Friday, February 24, 2006

In the ballot VI

Another batch of private member's bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here.

Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion (Informed Consent) Amendment Bill (Gordon Copeland): I have little information on this, but according to Mr Copeland it "introduces Counselling into the process before a woman makes a final decision to request an abortion". Mr Copeland did not provide a copy of the bill (and the Clerk's Office will generally not provide the "fair copy" MPs are required to submit in case their bill is drawn), so exactly what such "counselling" will entail will have to be left to the imagination.

Education (Schools Review Authority) Amendment Bill (Sue Bradford): This would establish an independent body to review decisions by schools concerning stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions. Currently, such decisions can be reviewed either by the High Court or by the Ombudsman, but neither is particularly accessible to parents or students. A specialist review body would solve that problem, and help ensure that students are treated fairly and that their right to education is upheld.

A full copy of the bill is here [PDF]. Note that this is actually being put forward on behalf of Metiria Turei's bill, who was clearly hoping to benefit from Sue's ballot mojo.

Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill (Dr Jackie Blue): This would amend the Human Tissue Act 1964 to comprehensively update the rules on organ donation. Currently people become organ donors by ticking a box when they apply for a drivers' license. The problem is that the wishes expressed there can be overridden by a donor's next of kin - assuming anybody even notices anyway. The bill would replace this with a comprehensive register administered by the Ministry of Health which will include details on exactly what a donor wants to donate and for what purposes (transplants, anatomical study etc). Importantly, people will also be able to register and say that they do not under any circumstances wish to be a donor. Either way, people's wishes will be respected and will not be able to be overridden by their families. Because of the requirement for informed consent, everyone on the LTSA database will have to reregister, but after that the system will run much more efficiently. Donors will be able to opt in or opt out at any point (currently difficult), and will have much more control over the process. Finally, the registrar would be empowered to conduct public information campaigns to encourage organ donation.

This is an excellent bill. Like a million other New Zealanders, I ticked the box when I applied for a driver's licence, and its always annoyed me that my wishes could be ignored and that the system was so flakey. I'd like to see it fixed, and this bill seems to be a good way of doing it.

Building (Protection of DIY Builders) Amendment Bill (Bob Clarkson): This would amend the Building Act 2004 to allow DIY builders to conduct "restricted building work" (meaning work that is "critical to the integrity of the building and the health and safety of its occupants" or similar work as defined in the Building Code) without requiring the supervision of a licensed building practitioner. They will still have to formally comply with the building code; there just won't be any practical measures to ensure that they do so.

As usual, I'll have another batch when I collect enough responses from MPs.


I suspect Bradford is putting forward Turei's bill because, well, Turei is only allowed one at a time (she also has a cannibis one) - although maybe Bradford's just plum out of ideas :)

You also seem a little dismissive of Clarkson's bill; now admittedly it won't fix all of the problems with the Building Act (like the one that legally required the Beehive to be vacated last year), but the one issue Clarkson has identified seems a sensible place to start. I'd suggest that the deatiled plans that have to be submitted before the granting of a building permit/resource consent are at least some protection against failure to comply with the building code, without even mentioning that your average DIYer probably doesn't want to own/live in a poorly constructed/unsafe/unsaleable house. It's also nice to see Clarkson acting against his own self-interest - the requirement for supervision, no matter how skilled the unregistered DIYer, will provide a windfall for people in the construction business.

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 2/24/2006 05:00:00 PM

Graeme: well, that too, obviously. Though Bradford's excellent luck on getting bills drawn and to committee was also mentioned (the latter stemming mainly from the fact that she picks issues where its easy to build a left-wing consensus on them).

As for Clarkson's bill, the purpose of supervision is to ensure that the building actually follows its plans and complies with the code; under s89 licensed building practioners have a duty to notify consent authorities if the consent is breached. The alternative is more inspections (authorised by s90) - which Clarkson would probably similarly whine about as a "bureaucratic nightmare".

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/24/2006 05:21:00 PM

Gordon's bill is either a concern or a waste of time.
regarding Sue's I think it depends on their mandate. I have concerns about what effect such a body could have, from the school's point of view. And from the public's point of view, if we have a problem with people not having acess to redress then we should fix the root problem.
Jackie's bill - OK - I guess it is the way of the future.
Bob's bill - sounds OK to me.
One could easily be in danger of causing a large amount of inefficiency to ensure people dont performa acts that cause no harm and have benefit.
Of course it depends on all sorts of variables.

Posted by Genius : 2/24/2006 06:44:00 PM

Actually, the recent changes to the building codes have ensured that I stay out of the country for at least another two or three years - as an owner-builder/DIY under the old scheme, I could have built my own home for around 30 to 50 grand. However, the new supervision requirement and requirements for treated timber for structural members of the house are going to rack up the cost to around 150-200,000. Hence I'm getting out of academia, and off to rape the planet vigorously in WA, to earn the necessary money to pay the damned builder to watch me build and buy the expensive, unnecessary treated timber to build the damned house. Fucking nanny state - there goes the great NZ tradition of diy. FWIW, most of the dodgy houses that precipitated this law change were probably built by the bloody registered builders anyway. Rant, Rant.

Posted by Weekend_Viking : 2/24/2006 06:47:00 PM

About Clarkson's bill, you say: "work that is "critical to the integrity of the building" The bill would make a lot more sense if it read "work that is not "critical..." etc. Which of the two is Clarkson's original?

In any case there are still building inspectors to ensure that the Building Code is complied with. But this bill seems just another cheap attempt to privatise profits and socialise costs... to put the onus and fiscal responsibility onto the ratepayers instead of the cowboys and almost-builders.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2006 08:06:00 PM

Anon: Work that is "critical to the integrity of the building and the health and safety of its occupants" is the definition of "restricted building work" in s7 of the Building Act 2004. Work that is not critical doesn't generally require a consent.

Basically, this is about building houses from scratch, or making major modications - which is a little more than most DIY renovators do.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/24/2006 08:37:00 PM

Thanks for clarifying that... I know that a lot of building work that I as a layman wouldn't consider critical to the integrity of the building does require a building consent so didn't see any problem with that being OK for anyone to do. But I suppose this also hinges on what the boffins believe is critical.

I can see why certain work should be restricted to competent persons. I once rented a house maintained by an almost-builder landlord which had a toilet that, when it was flushed, caused the water in the kitchen sink U-bend to gurgle and with a shower with taps which gave you actual electric shocks - not just heating up or static electricity, but serious zaps. Scary stuff.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/24/2006 10:04:00 PM

The next question (assuming it was genuinely dangerous) regards why he was not held responsible for his shoddy work (regardless of him being a DIY person).
Surely that is a major part of the problem particularly since it goes on under the current reigeme.

Posted by Genius : 2/24/2006 10:40:00 PM

Counselling is already in the process before women have an abortion - Gordon Copeland's bill better not get pulled out of the ballot. Although there probably aren't the numbers for it to get any further (we can only hope). But it's hard to tell with conscience votes.

Posted by Maia : 2/25/2006 10:54:00 AM

Let me translate Gordon Copeland's private members bill for you. Copeland is a conservative Catholic and anti-abortionist. Therefore, his private members bill will force women to sit through anti-abortion propaganda before they undergo that medical procedure. I suspect it's based on a similar Australian Capital Territory bill, abandoned
several years ago.

Under the CSA Act 1977, counselling
is optional.

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2006 11:33:00 AM

Craig: Oh, I'd figured that; the question is whether its a mandatory harangue by a state-appointed religious fanatic, or pictures of dead fetuses.

Either way, I oppose th ebill, and judging from recent votes around the subject, it doesn't have anything like the numbers to pass.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/25/2006 11:38:00 AM

I'd guess a mandatory harangue.
And you're right, it has nowhere
near the numbers to get through

Apparently, even the antiabortion
loopies are divided on the

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 2/25/2006 03:03:00 PM

I'd be happy with Clarkson's bill if it was amended so that the DIY builder signed an enforcable agreement never to sell or rent out the property with the house still standing - that way it'd be their problem when it fell down.

Posted by Rich : 2/27/2006 04:36:00 PM

And that's the problem; the houses built or modifyed by DIYers will eventually be onsold, and onsold again. It's difficult, but doable, to hold a prior owner responsible for shitty work. It's pretty much impossible when you're further down the chain. Easier to prevent the problem in the first place, through proper building standards, rather than have unenforceable liabilities in the future.

(Which is, incidentally, the lesson from the whole "leaky building" crisis...)

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 2/27/2006 05:11:00 PM