By Minister of Local Government Paula Bennett
One of the best things about my job is getting around the country, talking to New Zealanders from all walks of life and hearing about what’s important to their communities.
Across the board, from Fairlie to Franklin, the message I hear is quite clear. There are too many frustrating rules and regulations being applied inconsistently.
They are holding people back from doing simple things like DIY around their home, right through to the serious where people are ignoring important health and safety rules and grappling with the compliance costs of expanding their businesses.
We set up the Rules Reduction Taskforce to hear directly from New Zealanders about their experiences dealing with local and central government. Fifty meetings were held across the country and close to 2000 submissions were received.
I recently received the report from the Taskforce and now I’m leading the work across Government to deliver results.
We heard that there are some out of date rules which the Government is in the process of working through updating or abolishing — such as the requirement that hair salons have to be registered every year but tattoo parlours don’t. Those are easy to fix.
It’s also clear there are a lot of myths about things people think they can’t do, like not being allowed to stand on a three-step ladder or lolly scrambles being banned by the Government.
These simply aren’t true, but they’re persistent. We’re busting these myths so people are free to focus on what really matters. You can see examples online at www.rulesreduction.govt.nz.
A lot of it often comes down to well-meaning government or council staff who aren’t given clear enough guidance about how to apply a rule locally, or don’t realise that there might be leeway for them to use common sense.
Fixing this requires a real culture change within the public service. We’re working to create more of a focus on customer service, so that those making the rules and those applying them are constantly thinking about how this affects the end-user.
Change won’t happen overnight, but the status quo absolutely isn’t good enough, so I can assure you that change will happen.
Unsurprisingly, most of the issues people submitted about came from dealing with the Resource Management Act. Reforming the RMA remains one of our top priorities, and I’m confident you’ll hear more about this soon.
Just because the Rules Reduction Taskforce isn’t out there meeting with members of the public anymore doesn’t mean we don’t want to keep hearing your feedback.
If you come up against some loopy rule, or some overzealous government or council worker is getting in your way, send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org, or email me at email@example.com.
Government and councils shouldn’t be here to make your life difficult. We want this to be a country where people can get on with the job and make a home or business they’re proud of.
I’m doing my bit to help, and I look forward to updating you on our progress soon.