Nowhere to Hide

Written By: - Date published: 2:05 pm, December 3rd, 2008 - 36 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

“Far too much irksome regulation is putting unnecessary burdens on households and businesses,” says Rodney Hide. Problem is, for all his rhetoric, Rodney can’t actually name any ‘irksome’ or unnecessary regulations.

Now, he is “appealling” to us to stop him looking like a puffed up idiot. He wants us to do his job for him by identifying bad regulations. One would think that he would already have a list as long as your arm. After all, he has a Bill that is meant to stop all these terrible regulations from being made. And ACT campaigned on being able to increase GDP growth by 0.25% a year by getting rid of “all nutty regulations”. To calculate that gain ACT must know which regulations it is talking about… unless it just pulled the number out of its arse.

Look, there are always improvements that can be made to regulations, just like everything else, but there is no evidence that it is a major problem that can’t be solved by incremental improvements as per normal. What is clear is that Hide is way out of his depth. Being the blow-hard in opposition is easy, governing is hard and serious work. Hide just isn’t up to it, he can barely string a coherent idea together (did you see this mess of an op/ed yesterday?); a real strategy to make improvements in such a complicated and multi-faceted area as regulation is beyond him.

On a deeper level, we see that Hide’s empty puffery on regulation is just another example of the Right appealing to the reactionary moron in us all. The Right (and, too often, the media) encourages us to engage with politics in a dumb, fact-free, cliched way: ‘all this red tape is strangling us’, ‘this PC Nanny State is wrecking my life’, ‘they waste all our tax on beaurucrats’. They fight on these dishonest cliches because they don’t have anything else.

The problem National/ACT is now discovering is that you might be able to win power with endless repetition of this rubbish but, once you’re in power, you have high expectations to meet and no substance with which to fulfil them.

36 comments on “Nowhere to Hide”

  1. toad 1

    He could start with the law prohibiting the possession of cannabis for personal use Steve.

    That one wastes heaps of Police, Courts and Corrections resources, as well as making criminals out of people who have done no harm to anyone.

  2. ianmac 2

    My nephew works for a house building company in Christchurch. His job is to get all the required information teed up ready for the Consent process for all the houses that they build. “Is it a long and drawn out procees?” I asked.
    “No. Not at all. And in Ch Ch if some element is missing from an application, they hold your place in the process while you get the missing bit. With some Councils if a piece is missing, then they put you back to the beginning of the queue. That would certainly delay things.”
    So sounds like Wodney would not get much joy in Ch Ch.

  3. gingercrush 3

    Yes Christchurch Council is pretty good at holding onto money and helping out near bankrupt businessman they’re also good at increasing our rates unnecessarily particular when we’re one of the few councils to actually have surpluses. Nonetheless, I don’t really like Hide myself so I won’t get upset at the Hide bashing.

  4. Francois 4

    I request that you call National/Act it’s proper title: MACTIONALUF.

    If the Maori Party didn’t want to be associated with National they wouldn’t have propped them up.

  5. Toad. Yeah, you should write to him about that.

    They should also repeal the Civil Unions Act and amend the Marriage Act to allow same-sex marriage, that’s got to cut down on a bit of admin conplexity.

    We should get a wee list of these going and I’ll send them to Rodders.

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    While I agree with the main thrust of your post Steve I take issue with your assertion that:

    there is no evidence that it is a major problem that can’t be solved by incremental improvements as per normal.

    There is a morass of bullshit laws on our books and making a concerted effort to identify them and get rid of them is always going to be more effective than incremental change because incremental change almost never happens. People just sigh, shrug their shoulders, and keep wading through the paper work.

    Geoffrey Palmer did something similar, remember? It got rid of a bunch of irrelevant laws (though not nearly enough) because it focused attention on the problem as a specific problem (i.e. anachronistic laws) rather than as part of a wider problem (building approval delays, say).

    So I’d give him 9/10 for the idea, but 2/10 for the execution. As you say, who’d launch a campaign with no concrete examples?!

    Seems like he desperately needs some decent advisors, as does Key and several other Ministers. Are there none left in Wellington?!

  7. vto 7

    couple of high profile examples;

    1. new regulations following leaky homes. Over the top and poorly constructed.
    2. dog micoro-chips.

    I do recall some minister some years ago saying she was looking at the regulation / registration of boating. Reason given when asked – it is an area that is unregulated.

    other possibles;

    1. vehicle registration.
    2. requiring driver licence when driving.

    I dunno – isn’t this someone else’s job?

  8. Scribe 8

    They should change the bestiality laws as well. After all: “it makes criminals out of people who have done no harm to anyone.”

    And as far as cannabis not hurting anyone, ask these people

  9. lprent 9

    vto: As a person having to suffer from the National party fuckwit minister with an anti-regulation fetish who changed the building regs in the early 90’s – I’d prefer MORE regulations about buildings.

    I have a leaky apartment and it may get to court next year. That is about 11 years after building. About 4 years after we detected a problem. About 2.5 years since I started paying for the repairs.

    Basically this has made my life hell over the last few years

    Guess what – if I see a ACT fuckwit starting to reduce regulations about building plans or inspection, then I’ll lead the campaign for mandatory hanging for idiot ministers.

  10. vto 10

    lprent, fair enough re the anger over your place. Sorry to hear. I have suffered too as part of the industry. However, imo the problem arose for 3 main reasons – the changed regs you refer to, the construction fashion methods of the time and builders taking shortcuts at a time of extremely low profitability.

    More regulation is not needed. That just makes homes more expensive without necessarily achieving anything. Just less regulation the way it used to be pre-90’s.

  11. lprent 11

    The building design wasn’t a particular problem in my case. The problem we got were ones of insufficient inspection to catch simple building errors and a council that wasn’t doing their job in enforcing the building codes. At the time they were trying to offload the inspections to 3rd party inspectors because the regs allowed them to do so.

    Fortunately in my case the council itself did the inspection. The 3rd party inspectors are long gone along with their inadequate insurance. Auckland city alone thinks that they have over 300 million outstanding in liabilities that haven’t made it to court yet.

    Basically I have the tar and feathers and hemp necktie ready. I’m sure I can get people to assist with the responsibility attribution this time. Frankly I’d be helping generations unborn…

  12. They should change the bestiality laws as well. After all: “it makes criminals out of people who have done no harm to anyone.’

    I never picked you as a beast-f*cker Scribe!

    Although now I think about it it does explain lot…

  13. insider 13

    I’ve heard builders stories about the overcompensation as a result that far too much is controlled on building, and everything is over designed meaning large additional costs as councils are paranoid. Earthquake proofing in homes was one – steel inputs have increased substantially without any evidence that there is a significant risk being avoided. There was another story in the Hutt that windows would have to be glazed by an approved person, so no more puttying your own windows. Not sure if that ended up going anywhere though.

    I would have thought some form of liability insurance would have been on the cards to cover those invisible long term issues around faulty building.

  14. vto 14

    You know of course that builders are pretty much the powest paid tradesmen out there. I think that leads to a lot of the problems people have with building.

    Also, virtually every new place I have known has a problem of one type or another. A result of the nature of buildings etc.

    But I digress… It does seem a bit odd that Wodney doesn’t have his own well publicised list of regs and legislation that he wants to attack. Or maybe he does? (must remember to not rely on the std as a reliable news source). If he doesn’t he may very well end up with egg given his strident opinions in this area over the last many years.

    I always said that if I was PM for a day and could make one new law it would be ‘no more laws for the next 5 years’.

  15. QoT 15

    I got as far into that “op-ed” as the bit where he seems to be implying that “community” and “ratepayers” are mutually exclusive entities and got scared.

    It’s all a bit sad, really. All the pre-election bluster about waste and excess red tape, and now he needs other people to tell him where it is? Christ, Rodney, how long have you been IN the system you’re trying to “clean up” again?

  16. ianmac 16

    Wodney did say “That people should be allowed to do what they liked in their own property.”
    As a DIY enthusiast I would hate to think that his idea was followed as sooner or later someone else would become the owner of the mess that I made.
    Actually I built a room onto a bach with Council Consent and my neighbour was great in making sure it was built well. The Council Inspector made 3 visits and he was very helpful and very positive. But Wodney’s free run could be a disaster!

  17. vto 17

    insider, there is definitely overcompensation. The exampples you mention. Plus the excessive stainless steel requirements for nails and fixings if you live within 100miles of the sea (very expensive), bracing requirements are always being beefed up (compare to old days of one piece of 12×1 per wall), etc.

  18. ianmac 18

    Stainless has not been mentioned in my area and I have property 50metres from the sea. Also the bracing has been superseded by Gib Bracing as being far stronger than the diagonal metal or wooden bracing.

  19. Tigger 19

    I don’t think it’s right that I can’t drive the wrong way down Wellington’s one way streets – it’s inconvenient regulation that makes my trip to and from home longer. I’m emailing Rodney about that today.

    And agreed, that op-ed piece was was atrocious mess. If you’re going to leap into print then you could at least have the decency to compose a piece that makes sense!

  20. vto 20

    ianmac, where we are there is no galv allowed now. It all has to be stainless steel. And that encompasses areas up to 500m from the sea (and further in other areas I am aware of). Do you know the cost difference between galv and s.steel? It’s like a multiple of 5 or something grotesque.

    And just taking that example a little further – in one of the areas I am aware of where the same rules apply the local community recently replaced the local church roof for the first time since it was built in the 1860s or 70s. The original hand hewn iron nails were still in very good condition and are now on display in the museum – evidence of today’s overcompensation.

    And not everyone wants to line the inside with yucky old gib too.

  21. TimeWarp 21

    Loved Rodney’s article in the Herald. Most entertaining piece of illogical trash I have read in a long time.

    The highlight was this:

    “For example: should a ratepayer organisation be involved in any way in the financial arrangements for a visit by a US football team?”

    Standing alone in the article. No evidence that this has actually happened, that if it has happened that it is part of a broader more consistent trend, no indication of the cost of it happening and how significant that cost is relative to council budgets, etc…

    What rubbish! This from a trained economist, speaking as leader of the party of the supposedly economically pure. It’s an outstanding example of the worst of dog-whistle politics.

  22. Rich 22

    Recently replaced the local church roof for the first time since it was built in the 1860s or 70s

    And you consider that acceptable? There are Saxon churches in England that date back to 900AD or so. Anglo-Saxon building codes FTW!

  23. ianmac 23

    Timewarp: I took it to be a reference to the Soccer game with Beckham sponsored/supported by the Wellington Council about a year ago on the grounds that it would benefit Wellington Commerce. Isn’t Auckland doing the same thing for next Sunday?

  24. lprent 24

    Insider: I wouldn’t mind deregulating if the people doing the task were then required to pay the full liability insurance (including the councils) into escrow accounts for the expected life of the building.

    However as this would be a lot more than they currently pay the councils, I suspect that neither the the builders or the councils would be in favour of it.

  25. Rex Widerstrom 25

    Timewarp says:

    The highlight was this:

    ?For example: should a ratepayer organisation be involved in any way in the financial arrangements for a visit by a US football team??

    Standing alone in the article…

    Caused me to do a double take too. It just sort of sits there, anchored to nothing that comes before or after. It might however be the result of some very shoddy subbing at the Herald… having had many a well-crafted argument murdered in the name of filling the exact space between one ad and another.

    Of course we could tell if, having gone to the bother of writing it, they bothered adding it to the Ministerial website [NSFWL*] but clearly the government’s advisors haven’t caught up with such basic functions as yet. *rolls eyes*

    *Not Safe For Weak Lefties, as it has a picture of Rodney on the page 😀

  26. insider 26


    I have a friend in Ngaio, Wellington, screened from any sight of the sea by a large set of hills. They are having to use ss for their deck bolts, because we obviously have decks collapsing all over Wellington through rusty bolts. Insane. We are overcompensating for the minutest of risks.

    I’ve been told to build a second storey on my place I would have to build a massive steel subframe – extra piling would not be acceptable, even if the walls could cope.


    That’s the kind of thing I was thinking of, but you are probably right about opposition to it. Ultimately the consumer will pay no matter what was decided.

  27. toad 27

    Scribe said: They should change the bestiality laws as well. After all: “it makes criminals out of people who have done no harm to anyone.’ And as far as cannabis not hurting anyone, ask these people

    Scribe, your link was to an instance of driving while under the influence of cannabis. I don’t support anyone driving under the influence of any drug that impairs their ability to drive. Your logic would suggest we should ban alcohol because people drive under its influence too. It is not the drug that is the issue, it is what people may do when under the influence of it that should be the subject of the criminal law.

    As for the bestiality bit, I am an animal lover – and not in the perverted sense that you imply. I might have been a bit lax with my wording “no harm to anyone” – should have been “no harm to anyone or anything”. The sexual violation of an animal is very obviously harmful [to the animal], as is the desecration of ecosystems to all species.

    These things should all be subject to the criminal law. Smoking dak, as long as you behave in a manner that does not potentially harm anyone or anything while under the influence, should not.

  28. Quoth the Raven 28

    “For example: should a ratepayer organisation be involved in any way in the financial arrangements for a visit by a US football team?’

    Why doesn’t Wodney mention the wugby world cup?

    Wascally wabbit.

  29. lprent 29

    Insider: That is my point really – one way or another it gets paid for. What is a real problem is that there isn’t enough insurance being carried at present to cover the potential problems. The general response has been for the councils to cover themselves by regulating (since the leaky homes saga started).

    The problem at present is the person purchasing the property relies on the inspection by the councils and the workmanship of the builders. Most of the problems are hidden during building – eg pipes etc. To deregulate in this area will require that the potential liabilities are covered. That means that the producers (councils and builders) need to pay up front for covering that liability. Based on past performance and what has been going through the courts, that won’t happen. At present the purchaser is the one who gets squeezed with the litigation costs etc.

    I favour more regulation – give the council an ability and responsibility to license and check the builders. They are the authorizing agent for buildings in their area and are responsible for the safety of the buildings for 60 years or so after building. Put a absolute liability on the councils.

  30. QoT 30

    Cannabis law, fallacious separation of marriage and civil unions, the Abortion Supervisory Committee … oh wait, I think Rodney means “regulations that inhibit and stifle rich white heterosexual men who just cannot live without spending unnecessary money on inefficient lighting”.

  31. TimeWarp 31

    Thanks Rex that would be it, and yes you may be right that the problem is the journo’s.

    Quoth makes a very good point. So where exactly do you stop treating expenditure as ‘waste’? I think if a country were to follow the Hide/Douglas philosophy to it’s logical conclusion, all government expenditure would cease because it is wasteful, the market works better, etc etc.

    Then of course all the ACT supporters have a problem because they have no roads to drive big european SUV’s or sports cars on, and no services to get them to a hospital when they crash.

  32. Aj 32

    Everytime Hide had a microphone in front of him while talking about red tape, I was waiting for a followup question, like, ‘name 5 examples you are going to change’

    Never happened. Surprise.

  33. Greg 33

    Iprent – this is a classic example of people expecting the government to provide a solution when the private sector would provide a far more efficient one. Get rid of all the regulations and council inspections – this reduces the costs of homes and rates significantly. Then pay private inspectors to check out the house (the incentives are in the right place for them to do a good job too, because if they don’t they lose business unlike the council), if you want further protection – purchase ‘leaky home insurence’ or something similar. I guarentee to you that the difference in house prices will be far more than the money you fork out for these two options.

    This concept seems to work pretty well in the used car market. We don’t expect the council to inspect cars!

  34. MikeE 34


    I think you will have found rodney has said prohibtion is a failiure many times, and ACT would hopefully vote inf avor of reform of cannabis laws providing the put responsibility onto the user and not the state. Heck his book “my year of living dangerously” even comments on this.

    The problem is the Nats and UF would never support it.

    Remember, ACT voted against the silly party pill legislation, Nats and Labour voted for it.


    “Posted on 21 Feb 2006

    The Maori Party is at least consistent: they want to ban tobacco smoking because it’s addictive and kills.

    The PM and the anti-smoking lobby are against the ban: they say it won’t work.

    And the prohbition on P and cannabis does?”

    and on medical pot

    “Turei said that while it is “unusual’ for a bill to sit for so long “because most MPs will let their bills fail,’ she does not want the Bill to simply fail the first time it is read out. “We relied on chance to get the Bill in, and it finally got picked So the plan is just to keep it on the order paper so it doesn’t die, because if I let it get voted down then I’d have to do another members bill, and who knows when it would come up again.’ Only Act have pledged to vote with the Greens during the Bill’s first reading. Turei says that many MPs believe medicinal marijuana is “the ‘thin end of the wedge’ for recreational use’ because they “don’t understand that it does have a proven scientific use.’ Act’s Health Spokesperson Heather Roy says the Bill is “absolutely the right thing to do’ but is not surprised other parties have simply not looked at the evidence in support of marijuana’s medicinal benefits.”

  35. tracey 35

    Can rodders guarantee that the behaviours of the folks who led us to having all these ‘Irksome’ pieces of law has changed? That is the economic bottom line is not the be all and end all in decision-making anymore… yeah right

    polluted waterways, leaking buildings, to name a few.But that was the past, everyone is really honest and thoughtful now

  36. Greedy Pig 36

    “On a deeper level, we see that Hide’s empty puffery on regulation is just another example of the Right appealing to the reactionary moron in us all. The Right (and, too often, the media) encourages us to engage with politics in a dumb, fact-free, cliched way: ‘all this red tape is strangling us’, ‘this PC Nanny State is wrecking my life’, ‘they waste all our tax on beaurucrats’. They fight on these dishonest cliches because they don’t have anything else.”

    This “red tape” is all about the battle to develop. Ask yourself who funds National Act (and Labour)?

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