In the last week the National government’s ideological approach has been heavily criticised by the very organisations that should be the beneficiaries of the it’s proposed policy changes.
Lowered regulation in housing construction
On Monday Radio New Zealand reported that the government is planning to allow builder self certification and that “New Zealand had “moved on” from issues raised by leaky buildings.” As well as adverse comment from opposition politicians Phil Twyford and James Shaw, a senior lawyer, and representatives from builder’s and home owner’s organisations were not happy either.
The programme reported that “Home Owners and Buyers Association president John Gray said <that Minister Paula Bennett> was wrong about the country moving on from the leaky homes controversy.” Gray said “to suggest that we have moved on, and that products have moved on to the extent that building failures will not occur again, is just plain wrong.
In the same interview Registered Master Builders Association head David Kelly said “At this stage anyway we don’t think that the industry is ready for self-certifying whole houses” He continued saying that “if builders do get more freedom to sign off work, then the licensed building practitioner standards need to be set at a higher level”.
Finally Stuart Robertson – a senior partner at Kensington Swann – was also concerned by the recommendations saying “There are second-time and third-time leaky homes out there at the moment. I have no confidence we are over the leaky building crisis”.
“If we’ve learned nothing else from the weather-tightness crisis, we shouldn’t be rushing into self-certification. Builders don’t intend to build defective or leaky buildings, but the pressure on them from developers and consultants to perform does leave open a high element of risk.”
Privatisation and cuts in research
In a separate Radio NZ story today Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the agriculture industry was in need of climate research, and that should not be sacrificed. This was in relation to the current review of AgResearch that will cut up to 100 jobs.
“We want to see a science sector that’s increasing its output not decreasing it, not necessarily picking particular subjects in a vacuum of information. It’s about the overall picture,” he said. “We know the government wants to diversify the economy, and we actually support that, but we don’t want that to be done at the expense of agriculture.”
When those for whom the policies have been designed are so vocal about their downside you have to wonder whether the government has lost sight of what important members of its core constituency value. With builders, farmers, property owners and lawyers protesting the changes you have to wonder if ideology is trumping common sense in the delivery of services that will keep New Zealand homes dry and our primary industries running well.