Help us cut 'dumb' red tape - Key

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014

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Kiwis with gripes about red tape will be asked to tell the Government about "crazy" regulation as part of a campaign to reduce the number of rules around property ownership, Prime Minister John Key says.

He used his address at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Nelson yesterday to launch the "rules reduction task force", which will be backed by a social-media campaign to ask Kiwis about "dumb" rules. These included the rule that homeowners had to have a window in a room to let light in even if there was a ranch-slider door.

"There are some things that homeowners go through, because councils are required to implement regulations and rules which are completely outdated, that were written for a particular reason but which no longer work," Key said after his speech.

"Essentially, what we're going to say to New Zealanders is, ‘look, if you can see crazy rules and regulations that you have to comply with, that make no sense, email them to us'.

"We think we'll be able to do a rewrite of a lot of those regulations, particularly for property owners."

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said local councils were often forced to interpret and enforce confusing regulations.

"Some of the rules are mind-boggling for us but, actually, when they get down to the [affected] person's life, they're even more mind-boggling."

Labour leader David Cunliffe questioned the motivation behind the plan, saying the party had offered to support reforming parts of the Resource Management Act related to residential consents, but had been refused.

He confirmed the party's plans to create a new regional development fund of "at least" $200 million, which would invest sums of $10m or more to boost regional infrastructure projects alongside councils or the private sector.

Projects which could be suitable would be Opotiki's hope of improving the navigability of its river to help unlock aquaculture investment, creating a rail link to Northland Port and restoring the Napier to Gisborne rail link.

"We're looking at things that will achieve a step change in the ability of a region in its strongest sector, acknowledging that every region has different resource endowments, and we grow the value of the whole of the economy when we do what we do even better," he said.

There would be a "rigorous" process to analyse projects.

Key dismissed the Labour plan as a "slush fund", claiming a Cunliffe government would add more costs to the regions than the fund would offer.

Key also revealed that the Government was "looking at" the Opotiki project, saying it saw logic in what proponents claimed.

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