What's Going wONg: Apologise? Never!
What's Going wONg
It probably came as a surprise to Immigration Minister Paul Swain that one of his colleagues, former Minister Lianne Dalziel, had apologised in a Christchurch based Chinese newspaper for raising English language requirements in late 2002 for business migrants.
Swain was unaware of his colleague's comments until I alerted him to them in a written question.
Dalziel admits in the paper on 27 April this year that she was wrong to raise English requirements in November 2002, specifically for the Business and Investor categories, and that she was sorry. She also says that given her time again - presumably as Immigration Minister - she would amend her past mistakes.
When the New Zealand Herald contacted Dalziel, she denied apologising, but conceded she had expressed her regret.
It would appear that she is desperately trying to gain support for Labour from the Chinese speaking community. However, Swain has said in an answer to a written question that he has no plans to review English language requirements.
The way Dalziel has tailored her message for the Chinese speaking community only, and the subsequent flip-flop, is systematic of this Labour Government.
Integrity is lying thin on the ground within Labour. Helen Clark still says she didn't know how fast her motorcade was travelling when she made her infamous dash to a rugby game, and she has remained tight-lipped about the Doone case. Meanwhile, John Tamihere accepted a golden handshake when he told the country and Clark that he wouldn't.
Labour also accused the New Zealand Herald of putting the phrase 'deep dark secret' into the mouth of Labour Party President Mike Williams. But when the reporter produced the tape of the interview this was proved not to be the case. In the meantime Michael Cullen still blames the media for hyping the 67-cent a week tax cut.
It's clear the public can't trust this Government - Labour is a victim of its own spin and is losing grasp of the facts.
Time to get off the RMA merry-go-round
Love it or hate it, the Resource Management Act has a strong hand in shaping our country. Hardly a week goes by without hearing news about problems it causes.
The RMA is infamous for putting a stop to, or holding up, events such as the V8 racing, which was canned in both Auckland and Wellington. It's obvious that the Act needs to be overhauled. Currently, it wraps so much red tape around various projects that it can take years to cut through it all.
A few weeks ago, a couple from Christchurch wrote to me about the problems they had experienced, because of the RMA, during the building of their motel. Their case is a perfect example of the flaws in the Act.
They say they were granted Resource Consent in May 2003, but one month later the owner of the property next door challenged the consent. What ensued was a bitter legal battle, spanning one-and-a-half years, during which time the objectors put off the Environment Court hearing twice for various reasons. Then, days before the case was due to be heard by a judge, the objectors withdrew their complaint.
The costs for the motel owners were substantial - they spent upwards of $20,000 preparing for a hearing that never happened, and were awarded only $1,500 in costs. And the objector had paid only $55 to lodge his appeal with the Environment Court.
The RMA is holding up many legitimate projects. It is ridiculous that anyone can take a dislike to a project and then hold it up for years with minimal cost to them.
This isn't the only legislation holding back business. A few weeks ago, I visited the Metropolis complex in Auckland city, where an apartment owner has been living among steel pipes and timber frames for months - their alterations were supposed to be finished last December.
The builders at the apartment said those types of delays were all too common because of the Building Act, the overboard approach taken by the City Council on building projects following the leaky homes problem, and the sheer volume of paperwork builders must complete before they can pick up their tools.
The RMA and the Building Act combined are causing avoidable delays and extra costs. In these two cases alone, a motel was delayed for 18 months because of one objector with questionable motives, and builders aren't able to get on with the job because of unnecessary paperwork.
I know there are many similar cases around the country, and National recognises that the RMA, in particular, needs an urgent overhaul. It is time to put an end to the merry-go-round that homeowners, builders and business people have to get on just to get the job done. Watch out for an announcement about this soon!