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PQ 5. Local Government Regulations—Rules Reduction Taskforce

[Sitting date: 23 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:6. Text is subject to correction.]

5. MAGGIE BARRY (National—North Shore) to the Minister of Local Government : What recent announcements has she made about reducing red tape for property owners?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister of Local Government): Our new Rules Reduction Task force will weed out pedantic and loopy rules that frustrate homeowners. I constantly hear complaints from homeowners about rules brought in over years by both central and local government that are confusing, onerous, and costly, even if they are well intentioned. This task force will give New Zealanders an opportunity to submit their ideas about which rules need axing. The group will then look at what should stay and what should go, so that people can get on with the job of building and renovating, without having to wade through unnecessary bureaucracy.

Maggie Barry : What suggestions has she already seen about pedantic red tape?

Hon Member : Is that the red scarf?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : No, she did not say red scarf. She said red tape. The country has got more important things to worry about. In just a few hours yesterday more than 400 comments had been made on the Stuff website by people frustrated by loopy rules. I have heard everything, from people being told where they can put their shower curtain, to someone being told their pool fence was not compliant, because a jasmine plant was growing up the side of it. I have even heard of a person being told that they had to put windows in to let the light in, even though they had just installed a ranchslider, but, of course, it was considered a door. There is no doubt that every time someone has to comply with one of these rules, it holds back what should be common sense for a property owner to be able to do.

Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the normal way, if the Minister has been reading from official advice, I would like her to table that, please, and in particular confirm—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Was the Minister quoting from an official document?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : No, I was quoting from a website.

Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : I hope it is a point of order.

Hon David Cunliffe : Further to the last point of order, and I thank you for allowing us to proceed, to get to the bottom of the Minister’s assertion—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Can the member come to his point of order.

Hon David Cunliffe : Could the Minister please table the source regulation that she was referring to, perhaps about the shower curtain?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is not a point of order.

Maggie Barry : What is the skill set that you are looking for for the people in the task force?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I have been thinking about people who might be of value on this task force—people who know that they should not stand up and apologise for being a man, for example—

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Hon PAULA BENNETT : They are people who no longer think about red scarfs actually being what is holding them back from getting their message across. Those kinds of loopy—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That answer will not help the order of the House.

Su'a William Sio : Will her task force help to get rid of loopy, bureaucratic rules like councils being required to individually identify every tree they want to protect in their council area by street address or legal description in their council plans, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to ratepayers, which her Government introduced? [Interruption]

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Oh, brilliant! Thank you. Lovely.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Again, members will be interested to know the answer.

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Yes, I am sure they will. Actually, it is their decision. It is not a rule that has been put in place. It is how the councils are actually administrating it. This is the kind of thing that we can cut through. We accept that Labour likes layers upon layers of rules that do not actually mean that a community can get on and do what a property owner should be able to do on their own land. The people like this—it is this that they will—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Sio referred to a specific rule that the local bodies have to comply with. That is the one I want to hear about. That is what he asked about—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member would resume his seat, he might recall the question was whether the task force would help to get rid of such a rule. If we could have a bit more quiet on this side of the House, we could hear the answer. Does the honourable Minister wish to complete—

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I am done.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that Mr Sio asked a specific question and there has not been any attempt to answer it.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I do not agree with the member. I was listening through a barrage of noise, but from the answer I heard, the Minister was saying that that is exactly the type of thing she hopes the task force will be able to get rid of.

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