Imagine being an owner of a bus depot with no walls who is forced to install four exit signs, just in case people can't find their way out if there is a fire.
Or having to spend $30,000 to put in a driveway and move a water-tank from the back to the front of a house because if the house caught fire, the fire chief would not drive his truck past the house to the tank in case it caught fire too.
Those are just two examples of some of the loopy rules that could go after the National Government’s response to the Rules Reduction Taskforce’s “Loopy Rules” report.
The taskforce, set up in 2014 to hear which property related rules and regulations stop people from getting on with the job, submitted a report which identified 75 opportunities to improve the way rules and regulations are developed and implemented at a local level.
Now the Government has begun work to address the 72 recommendations it accepted. One of the most common gripes the taskforce heard was poor customer service, especially when seeking building and resource consents, and generally dealing with property related matters.
Through the Provincial Priorities meetings my colleagues and I have held across New Zealand, from the top of Northland right down to the deep South, one of the big issues raised at these meetings was the debate around loopy rules and regulations, and how much of a hindrance they can be to businesses. I am delighted that the Government is able to do something tangible in this space, and remove such unnecessary barriers in the workspace.
We believe unnecessary barriers to consenting should be removed and processes streamlined, so we are exploring a risk-based consenting approach. Meanwhile, councils are getting more guidance about the use of discretion when assessing what work does not need a building consent and we are encouraging the use of staged consents so structural work can get underway before non-structural work is approved.
It’s vital we continue to make progress in this space to encourage and support local and central Government to reduce the costs that regulations impose on people and businesses carrying out their affairs whilst providing safe and skilled workplaces for New Zealanders.
Getting rid of loopy rules and making it easier to live and do business in our communities is a big lesson taken from the Taskforce process. Ultimately, doing so helps the Government’s programme to grow our economy, and provide better public services for New Zealanders.