Finding solutions in a mess of red tape

Rangitata MP James Meager. Photo RNZ.
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What do tiny homes, Lake Hood and blue ducks all have in common? They’re all stories from locals facing problems which are caused, or made worse, by government regulation. First, let’s talk about tiny homes.

Andrew and Kristin Lawrence operate A&K Tiny Homes out of Chertsey. When I went to visit them last Thursday, I was impressed with the ingenuity they had brought to find a solution to a problem: how do we get more affordable housing to people who need something quick and easy, that they can transfer on to a cleared site, but which is more permanent than a caravan or mobile home?

Their answer is to construct good quality tiny homes from flat packs and send them around the country on a trailer.

But when they are faced with a customer who asks what they need to do to install the home in their council area, A&K aren’t able to give them an answer.

Currently, whether you get a home approved or not comes down to the luck of the draw as to whether you want to install the home in a permissible prohousing council, or a conservative one. In this instance, it might be a lack of permissive, pro-property rights regulation which is holding us back.

Second, Lake Hood is green, and that’s not a political statement.

I was out visiting concerned Lake Hood residents and saw first hand the dire state the lake was in.

One possible solution to the algal build-up? Allow a second non-consumptive water take from the Ashburton River to increase the flow through the lake.

One guess whether such a consent will be granted. An example of a rule preventing the health of the waterway from being improved.

Third, the plight of Russell Langdon and his absentee blue ducks. Russell’s wetlands sanctuary, Riverbridge Conservation Park, was previously home to a few breeding pairs of blue ducks, but they were lost in a large snowfall several years ago.

Since then, Russell has tried without luck for another permit from the Department of Conservation to breed blue ducks and attempt to revive the dwindling population. Anybody who has been through Riverbridge will know what an amazing site it is.

There are government rules that actively prevent conservationists like Russell from doing for free exactly what we pay departments taxes to do. When I visited Russell’s place I was greeted with weka on the doorstep. Why not a blue duck or two next time?

These are just a few of the frustrating issues I hear from locals when I’m in the electorate. Often, it’s the wellintended but short-sighted rules from government which are making our lives more difficult and more expensive than they need to be. It’s time we changed that.

James Meager is the MP for Rangitata and can be contacted at his Mid Canterbury office on 03 307 1729 or at james. [email protected] . Follow him on Facebook at JamesMeagerMP