Resource Management Bills introduced
The NBA will be the primary piece of legislation to replace the current Resource Management Act (RMA) and will continue to be an integrated statute for land use and environmental protection, while the SPA will provide a more strategic and coordinated approach to long-term regional planning.
The NBA updates the RMA’s focus on sustainable management and shifts from an effects-based system to an outcomes-based system. The 16 outcomes included in the Bill are not hierarchical and no longer intended to serve only as matters to be considered in decision-making, but rather, will guide national direction, strategies and plans. These will in turn guide consideration of resource consent applications.
Under the Spatial Planning Bill, Regional Spatial Strategies would provide long-term, high-level and strategic direction for integrated spatial planning in a region. They will set out a vision and objectives to guide the region over the next 30-plus years and be developed by Regional Planning Committees, established by each region. These committees will include members appointed by local authorities and Māori in the region. For decision making on RSS, one member will be appointed by central government.
INZ has been involved in the reform process for many years, and will continue to advocate in this space on behalf of our members.
Ahead of the updated submission due date of 5 February 2023, INZ has sent a survey to a group of members from across the sector to gauge views on a range of aspects of the two Bills. In January we will engage with those members again to test a draft submission and seek feedback.
If you would like to receive the survey and/or be involved in testing the draft submission in January, please get in touch with our Policy Advisor, Martina Moroney at email@example.com.
Three Waters legislation progresses
Hot on the heels of the Water Services Entities Act passing its third reading on 8 December, the Government has introduced two further pieces of legislation as part of its Three Waters reform programme – the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill and the Three Waters Legislation Bill.
The Water Services Legislation Bill builds on the first Act. It sets out detailed functions and powers of the new entities, what they are required to do, the tools they need for their work and arrangements for the transition to the new system. It also establishes relationships between entities and consumers to enable greater transparency around pricing and charging and sets out protection measures for vulnerable consumers including an extension of the current rates rebates scheme to cover water charges.
The Water Services Economic Efficient and Consumer Protection Bill applies economic regulation to the drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater services of the four water services entities and establishes the Commerce Commission as the economic regulator.
The Government has referred the Bills to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, with submissions closing on 12 February. INZ will submit and encourages members to get in touch with our Policy Advisor, Martina Moroney at firstname.lastname@example.org if they wish to be involved in this INZ workstream.
Future for Local Government Reform submissions now open
In late October, the Future for Local Government Review Panel released its draft report.
It outlines the need for significant change in local government, including through fundamentally different and new ways of thinking and working. It also reinforces the idea that local government has a fundamental role in responding to increasingly complex issues and to raising the wellbeing of New Zealand communities.
The Review Panel considers that there are five key shifts that need to be made to the way that local government operates:
- Strengthening local democracy, including by increasing the use of participatory democratic processes, fostering trust in councils and local authorities reflecting community diversity
- Strengthened and authentic relationships between councils and iwi/hapū and Māori that enable self-determination and shared authority
- A stronger focus on wellbeing. The report recommends that councils focus on holistic strategies to improve the wellbeing of their communities
- A genuine partnership between local and central government which moves towards a genuine partnership to co-invest in and deliver wellbeing outcomes for communities
- And a more equitable funding system which involves ensuring councils have a range of funding and financing tools at their disposal, in order to carry out their roles effectively and support wellbeing.
The report makes a wide range of recommendations, which will need to be well coordinated and guided by the impacts of other current reform programmes including the Three Waters and Resource Management reforms.
INZ will be making a submission on the draft report and, provisionally, will focus on the following chapters:
- roles and functions (Chapter 4)
- the central-local government relationship (Chapter 6)
- funding and financing (Chapter 8)
- system design (Chapter 9)
- and system stewardship and support (Chapter 10).
Ahead of the submission closing date on 28 February 2023, we encourage members to get in touch with our Policy Advisor, Martina Moroney at email@example.com if you would like to be involved in this INZ workstream, or provide feedback on a draft submission next year.
Commerce Commission releases final report in its residential building supplies market study
The Commerce Commission released its final report in its market study into residential building supplies on 6 December.
The study looked at:
- the industry structure for key building supplies
- the nature of competition for these key building supplies, including any industry pricing practices or acquisition requirements that impact on competition
- and barriers to the entry or expansion of new or innovative building supplies, such as ‘green’ buildings supplies or novel prefabricated products.
The Commission found that competition for the supply and acquisition of key building supplies is not working as well as it could if it was easier for building products to be introduced and for competing suppliers to expand their businesses.
Key recommendations to address this included:
- the introduction of competition as an objective to be promoted in the building regulatory system
- work to better support Māori through the building regulatory system
- the creation of greater clarity in compliance pathways for a broader range of key building supplies
- a focus on exploring ways to remove impediments to product substitution and variations
- the establishment of a national system to share information about building products and consenting, as well as an education and mentoring function for building consent authorities
- the development of an all of government strategy to coordinate and support off-site manufacturing
- promotion of compliance with the Commerce Act, including by discouraging the use of quantity forcing supplier-to-merchant rebates that may harm competition
- and a continuation of the Commission’s work to address the economy-wide use of land covenants and contractual provisions with similar effect.
Some action has already been taken by the Government and the building sector ahead of the final report’s publication including the establishment of the Government’s Critical Materials Taskforce, and an announcement from Fletcher Building that it would axe quantity-rewarding rebates.
It is encouraging to see a focus on an all-of-government response to supporting the growth of the off-site manufacturing industry, and progress towards the removal of impediments to product substitution. We hope that the Government carefully considers the recommendations in full and commits to supporting emerging and innovative green building and off-site manufacturing markets in the face of climate change. We look forward to the Government’s response which is expected in the coming months.
Proposed Building Act changes to reduce waste and lower emissions
The Government has proposed changes to the Building Act 2004 to progress recommendations in the first Emissions Reduction Plan.
The changes would:
- make it mandatory for new and existing public, industrial and large-scale residential buildings (such as multi-storey apartment buildings) to hold energy performance ratings
- require those intending to undertake most building or demolition work to have a waste minimisation plan
- and change the principles and purposes of the Building Act, to clarify that climate change is a key consideration.
The Government is expected to introduce the Building (Climate Change Response) Amendment Bill covering these proposed changes in early 2023, with public consultation to follow.
With construction and demolition waste making up 40-50 per cent of all material going to landfills, this is an important opportunity for the sector to contribute to emissions reductions targets. The large majority of direct costs of the energy performance ratings scheme is expected to fall on building owners, with the recuperation of energy costs being passed onto tenants, and indirectly to owners through more efficient heating and cooling systems.
Longer-term work in the Building for Climate Change programme will also consider possible Building Code amendments to lift operational efficiency and reduce embodied carbon in new buildings. The changes proposed will be phased in from 2025 if they are enacted.
Green List expansion welcomed by sector
From March 2023, Green List pathways for residence will be extended to include skilled civil construction machine operators, gasfitters, skilled crane operators, drainlayers and site supervisors as well as skilled telecommunications specialists.
Bus and truck drivers will have a time limited residence pathway through a sector agreement, to help ease the driver shortages which have plagued the freight and public transport sectors recently.
The inability to bring in workers from overseas has hamstrung many in our sector in the face of unprecedented demand for new builds over the past few years. INZ has advocated in previous editions of InfraRead for the inclusion of a broader range of positions across the sector into the Green List, so is encouraged by this extension.
There is of course still work to be done and to coordinate a successful cross-sector international recruitment campaign, and to extend the construction and infrastructure sector agreement to include more lower-skilled workers needed to progress New Zealand’s project pipeline. The Government will continue to review the Green List and has signalled that the next review will take place in mid-2023.