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Chief Executive's Upfront
Government Relations: The Long & the Short of It

Wednesday, 12 June 2019  
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Opinion is divided as to whether the current Labour-led Government is as ‘transformational’ as it claims.  While the Wellbeing Budget  should be applauded for boldly adopting some new approaches, it hasn’t helped clarify overall perceptions.

Rob Gaimster, Chief Executive

What is clearer however, is that the first six-months of 2019 have seen a level of government consultation similar to, if not greater than, when the former Department of Building and Housing (DBH) was setup in 2004 to review the Building Act and address various issues.

The shear amount of recent and current discussion documents may indicate that the Government is trying to be ‘transformational’.

Regardless, an industry response, articulated through its association, is a non-negotiable requirement, one which Concrete NZ has recently been busy fulfilling, with both short and long-term outcomes in mind.

RECENT CONSULTATIONS
Concrete NZ saw merit in some of the initiatives proposed in the Ministry of Education’s Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) discussion document, such as establishing a unified vocational education funding system. However, we ultimately could not extend our support as the proposals have the potential to undermine confidence in the current system at a time of high demand for skilled workers.

Conversely, we recently supported the NZ Green Building Council's (NZGBC) Green Star - Design & As Built / Life Cycle Impacts for Concrete. Concrete NZ has also responded to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) Proposals for Amending Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods as well as urging Standards NZ to retain several important masonry Standards.

CURRENT CONSULTATIONS
Looming large of the horizon is MBIE’s Building System Legislative Reform Programme, which proposes changes to New Zealand’s building legislation. The Programme is being communicated as the most significant set of reforms since the current Building Act was introduced. Concrete NZ will be focussing on the Building Products and Methods section.

We have also been in discussion with MBIE on several other important issues such as Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) fire performance and the need for clarification around the two versions of The Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings.

We mustn’t forget other current consultations, such as WorkSafe NZ’s proposal to reduce the crystalline silica Workplace Exposure Standards. Consultation is also open on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which will set the framework for New Zealand to transition to a low emissions economy.

STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT
Under Standards NZ’s new Partnership Model, Concrete NZ is currently funding and leading a review of NZS 3104 Specification for Concrete Production. Our desire to initiate the review was based on a belief that the role Standards play in our industry cannot be over-stated, and that maintaining their currency is imperative.

As such, we have reached out to MBIE’s Building System Performance (BSP) branch to resume their 2016 Building Standards Performance programme, which set out the priorities and timeframes to update Standards considered most important to the NZ Building Code, and also indicated that BSP would be a significant funder.

SHORT AND LONG TERM OUTCOMES
Ensuring active and effective advocacy with government was a key driver in the establishment of Concrete NZ. Expressing a view and building relationships to influence outcomes on behalf of the concrete industry, with short- and long-term objectives in mind, is a priority now more than ever.