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Jones: Australbricks Selection Centre

Hon Shane Jones
Minister for Building and Construction
Associate Minister in Charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Associate Minister of Immigration
Associate Minister of Trade
Date: 21 February 2008 Speech


Speech by Hon Shane Jones
Embargoed until 6.30pm


Minister for Building and Construction
Gala Event of Austral Bricks Selection Centre, Penrose, Auckland
Thursday, 21 February, 2008

Tena koutou katoa, greetings all….

Good evening and thank you Blair Hickling (General manager of Australbricks NZ) and David Fitzharris (Group general manager Australbricks East Coast and NZ) for inviting me here this evening among so many building professionals to acknowledge the growing achievements of a company which is contributing to the success of the NZ building industry.

Last week in her opening address to the house Prime Minister Helen Clark underlined the need to tackle regulatory costs which she said were adding unreasonably to the costs of building a house, and she wanted us to do this by starting with simplifying the design and building consents processes for starter homes.

Australbricks, I recognise, is one of many Australasian organisations manufacturing bricks for a demanding New Zealand market which faces a number of challenging issues.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

The first topic I’d like to discuss is the question of housing affordability.
The Prime Minister, in her speech, raised housing affordability as a huge concern to New Zealanders whether it is those:

- Trying to get into their first home.

- Those attempting to get financial support in order to get into their first home.

- Or those trying to find ways to service their mortgage rates as they look to buy their first home.

From the Building and Housing’s point of view, our contribution to Housing Affordability concerns is in the area of increasing supply. And, we have begun work in the area by committing ourselves to increasing flexibility and tackling regulatory costs.

That is why this Government believes the starter homes concept is about looking carefully at how we can make building quality homes simple and cost effective for those who are looking at this option.

The building sector reforms this government has introduced will ensure New Zealanders have access to quality homes and buildings that meet their needs, reflect our environment and are sustainable. In effect we want Kiwi homes to be better designed, better built, better heated and better insulated.


We, as a Government, want to be able to assist these people who are interested in building new homes by:

- Providing guidance for standardised plans

- Making the consent process easier and more efficient

- Helping councils refocus their consenting practices, by matching scrutiny with risk

- Educating designers and builders to better overall understand the building consents process

BUILDING CODE REVIEW

In so far as the building code goes, I can assure you the Government is not intending making wholesale changes as a result of the review of the code.

However focus will be put on assisting councils to achieve better consistency, and possible standardisation, in decision making right across New Zealand.

The updated Code will reflect input from a wide range of organisations and individuals and its findings should be of interest throughout the building and construction sector and to the wider public.

It’s not about telling people what they have to do and how they have to do it but about the minimum building performance standards that have to be met.


LICENCED BUILDING PRACTIONERS

On Wednesday I will be presenting the first licence under the Licensed Building Practioners’ (LBP) scheme. This scheme heralds a new era for the industry where we are focussing on lifting the quality and competency of those employed in the building and construction sector.

These licenses reflect the changing landscape for the sector and; it is a bid to get every single individual involved in some way and shape to improve their knowledge and skills.

By doing this, employers will be assured they have a workforce that understands and can undertake safe and quality building work.

Those Practioners with a license will be able to take pride in their work and should be acknowledged for their skill and experience. They will be first and we hope many will follow their example.

I believe that builders will want to take the opportunity to have their work and experience recognised and valued and that is why I feel they should get licensed. Also, consumers will be able to have confidence in any builder with a Licensed Building Practitioner licence.

WORKING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT


Among my key priorities this year, in accordance with the Government’s desire to continue its daily business, is to meet and listen to those who are important to the sector, particularly those from the Local Government Authorities building and controls departments.

To that effect I have begun a series of forums starting with the three Northland mayors. Northland was chosen because it provides us a microcosm of the New Zealand landscape with a city, a town and a series of satellite towns and settlements.

All three mayors and their senior staff came forward with some interesting proposals for consideration on each of the proposals I have previously outlined.

It is my intention to continue to engage as many people as I can at every level of the industry over the next few weeks from builders on the construction sites, company managers, local government authorities and generally as many people who are relevant to the industry.

At the end of these discussions, I will in a few weeks, report back to the Prime Minister with a range of options to be considered so that we can move forward and address the national concerns over regulatory and compliance costs.

And while I’m here I welcome the opportunity to invite initiatives, ideas, and possible solutions that will help us get it right.

Thank you and Kapai


ENDS

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