On International Volunteers Day New Zealand politicians must consider their responsibility in tackling the regulatory burden faced by the voluntary sector, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Unfortunately, regulations intended to improve practices in business can often have unwanted consequences for volunteer causes.
“One current example is the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which would treat volunteers – even casual ones – as workers, forcing organisations to take liability for the safety of people who have chosen to pitch in for events like tree plantings and disaster clean-ups.
“The practical effect of this regulation is obvious: it will be harder for communities to mobilise volunteer action. Ratepayers in particular will be hit hard, as local councils currently utilise volunteer labour for many vital services and initiatives.
“ACT is backing the Bill’s submissions from Local Government NZ and Volunteer NZ, which call for more flexible regulation towards health and safety.”
“Volunteer initiatives are always preferable to government programmes. Individuals who sacrifice their time to contribute to causes they are passionate about are far more likely to put care into a job than an anonymous bureaucrat on a fixed salary.
“Volunteer and community initiatives are at the core of what separates an adequate society from a healthy society. The fact that New Zealanders spend more time volunteering than anyone else in the OECD is something we ought to celebrate.”
The efforts of New Zealand small businesses are being destroyed by the Law of Unintended Consequences Act (1925)
“I keep seeing reports that many small business people, the backbone of the country’s economy, are being put at risk of failure by well intended legislation that is having the effect of putting their businesses at peril,” said Dr Jamie Whyte, Leader of the ACT Party.
"For instance it is reported in the press that the owner of a guided fishing business in the Coromandel will no longer take tourists out on the water because of the high cost of new safety audits.
"Industry insiders report that the changes will put the highly experienced small operators out of business and could leave the tourists at more risk than before.
"It appears the Government's labour service thinks regulations should not cover equipment hireage or non-guided services, because customers do not have the same level of expectation over their care as they would when being guided by professionals. The seasoned operators are concerned that experience and common sense is being lost in favour of report writing.
"What are the tourists' expectations? Can that be part of regulations? Why should tourists be put at risk of drowning because of this senseless “expectations” approach to regulating the industry?
"Another experienced operator reports “This whole process seems to me like it is going to promote unsafe practices instead of getting rid of them.”
“Red tape and regulations that have the opposite effect of what was intended by the changes should never be allowed to trump common sense and the hard won experience of the experts in the field,” said Dr Whyte.
“Colin Craig is proposing a radical transformation of our constitution. The Conservatives are proposing to overthrow of one hundred and fifty odd years of parliamentary democracy and replace it with binding referenda,” said ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte.
“Yet Craig does not want a referendum to make this change. He has said repeatedly he will support a Labour/Green government if they will agree to binding referendum. In other words, Colin Craig thinks that if he gets just 5% of the vote, he should be able to overthrow our form of government.”
“If anything should be put to a referendum, it is a significant change to our constitution.”
“The media should stop mocking Craig’s loopy ideas about “chem-trails” and the American moon landings being faked and instead examine his much more radical political ideas,” said Dr Whyte.
“Binding referendums have destroyed California. It has gone from being the powerhouse of America to being ungovernable.
“The problem with government by referendum can be seen in Colin Craig’s own policy platform. He says totally contradictory things.
“I appeared with Colin Craig in several debates. He always begins by assuring the audience that the Conservatives were in favour of less government and less tax. Then all of his specific policy proposals involve increasing the role of the government.
“Colin Craig wants more government spending on apprenticeships and similar training; he wants the government to fund start-up companies; he wants the government to decide who you may sell your land to; he wants the government to decide who goes to university,” said Dr Whyte.
“Here is a man supposedly in favour of smaller government whose every specific policy proposal involves an expansion of government.
“You cannot be in government and vote in favour of every spending increase and then vote for tax cuts. The books do not balance.
“But people can vote in favour of a referendum that increases spending and, later, in favour of a referendum that cuts taxes. That is what the electorate in California has done.
“Colin Craig’s populist policy hodgepodge and binding referenda have the same problem; they try to have it both ways. It has ruined California and it will ruin New Zealand.
“Like Colin Craig, the electorate in California has passed the now infamous Proposition 13 that limits taxes. But the people of California, like Colin Craig, have not seen a spending proposal they do not like. Lobby groups have successfully promoted referenda that direct taxpayers’ money their way,” said Dr Whyte.
“Do not think this will not happen in New Zealand. The Fire Service Union promoted a successful referendum that said how many people there should be on a fire truck. The government ignored that recommendation and the country has not burnt down. Colin Craig would have had that referendum turned into an unchangeable law, and we would all be paying for it in higher insurance bills.
“I doubt those who are thinking of voting for Colin Craig have realised how dangerous his proposal is. He says he will support any government that supports binding referenda. He will support Labour if they give him this change in our constitution. Is Christine Rankin telling the people of Epsom that a vote for her might be a vote for David Cunliffe to be Prime Minister?” said Dr Whyte.
“Binding referenda have made California ungovernable. Do we really want 5% of the population making New Zealand ungovernable too?"
It doesn't matter whether the Unitary Plan allows for relatively intensified development inside the Rural Urban Boundary, or greenfield developments outside of it, aka subdivisions.
That is because the problem Auckland has at its core is anti-development legislation - the Resource Management ACT (RMA).
It isn't right when developments in Long Bay, for example, take 18 years to get off the ground and can be held up by people living in the Coromandel.
The RMA came into effect in 1991.
At that time the ratio of median house price to median income was around 3 to 1.
That means before the RMA, a median house price was $300,000 and the median household income was $100,000. That's easily affordable.
Today it is almost 6 to 1.
Even if median incomes moved to $150,000 (which they haven't), median house prices have increased to $750,000. That's quite unaffordable.
It takes too long to build a house in Auckland, and it costs too much.
The RMA has created the situation in Auckland where perfectly responsible developments are opposed and delayed to the extent that, if they ever get off the ground, the extra costs have pushed up the price of the final product. It has made housing unaffordable, and created a crisis.
It is therefore irrelevant what the Unitary Plan says about where properties can be built, and what land can be developed.
Unless the RMA is dramatically reformed to create a presumption of development and a restriction on the opposition to developments, the Unitary Plan will mean nothing.
And that is because people in Coromandel will still be permitted to oppose, and thereby delay, developments in Auckland.
Author of this blog post, Nick Kearney, is the Local Board Member for the Kaipatiki Ward.
The inner Waitemata Harbour suburbs of Beach Haven, Birkenhead, Chatswood, Birkdale, Northcote Peninsula, Glenfield, Hillcrest and Marlborough make up the Kaipātiki local board area. It is bounded by the Northern Motorway to the east.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is looking for excuses to justify his inaction amid growing calls by kiwifruit growers that the industry needs an independent inquiry, ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.
“Initially the Minister said he wouldn’t initiate an inquiry because Zespri was before the Courts on a charge of smuggling.
“Now that Zespri has been found guilty, he is using the excuse that an internal inquiry is already taking place and there is no need for the Government to step in.
“But growers who have contacted ACT do not have any faith in the internal inquiry,” Mr Nicolson said.
“New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI), which is charged with conducting the inquiry, is the very organisation that commissioned the 2007 Grant Samuel Report into Zespri and then suppressed it because it was unfavourable.
“What has changed in NZKGI since then?
“NZKGI has no credibility when it comes to conducting an independent inquiry into Zespri. The report won’t be worth the paper it is written on.
“The Minister’s continued position of doing nothing is unacceptable. By failing to take action, the Minister appears to be sanctioning Zespri's poor business behaviour that threatens our reputation.
“Kiwifruit is big business for New Zealand and our reputation relies on Zespri acting as a good corporate citizen. If its reputation is damaged our entire industry will suffer.
“The Government forces all growers to export through Zespri. It is therefore the Government’s responsibility to ensure that Zespri’s operations are above board. Initiating an independent inquiry is the only way the Government can do this,” Mr Nicolson said.
Claims by former senior personnel of Turners and Growers that Kiwifruit New Zealand’ s application process for Collaborative Marketing Arrangements (CMA) with Zespri is ‘farcical’ and ‘lacks openness, fairness and integrity’ is further indication that all is not well in the kiwifruit industry, ACT New Zealand Associate Primary Industries Spokesman Robin Grieve said today.
Former Turners and Growers development manager, Murray Malone, and former Managing Director of Turners and Growers, Jeff Wesley, told rural newspaper ‘Straight Furrow’ that New Zealand’s collaborative arrangements could be seen as collusion in the eyes of international trade.
They say, under the CMA process growers are ‘forced to collude with Zespri to fix price and to dominate market position.’ While not illegal in New Zealand, this is ‘most likely illegal in some of the target markets in which the fruit is sold including China’.
“Growers in the kiwifruit industry have faced big challenges over recent times and it is imperative that their financial returns are not compromised by an inefficient and dysfunctional marketing system which has the government’s fingerprints all over it,” Mr Grieve said.
“The government imposed a monopolistic marketing system on the industry and then just walked away, leaving Zespri without proper oversight. Now the problems are piling up.
“Without the option to take their business elsewhere growers are trapped. It is time the government, which denied growers the freedom to sell their produce elsewhere, takes its obligations more seriously.
“ACT has been calling on Minister Nathan Guy to launch an independent inquiry into Zespri since it was convicted in China for smuggling. Yesterday, ACT called for the potential inquiry to include claims by growers that they are subjected to bullying and secrecy by the company.
“The Minister owes it to growers to initiate an inquiry to ensure his regulations are not propping up a marketing system that is costing growers’ money and possibly forcing them to act illegally,” Mr Grieve said.
Primary industries Minister Nathan Guy cannot continue to ignore the damning claims of bullying, secrecy and unacceptable behaviour from concerned growers who are forced by the Government to supply their produce to monopoly exporter Zespri, ACT New Zealand Associate Primary industries Spokesman Robin Grieve said today.
“ACT has been calling on the Government to initiate an independent inquiry into Zespri’s activities after it was convicted of smuggling in China. ACT now wants the inquiry broadened to look into concerns expressed by growers about the lack of transparency and intimidation by Zespri,” Mr Grieve said.
“A One News story over the weekend revealed the growing discontent among growers concerned with Zespri’s behaviour. A number of growers were too afraid to appear on camera but told One News they are so appalled with Zespri’s conduct they would no longer deal with Zespri if they had the choice.
“Zespri Board candidate, Tom Wilson, confirmed their claims saying people are ‘reluctant to stand up and voice their genuine concerns’ as the ‘Zespri PR network can destroy people’. He says Zespri’s culture is arrogant, self-serving and needs to change.
“ACT opposes monopolies - especially government mandated ones - because they generally become bloated, inefficient, and lazy. ACT believes it is Zespri’s monopoly status and lack of proper oversight that has caused the current problems. They are a monopoly out of control.
"It’s time for the Minister to listen and take action by launching an independent inquiry.
“The inquiry currently being undertaken by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated is not independent and therefore the validity of any findings is compromised.
“Growers need an assurance that they are doing business with a reputable company. At the moment there is no way they can find out. Growers who question Zespri appear to be stonewalled and faced with intimidation if they speak out.
“The Government is responsible for how the kiwifruit industry is set up. It is the Government’s responsibility to get to the bottom of this issue,” Mr Grieve said.
ACT New Zealand will not support Labour MP Damien O’Connor’s Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No2), ACT New Zealand Primary Industries Spokesman Don Nicolson said today.
The Bill would limit the proportion of Fonterra co-operative shares that can be held in its shareholders fund to 20 per cent of Fonterra’s share total.
“Legislating tighter limits on the size of the fund is an unnecessary intrusion into the rights and interests of shareholders to determine the destiny of their own company,” Mr Nicolson said.
“Fonterra has sufficient constitutional safeguards and mechanisms for representation and communication to allow shareholders to determine the size of the fund. Shareholders are more than capable of doing this without interference from Government.
“ACT believes the Government’s regulatory involvement with Fonterra should be limited to ensuring that the supply and sale of milk and milk products within New Zealand are open to competition.
“Fonterra is the world’s largest exporter of dairy produce and New Zealand’s largest company. It competes in an ever-changing world and needs to be able to respond to changing circumstances and continue to evolve as a company for the benefit of its shareholders.
“Excessive and unnecessary government involvement will only hinder its ability to do this,” Mr Nicolson said.