Required, reasonable and robust regulation in . . .

. . . unnecessary, ineffective and excessively costly out.

That’s the news from Miisiter of Finance Bill English and Minister of Regulatory Reform Rodney Hide who made the first Government Statement on Regulation today.

They said better and less regulation is essential to boost New Zealand’s productivity growth, international competitiveness and living standards and made two commitments:

to introduce new regulation only when the government is satisfied that is required, reasonable and robust; and to review existing regulation to identify and remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective and excessively costly.

Mr English said the two commitments responded to the Job Summit’s recommendation that the government delay introducing any new regulation that imposed extra substantive costs on business during the current difficult economic conditions.

“We have a clear plan to make New Zealand a more productive and higher income country and we believe that better and less regulation is essential to achieve that goal,” Mr English said.  “In our current financial situation the quality of the regulatory environment is even more important.”

Having a government that is willing to wrestle with the red tape which ties up time, strangles initiative and sabotages productivity is refreshing.

I am particularly encouraged by the expectation of a culture from government agencies that:

recognises the importance of productivity in enhancing New Zealand’s economic performance;
– respects the value of individual autonomy and responsibility;
– does not see regulation as the first resort for problem solving;
– provides fearless advice on whether a regulatory proposal is consistent with this policy statement and meets appropriate standards of impact analysis and consultation; and
– continually looks for opportunities to make existing regulation more effective, easier to access and understand, and easier and less costly to comply with;

Some of that will seem like a foreign language to bureaucracies which have been inculcated with the belief that government knows best and the rest of us can’t be trusted to think and act for ourselves.

There are no miracles in politics. There is a long way from these commitments to the freedom from unnecessary regulation we require but this is a very encouraging start.

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