More exemptions from consents for DIY home building projects

The Government has announced a reduction in costs and bureaucratic red tape for DIY and home builders doing small safe projects, leaving councils to concentrate on bigger jobs.

Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres – such as sleep-outs, sheds and greenhouses; carports; awnings; water storage bladders and others will now not require a Council-approved building consent.

This seems like a very sensible change as long as it exempts enough small home jobs..

Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker on larger projects to provide jobs and assist the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

The Government is introducing new exemptions to the Building Act in a move save homeowners $18 million in consenting costs each year, though building work must still meet the Building Code, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa announced today.

“These changes will save New Zealanders time and money and mean councils can focus on higher-risk building work, boosting the building and construction sector in the COVID-19 recovery,” Jenny Salesa said.

“Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres – such as sleep-outs, sheds and greenhouses; carports; awnings; water storage bladders and others will now not require a Council-approved building consent, which will result in 9000 fewer consents to process a year.

“Some of the new exemptions will utilise the Licensed Builder Practitioners scheme, which recognises the competence of these building practitioners and allows them to join chartered professional engineers and certifying plumbers in having their own suite of exemptions.

“Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home, and this Government is finding ways to help build more houses by unclogging the building consent process, making it quicker and more affordable.

“These exemptions are just one part of my broader building system reform programme, which includes Construction Sector Accord Transformation Plan, the Construction Skills Action Plan, and Building Law reforms,” Jenny Salesa said.

Most of the new exemptions are expected to commence at the end of August, after the necessary changes to the Building Act have been made.

Government – Construction Sector Accord

Announced by the Government on conjunction with the construction industry today, to try to deal with problems in building and construction:

Government and industry sign Construction Sector Accord

Government commitments
• Better procurement practices and improved pipeline management
• Improved building regulatory systems and consenting processes
Industry commitments
• Enhanced industry leadership, collaboration and organisation
• Better business performance
• Improved culture and reputation
Shared by Government and Industry
• Grow workforce capability and capacity
• Better risk management and fairer risk allocation
• Improved health and safety at work
• More houses and better durability

Government and construction industry leaders have today signalled a shared commitment to transform New Zealand’s construction sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Construction Sector Accord is a new way for Government and industry to work together to create lasting, positive change in the sector.

“The wellbeing of New Zealanders is intrinsically linked to safe, durable and affordable homes, buildings and infrastructure. To meet the future needs of New Zealand, both Government and industry recognise that we need to work differently,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Jenny Salesa says, “The Construction Sector Accord sets out an agreed vision, the outcomes we want to achieve and the priority work areas we will be focusing on to address many of the challenges the sector is facing.”

Jointly developed by Ministers, Government agencies and industry leaders from across the construction sector, the Accord offers up a unique opportunity for industry and Government to partner on a range of commitments and initiatives to transform the sector. It also includes a pledge to hold each other accountable to the Construction Sector Accord.

“Together we have identified the priority areas we need to work on. The Government will lead where it can have maximum impact such as better procurement practices, improved Government construction pipeline management, and stronger building regulations. Government agencies already have a significant programme of work underway to support these aims,” says Jacinda Ardern.

“Industry representatives have identified the need for enhanced leadership and collaboration within the sector. Better alignment will support the other industry-led priority work areas of improving businesses performance and promoting a culture of trust between all parties in the construction eco-system,” says Jenny Salesa.

“Industry and Government will work together on a further four priorities which are to expand workforce capability and capacity, rebalance risk, improve health and safety and boost the supply of affordable and durable housing.

“Strengthening the partnership between industry and Government will help us make that step change towards a more productive, innovative and resilient construction sector,” says Jenny Salesa.

In the next stage of the Accord process, industry will work with Government to develop a more detailed plan for commitments to transformation.

Details of the Construction Sector Accord here:

Government’s medicinal cannabis bill “woefully inadequate”

Dylan Kelly, son of Helen Kelly, staunch Labour party supporter and campaigner for allowing the legal use of cannabis for pain relief, has described the Government medicinal cannabis bill “woefully inadequate”.

Labour had said they would honour the memory and efforts of Helen by promising a medical cannabis bill within 100 days of taking office, but they have rushed it and made a very poor job of it.

Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa referred to the Helen Kelly legacy in her speech on the introduction of the bill in Parliament yesterday.

Indeed, as I alluded to before, and other speakers have also, we have examples of people who have spoken really strongly about the use of medicinal cannabis. Helen Kelly is one such example of a person who lived so bravely, so openly, with terminal illness, and she devoted the last part of her life to campaigning for her fellow New Zealanders to make their lives better. She felt for ordinary people for whom medical cannabis might make a real difference.

In July of 2016—I want to just end with a quote from one of many interviews that she made, and this is something that Stuff actually covered. At that stage, she was suffering from tumours, she had a broken back, and she had only a few months to live.

I quote her: “I’ve still got all the symptoms of coughing and being weak but living without pain is sensational.” She was taking 10 milligrams of slow-release morphine twice each day, but by bedtime the morphine had stopped working and she was aching.

I quote her: “If I took nothing I reckon my pain would be seven or eight out of ten. If I just took the morphine my pain would be about five out of ten but if I take both my pain is nothing. [It’s only the cannabis] that gives me relief, it lets me sleep all night.”

Labour MP Dr Liz Craig also mentioned Kelly in her speech:

In speaking, I would like to acknowledge a wonderful colleague known to many of us, and that was Helen Kelly. In the months before she died in 2016, of cancer, she shared her journey with many of us in New Zealand.

In that way, she became a very powerful advocate for medicinal cannabis, because what she found is that, even though she was on strong opiates, it was really only with cannabis that she could become pain free.

Helen Kelly in April, 2016: Why I take an illegal dose of marijuana every night

“I’m getting it from a circuit of people in this country who are supplying sick people with cannabis.

“Brave, brave people, they’re not charging. People who believe in the product and don’t think it should be unlawful.”

Every night, she mixes up an illegal dose to ease her pain and allow her to sleep through the night.

Ms Kelly says she doesn’t want to be “arrested and charged and criminalised”, and is calling for a referendum at the next general election on legalising cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use.

Jacinda Ardern in May 2016:  ‘The pain behind the medical marijuana debate’

It was sometime in the middle of last year when the political suddenly felt personal. It wasn’t a party, it wasn’t even a social occasion. I was visiting my friend who had spent the evening periodically flinching, doubling over, and rocking, and was now reaching for a form of cannabis as she tried to deal with her pain.

My friend was dying.

I think that’s what gets me most about the medical marijuana debate. It’s the perfect example of the brutal reality of people’s individual situations, and the layers of complexity that emerge as soon as you dig into it as a politician.

This is not a new debate – it came up when I first came into Parliament. At that time it was in the form of a member’s bill. It’s fair to say that it had a few holes in it, but those were all details that we had time to fix. I voted in favour of it, others used the drafting as an excuse to turn it down. The bill failed.

And here we are again. Same problem, different political cycle.

My friend will never benefit from change in this area, she passed away. But in reality I doubt she ever really cared too much. She was too busy living every single day to the fullest right up until her last breath. Surely we owe it to everyone to give them the best chance they have to do the same, despite the pain.

In an election debate in September 2017 both Ardern and Bill English were asked if they would consider legalising cannabis for medical purposes. Both were given thirty seconds to respond.

“I don’t need 30 seconds, Mike. The answer is absolutely, yes.”

Dylan Kelly, Helen’s son, on the bill before Parliament now (RNZ):

“It’s woefully inadequate – terminally ill patients are not the only people who need medicinal cannabis.

“But sort of more importantly a lot of people who do need this medication can’t really provide it for themselves, and a lot of the people who supplied my mum’s medicine are putting themselves in really quite serious legal jeopardy in order, not to make money, purely in order to help people with chronic pain”.

“And I think a bill that continues to criminalise those people is insufficient.”

The bill passed it’s first vote in Parliament yesterday. Can it’s inadequacies be fixed at Select Committee?

Labour and South Auckland

Chris Trotter writes about the importance of South Auckland to Labour’s chances this election.  Much has been said lately about Labour and the Maori vote, but the Pacific Island vote is a big deal too.

Stuff: Chris Trotter: Labour appeals to its South Auckland base

South Auckland is also Labour country – and that is not something one can say about many other places in New Zealand. In 2005 it was the voters of South Auckland that saved Helen Clark’s Labour-led Government and sent her back for a third term as their Prime Minister.

If Labour is saved again – if it avoids a fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of the National Party – then it will be the people of South Auckland that Andrew Little and his party have to thank.

In part – party votes across the country are what count.

To be sure, the Labour MPs from that part of the world: Jenny Salesa (Manukau East) Su’a William Sio (Mangere) Louisa Wall (Manurewa) and Peeni Henare (Tamaki Makaurau) all offer a comfortable ethnic fit with the communities they represent, and all of them were present in the hall. But, none of these politicians are members of Labour Leader Andrew Little’s inner circle of confidants and advisers. That group remains an overwhelmingly Palangi affair.

  • As with all of Labour’s current Maori electorate MPs Henare is not on the party list. He is currently ranked 20 in their caucus.
  • Jenny Salesa is ranked 19 in caucus and is 18 on the party list.
  • Su’a William Sio is ranked 15 in caucus and 15 on the party list.
  • Louisa Wall is ranked 28 (near the bottom) and 25 on the party list.

The party list placings are better than they would be if the Maori electorate MPs were on it, with three of them ranked above all the South Auckland MPs in caucus.

So the South Auckland MPs are all ranked near or in the bottom half.

The Pacific Island vote may be as crucial for Labour as their Maori vote, but how much will South Auckland benefit from their support?