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Consequences Of Policies, Laws And Rules

Do the people who dream up policies, laws or rules or the people who draft them ever think of the consequences of their actions or just look at the end result that they want? These policies, Laws or Rules are often driven by the need to satisfy the extremely vocal minority who have set ideas and are never prepared to alter their opinions.

Some examples are the:

The Green Party policy on having to pay a wealth tax on any mortgage free assets over a million dollars.

One million dollars in mortgage free assets is quite easy to accumulate in many areas of New Zealand now as a lot of property owned by the average person is valued at over a million dollars. As people have grown older they have paid off their mortgage on their family home and purely as a result of increases in valuations over an extended period of time, their property is now valued at over a million dollars.

Many of these property owners will be on fixed retirement incomes and unable to pay the extra tax so they will effectively be taxed out of their family home leaving them in the impossible situation of trying to rent a home on the retirement superannuation payments which at the current rates of universal superannuation, is impossible, or spending their life savings to pay this tax which is nothing short of Socialism writ large.

This type of tax is just saying that if you have been fiscally responsible and saved for your retirement then we are going to tax you into penury to support those that have been totally irresponsible throughout their working life and wasted all of their disposable income.

For those people that have been fiscally sensible and saved their money and bought other property rather than wasting their income on extravagant lifestyles, they are now to be taxed again on this asset so this Green Party can play the politics of envy and provide a retirement income for those that have wasted their own income during their working life.

This tax will then lead to the owners of rental accommodation (which was purchased using money that has already been taxed) purchased to provide an income after retirement, either raising the rents or selling their rental property. Either way this is just a way of trying to deal with what is an unjust and inequitable tax regime.

It seems the Greens have realised that under this tax regime rents will increase, so now they have announced that they want to control rent increases if they become a part of the next government. So the consequences of people meddling and trying to control people who have rental properties is, that those properties could be sold, left empty, or changed to another form of use so once again the renters miss out.

The recently enacted NPS and the NES on freshwater is another example that appears to have only looked at setting a standard regardless of the consequences or the effects that it will have on other sectors of society and businesses, or the pressures that will applied by these policies, laws and rules.

When developing these policies, laws, and rules the people that write these often don’t actually talk to the users who have to work with them, instead they rely on the use of consultation rounds. While this is a method of getting feedback there is no guarantee that the feedback is coming from the people that are going to have to implement the policies, and in many cases the feedback is overwhelmingly from minority interest groups that have the time and pooled resources to sway the outcome around to their preferred options. The time and costs of making submissions during consultation processes are prohibitive for most individuals and therefore often when the policies are advertised there is public outcry that they are not fit for purpose.

Often the people or industries that have to actually implement these policies are not opposed to the principle but will have found that the policies are unworkable in their format because the proposed processes are not practicable to implement. We do need to have sensible policies laws and rules that allows us as a society to prosper whilst still protecting our environment, but we also need to be able to survive and this is why the Resource Management Act in its original format had three guiding principles (social, economic and cultural wellbeing) that had to be taken into account when making decisions under that Act:

The purpose of the Resource Management Act is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.

In this Act, sustainable management means managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while—

  1. sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
  2. safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
  3. avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.

One of the consequences of this reliance on the current public consultation model is that when the public oppose the proposals then there is a very expensive process of hearings and even court processes, but again individuals are often prohibited from being part of this process simply by being unable to afford the costs of participation. Going through this process of consultation may end with a decision that is democratically made but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is either fair or equitable, just that it is the majority decision of those able to participate in the process.

Peter Buckley is a Board Member of the Primary Land Users Group (PLUG).

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