Bill

Text of bill & related supplementary order papers
Nick Smith booklet, 26 November 2015: The second phase of Resource Management Act reform

Earlier stories:
15 March 2017: Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology
15 March 2017: RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: 
National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: 
Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: 
RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Ministerial release, growth forum strategy.

Continue Reading

Newman fires up opposition to RMA fix-it law

In January, Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith wrote to National Party supporters trying to counter an attack on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill – the Resource Management Act (RMA) fix-it law – by former Act MP & founder of the NZ Centre for Political Research, Muriel Newman.

Dr Newman learned of Dr Smith’s memo in March and wrote scathingly about it on the Centre for Political Research’s website on 12 March.

She was joined by another former Act MP, Wellington public & commercial law specialist Stephen Franks, who described Dr Smith’s attempt at smoothing turbulent waters as “deceptive advice”.

Last week, Dr Newman took the campaign to a wider audience through Sunday newspapers, saying the centre she heads had asked Prime Minister Bill English to stop the bill in its tracks (it’s in the committee stage of the parliamentary process).

Is no consultation “ample”?

On her website she wrote: “Even before our ads have been published, they appear to have brought about a ‘charm offensive’ from the minister for the environment, who has sent out emails to everyone who has contacted him about the bill.

“What’s particularly bizarre in his new email is the claim that not only has there been ample public consultation on the iwi arrangements in the bill over the last 4 years, but that National even campaigned on them at the last election. What he is talking about, of course, are the old measures (iwi participation arrangements) that were originally in the bill.

“The new mana whakahono a rohe cogovernance provisions, that are the cause of so much concern, only made an appearance in public documents in 2016 – in a freshwater discussion paper. They weren’t included in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill until November last year, 8 months after public submissions had closed. As a result, there has been absolutely no opportunity for public input into the new statutory powers for iwi & hapu in the bill.

“However, this is politics, and it is important to note that the minister decided that the new mana whakahono a rohe agreements in the bill should be given a dual name, so they are now also called iwi participation arrangements – the same name as the old provisions that they replaced!”

Dr Newman, an Act list MP for the party’s first 3 terms, continued to campaign when she left Parliament, especially on Maori- & property-related issues, forming the Centre for Political Research (originally Debate) in 2005.

Stephen Franks – 2-term Act Party list MP, former chair of law firm Chapman Tripp, now running his own specialist public & commercial law firm in Wellington – wrote in an opinion piece for the centre on 12 March: “I’ve been sent an astonishing memo to caucus from the unfortunate minister now carrying this bill (Nick Smith). In my opinion it treats caucus with contempt. My corrections to it are set out below. It seems bizarre that National members are being obliged to support this bill so near to the election. Why stick up voters’ noses now some of the least defensible law-making National could design?”

And he concluded: “The provisions are a major constitutional change. They subordinate powers entrusted to elected local governments, in deliberately obscure words, to racially inherited power, beyond the reach of electoral recall.

“They breach a longstanding convention that treaty obligations ran between the Crown & iwi, so that private citizens & their property were not to be the victims of treaty claims & interventions based on race privilege. They draw iwi into complicity in trashing the classical property rights promised by article 2 of the treaty to all the ordinary people of New Zealand, in favour of exercise of chiefly powers by iwi authorities, and they negate the equal citizenship promised by article 3.”

And then there’s climate change

If you run down the recent entries on the Centre for Political Research website, you may land on another of Dr Newman’s favourite topics, climate change, where she wrote on 5 March: “Leading the charge is the United Nations, which raised the alarm in the early nineties by establishing the Framework convention on climate change that defined climate change as being caused by human interference with atmospheric composition.”

It’s worth correcting Dr Newman on this one, because her use of half a sentence is not just misleading, but plain wrong because it implies the UN saw no change not attributable to humans.

Here’s the full UN definition, with my emphasis on the half that she dropped: “’Climate change’ means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

Links:
Muriel Newman, 26 March 2017: National’s RMA changes – a major constitutional victory for iwi leaders
Muriel Newman, 12 March 2017: An abomination of a bill
Stephen Franks, 12 March 2017: Deceptive advice to National caucus
UN framework convention on climate change, 1992

Earlier stories:
15 March 2017: Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology
15 March 2017: RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Centre for Political Research.

Continue Reading

Smith skips the “however” in OECD environmental review

Environment Minister Nick Smith’s take on an OECD report on New Zealand’s environmental performance is that it says we are doing well. He skipped the word “however”, which makes frequent appearances in the OECD’s press release and the report.

All up, it’s a constructive report, as you would expect from an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) unit headed by Dr Smith’s predecessor from the 1990s, Simon Upton.

Simon Upton.

Mr Upton was elected to Parliament as a National MP in 1981, when he was 23, and was appointed to the Cabinet in 1990, holding the portfolios of health, the environment, and research, science & technology. As environment minister he shepherded the Resource Management Act into law in 1991, and he was responsible for establishing the Crown research institutes.

When he resigned from Parliament in 2001, he went to Paris to chair the OECD’s Round Table on Sustainable Development, and in 2010 he was appointed head of the OECD’s environment directorate, based in Paris.

For yesterday’s release of the organisation’s environmental performance review of New Zealand, he was back in Wellington. That much was acknowledged by Dr Smith but, for the rest, his response to the constructive review was a glib use of the kind references in the report.

Nick Smith.

Dr Smith said the review “highlights New Zealand’s green credentials and the strong progress we have made over the past decade, as well as the challenges we need to address. This report highlights that New Zealand fares well in terms on environmental quality of life. We have good air quality, an exceptionally high proportion of renewable electricity, easy access to pristine wilderness and an advanced & comprehensive natural resource management system.

“This report shows how far we have come over the past decade. We introduced environmental pricing on waste in 2009 and on greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. We have introduced new national policy statements in areas of freshwater management, urban development & coastal management, as well as national environment standards on air quality. We have also made important institutional changes with the creation of the Environmental Protection Authority, new laws regulating activities in New Zealand’s huge EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and the new Environment Reporting Act 2015.

“We also concur with the OECD assessment of New Zealand’s future environmental challenges of climate change, freshwater management, biodiversity, reducing the complexity of urban planning & transport funding reform. This report reinforces the importance of the significant work programmes the Government has under way in each of these areas.

“This environmental report card will help us sharpen our future direction & environmental aspirations, as well as learn from the experiences of other countries. I thank the OECD reviewers & the examining countries of Australia & the UK for their contribution to this thoughtful report.”

Report reflects Upton’s constructive criticism

Many New Zealanders opposed to giving greater sway to environmental care in the 1990s regarded Mr Upton as a jumped-up little squirt. What he did was back his views with a formidable breadth & depth of information, and he looked for the positive & constructive.

That’s reflected in yesterday’s OECD review, which was worked on by over 30 OECD people.

Heading the project was a Canadian, Nathalie Girouard, who worked on economic policy & country studies when she joined the OECD in 1993 and co-ordinated its green growth strategy for 5 years, and research was led by a Russian who gained his master’s degree in environmental management in Amsterdam and is now a US citizen, Eugene Mazur, a policy analyst involved in various environmental performance reviews since 2003 (his next one is on Estonia) and spent 14 years on environmental policy reform in countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus & Central Asia.

If Dr Smith can get his RMA reform, the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, through Parliament in the final session of Parliament before the election – on the slimmest of majorities as his only support at the moment is the Maori Party – economic factors will carry as much weight as environmental.

That makes plenty of sense in many circumstances, but it would be very easy for the economic to quickly dominate the environmental assessments: concrete over the more hypothetical. The debate that has followed the 23 February announcement of the Government aim for 90% of rivers & lakes to be swimmable by 2040 is evidence that this government doesn’t rate the damage from high levels of nutrients entering waterways as highly as the public response suggests it should.

The OECD press release out yesterday began: “New Zealanders enjoy a high environmental quality of life & access to pristine wilderness. However, New Zealand’s growth model, based largely on exploiting natural resources, is starting to show its environmental limits with increasing greenhouse gas emissions & water pollution.”

Cleaning up lakes has been on Dr Smith’s agenda since National returned to power in 2008. The national policy statement for freshwater management was published in 2014 and the “swimmable” declaration was made a month ago.

OECD criticisms

Mr Upton said when he presented the report in Wellington: “While the country only accounts for a tiny share of global emissions, the review finds that intensive dairy farming, road transport & industry have pushed up gross greenhouse gas emissions by 23% since 1990. Despite generating 80% of its electricity from renewable sources, among the highest in OECD countries, New Zealand has the second highest level of emissions per gdp unit in the OECD and the fifth highest emissions/capita.

“Having largely decarbonised its power generation, New Zealand needs to ensure its climate policies are effective in curbing emissions in all sectors, notably transport & agriculture. This means strengthening the emissions trading scheme and ensuring sectoral policies are aligned with the need for a low emissions transition.”

Agriculture accounts for 49% of emissions – the highest share in the OECD – and the report suggests they should be incorporated into the emissions trading scheme or alternative measures developed to counter the pressures of farming: “The use of environmentally related taxes, charges & prices should be expanded.”

“Growth in intensive dairy production has increased the level of nitrogen in soil, surface water & groundwater. The nitrogen balance (the difference between nutrients entering & leaving the system) increased more than in any other OECD country from 2000-10.

“Aware of the need to safeguard water quality, New Zealand has begun a process of freshwater policy reforms with a clean water package of proposals in February that address some of the OECD recommendations. Further government support is needed to assist local authorities with setting rigorous goals and to speed up implementation.”

Urban planning

The review also looks at New Zealand’s fast-growing cities and suggests that a simpler urban planning system, less restrictive land use regulations and better co-ordination between land, transport & infrastructure planning could help ease the pressure. It adds: “Car ownership in cities is high and many vehicles are old & emission-intensive. Current vehicle standards & taxes do not sufficiently encourage a shift towards cleaner, more efficient technologies.”

The report says New Zealand should consider more systematic use of pricing instruments to achieve urban policy objectives. It said water charges had helped cut consumption, but legislation prevented use of volumetric charges for wastewater services, road tolls & congestion charges.

The report said there was wide scope to make better use of pricing instruments to encourage efficient land use: “Development contributions (levied to finance infrastructure) do not reflect the true cost of providing infrastructure to a specific area. This makes inefficient and use artificially cheap and potentially accelerates urban sprawl.

“Limited distinctions between development contributions across building types & characteristics – eg, size or energy efficiency – translate into weak incentives for developers to build high performance buildings or low impact infrastructure.

“Financial contributions (levied to reflect costs of development on the environment) are often charged at a fixed rate, rather than being based on the marginal environmental damage of development, and the Resource Management Legislation Bill proposed to remove them entirely.

“Property taxes (rates) are mostly levied on the basis of capital value rather than land value, which may favour greenfield over infill developments insofar as they are permitted.”

The report also advised changes to infrastructure funding policies: “Expansion of pricing instruments would also diversify funding options available to city councils. Many councils need significant investment to accommodate population growth, including in water & wastewater, roads & public transport infrastructure.

“The central government finances about half of local roads or public transport, but entirely finances state highways. This creates incentives for local government to opt for state highway over local road & public transport solutions.

“Funding heavily relies on property taxation (general rates), which implies large cross-subsidies from the general public and weakened incentives for councils to accommodate growth, as infrastructure investment may lead to a higher tax (rates) burden on the community.

“User- & beneficiary-based funding, eg through road & water pricing and better targeted development contributions, would reduce the burden on the public budget. At the same time it would contribute to better demand management and more efficient use of land & resources.

“There may be room for the tax system to capture windfall gains accruing to landowners from infrastructure improvement (eg, betterment levies) and rezoning land for urban use (land value capture) to pay for required infrastructure.”

The OECD’s recommendations on this segment include:

  • giving more attention to spatial planning, while simplifying infrastructure & transport planning requirements
  • broadening the scope of the national policy statement on urban development capacity to encourage good urban design outcomes & principles for sustainable urban development, and
  • facilitating a change to land use plans to reduce the scope for vested interests to thwart development of wider public interests.

One recommendation less likely to go down well is to repeat the Auckland super-city experiment, with adjustments, in other urban areas. For that to succeed, Aucklanders will need to be convinced that the value of amalgamation has exceeded its downside.

Links:
OECD NZ environmental performance review 2017
2014 OECD report: Do environmental policies matter for productivity growth? Insights from new cross-country measures of environmental policies
4 March 2017, Government release: River & lake targets need to be practical
25 February 2017: Conservation & environment science roadmap announced
23 February 2017: Claims of lowered water standards wrong
23 February 2017: 90% of rivers & lakes swimmable by 2040

Attribution: OECD report & release, ministerial release.

Continue Reading

Consultation opens on urban development authorities

The Government released a discussion document on introducing urban development authorities yesterday, as recommended last year by the Productivity Commission.

Consultation on the document closes on 19 May.

Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith said the proposed legislation would fast-track the redevelopment & regeneration of urban areas to better meet housing & commercial needs.

Under funding & financing, the discussion document, issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, proposes that an urban development authority will be able to:

  1. buy, sell & lease land & buildings in a development project area
  2. receive & issue grants from the Crown & others, and
  3. borrow from private lenders or banks, issue bonds or shares, create joint venture or co-investment arrangements, and enter into funding contracts.

Outside the ambit of this proposal are:

  • the planning & consenting system as a whole, and
  • any ability for urban development authorities to access powers under the Building Act & Building Code.

What it could (but probably won’t) do

The greatest service the Government could do to the country would be to cut out the cost escalation from land acquisition through preparation of a serviced site. In the normal course of subdivision, a developer will factor in various elements of risk and returns on various stages, starting with a return on land purchase. Changing the way those elements are priced could bring dramatic change to the eventual cost of a house or, for an urban development authority, a regeneration project.

This document, however, appears to stick with the norm – the cost-plus mentality – instead of presenting options on finance.

It says the Government proposes that “the costs of developing new infrastructure be passed on to the eventual purchasers of individual properties and to any existing properties that benefit from the upgraded services within the development project area, either in the sale price or through a separate, targeted, property-based infrastructure charge.”

Looking for comparisons, it says: “Apart from taxation powers, the ability to acquire, repackage & sell or lease land is another method used overseas to pay for the infrastructure required to support the development. The ability to use land as security to borrow or the ability to pre-sell sections or building space can release capital to pay for infrastructure without necessarily having to take on large amounts of debt. Consequently, an urban development authority needs access to powers to independently fund new, and to upgrade existing, infrastructure systems & services, either directly or under contract with others.”

It’s about speed – or catchup

The Government proposal is about speed, to “allow nationally or locally significant urban development projects to be built more quickly. It is proposing a toolkit of enabling powers that could be used to streamline & speed up particular largescale projects, such as suburb-wide regeneration.

“Only land that is already within an urban area, or that is sufficiently close to an urban area that it may in future service that area, will be affected by the proposed legislation.

“The projects would be planned & facilitated by publicly controlled urban development authorities, potentially in partnership with private companies &/or landowners.

“The Government would decide which enabling powers could be used for particular projects; not all powers would be granted for all projects. Central government & territorial authorities would have to work together to identify & agree on urban development projects and would consult the public before granting the relevant enabling powers.”

The powers potentially available for an urban development project would relate to:

  • Land – powers to assemble parcels of land, including existing compulsory acquisition powers under the Public Works Act
  • Planning & resource consenting – powers to override existing & proposed district plans & regional plans, and streamlined consenting processes
  • Infrastructure – powers to plan & build infrastructure such as roads, water pipes & reserves
  • Funding – powers to buy, sell & lease land & buildings; powers to borrow to fund infrastructure; and powers to levy charges to cover infrastructure costs.

An urban development authority would not have building consenting powers. None of the proposed powers would override any Treaty of Waitangi settlements. National environmental standards would also have to be met. The relevant powers would only apply to a particular project and would expire when the project is completed.

Plaudits

For Auckland, Dr Smith turned the proposal into part of the series of Government measures to get more housing. Auckland Council, though, has already taken a measured approach to the wider context of urban regeneration, starting in 2012 with the formation (with the Government) of the Tamaki urban redevelopment company. Then, in 2014, deciding to combine its successful waterfront development organisation with the council arm that had been tasked with rationalising the council’s own property holdings.

The result of that is Panuku Development Auckland, an organisation which still does the rationalising, and has public works well under way in the Wynyard Quarter and is in charge of organising land development in that precinct, where it holds the land titles.

But Panuku has gone on to greater things, tasked with a programme of urban regeneration (see the links below).

Dr Smith put the emphasis of the new proposal this way: “New Zealand needs urban development authority legislation to enable faster & better quality regeneration in our major cities. These new authorities need the power to assemble parcels of land, develop site-specific plans, reconfigure infrastructure and to construct a mix of public & private buildings to create vibrant hubs for modern urban living.

“These reforms are part of the solution to Auckland’s growth pressures over housing & infrastructure. Urban development authorities would enable major redevelopment projects like those proposed or under way in areas such as Hobsonville, Tamaki, Three Kings & Northcote to occur 3-5 years faster.

“The international experience in cities like London, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto & Singapore is that urban development authorities can create vibrant new suburbs with greater gains for housing, jobs & amenities than through usual incremental, piecemeal redevelopment.

“The key to the success of urban development authorities is in how they interact with councils & businesses. We are proposing a model of urban development authorities which requires the support of both central & local government, and one that maximises the role of the private sector in development.

“This proposal for urban development authorities was recommended by the Productivity Commission. It is part of the Government’s wider range of reforms to grow housing supply and will complement initiatives such as the Housing Infrastructure Fund, reforms to the Resource Management Act, the national policy statement on urban development capacity, the Crown land programme and the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.

“The growth of New Zealand cities has historically been dominated by new greenfield developments on the perimeter of our cities. This reform is about providing new tools to enable redevelopment of existing areas in cities like Auckland & Wellington in a way that provides more housing, better infrastructure and a stronger community.”

Links:
MBIE, 14 February 2017: Urban development authorities, draft discussion document
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related story today:
Steamrolling & funding

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning
13 July 2016: Deal on supermarket land opens way for Old Papatoetoe mall revamp
27 June 2016: Institute suggests competing urban development authorities
16 May 2016: Council & Government join forces to redevelop Northcote land
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
28 November 2014: Slim council majorities say no to caps & funding referendum, urban development authority supported
20 June 2014: Council property company’s greater development role approved – but it won’t be a development company
18 June 2014: Council property arm proposes expanded housing & regeneration roles
25 July 2012: Government & council agree to form Tamaki urban redevelopment company

Attribution: Discussion document, ministerial release.

Continue Reading

Steamrolling & funding

There are 2 reasons to create an urban development authority: To steamroll, and to fund.

And there are 2 ways of looking at steamrolling: It can smooth the path, or it can override opposition.

Auckland Council already has its own development authority, Panuku, which has embarked on a major regeneration programme around the region, but it lacks the financial strength that Government backing would provide.

The council is close to its prudential debt limits and Panuku would not be able to carry out its ambitious regeneration programme at the speed it & the Government would like without entering some new financial arrangement.

Funding has been on the council agenda for the whole of the super-city’s first 6 years but always, when I’ve asked about progress, I’ve been greeted with blank stares. That was until a new style of negotiation was introduced last year to bring the Government into partnership with the council on the city rail link and the transport alignment project – as partners instead of protagonists.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith (pictured above) is a steamroll kind of person, as his approach to the Auckland housing accord and development of special housing areas has demonstrated.

If the council didn’t speed up its processes, the Government would take over the job itself, he said. Along the way, with that approach, quality has a good chance of being bypassed and development becomes a carpetlaying exercise.

The urban development authority concept as presented promises more partnership, though that’s not guaranteed.

The discussion document, issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, recognises limitations for both central & local government: “Central government entities have limited statutory powers to finance & fund infrastructure for urban development. At present, these powers primarily relate to roads, land transport, schools, prisons, hospitals & reserves.

“In contrast, local government has a wide range of powers to finance & fund infrastructure, including powers to tax land & property. Many territorial authorities in New Zealand charge targeted rates to homeowners & businesses to pay for specific services provided to their communities.

“However, their limited capacity to carry additional debt can create significant constraints on funding infrastructure upgrades & expansion. Additionally, there can be no certainty that a territorial authority would be willing to support a development project with additional funding to provide infrastructure.”

Links:
MBIE 14 February 2017: Urban development authorities, draft discussion document
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related story today:
Consultation opens on urban development authorities

Earlier stories:
22 August 2016: Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning
13 July 2016: Deal on supermarket land opens way for Old Papatoetoe mall revamp
27 June 2016: Institute suggests competing urban development authorities
16 May 2016: Council & Government join forces to redevelop Northcote land
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
28 November 2014: Slim council majorities say no to caps & funding referendum, urban development authority supported
20 June 2014: Council property company’s greater development role approved – but it won’t be a development company
18 June 2014: Council property arm proposes expanded housing & regeneration roles
25 July 2012: Government & council agree to form Tamaki urban redevelopment company

Attribution: Discussion document, ministerial release.

Continue Reading

Smith exultant about figures that are plainly inflated

Former housing minister Nick Smith, now building & construction minister, heaps praise on himself for a job extremely well done: “Building activity is at a record high, topping $19 billion for 2016 after 5 straight years of strong growth”.

But we all know it’s not true. Although Dr Smith said of yesterday’s building consent report that the figures he was quoting were “in inflation-adjusted terms”, both he & the rest of New Zealand know construction costs, land prices & house prices have been distorted way beyond the realm of the Reserve Bank’s narrow inflation focus.

It’s a sector which can be measured very accurately, but the figures Statistics NZ releases monthly on building consents for new homes carry distortions because of how applications are made. In some cases such as staged developments, consent applications & costs may be reported in different time periods. However, over a year, I suspect it’s reasonable to use these figures to carry out the calculations I’ve done here on changes in floor areas, values and values/m² of construction. The value of land is excluded from building consent figures.

Going back to the bottom of the market following the global financial crisis, 2011, the statistics show an average floor area of 191.6m². It rose the next year, declined for 3 years and recovered slightly in 2016. The percentage changes were rises of 2.9% in the first year and 1.8% in the last year, but falls of 2.7%, 2.6% & 4.3% in the intervening years.

The average value/dwelling was just under $280,000 in 2011, and rose in steps of $6600-16,000 during the next 4 years, equating to gains of 5.75%, 3.3%, 4% & 2%. Then, in 2016, the average jumped $31,000 to $355,300, a leap of 9.6%.

Putting those figures together to see what the consent value/m² has been, the starting point in 2011 was $1459/m². The end point, the average for 2016, was $1951/m² – a rise of $492/m² over 5 years, or 34%. In the first year off the market bottom the rise was 2.75%, but it’s since been consistently above 6% – 6.15% in 2013, then 6.75%, 6.71% and, last year, 7.67%.

An important factor in the equation is the falling proportion of total housing categorised as houses, distinct from 3 intensive categories – apartments, retirement village units and suburban townhouses & units – all of which generally have smaller floorplates than the average house but will generally be priced more highly per m² of building. The houses category fell from 81% of all housing consents in 2011 (when the apartment sector almost disappeared) to 71% in 2016.

Dr Smith habitually talks about consent figures as if they were actual construction. Statistics NZ doesn’t supply regular figures which would show the percentage of consents that turn into actual construction. Those percentages vary cyclically, according to figures I’ve seen long ago – heading into the peak of a boom the consent figures will have risen steeply, but once the boom ends actual construction can plummet.

In his release on the consent figures yesterday, Dr Smith said: “This is the longest & strongest growth phase in building activity in New Zealand history. It involves record levels of investment in homes, commercial buildings & infrastructure. The total value of consents in 2016, at $19 billion [for all consents, not just residential], is the highest ever and 30% more than the previous peak last decade, in inflation-adjusted terms.

“I am particularly encouraged by the ongoing strong growth in residential building activity, that has increased 19% nationally & 27% in Auckland over the past year. This is the fifth straight year of strong growth. You cannot grow a sector as large or as complex as building at more than about 20% compound/year without incurring problems with quality.

“The number of homes being built in 2016 – 29,970 nationally & 9930 in Auckland – is more than double that of 5 years ago and is the highest since 2004. This growth gives me confidence we will have the number of homes increasing in line with population growth by the end of the year.

“This ongoing strong growth shows the Government’s programme to increase housing supply is working. We have aggressively increased land supply with special housing areas in the short term, changes to Auckland’s planning in the medium term, and the national policy statement on urban development capacity & Resource Management Act reforms in the long term.

“We have complemented this with the Crown land programme and a record level of direct Government projects to build homes, such as Hobsonville. We’ve also provided record levels of assistance for first-homebuyers with the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme, which has helped more than 20,000 people into their first home with about $500 million in KiwiSaver withdrawals for a deposit.

“This Government is, step by step, development by development, getting on and addressing New Zealand’s housing challenges.”

The figure of $19 billion includes $12.5 billion for new homes and alterations & additions to homes, $6 billion for non-residential buildings and just under half a billion dollars for non-building construction. The housing component has been rising rapidly – by 25.4% in 2012, 28% in 2013, then 20.5%, 10.5% and, last year, 19.1%.

The non-residential sector had 2 strong years – rises of 21.5% in 2014 & 15.9% in 2015, but was down to a 1.7% rise last year.

Related story today: Townhouses & flats dominate shift in home styles

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release, ministerial release.

Continue Reading

Smith lists the initiatives to improve coping with quakes

Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith listed 12 initiatives this week, not just to rebuild after earthquakes but to learn from the events and improve New Zealand’s resilience to future earthquakes.

Dr Smith made his points on the steps being taken to improve management of earthquake risks in a Rotary address in Nelson, as local MP.

You can read his full address here: Better managing New Zealand’s earthquake risks

The Kaikoura earthquake on 14 November measured magnitude 7.8, making it the largest in New Zealand since 1855.

Dr Smith: “We are one of the most seismically active countries in the world and we need to be at the leading edge of protecting people, infrastructure & the economy from earthquakes.”

The initiatives, those already legislated and those still on the way:

  1. New Earthquake-prone Building Act

The first initiative is the new earthquake-prone building legislation passed by Parliament last May, which comes into effect in June this year.

The first major change in the new law is a nationally consistent approach. However, Dr Smith varied the timeframes for buildings to be assessed & upgraded relative to the variations in earthquake risk. In high risk areas like Wellington, upgrades must be done within 15 years, in medium risk areas like Nelson 25 years, and in low risk areas like Auckland 35 years.

We have set the standard of an earthquake-prone building as being one that is less than one third of the current seismic standard. It is not a guarantee of safety. It is a pragmatic balancing between cost & safety.

We have also introduced in the law the notion of priority buildings such as schools, hospitals & buildings on major pedestrian access ways and required that these be strengthened in half the standard times.

A further new requirement is that if a building owner is doing a substantial upgrade of an earthquake-prone building, they must simultaneously strengthen it to this minimum standard.

  1. Adding natural hazards to the RMA

The second major change is to the Resource Management Act, scheduled to be made law in March: “This is one of those areas where politics has got in the way of rational risk management.

The Act lists seven matters of national importance that must be addressed in every single plan and consent considered across the country… but there is no mention of natural hazards like earthquakes. This lacks common sense. New Zealand faces multiple natural hazard risks and it was a serious oversight that these risks are not a mandatory consideration for new developments.

“Let me give a practical example of why this law change is so important: The Bexley subdivision in Christchurch was approved under the RMA in the early 1990s despite publicly available reports identifying the low-lying areas as having a high risk of liquefaction in a moderate earthquake. The several-hundred-page council report on which this subdivision was approved systematically works through each of the issues identified in the principles section of the RMA as required legally. There are many pages on the landscape, cultural & vegetation issues, but the report is silent on the very significant earthquakes risks.

“The hundreds of Bexley residents whose lives were literally tipped upside down, and the taxpayers who ultimately paid out hundreds of millions from the subsequent red-zoning process, would have much preferred these risks were properly assessed in the first place.

“This important change to the RMA is in the substantive second phase bill of Government reforms due back from select committee in coming weeks and due to be passed into law in March.”

  1. Post-quake Building Act reform

Next, the management of buildings following a significant earthquake: “This involves real clashes of people’s relative rights, and decisions in a high risk aftershock environment where lives can be easily lost by the wrong decisions.”

Cabinet approved Dr Smith’s proposed revamp of the Building Act to deal with these issues a week before the Kaikoura quakes.

“The bill provides greater powers to get damaged buildings down more quickly, and provides a quite sophisticated balancing of rights between private property, safety & heritage issues. I will be introducing this bill into Parliament in March with the aim of having it as law by year’s end.”

  1. Improving consistency of building assessments

An associated area of work is improving the consistency of engineering assessments. New regulations will be finalised in April.

“This is relevant to the short sharp assessment done after an earthquake as well as in determining what buildings are earthquake prone.

“We have introduced a new guide for post-quake building assessment. Buildings are stickered as white, meaning OK for continued use, yellow for restricted access and red for unsafe. There was a lot of confusion during the Christchurch quakes by both engineers & the public on the old system, but the experience from the Kaikoura quakes is that we now have a system that is the world’s best practice, well understood and which strikes a better balance between risk & the need for communities to be able to move into recovery mode.

“The more complex job is the regulations currently being consulted on for the seismic assessment of earthquake-prone buildings. There is significant frustration from building owners that different engineers can give quite different assessments of the proportion of the new building standard that a building meets. There are real practical difficulties in making engineering assessments of buildings that may be 50 or 100 years old with very little knowledge of the standards of concrete, steel or construction in any records.

“We are currently developing regulations under this new law to get greater consistency in these assessments. The new regulations will be finalised in April.”

  1. Standards, training of engineers & accountability

This concerns regulations, ethics & training of engineering professionals, but also what requirements there are to pass on information about potentially dangerous structures and the question raised by the ability of an engineer to escape accountability by resigning from their professional association.

“We made an important change to the code of ethics last year that is pertinent to the tragic collapse of the CTV building in which 115 people were killed, 60% of the total toll from the Christchurch earthquake.

“Much has been written about the inadequacies of the design of this building constructed in 1986. I am hesitant to comment on the specifics with police due to announce a decision in the next few months on whether to prosecute the engineers responsible, albeit there is frustration that this decision is taking so long.

“The pertinent and relevant issue is that in 1993, when the building was for sale, it was assessed by consulting engineers as deficient in its seismic design. The client wisely opted not to buy the building on this advice, but the system failure was that this information was not passed on to the relevant building authority – in this case the Christchurch City Council.

“The problem here is that consulting engineers are bound by commercial contracts and the information belongs to their clients, and in this case the client had no interest beyond deciding not to purchase.

“Commercial interests & privacy concerns must in these circumstances take a back seat to public safety. That is why the code of ethics, with the support of the profession, was changed in July last year requiring engineers to pass on such information to relevant public authorities.

“A second issue that I am testing in the courts is the notion that professional accountability can be avoided by an engineer simply resigning from the professional body.

“The circumstances are that IPENZ (the Institution of Professional Engineers) appropriately initiated an investigation into the issues of engineering practice around the CTV building, but the process could not proceed simply by the engineer resigning. This not only deprives the public of a proper process of accountability but the profession of the critical learnings that must flow from such failures.

“The courts will determine a definition of what the current law states and, if it is found that accountability can be avoided by simply resigning, we will need to amend the law.

“Our government has also significantly lifted our investment in the training of professional engineers with over $90 million of additional funding. There are 2500 more students studying engineering mainly at Canterbury & Auckland Universities today than in 2008.”

  1. Powers for addressing newly identified risks

Strengthening how the Government & councils can respond to newly identified building risks: “We do not currently have in law the equivalent of a product recall system in our Building Act. An example of such a problem is where we find an engineer whose work is not up to scratch, as has recently occurred in Masterton.

“A prudent response is to require other building owners to have their building designs checked. The Government & councils can try to persuade building owners that this should be done, and generally, as in the Masterton case, owners have co-operated. Where we know a particular engineer’s work is flawed, we need to be able to check their other projects.

“Another example is the recent problem identified in the Statistics NZ building in Wellington, where 3 precast floor components collapsed. The preliminary investigation identified problems associated with the long duration and how ductile beams interacted with the precast floor slabs.

“Seismic building design is an evolving science and we will identify new risks like this that have not previously been sufficiently considered.

“This potential design flaw can be fixed, and the prudent response is to require all buildings recently constructed with these features to be checked and, where necessary, repaired.

“We are doing this in the Wellington area using the special Kaikoura earthquake powers, but this is an area where public authorities need wider powers to ensure our buildings are safe.”

  1. Tackling high risk parapets & façades post-Kaikoura

Dr Smith announced on Wednesday that an order-in-council would be issued for owners of 300 buildings in Wellington, Lower Hutt & Blenheim to be given a year to tie back unreinforced masonry façades & parapets, and that regulations would be put in place by the end of February. The Government will provide a 50% subsidy up to $15,000 for a façade and $10,000 for a parapet.

  1. Supporting heritage building upgrades

A new heritage earthquake upgrade incentive programme fund of $10 million has opened for the first round of bids.

  1. Improving tsunami warning systems

The areas most vulnerable to tsunamis are near major faults. Dr Smith said the risks were greatest where you have deep water rapidly become shallow, and confined bays that exacerbate wave height.

“The most effective strategy for reducing these risks is a well informed public & improved warning systems. The Ministers of Civil Defence and Science & Innovation announced a further $3 million investment in improving Geonet’s natural hazard monitoring in December, in response to concerns about incomplete & confusing information about the tsunami risk following the Kaikoura quake.

“The Government is also exploring a wider investment in smart-phone warning technology that would further improve our capacity to ensure people are better informed during such events.”

  1. Supporting innovative design

Dr Smith said the Government was stepping up its support for innovative design in seismic-resistant buildings: “The Earthquake Commission and the building & construction ministry [which as far as I can see is actually part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment] are funding new guidance for low damage building systems, including seismic isolation, buckling restrained braces and viscous damping. The Pres-Lam system is one of these, and the first building in the world to use it is the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

“We should not underestimate the economic opportunities from these technologies. Countries like China & Turkey, who have lost hundreds of thousands of citizens in quakes and who are becoming a lot more wealthy, are looking for these sorts of technologies to step up their building safety.”

  1. Investing in seismic research

Seismic research is one of the Government’s 10 national science challenges, “which is why we are lifting our investment in improved science & engineering to support better earthquake resilience. New engineering research facilities have been built at both Auckland & Canterbury Universities.

“The natural hazards platform has been created with $14 million/year of funding to support improved research into all aspects of seismic design.”

  1. National policy on natural hazards

Dr Smith raised the prospect of a national policy statement on natural hazards in 2015, but said in his speech this week the Ministry for the Environment would start work on it this year.

He commented this week on councils’ questionable appreciation of risks: “I am not satisfied that councils sufficiently appreciated the scale of the sort of natural hazard risks that they are responsible for. It can be tempting to ignore significant risks in the hope that nothing happens.

“A current example is the challenges in the booming tourism community of Franz Josef.

This is one of the highest earthquake risk areas in the world, with the main alpine fault running through the town and significant movement of this fault projected every 80 years. This risk is compounded by the landslide risks of the foreboding surrounding country and the wild & dangerous Waiho River.

“We can design buildings that can withstand substantial shaking but, if a fault line rips through a building, there is little prospect of it remaining safe. Council had proposed to designate the area to prohibit any new structures in this strip but has come up against considerable resistance from property owners. It is currently proposing to drop the hazard zone.

“In a place like Franz Josef, where there can be more than 1000 tourists staying/night, there can be a tension between the local business interests and the national interests in ensuring the prudent management of safety of our visitors. The Government is working with the Westland District Council on these issues, but the example highlights the need for clearer national direction.

“This year the Ministry for the Environment will be starting work on a national policy statement on natural hazards to support the changes in the RMA.

“The purpose will be in strengthening the requirements & legal responsibilities on councils to ensure we more prudently manage these risks. This is a major piece of work that will take some years to complete, but will lay the national foundations for better long-term management of earthquakes & other natural hazards.”

Related stories today:
Better managing New Zealand’s earthquake risks
Smith lists the initiatives to improve coping with quakes
Fast fix ordered for Wellington & Blenheim unreinforced masonry

Earlier stories:
18 November 2016: Ministry to investigate buildings’ performance in quake
15 August 2016: Property Council calls Government’s new heritage support fund “underwhelming”
17 April 2016: QuakeCore lab opens
3 September 2015: Property Council suggests measures to help quake-affected owners
3 September 2015: Government bows to quake survivor’s submissions
14 August 2015: Smith talks up firmer hand on environmental rules
3 July 2015: Council falls into line on quake-prone checks
25 June 2015: Select committee seeks feedback on quake-prone buildings bill changes
20 May 2015: Changes proposed for managing buildings in emergencies
10 May 2015: 
Government eases quake strengthening targets
7 March 2014: Quake-prone buildings bill introduced

Attribution: Smith speech.

Continue Reading

Better managing New Zealand’s earthquake risks

Building & Construction Minister Nick Smith delivered a comprehensive address this week to a local audience – he’s also Nelson’s MP – on the steps being taken to improve management of earthquake risks.

I’ve pulled out his key points to highlight them in a separate item. This is his full address, unedited:

A big worry in this Trump era of modern politics is that complex issues are dumbed down to 140 character tweets. The beauty of this annual opportunity you give me as Nelson’s MP is to give a far more considered and thorough account of a topical issue. The focus of this 22nd Rotary address is the steps we are taking to improve New Zealand’s management of earthquake risks.

We were dubbed the Shaky Isles 170 years ago and at two minutes past midnight on November 14 we got another harsh reminder of why. That Kaikoura quake was the largest in New Zealand since 1855. We are one of the most seismically active countries in the world and we need to be at the leading edge of protecting people, infrastructure and the economy from earthquakes.

The challenge in Government is that there are all sorts of risks to manage – financial, terrorism, biological, trade, climate change, fire, and cyber-security, as well as the natural risks of floods, volcanic eruptions and cyclones, as well as earthquakes. We cannot pretend that Government can eliminate these risks and we will always be limited in the resources we have to reduce them. My long term ambition as a Minister and as a rare engineer in Parliament is to try and ensure as a country we manage these risks and allocate resources based on science-based risk assessment. Politics and rational science are not close relatives but tonight is an attempt to bring them closer together.

It is worth recalling our history of seismic events. We have had eight fatal earthquakes post-1840, or about one every 20 years. While it is true that two majors inside six years is unusual, we should treat the 40-year lull between Inangahua and Christchurch as unusually long.

There is no evidence the frequency of earthquakes in New Zealand has changed. GNS measures about 15,000 a year of which 150, or one every three days, is felt. What has been unlucky is that we have had major quakes close to major population centres where the effects are so much greater.

It is useful to compare the risks to life from earthquakes to other risks. Our history points to an average loss of three lives a year from earthquakes, as compared to 300 a year from road accidents, 120 a year from drowning and 30 a year from house fires. You can see in these numbers why I placed huge importance in getting a new law through Parliament last year requiring smoke alarms in rental properties, when the costs are so small in comparison to earthquake strengthening and the number of lives saved so much greater. These stats are not to discount the risks from quakes, but to keep the relative risk in perspective.

Average expected fatalities are just one factor to take into account in determining priorities. Earthquakes will cost New Zealand close to $50 billion in both public and private sector costs this decade, of which the Government’s share is about $20 billion – $18 billion for Christchurch and $2 billion for Kaikoura.

The loss of life from earthquakes in New Zealand pales by comparison internationally. The 185 deaths in Christchurch compares to 230,000 in the 2004 Boxing Day quake and tsunami in Indonesia, the 160,000 killed in Haiti in 2010, the 16,000 killed in the Tohoku quake in Japan of 2011 and the 70,000 killed in Sichuan quake in China in 2008.

It is of note that the last decade has been the deadliest on record for earthquakes globally and that fatalities have been on the rise over the past half century.

The big killers are building failures and tsunamis. The reason for the significant rise is not any increase in seismicity but many more people living in the cities and in coastal areas. Improved building seismic resilience and better managing tsunami risks are the issues we should focus on to reduce future fatalities.

New Zealand’s comparatively low level of fatalities despite being one of the most seismically active areas of the world is due to both our relatively low population density and the huge improvements in building standards over the past century.

The Christchurch and Napier earthquakes were similarly sized quakes but whereas one in 100 died in Napier, in Christchurch one in 2000 died. This 95 percent reduction in fatalities can largely be attributed to the huge improvements in buildings’ seismic resistance. To put it another way, there would have been about 4000 fatalities in Christchurch were building standards left as they were in 1931. The key issue for my Building Minister’s role is how we further improve our engineering and building standards into the future.

Seismic science & engineering

It is not my intention to spend too much time on the seismic and engineering sciences, but there are a few core facts needed to explain the Government’s priorities and direction of policy.

The first is to communicate the scale of energy release in a seismic event that makes designing and constructing earthquake resistant buildings so challenging.

The Richter scale used to report earthquakes is logarithmic. An increase from a 5 to a 6 magnitude quake actually represents a 32-fold increase in the energy being released.

To get some sense of scale, the Christchurch 2011 quake at a 6.3 involved a release of energy equivalent to four Hiroshima atomic bombs. The Kaikoura earthquake at 7.8 was 180 times more powerful and the equivalent of 800 Hiroshima bombs. But the magnitude 9, mega thrust Tohuku earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 was 80 times stronger again and the equivalent of 60,000 Hiroshima bombs.

So my first point is that earthquakes involve the release of phenomenal energy and that we cannot make our buildings totally safe.

The Christchurch earthquake was comparatively small and made deadly not by its size but by its location. We need to be prepared for the worse scenario of a Kaikoura or Tohoku scale quake close to a major city.

The analogy I would make to improved building design is the improvements made in vehicle standards.

Cars today are not 100 per cent safe in a crash but the risk of fatality has been made an order of magnitude better by smart design.

The challenge with buildings is more difficult because cars generally last 15 years, whereas buildings last 100, buildings are generally one off designed whereas cars are massed produced and accidents occur far more frequently than earthquakes, enabling design lessons to occur far more frequently. The common feature is that while we can make buildings a lot safer, a big enough crash or quake will still result in fatalities. My greatest concern is about the thousands of vintage buildings still in use that pose the most risk.

The second important scientific fact relates to the cause and probability of earthquakes.

We heard all sorts of phantom theories about earthquakes being triggered by the phase of the moon, by oil exploration activity and from Destiny’s Brian Tamaki that sexual sinning was the cause. Earthquakes are caused by the sudden movement along faults of the earth’s tectonic plates and the timing cannot currently be predicted beyond probability estimates.

I was particularly offended by the moon-man, who caused widespread alarm in 2011 when he publically predicted a major shake at the Sign of the Kiwi on Christchurch’s Port Hill’s at a particular date and time. I was part of Skeptics New Zealand’s protest on site to highlight the nonsense of such pseudo-science. Extensive studies have shown no correlation between phases of the moon and earthquakes.

The science does, however, tell us two things about the probability of earthquakes.

There are no surprises that the risk of earthquakes varies significantly with geography, i.e. that Wellington is much more prone than Auckland but the scale of difference needs highlighting.

We would expect a significant earthquake of intensity MM8 in Wellington about once every 120 years, in Christchurch or Nelson every 720 years, in Dunedin every 1700 years and in Auckland once every 7400 years.

For the record, the most high risk earthquake locations are Arthurs Pass, Hanmer Springs, Hokitika, Masterton and Kaikoura.

The importance of this is that we need to focus our policies on the areas of greatest risk and avoid imposing excessive costs in areas like Auckland and Dunedin, where the seismic activity is low.

The second factor about the timing of earthquakes that we know is that they are much more likely after a significant quake. One of the worst psychological impacts of earthquakes is the long tail of aftershocks that can last several years. There is nothing more soul destroying than fixing the sewer pipe or removing the liquefied silt only to have it re-break and re-appear time and time again.

The last technical issue I want to cover is an explanation of why some buildings failed and others did not in the Kaikoura earthquake.

People have been both mystified and unnerved by the fact that many older buildings labelled as earthquake prone had minimal, if any, damage in Wellington, while other new modern buildings had life-threatening partial failures.

The explanation for this lies in the way the frequency of shaking interacts with the natural frequency of a building.

Every building has a natural frequency. If you give it a strong enough shove, it will naturally rock back and forward with a particular frequency. A short building may have a period of 0.2 seconds, but a tall building may be at over 2 seconds per sway. If the frequency of the earthquake’s shaking coincides with the building’s own frequency, it will experience much more extensive damage.

An earthquake will typically release a whole lot of shaking frequencies, but the short sharp shaking abates in close proximity to the quake. So the Kaikoura earthquake in Wellington had strong frequency shakes in the range of 0.8-1.2 seconds that lasted for an unusually long time. That affected buildings in the five to ten storey range. For these buildings, the earthquake was stronger and longer than the design standards required. But these same buildings would not be the most vulnerable in a major quake close to the city. The one and two storey, unreinforced masonry buildings that were untouched by the Kaikoura quake would be more likely to be hugely damaged and cause significant loss of life in a closer quake.

The Government has been severely tested by the challenges of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes and, while some mistakes have been made, I think history will judge our Government well. I particularly give tribute to Gerry Brownlee who, through the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes, has done the lion’s share of the work.

We have poured in billions of dollars, passed special pragmatic laws to facilitate the rebuild, bailed out failed insurers to protect householders and acted decisively on getting infrastructure quickly fixed.
The responsibility is not just to rebuild but to learn every possible lesson so as to improve our resilience as a country to future earthquakes. Tonight I want to outline a dozen initiatives we are taking to achieve this:

  1. New Earthquake Prone Building Act

The first is the new earthquake prone building legislation passed by Parliament last May which comes into effect in June this year.

From a policy perspective, it is relatively easy to pass laws and regulations on what you require of newly constructed buildings, but it is a far more difficult job in requiring existing building owners to upgrade. The vast bulk of seismically active countries have no legal requirement for older buildings to be upgraded with the exception of the State of California.

However, this is where the greatest gains are to be made in safety. Old buildings, those built before the development of seismic design standards, particularly those of unreinforced masonry, are responsible for the vast bulk of the thousands of people who die each year in earthquakes around the world.

The first major change in the new law taking effect this year is a nationally consistent approach. The Royal Commission into the Canterbury Earthquakes rightly concluded that for each of our 68 councils to have different definitions and different methodologies was inefficient and ineffective.

An innovation I added to the law is varying the timeframes for buildings to be assessed and upgraded relative to the variations in earthquake risk. In high risk areas, like Wellington, upgrades must be done within 15 years, in medium risk areas like Nelson 25 years and in low risk areas like Auckland 35 years.

We have set the standard of an earthquake prone building as being one that is less than one third of the current seismic standard. It is not a guarantee of safety. It is a pragmatic balancing between cost and safety.

We have also introduced in the law the notion of priority buildings such as schools, hospitals and buildings on major pedestrian access ways and required that these be strengthened in half the standard times.

A further new requirement is that if a building owner is doing a substantial upgrade of an earthquake prone building, they must simultaneously strengthen it to this minimum standard.

These new frameworks for strengthening older buildings are the most comprehensive of any country in the world.

  1. Adding natural hazards to the RMA

The second major change is to the Resource Management Act.

This is one of those areas where politics has got in the way of rational risk management.

The Act lists seven matters of national importance that must be addressed in every single plan and consent considered across the country. It includes such things as natural character, landscapes, protecting flora and fauna, Maori culture and customary rights, public access along rivers and lakes and historical heritage but there is no mention of natural hazards like earthquakes. This lacks common sense. New Zealand faces multiple natural hazard risks and it was a serious oversight that these risks are not a mandatory consideration for new developments.

Let me give a practical example of why this law change is so important.

The Bexley subdivision in Christchurch was approved under the RMA in the early 1990s despite publically available reports identifying the low lying areas as having a high risk of liquefaction in a moderate earthquake. The several hundred page council report on which this subdivision was approved systematically works through each of the issues identified in the principles section of the RMA as required legally. There are many pages on the landscape, cultural and vegetation issues but the report is silent on the very significant earthquakes risks. The hundreds of Bexley residents whose lives were literally tipped upside down, and the taxpayers who ultimately paid out hundreds of millions from the subsequent red zoning process, would have much preferred these risks were properly assessed in the first place.

This important change to the RMA is in the substantive second phase bill of Government reforms due back from Select Committee in coming weeks and due to be passed into law in March. Opposition parties will find all sorts of trivial reasons to try to block this bill, but this fundamental change to requiring proper assessment of natural hazards like earthquakes when doing developments is essential.

  1. Post-quake Building Act reform

A third area of reform in which we need to do better is in the management of buildings following a significant earthquake.

This involves real clashes of people’s relative rights, and decisions in a high risk aftershock environment where lives can be easily lost by the wrong decisions.

You have people wanting to get access to their personal property and business records, sometimes in buildings that are perfectly safe except for an adjacent building that may pose a risk. You have engineers working hideous hours making dozens of critical decisions often with limited information. You have private property owners, often in complex body corporate structures offended by officials having powers to demolish their most valuable asset. Add to the mix heritage issues and the inherent stresses people are under post-quake and you have an explosive mix of competing interests.

In November, only a week prior to the Kaikoura quakes, Cabinet approved my proposed revamp of the Building Act to deal with these issues.

The Bill provides greater powers to get damaged buildings down more quickly, and provides a quite sophisticated balancing of rights between private property, safety and heritage issues. I will be introducing this Bill into Parliament in March with the aim of having it as law by year’s end.

  1. Improving consistency of building assessments

An associated fourth area of work is improving the consistency of engineering assessments. This is relevant to the short sharp assessment done after an earthquake as well as in determining what buildings are earthquake prone.

We have introduced a new guide for post-quake building assessment. Buildings are stickered as white, meaning OK for continued use, yellow for restricted access and red for unsafe. There was a lot of confusion during the Christchurch quakes by both engineers and the public on the old system, but the experience from the Kaikoura quakes is that we now have a system that is the world’s best practice, well understood and which strikes a better balance between risk and the need for communities to be able to move into recovery mode.

The more complex job is the regulations currently being consulted on for the seismic assessment of earthquake-prone buildings. There is significant frustration from building owners that different engineers can give quite different assessments of the proportion of the new building standard that a building meets. There are real practical difficulties in making engineering assessments of buildings that may be 50 or 100 years old with very little knowledge of the standards of concrete, steel or construction in any records.

We are currently developing regulations under this new law to get greater consistency in these assessments. The new regulations will be finalised in April.

  1. Standards & training of engineers

The fifth area of reform is in respect of the regulations, ethics and training of engineering professionals.

We made an important change to the code of ethics last year that is pertinent to the tragic collapse of the CTV building in which 115 people were killed, 60 per cent of the total toll from the Christchurch earthquake.

Much has been written about the inadequacies of the design of this building constructed in 1986. I am hesitant to comment on the specifics with Police due to announce a decision in the next few months on whether to prosecute the engineers responsible, albeit there is frustration that this decision is taking so long.

The pertinent and relevant issue is that in 1993, when the building was for sale, it was assessed by consulting engineers as deficient in its seismic design. The client wisely opted not to buy the building on this advice but the system failure was that this information was not passed on to the relevant building authority – in this case the Christchurch City Council.

The problem here is that consulting engineers are bound by commercial contracts and the information belongs to their clients, and in this case the client had no interest beyond deciding not to purchase.

Commercial interests and privacy concerns must in these circumstances take a back seat to public safety. That is why the Code of Ethics, with the support of the profession was changed in July last year requiring engineers to pass on such information to relevant public authorities.

A second issue that I am testing in the courts is the notion that professional accountability can be avoided by an engineer simply resigning from the professional body.

The circumstances are that IPENZ appropriately initiated an investigation into the issues of engineering practice around the CTV building, but the process could not proceed simply by the engineer resigning. This not only deprives the public of a proper process of accountability but the profession of the critical learnings that must flow from such failures.

The courts will determine a definition of what the current law states, and if it is found that accountability can be avoided by simply resigning, we will need to amend the law.

Our Government has also significantly lifted our investment in the training of professional engineers with over $90 million of additional funding. There are 2500 more students studying engineering mainly at Canterbury and Auckland Universities’ today than in 2008.

This policy of expanding our engineering training is playing out locally where NMIT established a diploma engineering programme here in Nelson in 2015.

  1. Powers for addressing newly identified risks

A sixth area of work is strengthening how Government and Councils can respond to newly identified building risks.

We do not currently have in law the equivalent of a product recall system in our Building Act.

When a safety fault is found in a car or appliance, like a smart phone, you will have the product recalled, checked and fixed, usually by the manufacturer. The building sector is structured very differently, but the same sort of problems can arise.

An example of such a problem is where we find an engineer whose work is not up to scratch as has recently occurred in Masterton.

A prudent response is to require other building owners to have their building designs checked. The Government and Councils can try to persuade building owners that this should be done, and generally as in the Masterton case, owners have cooperated. Where we know a particular engineer’s work is flawed, we need to be able to check their other projects.

Another example is the recent problem identified in the Statistics New Zealand building in Wellington where three pre-cast floor components collapsed.

The preliminary investigation identified problems associated with the long duration and how ductile beams interacted with the pre-cast floor slabs. Seismic building design is an evolving science and we will identify new risks like this that have not previously been sufficiently considered.

This potential design flaw can be fixed and the prudent response is to require all buildings recently constructed with these features to be checked and where necessary repaired.

We are doing this in the Wellington area using the special Kaikoura earthquake powers, but this is an area where public authorities need wider powers to ensure our buildings are safe.

  1. Tackling high risk parapets & façades post-Kaikoura

A seventh new initiative I am announcing today is in response to the heightened risk from the Kaikoura earthquake of aftershocks.

The seismic advice is that Wellington, Lower Hutt and Blenheim are currently exposed to eight times the normal risk of a quake. This heightened risk will abate to about twice the norm by year’s end and to normal levels not until 2020.

A scenario is possible as in Christchurch where an aftershock occurs in this period close to one of these centres causing significant loss of life.

The New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering presented me with a proposal in December for us to respond to this risk by requiring and helping fund urgent upgrades of those parapets and facades on high risk unreinforced masonry buildings. These are the buildings that killed 39 people in Christchurch and for which relatively minor engineering works at a cost of around $20,000 to $30,000 per building can help mitigate the potential of these parapets and facades to fall.

Today I have announced that the Government will pass an Order in Council requiring all Earthquake Prone unreinforced masonry building owners with street facing facades and parapets in high occupation areas to tie back these features within 12 months in the areas of Wellington, Blenheim and Lower Hutt.

The Government has also set aside a fund of $3 million to assist with this cost which, combined with councils, we will be offering a dollar for dollar subsidy. We are also using the Hurunui/ Kaikoura Earthquake Recovery Act powers to exempt this tie back work from requiring building and resource consents if carried out by a properly qualified engineer. My Ministry is assisting this work with standardised designs that can be quickly implemented.

This is the sort of pragmatic, fast footed response we need to wisely manage these complex risks in the aftermath of a big shake.

  1. Supporting heritage building upgrades

This is paralleled by our eighth initiative as a Government to support heritage-building upgrades with a new Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme fund of $10 million.

Communities across New Zealand, particularly in those higher earthquake prone provincial areas, face difficult choices about what heritage to keep and what for safety reasons needs to come down.

This fund, championed by Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry and currently open for the first round of bids, is about the Government sharing in the cost burden of making some of these heritage buildings safe.

  1. Improving tsunami warning systems

Most of this presentation has focussed on improving the safety of buildings.

The past decade has seen heightened concerns about the risk of Tsunami. The areas most vulnerable are those coastal areas close to major faults and the risks are greatest where you have deep water rapidly become shallow and confined bays that exacerbate wave height.

The most effective strategy for reducing these risks is a well-informed public and improved warning systems.

You will have seen the increased advertising by civil defence alongside “drop, cover, hold” with tsunami information advising people that if in a coastal area, during a long or strong earthquake to make immediately for higher ground.

In December, the Ministers of Civil Defence and Science and Innovation announced a further $3 million investment in improving Geonet’s natural hazard monitoring. This was in response to concerns about incomplete and confusing information about the Tsunami risk following the November 14th Kaikoura quake.

The Government is also exploring a wider investment in smart phone warning technology that would further improve our capacity to ensure people are better informed during such events.

  1. Supporting innovative design

The Government is also stepping up its support for innovative design in seismic resistant buildings.

New Zealand has a proud heritage in this area with the William Clayton building in Wellington being the first in the world to use base isolation technology – a feature now used in thousands of buildings worldwide.

EQC and my Ministry are funding new guidance for low damage building systems including seismic isolation, buckling restrained braces, and viscous damping. The Pres-Lam system is one of these and the first building in the world to use it is the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

We should not underestimate the economic opportunities from these technologies. Countries like China and Turkey, who have lost hundreds of thousands of citizens in quakes and who are becoming a lot more wealthy, are looking for these sorts of technologies to step up their building safety.

  1. Investing in seismic research

Seismic research has also identified as one of the Government’s 10 National Science Challenges which is why we are lifting our investment in improved science and engineering to support better earthquake resilience.

New engineering research facilities have been built at both Auckland and Canterbury Universities.

The Natural Hazards Platform has been created with $14 million a year of funding to support improved research into all aspects of seismic design.

  1. National policy on natural hazards

The 12th national initiative I want to mention is the importance of stronger national direction on natural hazard’s management.

I am not satisfied that councils sufficiently appreciated the scale of the sort of natural hazard risks that they are responsible for. It can be tempting to ignore significant risks in the hope that nothing happens.

A current example is the challenges in the booming tourism community of Franz Josef.

This is one of the highest earthquake risk areas in the world, with the main alpine fault running through the town and significant movement of this fault projected every 80 years. This risk is compounded by the landslide risks of the foreboding surrounding country and the wild and dangerous Waiho River.

We can design buildings that can withstand substantial shaking, but if a fault line rips through a building, there is little prospect of it remaining safe. Council had proposed to designate the area to prohibit any new structures in this strip but has come up against considerable resistance from property owners. It is currently proposing to drop the hazard zone.

In a place like Franz Josef, where there can be more than 1000 tourists staying a night, there can be a tension between the local business interests and the national interests in ensuring the prudent management of safety of our visitors. The Government is working with the Westland District Council on these issues but the example highlights the need for clearer national direction.

This year the Ministry for the Environment will be starting work on a National Policy Statement on National Hazards to support the changes in the RMA.

The purpose will be in strengthening the requirements and legal responsibilities on Councils to ensure we more prudently manage these risks. This is a major piece of work that will take some years to complete but will lay the national foundations for better long-term management of earthquakes and other natural hazards.

Nelson Cathedral strengthening proposal

I want to conclude this nationally focussed speech on earthquake hazards with a local initiative. We, like many centres across New Zealand, need to be upgrading our building stock in preparation for the earthquake that one day will strike.

We need to make some hard choices about which buildings are uneconomic to maintain and which have sufficient heritage and other community values that we need to strengthen.

We are making good progress. Ten years ago I outlined a plan with council and community groups to progressively upgrade our three iconic arts facilities – the Theatre Royal, the Suter Art Gallery and the Nelson School of Music. Two are complete with Council and Government support and the latter is well underway and due for completion in September. I also note progress with privately owned buildings with a number in the CBD like Trathen’s coming down and being replaced. This is to be welcomed, despite the loss of heritage.

I also commend the council for the courage and commitment in seeing through the substantial upgrade and strengthening of the Trafalgar Centre due for reopening in February.

Today I want to encourage our community to join me and the Anglican Church in a campaign to strengthen our iconic Christ Church Cathedral.

I rate our Cathedral as Nelson’s most important building, a landmark that helps define our heritage. It sits in the iconic position at the head of Trafalgar Street with the Church Steps serving as civic central where generations have seen off our servicemen to war, where we have greeted Royalty, where we protest, where we celebrate our victories and mark significant centenaries. I rate our Christmas Eve carols attended by thousands amongst our treasured annual events. The Nelson Cathedral is now, with the demise of the cathedral in Christchurch, the most visited in New Zealand.

The problem is that this 1929 building is earthquake prone, and could in a significant event suffer the same fate as Christchurch’s cathedral. A closer quake like Kaikoura’s would be likely to bring down the tower and do substantial damage to the nave.

I want to make clear that the Cathedral is not unsafe to occupy – it is not as earthquake prone as the likes of the School of Music or Trafalgar Centre that needed to be temporarily closed. But it is at risk of significant damage, and having seen the pain in Christchurch over theirs, I would much prefer we strengthen ours ahead of any such major quake.

The cost of strengthening our Cathedral up to about 80 percent of the new Building Standards would be between $5 million and $8 million according to preliminary work – a fraction of what it would cost for a replacement building. I also note that the building is currently uninsurable.

There may be those who will argue that this is a problem of the Anglican Church and Nelson diocese. I do not share that view. This building has a wider civic role and the Church generously opens it to visitors and all manner of community events. The Suter Art Gallery, School of Music, and Theatre Royal are all privately owned by trusts but received both taxpayer and ratepayer support for upgrading.

I am working with the Church Trustees and, in partnership with the council, I would like to work towards establishing a fundraising trust to help protect this valued part of our beautiful city. We should set a target of having this strengthening work done within five years, i.e. by 2022. That’s a prudent time frame that is realistic about the cost but also about the risk.

Conclusions

I thank you again for this opportunity to address an issue of importance in some depth. Our high seismic risk is the flip side of living in a country with such magnificent mountains, lakes and scenery that makes us the envy of the world.

The initiatives I have outlined tonight on the Government’s work programme for improving New Zealand’s management of seismic risks this year are ambitious.

The changes to our building and resource management laws are the most significant in decades. The new regulations on building assessments and natural hazard management will challenge our councils, engineering and planning professions. The new funds for unreinforced masonry façades and heritage buildings, and engineering training and research, will help improve safety.

This package of changes will save hundreds of Kiwi lives in future quakes and put New Zealand at the leading edge in earthquake preparedness.

My last point re-emphasises where I began.

We cannot eliminate all the risks that come from nature’s annual cruel game of seismic roulette and another Napier, Christchurch, Kaikoura or an even more devastating quake will strike again in the future.

But with smart science, innovative engineering and pragmatic policies, we can reduce the loss of life and the cost. That is what we owe future generations from our experiences from Christchurch and Kaikoura.

Related stories today:
Better managing New Zealand’s earthquake risks
Smith lists the initiatives to improve coping with quakes
Fast fix ordered for Wellington & Blenheim unreinforced masonry

Earlier stories:
18 November 2016: Ministry to investigate buildings’ performance in quake
15 August 2016: Property Council calls Government’s new heritage support fund “underwhelming”
17 April 2016: QuakeCore lab opens
3 September 2015: Property Council suggests measures to help quake-affected owners
3 September 2015: Government bows to quake survivor’s submissions
14 August 2015: Smith talks up firmer hand on environmental rules
3 July 2015: Council falls into line on quake-prone checks
25 June 2015: Select committee seeks feedback on quake-prone buildings bill changes
20 May 2015: Changes proposed for managing buildings in emergencies
10 May 2015: Government eases quake strengthening targets

7 March 2014: Quake-prone buildings bill introduced

Image above: Dr Smith in charge of a digger last October.

Attribution: Full speech.

Continue Reading

Bill to enable housing on Pt England Reserve passes first reading

The bill to enable housing development on part of the Pt England Reserve beside the Tamaki Estuary passed its first reading last week and has been referred to the Local Government & Environment Select Committee for consideration.

Public submissions close on Tuesday 31 January and the committee is expected to report back to Parliament in April.

The Government unveiled a 300-home development by the Tamaki Redevelopment Co Ltd & Ngati Paoa on 11.7ha of the 45.4ha reserve on 6 December, and was met by a chorus of the mayor, local councillor & local board calling for the proceeds to be invested in new open spaces.

Dr Nick Smith – Building & Housing Minister when he announced the proposal, now Building & Construction Minister after yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle – said 2ha would be used for a marae, and said 18ha had been used for grazing cows. Mayor Phil Goff said the reserve was vested in Auckland Council, with an underlying Crown title. The council also administer an adjacent 2.9ha council-owned beach reserve/

The development land adjoins housing owned by the Tamaki Redevelopment Co that is due for redevelopment as part of the regeneration of the Tamaki area.

Dr Smith said after the bill passed its first reading: “This plan is about replacing the cows with homes and enhancing the balance of the reserve with improved recreational & cultural facilities. This initiative will give more families a warm, dry, affordable home, improve amenities in the area and help to resolve Ngati Paoa’s treaty settlement.

“Ngati Paoa will have the right to develop this land for housing and will pay fair market value. A further 2ha is being provided for the development of a marae as part of the cultural redress of the treaty settlement.”

He said the aim was to achieve a minimum of 20% social houses & 20% affordable houses, but the details still had to be negotiated with Ngati Paoa.

Link:
Point England Development Enabling Bill

Earlier story:
7 December 2016: Ngati Paoa to build 300 homes on Pt England Reserve, talks continue on reserve upgrade

Attribution: Parliament, bill, ministerial & council releases.

Continue Reading

National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms

The National majority in the Government and its Maori Party partners have reached agreement on policy issues in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday this would enable the bill to pass its second & third readings.

Dr Smith said: “This legislation is critical to the Government’s programme of improving New Zealand’s environmental management, increasing the supply & affordability of housing and supporting economic growth. This is the most comprehensive package of reform to the Resource Management Act since its inception 25 years ago, and it is welcome news that we have the parliamentary support to put these 40 changes into law.”

He listed the 12 major provisions in the bill, which is part of the second phase of the Government’s resource management reforms:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity & cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for council to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other acts like Reserves, Conservation & Exclusive Economic Zone
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions, and
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements.

“The Maori Party has strongly advocated for improved iwi participation. This has been achieved through including the mana whakahono a rohe/iwi participation arrangement in the bill. This enables iwi & councils to enter into agreements on how iwi can be involved in resource management processes, so as to ensure their perspective is heard & understood. Many councils already have these agreements through Treaty settlements or good practice. The Government supports these provisions because we want iwi involved in how natural resources are managed and because formalising the process will help achieve better outcomes with less delays & costs.”

The Government first proposed the reforms in the bill in 2013, but couldn’t advance them when it couldn’t secure enough parliamentary support. National introduced a revised bill without the controversial changes to the purpose of the act last December, with the support of the Maori Party for the first reading but subject to further discussion on significant issues such as the iwi participation arrangements.

Submissions were heard on the bill from April to June, and the select committee received 2 departmental reports – one in August and the latest last week. Opposition parties refused an extension last week of the select committee report-back date beyond 7 November, so it was reported pro forma. The Government will refer the bill back to the select committee again today.

Dr Smith said: “The select committee has a major task ahead to work through the 500-page departmental report and refine the drafting of the bill. The Government wants to advance the legislation as quickly as possible, but this is an area of law where getting the detail right is particularly important. It may be completed this year, but may flow into early next year. We will also need to consult with the Maori Party on the detailed drafting when the bill is reported back to Parliament to ensure it is consistent with the agreed policy.”

Link:
Resource Legislation Amendment Bill Q&As.pdf (pdf 298.25 KB)

Attribution: Ministerial release.

Continue Reading
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux