The Real Cost of Red Tape
Sunday 21st Nov 1999
Media Release -- Other
On Great Barrier Island today to release ACT New Zealand's policy to cut red tape and regulation ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble said red tape and bureaucracy is costing New Zealand jobs and businesses.
Red tape and regulation is destroying initiative and in some cases like Les and Bev Harrington on Great Barrier Island, their livelihoods.
ACT New Zealand has been campaigning against red tape and bureaucracy from the moment we arrived in Parliament.
The RMA, passed by Labour and National is a symbol of the badly drafted 'feel good' laws that grow the bureaucracy that's strangling New Zealand.
ACT is here on Great Barrier Island today to illustrate the real, human cost of this red tape gone mad.
Les and Bev Harrington came back to New Zealand from Australia in 1992 with the dream of building an eco-tourist lodge on Great Barrier Island. After seven years of battling bureaucracy and red tape that dream is now a nightmare. On the verge of bankruptcy Les and Bev are now living in the attic of a building on their property with their three children.
This is a case of abuse of power by the bureaucracy. The City Council illegally dumped 400 tonne of rock on the Harrington property blocking a waterway and causing a catastrophic flood. The Harrington's lost all their new building materials in the flood. The City Council officials used the flood as an excuse to designate the area as a flood hazard so preventing the Harringtons from being able to build their eco lodge.
Having lost their building materials in the council caused flood, having had their land declared uninhabitable by the Council, the Harringtons have lost everything and are now living in an attic. But the Council bureaucracy has not finished.
The Harringtons were prosecuted for putting up some roofing to keep out the rain. The Judge refused to fine them. It's a story you would expect from Eastern Europe, not New Zealand.
The open ended, discretionary 'feel good' laws passed by Parliament have put Police state arbitrary powers into the hands of local body officers.
New Zealanders, particularly those living in rural New Zealand, now find that a single bloody minded local body bureaucrat can make your life a living hell.
These poorly drafted laws like the resource management Act, the OSH Act, the Biosecurity Act and over 5200 new laws and regulations affecting businesses past this decade need to be reviewed and amended so that the law is certain.
Environmental laws should protect the environment and should not be used to carry out regulations akin to that of a socialist state in Eastern Europe.
Both Mayor Fletcher and Deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker have promised the Harringtons an inquiry into their situation. Nothing has happened.
Les and Bev Harrington must be applauded for their courage to speak out and tell their story today. They are doing so in the hope that by telling their story no other New Zealand family will have to face what they have been through.
In no way could the eco lodge proposal be described in any way as damaging to the environment. Les Harrington wanted to build the eco lodge to celebrate the environment and the beauty of this island.
Tourism is one of this country's biggest earners and employers. We should be doing all we can to encourage New Zealanders like Les who have drive and initiative and who want to share New Zealand with the rest of the world.
As a former MP for Great Barrier Island I know that the single biggest problem facing the young people on this island is a lack of jobs. This lodge would not only have been an export earner but a job creator.
Instead, bureaucrats sitting 100 kilometres away in their downtown high-rise are dictating totally unrealistic laws. With deep pockets of ratepayers' money behind them they have not only shattered Les Harrington's dreams they have left his family in a desperate situation.
ACT says that is not the New Zealand way. The New Zealand way is to encourage individuals and families to have a go. To make our beautiful countryside accessible, not to lock it up to meet the demands of extreme environmentalists. To recognise and value the place of people and their contribution to beauty in the countryside.
The ACT party, like all other New Zealanders, supports the protection of public reserves. What we don't accept is that local bodies have the power to declare private property to be in effect a park without paying the owner full market compensation.
"ACT is the only Party prepared to tackle the RMA and reform it. National will only make it worse. Labour and the Alliance will undoubtedly make it even more of a nightmare for New Zealand businesses.
ACT is the only Party that is in favour of sensible reforms to the Resource Management Act so the Act is restricted to its real purpose of protecting the sustainability of the environment. ACT says that local bodies must not be able to use that Act to impose unfair and unworkable regulations on hard working New Zealanders," said Hon Richard Prebble.
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at email@example.com.