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Harawira Speech: Building Amendment Bill

Building (Late Consent is a Free Consent) Amendment Bill

Hone Harawira, Employment Spokesperson for Maori Party

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Mr Speaker, the Māori Party has the view that “what is good for Māori, has got to be good for the nation.”

And when we look at the Building and Construction industry, we see that our view is the right one, because the construction industry in this country is massive.

$19 billion, more than 150,000 people, and heaps of Māori working as architects, designers, plumbers, plasterers, and roofers. We drive the bulldozers, we contract the subbies, we do the welding, the concreting, the building - in fact, in the construction industry, Māori really are doing the business.

In fact, apart from the armed forces, construction is the only industry to increase its share of Maori employment from 1999 to 2005, up a massive 55%.

The Construction Industry also contributes some 5% of our nation’s GDP, and even more to our Genuine Progress Index, the GPI, which measures sustainability, well-being and quality of life; and clearly, benefits from the building industry have a positive impact in employment, planning, economic growth, warmth, shelter, and family stability.

Mr Speaker, this Bill will amend the Building Act to prevent Councils from charging fees when through their own fault, they’re late getting their paperwork done; in fact, this Bill will create a “no-fee” provision over eight separate pieces of legislation.

Mr Speaker, in simple terms, this Bill will stop Councils from charging people when Council’s screw up, and we want to know from those in the industry, whether this will actually reduce building delays, or whether or not those delays may be caused by other issues; and we look forward to the select committee process to hear what solutions people in the industry may have.

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The Maori Party is well aware that the building industry of today has a low uptake in vocational training - quite a shock to those Maori communities who have always taken pride in the chippies, the sparkies, and the brickies that have come from their ranks.

I can remember Mr Speaker, back in the 60s and the 70s, working alongside young men doing their trade training through Māori Affairs and staying at the Māori Hostels in Gillies Ave and Owens Rd.

The Department recruited, transported, housed and supervised trainees and Technical Institutes provided the training.

The scheme, launched in 1959 as an experiment, was a blazing and spectacular success:

* It reduced rural unemployment;

* It let young Maori step into employment in a supportive environment;

* It produced a pool of trained employees in the building industry; and

* It provided highly skilled tradesmen;

In fact, I can remember Mainzeal, one of Auckland’s biggest construction businesses, having an open door on all Māori Affairs trade trainees, such was the quality of their apprenticeships and their work.

With the advent of this latest Bill before the House, I can’t help but think back to that scheme, and wonder why we aren’t re-establishing such a scheme to cope with the delays in building management.

We look forward to hearing about what is causing the delays; and whether those delays are actually being created from inefficiencies, lack of planning, lack of staff, or just plain bureaucratic incompetence.

We want to know whether speeding up the process will impact on the quality of the decisions being made, and we need to know that reducing fees will not mean reducing quality in the building management process.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party will support this Bill to select committee, because any move to reduce costs and delays in such a strong and vibrant industry can only benefit the community at large, the Māori community in general, and the Māori workforce in particular.

ends

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