ACT is first out the gate with comprehensive policy for the flood recovery without more inflation. National has started a bidding war with Labour, promising to spend more on childcare subsidies. It is like taking on Canada at snowmaking. The results of this war will be Labour win, taxpayers lose, and a consolation prize for ACT left keeping the faith.


It is important opposition parties not only point out when the Government is destroying life as we know it, but have their own plan for world domination. ACT thinks of fresh new ideas for the challenges of today, including the response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

On Friday ACT released fifteen urgent ideas for getting Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti on the road to recovery. The policy paper is based on three principles.

The recovery should be funded by cuts to wasteful spending, to contribute as little as possible to inflation. Reinsurance money pouring into the Gabrielle affected region (and Auckland) will combine with shortages of workers and materials to create a near perfect inflationary storm. What would make the storm perfect is if the Government borrows billions more for the recovery.

The Government should get out of the way. There has already been too much bureaucracy. In the early days of recovery, NEMA banned local pilots from flying generators and supplies out of Napier Airport because they weren’t ‘Government.’ ACT’s paper calls for a Special Economic Zone where red tape is cut. The challenge is big enough without needing to navigate Fair Pay Agreements, Three Waters Reforms, ever increasing minimum wages, and so it goes on.

Finally, the recovery should be driven by local people and local knowledge. If local people say there is a problem with crime, the Government should assume there is a problem with crime. It shouldn’t assume they’re delusional and gaslight them. The same can be said for the task of rebuilding generally.

From those three principles come ACT’s First XV of urgent ideas for a low inflation cyclone recovery.

1. Create a Special Economic Zone for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti where many normal restrictions don’t apply, so the rebuild is not caught up in needless bureaucracy

2. Amend section 9 of the Sentencing Act so that offending in a state of emergency would be an aggravating factor, leading to longer sentences for lowlife scum

3. Invoke Section 9 of the Defence Act so the New Zealand Defence Force can assist Police with civil powers in a time of emergency, right now, as locals are still anxious

4. Cut all wasteful spending, including Three Waters reforms, to pay for the recovery without more inflationary borrowing. C’mon Labour, did the COVID era teach you nothing?

5. Increase the amount of financing available and extend the time of the exemption to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) to allow people to quickly access finance

6. Remove RMA barriers to rebuilding and repairing with special legislation so the recovery doesn’t need to wait for consents

7. Beef up the Recovery Visa so that it lasts for three years and has 48 hour processing turnarounds, to give people re surety about coming to the Bay

8. Enact a Materials Equivalence Register so there is ample supply of building materials for the rebuild. Councils will have to accept alternate brand materials if they are on the register

9. Reduce pressure on small business owners with a three-year moratorium on minimum wage increases, and an exemption from Fair Pay Agreements for businesses within the Special Economic Zone

10. Streamline foreign investment by allowing foreign direct investment from democratic OECD countries to skip Overseas Investment Office approval so businesses needing investment to rebuild can access more capital

11. Offer private insurance as an alternative to council building consents so that people do not need to wait for council consent if an insurer is prepared to insure the building

12. Share GST revenue with local government to fund infrastructure development so local Government has certainty of funding to invest in rebuilding

13. Focus local government on core goods and services such as flood protection, and price flood risk though variable rates so building in dangerous places pays more of its own council costs

14. Review the role and purpose of EQC in response to climate events so that it does not subsidise building in risky places. When flooding and slips were added to its remit, it went from insuring a highly random risk (earthquakes can happen nearly anywhere) to one that can actually be managed (flood and slip risk is usually obvious). That was a big mistake

15. Deal with the risks of forestry slash by making it easier to remove and set mitigation measures, and explore the concept of refundable bonds upon planting

These are the kind of practical ideas the Government should be working on today, right now, along with a new flood management plan and rebuilding of the roads. Unfortunately, Free Press predicts that a change of Government will be required to get the response moving again.

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