The Government released its “loopy rules” report today, a combination of much whingeing, some clearly unhelpful rules & practices, but also some questionable responses.
The first example from the report’s Top 10: “The rule is not practical: The owners of a bus depot structure that has no walls are forced to install 4 exit signs, just in case people can’t find their way out if there is a fire.”
In the realm of resource management: “The proliferation of policies & criteria add up to a potent brew: A section 42a report done for a subdivision had to be assessed against 59 objectives & policies.”
Under Unnecessary bureaucracy: “Some rules are there ‘just in case’ a problem might arise in future, with little evidence that it will.”
And among the many complaints about building consents, led by the most frequent frustration of a council letter seeking further information being sent on day 18 or 19 of a 20-day legislated timeframe: “Average building consent fee is 1% (including BRANZ fees). This is $5000 on a $500,000 house. How can it cost so much?”
Local Government Minister Paula Bennett proposed a rules reduction taskforce in July last year, selected a 9-member panel in February, and said today their findings showed real opportunities for both central & local government to make life easier for New Zealanders.
The taskforce wrote: “We did hear of rules that protect people, the environment, infrastructure & our heritage but which still enable individuals, businesses & our economy to prosper & grow. But we are struck by the number of instances where the good intentions of the rulemakers are somehow lost in the translation to the real world.”
The taskforce held 50 public meetings and received nearly 2000 submissions. Mrs Bennett said: “We have listened to New Zealanders and the message is clear: there are too many frustrating rules & regulations, and too many are being applied inconsistently, and it is holding our communities back.
“The report outlines practical opportunities for government departments & local councils to improve the level of customer service they offer, and give that clarity people need. We will be embracing these opportunities finding practical solutions.”
The submissions covered 11 ministers’ portfolios, the majority relating to the Resource Management Act & the Building Act.
“Over the next few weeks, ministers will be working with their departments & agencies to progress the quick fixes and what will take a bit longer to tackle. We’ll continue to update www.rulesreduction.govt.nz and make announcements as this work progresses.
“The Government will also be working with local government to ensure they are providing the right advice to their residents about what rules & regulations mean and how they apply in their communities.
“The members of the taskforce also heard loud & clear that there are several myths about rules & regulations that don’t actually exist. This includes the misconception that lolly scrambles have been banned, and that people can’t use 3-step ladders.
“By breaking through this misinformation, New Zealanders will be better placed to focus on the serious rules designed to keep people safe and our economy growing.”
The main gripe in the taskforce’s top 10 list was, “”Make it easier!” But between doing that for building consents and for resource consents, submitters also told the workforce that regulators needed to lift the building sector’s skills. Question: If a sector can’t lift its skills itself, how can it be trusted to do a job properly without constant monitoring & supervision?
The top 10:
- Make it easier to get building consents
- Get serious about lifting the skills of building sector
- Make it easier to get resource consents
- Reduce the cost of consenting fees
- Sort out what “work safety” means and how to do it
- Make it clear what the rules are
- Establish a new customer focus for the public sector
- Departments should introduce a stakeholder engagement approach to developing local government policies & regulations
- Reform the Local Government Act 1974 & the Reserves Act 1977
- Stop making loopy rules.
2 June 2015: ‘Loopy rules’ submissions open for another fortnight
11 February 2015: Bennett names her taskforce against loopy rules
23 July 2014: Bennett says Begone! to “loopy” rules
Attribution: Ministerial release & taskforce report.