If Phil Twyford and I agree on one thing, it's that councils have too much power and they hold back progress.

In launching his new urban plan he made the initial mistake of saying our cities are "failing" - that's needlessly and overtly negative. Our cities aren't failing, failing is a perception. Your failing is my progress.

But the general thrust of what he is trying to do is get fewer rules, fewer restrictions, less red tape, and more action. And in that I hope he is wildly successful.


We are simply too small a country to have the level of governance we do. We have too many councils, too many authorities, too many rules and laws, too many avenues of appeal - and too much time-wasting councils acting like fiefdoms who hold up getting things done.

Government doesn't help, the Resource Management Act is a mess.

But it's always struck me as ironic that we are all more than happy to moan about our lot, and yet so often we are also the ones at the front of the line objecting to whatever it is that needs to be built, upgraded, or changed. And this new urban plan looks to loosen all that up.

We hide behind the word "democracy". Everyone has to have a say, and when they've had a say, they want another say, and when they've had that say, they want a lawyer and a trip to the Environment Court.

Look at that mess at Ihumātao. The land was originally confiscated, later sold, the deal was done, next thing you've got an occupation and the Prime Minister, no less, wading in, meeting the Māori King and about to receive a hikoi. All because of what some in the group saw as something they didn't want or like.

If you're looking for universal agreement on anything, it's never coming.

Of course, this all assumes that what the urban plan should do and actually does do are the same thing.

In a nutshell we need fewer reasons not to do something. Our default position is why should we, as opposed to why not?


The regulatory aspect of this country is an industry in itself. It costs money, wastes time, and stalls development. We talk efficiency, don't come close to practising it.

Wouldn't it be amazing if Phil Twyford, architect of that catastrophe called KiwiBuild, re-emerged and repaired his battered reputation by being the Urban Development Minister that actually got the rules, councils, busy bodies, and pointy heads out of the way - and let us just get on with it.