New government’s policy backtracking poses a number of questions

David Kelly

Outgoing RMBA chief executive David Kelly says policy reversals by the incoming government could create uncertainty in the construction sector — but could also open up opportunities.

As Bob Dylan once proclaimed, the times, they are a-changin’. It’s an idiom that’s likely as true now as it would have been in 1964 when the song was first released.

Whenever there is a change of government, the list of policies and approaches that are reversed or unwound feels extensive. The new government has been very explicit about reigning in spending, cutting bureaucratic red tape, and getting the economy back on track.

Challenging environment

Given the significant economic headwinds of late, many of which have been driven by global inflationary pressures, a softening of the Chinese economy, and war, it will be a challenging environment with less stimulus for sector change — at least in the short term.

From a regulatory perspective, we currently have several questions:

• What happens once the Natural and Built Environment Act and Spatial Planning Act are repealed?

• What happens to the RMA when it comes back? Will it happen this side of Christmas as has previously been promised?

• What impact will the Ministry of Regulation have on construction?

• What will become of the Construction Accord or Kainga Ora?

All of these things could create uncertainty, but could also be opportunities for the sector.

Then there are things we know will continue, such as the consenting review, which is well underway with the MBIE.

I am pleased that Chris Bishop has been recently appointed the Minister of Housing, the Minister for Infrastructure and the Minister responsible for RMA reform. Chris attended the Constructive Forum this year and knows the sector’s issues well.

Good working relationship

I believe we have a good working relationship with him, and will be able to engage constructively on issues that can improve productivity in the construction sector. Similarly, we look forward to building a relationship with the new Minister for Building and Construction Chris Penk.

The Registered Master Builders Association will continue to advocate on behalf of our members and the wider construction sector. We are in touch with the new government and its officials, and we look forward to their engagement.

• CEO Kelly steps down

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly has announced his decision to step down as RMBA CEO, although he’ll still be around in an advisory role for the next year.

Kelly says the decision to hand over the mantle of a job he’s enjoyed so thoroughly for the past nine years has not been easy.

“In that time, I have been incredibly proud to see the way the RMBA has gone from a regional structure to a strong national body that has the capacity and capability to effect real change in our sector and New Zealand,” Kelly says.

Construction Forum growth

“A particular pleasure for me has been the initiation and growth of the Constructive Forum. In reflection, this was a brave move from the Board back in 2016 — but one that has paid dividends time and time again ever since. It has allowed us to move above discussions about individual issues, and to advocate for sector-wide system change. There is indisputable power in our collective voice, which we’ve proved.

“We’ve also seen other industry associations embrace the kaupapa and turn up each and every year, and I’d like to extend my gratitude to them. A connected sector is more effective in bringing in change. We are seeing this already, with positive steps now underway in key areas such as health and safety, consenting, procurement, and waste management.

True privilege

“It is a true privilege to be part of a community where we can put all our expertise in a room to discuss vital issues, network, and brainstorm how we build a better New Zealand for the future. Aside from the professional connections, I have also made some personal friendships at these fora that will endure long into the future.

“Before I sign off, I want to acknowledge the wonderful, hard-working team at the RMBA. The success of this organisation is down to you. You have been such an incredible support to me in this role throughout my tenure, and I’m so grateful.

“I also want to thank the Master Builders Board for the trust you placed in me, and the support and encouragement over the past nine years. To that end, I’m chuffed that I’ll still be able to work with you, albeit in a different capacity over the next year.”

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