Lighting the regulations bonfire

Every day in Parliament someone discovers a new problem that can be fixed by a new regulation.  Often it can seem like a good idea – something to improve the quality of rental properties, something to reduce accidents, or to allow a voice to be heard on a particular topic.

They land, layer on layer, like snow.  And, although, many of them make sense individually, together they add weight and cost to everything.

There are huge health benefits from affordable housing.  There are huge safety benefits from driving on high quality roads.   But the cost of building new houses and safe new roads in New Zealand is extraordinarily high.  Poor quality regulation is a real factor in those high costs, and so any sensible government must work hard to push back.

On Health & Safety laws, I’ll never forget cruising down Greenlane West, a 50 kph suburban road, and seeing someone working on the footpath.   Beside him on the road was a huge motorway truck with the flashing lights and crash pad on its back.  But there wasn’t one of them.  Three were lined up in a row behind the man working on the footpath. 

The bizarre thing is, while we waste resources on such silly things, over the summer I’d encounter roadworks on the open road, where workers were active and they had a 30 kph zone in place.  People were driving at 80 kph, dangerously, but nowhere was there any enforcement of the speed limit. 

The best regulatory systems have fewer clear rules, rigorously enforced.  In too many areas we have lots of rules, sporadically enforced. 

The Ardern-Peters-Greens government is very much in the space of more regulation; more rules.

National wants to push back, so we can concentrate on the stuff that really matters. 

Recently, as the first part of our economic plan, we confirmed we will remove two regulations for every new one introduced and will light a regulations bonfire.

There are tens of thousands of regulations in New Zealand. There are so many that officials don’t know how many there are or where to find them all.

We recognise many of these regulations have built up over the years and are no longer fit for purpose. Some of them protect and preserve the interests of industries or highly risk-averse Government or Council officials.

We will remove barriers to new entrants to the market and streamline unnecessarily slow and expensive bureaucratic procedures.

Having a concrete policy of eliminating two old regulations for every new regulation introduced will incentivise officials to look at ways of reducing regulations before they impose new ones.

A good place to start is Labour’s reforms to the Residential Tenancy Act which reduce property rights of landlords, increase costs, discourage the supply of rental properties and increase rents for low income households. That’s not good for the landlord, or the tenant.

We understand a large number of costly regulations are set by local councils. We respect the right for local councils to set some of their own rules, but a future National Government will not be afraid to legislate over local councils where they impose unnecessary and costly regulations on local businesses and families.

We will work with local councils to introduce a two for one regulation policy which mirrors the one National will introduce.

It’s critical that all governments understand the burdens that are being placed on households and businesses by excessive red tape.  Let the bonfire begin.