6 Sep 2023

ACT's David Seymour unveils red-tape review policy's first four sectors

2:51 pm on 6 September 2023
ACT party leader David Seymour

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The ACT Party has announced the four sectors it would prioritise for its red-tape-cutting reviews, and confirmed it would continue with plans to allow citizens to sue the government if they believed laws were bad.

ACT has long argued red tape has overburdened New Zealand's public sector and hampered productivity, and announced a policy in June to introduce a new 'Minister of Regulation'.

Ministry officials would be tasked with investigating and advising on red-tape cuts, and ministers would then be required to either make the cuts or publicly explain why not.

Seymour on Wednesday announced the first sectors subject to the "red tape review" would be: Early Childhood Education, the health workforce, primary industries, and financial services.

"Early childhood education faces a host of regulations aimed at protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and improving the quality of education. However, not all regulations are made equally," he said. "Over-regulation is hurting the sector. We need to get the regulations right."

"ACT has heard from the aged care sector that international nurses struggle to meet the language requirements in the competence assessment programme, despite them possessing better written and oral language communication than most Kiwis. The ministry would weigh up whether regulations like this were actually having a positive impact, and if not it would scrap them.

"Farmers face a significant regulatory burden, often for no practical benefit. Yesterday, Dairy NZ published a survey that showed 99 percent of dairy farmers have an issue with government regulation.

"The financial services sector is also swamped in red tape. Many regulations are designed to achieve the same thing, but cumulatively add up to a huge burden."

Seymour said all of this would be done against the backdrop of a "higher bar" for regulatory standards, which would include allowing citizens to sue the government if they believed laws were bad.

It would do this by allowing them to get a court declaration that a law had been made in a way that was inconsistent with good lawmaking.

A policy document in June highlighted some regulations ACT said were restrictive, including:

  • The high cost of traffic management, including temporary traffic workers needing qualifications to comply with the rules
  • ECE teachers being required to record the time and date they administered medicines, only using medicines provided by parents, keeping records of all food served, keep a detailed record of daily activities including child sleep times, having a consistent procedure at nappy-changing facilities
  • Anti-Money Laundering legislation is making it harder for migrants and backpackers to open bank accounts because they don't have a physical address

Speaking to media in the afternoon, Labour's leader Chris Hipkins said regulation had a legitimate role to play in ensuring markets operated effectively.

"When I talk to the business community every one of them will say superficially 'oh, we want less regulation', but then many of them will raise particular areas of regulation where they want to see regulations changed or improved."

He said the areas of regulation most commonly brought up with him by business owners included extensions of the minimum wage and sick leave.

"Bringing back rest and meal breaks - which had been removed by the last government, which we've reinstated - businesses weren't exactly wild about that either but we think it was the right thing to do."

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