REGULATORY SYSTEMS (TRANSPORT) AMENDMENT BILL
Hon POTO WILLIAMS (Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector) on behalf of the Minister of Transport: I move, That the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Transport and Infrastructure Committee to consider the bill.
Keeping New Zealanders safe while they travel is a priority. Making sure that we have a strong regulatory system is part of that. The objective of this bill is to reduce the chance of regulatory failure and maintain the integrity of the transport regulatory system. This involves robust development of quality regulation that reflects considered choices about the right type of transport rules or regulations, the appropriate regulatory tools to use, and who is best placed to operate them. It is also about adopting a whole of system view of regulation. It requires a proactive, collaborative approach to the monitoring and care of regulatory systems. This means constantly ensuring that the transport regulatory system is fit for purpose.
This bill makes sure regulatory changes can be made in a timely and cost-effective way to deliver benefits to the transport system, as well as making some common sense changes. These include: addressing transport regulatory duplications, gaps, errors, and inconsistencies in transport legislation; ensuring transport regulators have the tools they need to keep the transport regulatory system up to date and relevant; removing unnecessary compliance costs from the transport system; and amending the board sizes of transport Crown entities.
This bill proposes an amendment to enable the Minister of Transport to create transport instruments. Transport instruments will specify how to comply with a rule or regulation. For example, a transport rule may describe the need to carry certain safety equipment on a vessel. The instrument could then set out the specific information and certain standards that should be followed to meet those requirements. An example of this is traffic control signs. This is a highly prescriptive rule with the exact dimensions, colours, the images, and wordings of signs. The rule is updated frequently when slight changes are needed for signs in different circumstances. This currently requires a full rule change process when the change could be as simple as allowing two signs to be used at the same time on the same pole, or adding a new type of bird to a group of signs that instruct road users to watch out or slow for animals—for example, "Slow for bittern". These examples would be better set in a transport instrument.
This will provide a more efficient way to update detailed, technical, or frequently changing information in the transport system. The Minister of Transport would permit the creation and management of a transport instrument. The instrument is allocated to a specified individual, such as the relevant transport regulator, in the rule or regulation. The specified individual must be satisfied that relevant people and organisations are consulted for any proposed transport instrument. In the last land transport omnibus rule changes, 89 percent of those changes could have been made through various transport instruments if they had already been in place. This change leads to cumulative benefits to the transport agencies and the economy. Transport users will also benefit from having particular legislation more up to date, responsive, and efficient.
The Land Transport Act, the Maritime Transport Act, and the Maritime Security Act currently allow the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the director of Maritime New Zealand to exempt a person or thing from specified requirements and rules. For example, the NZTA could shift an exemption to a restricted driver's licence holder who works an evening shift and would otherwise be breaching the 10 p.m. curfew that is set out in the driver-licensing rule. This is so the driver can drive home from work after their shift. This is an individual exemption in that it only applies to the named person or people. NZTA has issued hundreds of these exemptions.
Through engagements with transport regulators, the Ministry of Transport has realised that these exemption powers lack some necessary features and do not reflect modern best practice. In particular, the current provisions do not give regulators clear powers to grant class exemptions where a category or thing or person is defined. Changes in the bill specifically provide for class exemptions and will make sure that these are treated in the same way as secondary legislation—since they are, effectively, changing a rule for a group or category.
Changes in the bill provide powers to revoke set time limits, add amendments, and for NZTA to make exemptions from regulations—all of which are currently difficult or not allowed.
The current legislation does not give the transport Crown agency boards flexibility in the number of members like other boards have. NZTA must have six to eight, and Maritime New Zealand and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) both must have five members. It's not good practice to have an even number of members for voting purposes, but the workload and scope of the NZTA board responsibilities has meant that the default is to have eight members. In the case of the civil aviation and maritime boards, the requirement that there be exactly five members makes for overly complex appointment processes and succession planning. The small number of members has also meant that the workload of members is too high, particularly when facing governance challenges. Recent resignations from the CAA board have cited workload as a key issue. This bill proposes that the number of members of the NZTA board be amended to at least seven but no more than nine members and that the number of members of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Maritime New Zealand boards be amended to at least five but no more than seven members.
This bill also includes three other matters that reflect regulatory stewardship obligations. These are: updating maximum fines outlined in the Maritime Transport Act and the Maritime Security Act for consistency to match those in the Land Transport Act and the Civil Aviation Act. Endangering lives should have the same penalties on land, in the air, or at sea.
Increasing the time period that a vehicle can be impounded by an enforcement officer for the purpose of collecting evidence after an accident or incident—in many cases the current seven-day period is inadequate or puts unreasonably tight time constraints on inspectors to properly examine and return the vehicle. This will save police time and money, with investigators no longer having to work through the weekend.
Amending the Maritime Transport Act to explicitly include the Chatham Islands Council in the definition of regional council to enable the council to appoint a harbour master and enforce navigation by-laws. In a previous legislative change done under the last Government in 2013, the Chatham Islands Council was unintentionally removed as a regional council.
This bill will help ensure that the transport regulatory system remains up to date and fit for purpose, which will speed up changes and, most importantly, will help keep New Zealanders safe. I commend the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill to the House.
BRETT HUDSON (National): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise in this first reading of the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. Spoiler alert: we will be supporting this bill through to select committee.
But it is quite remarkable that here we are dealing, today, with a bill which extends regulation powers. It is not remarkable in the fact that this Government might produce a bill that does, but remarkable in the sense that this Parliament devoted attention, just after question time, to granting greater powers to make decisions outside of the complete Parliament, in the face of what is an unprecedented crisis looming upon us all. In doing so, the Leader of the House said that with that impending—some would call "impending"; it's certainly more than a remote possibility that we might have to exercise such powers—the Government would shrink back their legislative programme to only elements that are essential. I find it difficult that anyone could argue that this bill today is essential to the functioning of this country.
We could have been debating legislation that could have been introduced by the Government to give effect to its COVID-19 response package released this week. There will be elements in that package that will require legislative change—for instance, the Government has signalled that it's going to change depreciation claiming on commercial buildings, and, in doing so, Parliament will need to take some action. Why is Parliament not taking that action today but instead dealing with granting more regulation-making powers which take immediate scrutiny away from Parliament? How is this more important than that?
Which brings me to this Government's propensity to govern through regulation: all too often—in fact, in almost every bill that is now coming to this Parliament, they are riddled—riddled—with regulation-making powers. It's like a pernicious weed that infests our legislation, choking our democratic process, and, far too often, constraining people and businesses in their everyday lives and their commercial activities; so why this suite of regulation-making powers?
Look, if the Government gets it right—and, look, some of us on this side are not too confident on that—these changes can help for more efficient and effective transport governance in New Zealand. That would not be a bad thing, and we would support that—absolutely support that—but we shouldn't kid ourselves or the public, despite the examples that the Minister gave, that this is some minor level of regulation-making authority, that you can have more than one sign on a post or the likes. "A transport instrument"—to quote—"may define terms, prescribe matters, or make other provision in relation to any activity or thing, including (without limitation) by listing standards, controlling activities, setting requirements, procedures, or means of compliance, setting competency requirements, or providing for exceptions." It is not a minor regulation-making power; the scope of how this could be used is both broad and deep.
Now, regulation is important in governing in New Zealand—it is important; there's no question about that. But what is important is that the scale, the breadth, and the depth of regulation-making powers are appropriate. So we want to look into this in the select committee—and, thankfully, this bill at least appears that it will get a full select committee process, unlike prisoner voting, which is only going to get three months, and the public will ask themselves what the Government's motivations are behind shortening that select committee. But this one will get the default six months, it appears. We will be looking very closely into just what those regulation-making powers are going to give the directors and chief executives, and into just what extent it could be used. We will be questioning as to whether there should be some amendment to curtail it. If it is going to be used appropriately and doesn't having such unlimited powers to cause great concern, then we would absolutely support something that helps to improve efficiency and effectiveness of our regulatory transport bodies.
The other part that I just want to touch upon, which we also have concerns about, is the increase in size of Crown boards across the transport sector. Now, if those increases are going to be used to add genuine, relevant, and specific skills that will improve the quality and governance of those boards, then that is not a bad thing. But it is a natural worry across a Government entity that increasing the size of the board could just simply add bloat—just add numbers for the sake of adding numbers. And look, it was a criticism of the last Labour Government that such positions were used to give cushy sinecures to former supporters, presidents, and others of the principal governing party in that administration. If that is what the outcome would be from increasing the size of these boards, then we would be adamantly opposed to that—and all New Zealanders should, irrespective of the stripe of Government of the day. It is not right.
But if it is the case that these measures would be used to add genuine capability and skill that is materially relevant and would improve without question the governance of those organisations, then that is not necessarily such a bad thing. And so we have the select committee process to inquire into that, to ask very probing questions of officials, to hear from interested stakeholders and New Zealanders, and then we will arrive at a determination as a party whether we can continue to support this bill.
I note some comment that it is simply a matter of small changes that don't quite meet the standard for a statutes amendment bill, but which are a little more complicated than that and deserve and warrant their own bill. Well, let's hope that that is actually the case. We'll look into it and if it is the case, then I'm sure we can maintain our continued support. But without question, we have some serious reservations and we intend to use the select committee process to delve into those. So certainly for the moment, we will commend this bill to the House.
PAUL EAGLE (Labour—Rongotai): Thank you, Madam Speaker, and it's a pleasure to be taking a call on this, the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill first reading. There's lots to be said, but I'm going to restrict myself to just, sort of, correcting a few things the previous speaker, Brett Hudson, said. Look, I know that on the Transport and Infrastructure Committee we sort things out. So when he said, look, they were going to scrutinise, I know really we're just cleaning up what they just didn't do. So it's really that simple. It's some simple things, but very important.
On this side of the House, or this curve, I'm certainly keen that we just clean them up. I mean, who else would forget the Chatham Islands and their status—being the only member along with, of course, the Māori electorate member for Te Tai Tonga, Rino Tirikatene? We know much better than to forget our cuzzies down on the Chathams and, Madam Speaker, you too have had some experience there, but not on that side of the House. They probably thought it was a Pacific Island. But no, they are Kiwis, New Zealanders. And so we are working to ensure that their status—not as a regional council, but to include them in there—is put back in here. This is actually really important.
These amendments in here, these additions, are small things, but really, really, really important. When you talk about transport instruments they are quite technical. They're detailed, but I tell you what, when it gets all put into practice then you know, and you wish that you had the legislation on your side. There's no cosiness around Crown agency boards here. That's simply just a practical thing. In the paper it talks about numbers—to sizing them up in terms of not having even numbers on the board. That's practical. That's common sense. I know those boards must have been frustrated when things came down to taking votes on things, maybe, but it's also part of our Public Service standardisation across the service, including Crown entities, so nothing to see there other than to clean it up.
Look, I'm going to stop there and just commend this to the House and let's get going with the Transport and Infrastructure Committee and work this through. Kia ora.
ANDREW FALLOON (National—Rangitata): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity this afternoon to take a call on the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. But before I do get into my contribution, I'd just like to acknowledge that there are 28 people, unfortunately now, who have come down with the COVID-19 virus, and I just want to pass on our best to them and to their families and, of course, to the health professionals, who are doing such a fantastic job.
So I do want to turn to the bill now. It is a quite simple bill, actually, and quite a straightforward one, and my colleague Brett Hudson has outlined some of the reasons why we'll be supporting it this afternoon. But the reason I want to take a call today is because I do find it quite strange that here we are dealing with this COVID-19 virus and yet here we are in this Parliament discussing the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. I accept that there are some changes here that need to be made, and Paul Eagle, our colleague across the House, has touched on some of those in relation to the Chatham Islands. But is it the most pressing issue that this Parliament has to deal with right now? Is it the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill?
That said, I do just want to run through some of the provisions in this bill, and there are three aspects to it as we've heard. They are enabling transport instruments, clarifying exemption and revocation powers, and other minor regulatory stewardship matters. One of the reasons that I'm supporting the bill, at least at first reading, is because the bill talks about greater efficiency being brought to a number of regulatory transport agencies. And of course, one of those transport agencies that we have in New Zealand is the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). My view is that they do actually need to be improved somewhat and certainly have some greater efficiency brought to them because, you know, if I look across the country at the moment, at some of the very substantial transport issues that we have in this country, a lot of them just are not getting done.
Right next to me here, I have my colleague Matt Doocey, of course, who's been lobbying for a very long time for the Woodend bypass, which is a much-needed project for road safety in North Canterbury. It hasn't been done. The Government, of course, have announced a very substantial transport programme across the country. It's largely ignored Canterbury and certainly ignored Woodend. Another one in my part of the world where this greater efficiency needs to be brought to bear is there's an intersection at the corner of State Highways 1 and 79. It's in the town of Rangitata rather than the electorate of Rangitata, but it is a serious concern. There were more crashes there last year alone than there were in the previous five years. So my view is that NZTA at least do need to be more efficient, do need to do a better job at some of those things and in responding to some of those issues.
The other one, of course, in my part of the world is State Highway 1 between Ashburton and Christchurch, which is—
ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Ruth Dyson): I'm sorry, Mr Falloon. I'm sorry to interrupt. It's a very interesting contribution. Could you just advise me which part of the bill is dealing with the Woodend bypass or Rangitata?
ANDREW FALLOON: I'm referring to the greater efficiency of regulatory transport agencies, which is in the bill, and, of course, NZTA is a transport agency. My view is, of course, that they do need to do a better job across the country. One of those things is efficiency, because if they're spending too much money on governing themselves and on being an efficient—unfortunately, they don't have enough money for some of these projects around the country. One of those is Woodend, one of those is the Rangitata intersection, and, of course, one of those is the road between Ashburton and Christchurch.
Mr Brett Hudson talked earlier about increasing board size. That intrigued me, actually, because if this bill is talking about making our transport agencies more efficient, I would have thought the last thing you'd want to do actually is to be increasing board size, because as he so eloquently pointed out, when you do increase board size, that often has the complete opposite effect of increasing efficiency. Larger boards—certainly any boards getting more than about 12 or 15 people—do start creating more work for themselves than they're actually doing in terms of governance, and so I do worry about increasing board size and the effect that will have on the efficiency of those agencies.
I do just want to finish up though—as I mentioned before, Mr Paul Eagle, our colleague across the House, referred to the Chatham Islands Council and how perhaps there was a slight oversight when legislation was passed several years ago. I would just say to Mr Eagle that, look, we are fallible on this side of the House. If that's the largest mistake that we made in nine years, then I'll certainly accept that—certainly when you compare it to some of the mistakes that this Government's made in just the first 2½ years that they've been in Government. So I'll put it this way: I'll never forget the Chatham Islands, Mr Eagle, because I've visited there once.
Dr Duncan Webb: They wouldn't forget you.
ANDREW FALLOON: Well, hopefully, they won't forget me actually. I caught quite a lot of blue cod when I was over there, so it is a place that is close to my heart. It does take a little while to get used to that 45-minute time zone, but it's a great place. I am pleased that this bill is going to restore their authority to be considered as a regional council and so, for now at least, I commend it to the House.
MARK PATTERSON (NZ First): I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to also support this Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. It is a good, common-sense bill. I think it gives the Minister some additional regulatory-making powers. And, of course, one of the main aims of this is safety—so they can respond to safety developments—and we've had a strong focus on investing in road safety during this course of Government and budgeted accordingly. It gives the Minister powers to create what are called "transport instruments", which will allow him to do a number of things and build some flexibility into the system. I note the Opposition having been looking to set a bonfire under regulation, but sometimes regulations are important, and these ones here look to give the Minister some powers to cut through some red tape and make it easier to bring in some common-sense measures—things like giving the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) some flexibility to grant exemptions around drivers' licences. We know that, for shift workers—maybe for drivers on learners' licences, restricted licences, there's a 10 p.m. curfew. It gives the NZTA a much easier pathway to creating exemptions, and we know, for our shift workers, with the likes of our dairy farmers that are working long hours or our agricultural contractors, having those sorts of common-sense regulations brought in will be welcome.
It also looks to reduce compliance costs. And, of course, we're a Government relentlessly focused on driving down costs for business. Also it looks at the make-up of the Crown agency boards and does allow, as the previous speaker, Mr Falloon, alluded to, the boards to be larger boards—no more nine for NZTA. The Civil Aviation Authority increased to seven. In terms of the NZTA, of course, they've had this massive, massive boost with our infrastructure package—that $12 billion. They're going to be heavily called upon to bring that package to bear, and so having the capacity to increase that board, should it be required, does seem a relatively sensible measure. And it also, I note, has the provision to increase fines within the Maritime Transport Act and bring them into scale with some of the other Acts. That seems appropriate, as we look to be consistent there, and we have to have a system that allows for some measure of making sure there's some adherence to the law, some consequences if you're breaking the law. So we welcome the increase around Maritime Transport Act fines, if they come to bear. It also increases the time, potentially, that police have to impound a vehicle—I believe it's seven days now—and police often have to work through weekends or whatever to work through their prosecution process. This gives them a wee bit more leeway—just small measures like that that do make a big difference.
And, finally, also the small issue of the Chatham Islands, which, I note, Mr Falloon dubbed a "slight oversight". I'm sure the good citizens of the Chatham Islands will be outraged that they were overlooked in the previous 2013 legislation. It is absolutely important that they are made to feel a part—as, of course, they are—of this country, and it is actually quite a slight to overlook them completely in that previous 2013 legislation. So we will put that right wrong—or that wrong right, actually! So it's not a slight oversight, but it is a slight that we will remediate. So, with that in mind, New Zealand First will look forward to supporting this legislation through to the select committee. There will be a lot of detail in this for the select committee to work through, and we look forward to assisting them to do that. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
SIMEON BROWN (National—Pakuranga): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill, and I hope that that member who's just taken his chair, Mark Patterson, has got his rights from his wrongs. Maybe he'd like to spend a bit more time reading this bill to just double check that all the rights have been wronged, all wrongs have been righted, so that we have the right piece of legislation coming out of this Parliament.
There are three aspects of this bill—
Tim van de Molen: You're not wrong.
SIMEON BROWN: I'm not wrong, says Mr Tim van de Molen. That's very kind of you! There are three aspects to this bill. It enables transport instruments, clarifying exemptions and revocation powers, and other minor regulatory stewardship matters. And, of course, the National Party is very supportive of measures which help to make our regulatory systems work more efficiently. We've said that, if we are in Government, we'll be making sure that we have a regulation bonfire and that we will reduce the number of regulations by two for every new regulation that we put in place, to ensure that we can reduce the compliance on New Zealanders and on businesses so that they can go about their daily lives in a more efficient manner, but also in a way which saves them costs and keeps more of their own money in their own back pocket rather than spending money on regulations which simply, sometimes, only cause more inconvenience than actually making a real difference.
It's interesting that the Government has decided that this is their No. 1 transport priority at the moment. Their No. 1 transport priority is the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. At a time of economic and health crisis, where we have the COVID-19 coronavirus causing enormous stress and anxiety and health concern across our country, and economic concern, the Government has decided that it's time to fix up our transport regulation systems. Now, we support the bill, but surely there should be other transport priorities which they should be getting on with? Ever since this Government came to office, they first cancelled a whole bunch of roads, they postponed a whole bunch of other roads, and then earlier this year they tried to resurrect them, which is going to take many, many months of re-planning, reorganising, re-skilling, getting companies ready to tender for these jobs. In my electorate of Pakuranga, we were waiting for the East-West Link. It was meant to be started, consented, and now it has been cancelled and it hasn't even been resurrected. That is a real shame, and that shows that this Government has its priorities completely wrong. It might be one thing to improve the regulatory systems, but it's another thing to actually get better transport in place for New Zealanders. New Zealanders want a good transport system, not necessarily just good regulatory transport systems, and I think the former is what they want. Both are required but, if you think about priorities, the first is what they need.
Another point I'd like to make is that this bill increases the number of members which can be put on the New Zealand Transport Agency board, and we do hope that that is for the purpose of increasing skill and people who can support the aims of this legislation and not just the ability for the Government of the day to put their mates in cushy jobs. So we'll be scrutinising that very carefully to make sure that that isn't the case.
So we support the bill and we look forward to what will be a six-month select committee process, is what I understand. That seems like quite a generous time these days—
Tim van de Molen: That's unusual.
SIMEON BROWN: Very unusual, when it seems every single bill being put forward by this Government is being rushed through without regard to the democratic process that this House has set down, which allows for a six-month select committee process so that New Zealanders can have their say, put their submissions in, come down to Parliament if they choose, and speak to a select committee, and for that evidence to be considered to make sure the bill is better, and that the wrongs are righted. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon EUGENIE SAGE (Minister of Conservation): Tēnā koe. Members of the National Party seem to have a very short memory. There has been a huge crisis in transport regulation, which this bill, along with companion bills, the Land Transport (Rail) Legislation Bill and the Land Transport (NZTA) Legislation Amendment Bill, is going to sort out. We had thousands of vehicles which had to be recalled because their warrants of fitness were issued by organisations that weren't up to scratch, and those warrants of fitness were virtually meaningless. We had the late William Bell, who died because he was killed in a vehicle which had been certified by an inspecting organisation where the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) had significant concerns about that but failed to take action on.
There was a major review of the NZTA, which concluded that there were significant issues because of the NZTA's lack of a strong regulatory role and the lack of a single regulatory voice in the agency. And if I could just read from the regulatory impact statement, that review—which Martin Jenkins conducted, and I quote—"…concluded that since the NZTA's establishment, significant deficiencies in its regulatory capability have developed over time, resulting in regulatory failure. The absence of a single and clear point of accountability for regulatory decision-making in the NZTA (contrary to many other regulatory agencies), and lack of established principles of good governance, have been significant contributors to the regulatory failure." That is what we inherited from the last National Government. This bill is part of the fix to that, because this Government wants to ensure that people are safe on our roads. That means ensuring that those organisations providing warrants of fitness do so properly. It means ensuring that the police and others have the powers to detain vehicles after crashes to ensure that the causes of those crashes are properly identified, and this bill provides a power there.
National, with its "regulatory bonfire", its approach to laissez-faire government, does not hold the safety of the citizens of New Zealand as the highest priority—this Government does. That is what is informing the whole response to COVID-19, and that is what is also at the heart of this bill as part of two other measures to actually improve the regulatory system in transport. So the Green Party supports the bill because it is providing those changes that are much needed, and the National Party, by always wanting to undercut regulation, fails to recognise that the Government has a major responsibility for safety. The provisions to increase the number of members on the board are to ensure that there is proper oversight of the NZTA. It is a big organisation; it has got potentially conflicting roles with investment and infrastructure provision, and also being a regulator. We are fixing the regulatory system; that is a priority in the same way that this Government is focusing on investing in road safety—those changes that will ensure that human error doesn't lead to crashes. That's because we're concerned about the safety of New Zealanders, and this bill fixes the problems that we inherited from the last Government. Kia ora.
TIM VAN DE MOLEN (National—Waikato): Thank you, Mr Speaker. It's a shame that the Green Party has to drop to those sorts of lows, to make those sorts of ridiculous claims, that a former Government doesn't care about the safety of the public—what a disgusting statement to say. Surely they can do better—it's an embarrassment.
Now, this bill is tidying up some of the relatively minor aspects, making a few changes to the regulatory systems transport space, tidying up regulations, and removing unnecessary compliance costs. We absolutely support that sort of approach. Anything we can do to reduce compliance costs is always a good thing, but actually especially more so now with the additional pressure that our businesses, that our public, are facing as a result of this COVID-19 virus.
We've heard, actually, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Simon Bridges, has made it very clear that regulations and reducing regulations is a significant focus for us, should we have the opportunity to govern after the next election. Indeed, getting rid of a hundred regulations in the first six months, under a bonfire of regulations, and every new regulation being a replacement for two others—these are some of these priorities that we have in terms of trying to make business easier for people, to reduce that cost, the time, the hassle often, for people to participate. Of course, you've got to balance that with having the right rules and regulations in place, but actually, at times, I think we have—and clearly we have—gone a bit far with some of that stuff.
One I wanted to touch on in relation to this proposed bill, at its first reading, is around the exemption and revocation powers that are being provided to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and Maritime New Zealand, and how that will actually play out in a practical perspective. I'm looking forward to seeing some submissions in relation to that—in particular, to understand better how we might tweak that, if need be, to ensure that practical application is as streamlined as possible.
We've seen and heard from previous members on this side as well, and others, around the increasing number of board members. Well, on the face of it, that's relatively benign, I suppose; the question will be what additional value do you obtain from having additional board members brought into each of those three organisations—CAA, NZTA, and Maritime NZ? If they bring in additional skills and expertise that can improve the ability to deliver the right outcomes for those organisations, well then that's OK, but we do have to be mindful that we're not just adding additional bureaucracy for the sake of it. And indeed, we've seen a strong focus throughout this on a number of those tweaks when actually, as Mr Brown pointed out earlier, we should have seen a much stronger focus from this Government on other areas of transport.
A key one in my electorate of the Waikato is extending the Waikato Expressway down to Piarere. It's a very dangerous piece of road and was missed under the last announcement by this Government when they came out saying, "Well, we're going to do all this additional infrastructure, and it's $900 million for the Waikato - Bay of Plenty." Well, actually, only $58 million of that is for the Waikato; the rest is all in the Bay of Plenty. And it's great to see the Tauranga Northern Link there finally being put back on the table after this Government foolishly cancelled it. It was ready to go under the last Government; still, it's been delayed two years for no reason. So, understandably, residents there are disappointed. But in the Waikato we've missed out on a crucial transport link there. The fantastic work that's been done under the previous Government in building that Waikato Expressway was great, and transport needs to remain a focus for any Government. So this regulatory systems bill, yep, makes some good tweaks, but actually the greater focus for transport under this Government should be on building those expressway projects in critical areas.
Vital safety improvements and economic benefits—those are the two key areas that come out of those projects and the delivery of them. So that's something, especially with the uncertainty of COVID-19 hanging over us. There are going to be jobs lost. There already have been some and there will be more. Anything the Government can do to provide additional impetus is welcome, and I'd commend them on a number of the facets they came out with in their recent announcement in terms of the wages, etc., to support that. But we need to see more investment in infrastructure as well, in these crucial projects that are ready to go. Roading is going to provide a huge opportunity, and I'd really encourage this Government to pick up some of those projects that the previous Government had done so much work on, scheduled, had in the pipeline, ready to go for a period of time over a number of years, and encourage them to crack on, get the work done, and create some jobs.
So in relation to this specific Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill: some good aspects to it, some that we're going to need some clarity around—particularly those exemption revocation powers—but overall we're supporting it at this stage, and I look forward to having it come through the select committee.
ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour): Thank you, Mr Speaker, it's a real pleasure to rise and talk to the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. First and foremost, I have to congratulate the Hon Phil Twyford, who is obviously super busy with all of the amazing infrastructure work that he's doing currently on roads to actually bring a bill which is going to take care of some of the small but important issues that are overhanging and left over from not being completed by a previous Government. He's still got time to do those things while focusing on the fact—and we have had it raised, $993 million in my region for roads in the last announcement that's come out.
Kiritapu Allan: Massive announcement.
ANGIE WARREN-CLARK: We're looking—massive announcement. And in fact, just announced $54 billion—$54 billion in the next 10 years in this area.
So it is extremely important. It is extremely important that we look at the small things that are attached to this. So I think it's a lot of common sense, a lot of updating, modernising. And, you know, we are not putting a bonfire to regulations, because these things are important. They cut through the red tape; they do the sensible things. So I'm really pleased that this bill is coming to the House.
And I'd also like to just take one quick moment to acknowledge the member from Rongotai, the mighty member who supports the Chatham Islands, and tautoko him in his comments about the fact that the Chatham Islands should be included under the definition of "regional" in the regional councils. So with that, I commend this bill to the House.
Now, I hadn't had anything to do with regulatory systems bills before, so the first thing I did was go away and find out a little bit about them. I did find that regulatory systems bills are a way of ensuring that the regulatory systems that we have in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment remain efficient and effective but also keep up with the modern world and do not become outdated, and, of course, that would reduce the chances of system failure within the organisation. Regulatory systems bills deal with complex amendments, as long as they don't involve significant law changes. That is in contrast to the statutes amendment bills that we often deal to, which are usually just minor tweaks within bills and don't have any significant policy changes related to them. But the best of all of these regulatory systems bills is that they do have, as one of their objectives, to create efficiencies, and that in turn relieves the burden of cost when we are dealing with some of these agencies and trying to do business with them.
As my colleague Tim van de Molen mentioned before, the National Party supports anything that does eliminate some of that regulatory burden. And as a consequence, the National Party is supporting this bill.
Now, the regulatory system as we know it here in New Zealand does encompass three main modes of transport: there is land transport, maritime transport, and aviation, and we have authorities that administer all three modes of those transport models. But it was clear in the departmental disclosure statement that some of the powers within the Land Transport Act and the Maritime Transport Act and the Civil Aviation Act needed to be modernised, and this bill sets about to do exactly that. One of the discrepancies that was found was around the Transport Agency, the NZTA board. While with the aviation and the maritime boards the responsibilities and powers resided with the individual board members, with NZTA that resided with the board as an entity, and this bill will set about to make an alteration to that so that there is consistency among those three entities.
Now, the regulatory function is a very important role for NZTA, because it is a huge ticket item here in this country and it really is a matter of concern that over the past two years we have seen very little investment in the roading network in this country, so I am very relieved to see some of that starting to roll out just as we head into a campaign. But the scope, of course, includes the safety and the operations and revenue of NZTA. But one of the things that I did note in the reading material was that in order for some of the entities that do business with the NZTA, it means that for the likes of, say, issuing certificates of fitness or warrants of fitness or even driver's licences, we could actually see the bar being lifted for those entities, which would in turn mean that their costs are going to increase. So it would be a sad day if we saw that the regulatory functions are going to be streamlined to save cost, but on the other hand, we're going to see increased cost and some of the compliance that will in turn be passed on to the users of those activities.
We've got a raft of other Acts that are impacted in secondary legislation by this bill—what are we calling it—the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. We hope that it will have a smooth passage through the select committee and I commend it to the House.
WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour): Tēnā koe e Te Māngai o Te Whare. Thank you for this opportunity to speak briefly on the Regulatory Systems (Transport) Amendment Bill. I have sat through the entire debate while on duty and I just wanted to first respond to a couple of the criticisms of this Government in those early speeches. It was mentioned that amongst the challenges that we're facing with COVID-19: is this the most important piece of legislation that we could be debating? Well, National failed to lodge an urgent debate request on COVID-19 today. That would have been an excellent opportunity for us to be able to do that. So I do just want to make that point—[Interruption] I just want to make that point that there was an opportunity to do that today.
But this bill is important because it, too, is also about the safety of New Zealanders—the safety of New Zealanders on our roads. I know that there is support from the other side of the House on that, after having a dig about the importance of it, amongst other things, at the moment. So the purpose of this bill is that safety is a priority. It's about the smooth running of our regulatory system and that the regulatory system is fit for purpose. And what we know is that in the past it has been very ad hoc.
So what this bill proposes to do is introduce a range of measures to ensure that it avoids any duplication, fixes any gaps, errors, and inconsistencies so that it is efficient and there are no inconsistencies in being able to roll out the regulatory measures proposed under this bill.
In particular, I just wanted to mention that I'm really pleased to see the amendment to the Railways Act 2005, and with the Government's announcement of $1 billion into rail—
Dr Duncan Webb: How much?
WILLOW-JEAN PRIME: —$1 billion into rail—and getting rail back on track, ensuring that the regulation powers are efficient and consistent is really important, particularly for Northland, where rail is getting back on track. And so with that, I commend this bill to the House and I wish the select committee all the best in their deliberations.
NICOLA WILLIS (National): I'm going to lift the tone of this debate up again, because I think the last thing that New Zealanders want to see from us all right now is bickering across the House. Of course, National supports this bill, so there is support on both sides of the Chamber for this bill. National supports this bill because fundamentally and at a principled level we support regulatory efficiency. We think wherever regulation is getting in the way of good decision-making, good investment, or progress for New Zealanders, we should be prepared to remove it or simplify it, and this is a case where that appears justified.
In its substance, this bill seeks to address regulatory duplication, gaps, errors, and inconsistency. That is a good thing. The bill ensures that regulators have new tools that are effective for keeping the system up to date into the future, so that we're not just looking at the regulations for today but making sure that they continue to be efficient in the future, and it removes unnecessary compliance costs. All of these are objectives that we on this side of the House wholeheartedly support and actually think should be applied more broadly across our statutes.
Finally, we acknowledge that this bill does have implications that require thorough examination and consideration. For example, the idea of increasing board membership of transport bodies could be a good thing if those appointments do ensure a better spread of expertise and knowledge. But equally—like, I'm sure, members on the other side of the House—we are wary of extra bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake. So we think it's important the select committee examines this bill carefully, takes submissions from experts, and ensures it achieves what it sets out to achieve.
I also want to acknowledge that our transport spokesperson, Chris Bishop, isn't here today, and I'm sure that he laments the opportunity to speak on this bill. So I will mention him at this juncture. National supports this bill. Thank you.
Dr DUNCAN WEBB (Labour—Christchurch Central): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. I just want to very briefly talk about this bill, and, in particular, just the important work it does in tidying up these regulations. I really emphasise the point that we absolutely need good regulation to manage people's behaviour and to ensure that the tools are there to respond effectively. Really, as opposed to the legislative work that we do here, the existence of regulations are there to be nimble, to be detailed, and to be responsive. Just noting clause 8, which deals with exemptions—that is to say, the powers of the director to exclude the applicability of certain regulations in certain cases—it is another level of detail, but when it actually comes to be applied, it is very, very important, and that's been clarified here. The fact that exemptions don't have to be given necessarily person by person, but they can be given across an entire class. So that means that we can do things like say that people in certain circumstances can drive outside of their licence conditions and things like that. It is very important work, highly detailed, but absolutely is the oil in the cogs that makes our transport systems work. So, with that, I commend this bill to the House.
Bill read a first time.
Bill referred to the Transport and Infrastructure Committee.