Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

To me that is one of the great comments on being gullible.

Yes, you may get me once but if I fall for the same thing a second time, I am the idiot.

I don't like making mistakes and certainly not twice.


That's why, it seems, I may not ever rise to being a cabinet minister in New Zealand.

For in that supposed repository of great minds is a minister who thinks, well, the unthinkable ... letting builders sign off on the quality of their own work.

I know, I know, who would be obtuse enough to allow an industry - after the leaky homes fiasco - to self-regulate the quality of the buildings they are producing?

I'll spell it out ... Paula Bennett.

Bennett is the current Minister of Local Government in a Government that is panicking about the lack of housing in this country and is resorting to desperately ridiculous ideas to be seen to doing something to ease the problem.

How about the suggestion Auckland's golf courses be used to put up thousands of houses?

The Government's whipping boys on the volcano-hot housing market are local councils and, while I don't always hold them in high regard, I believe they may have learned the lesson from the leaky homes disaster and are now very vigilant over the quality of work being done.

And so they should be.


Leaky homes will cost this country at least $20 billion, with more than 42,000 homes affected.

And that means almost 100,000 Kiwi adults have to deal with the stress and pain of having their most valuable asset ruined.

In addition, that does not take into consideration the people who have been abandoned by councils and the Government whose buildings were approved by agents rather than local bodies.

The agents may have been doing the work for councils but when the trouble hit some councils refused to accept responsibility and avoided liability.

Anyway, back to Paula's Plan.

She is backing a proposal by the Government's rules reduction taskforce that self-certification should be encouraged for builders who meet set levels of qualification.

It would work in much the same way as electricians being able to sign off their own work.

From my point of view, however, there is a big difference between the two.

Firstly, sparkies are at the coal face with their work and if they attach the wrong thing to the wrong thing they will be the first to pay the price by being mega-frizzled.

Builders' errors are hidden for years.

And, as happened during the leaky home debacle, many developers avoided the fallout by declaring bankruptcy, leaving unfortunate sub-contractors and homeowners facing the costs.

If I had been in charge of the country at the time the scandal was happening, I would have enacted emergency legislation that would have frozen all the assets of those involved in leaky homes and they would not have weaseled out of paying for their mistakes.

I would also have banned them from having anything to do with the building industry ever again. Harsh? Not really, considering the financial and emotional damage they have done to people.

Back to the Government's rules reduction task force. Out of interest, I looked up the members of said body to see who it was made such a suggestion to the Government.

It came as no surprise to see the mix, which include three current or former National MPs, five industry folk and a mayor or two. The watering down of protections for home buyers must not be accepted by the community.

If future leaky homes are not your problem, they may well be so for your children or other relatives. Get on to your local MP and let them know giving builders the right of self-regulation is just not on.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Richard Moore is an award-winning Western Bay journalist and photographer.