Construction Contracts Amendment Bill

The Construction Contracts Amendment Bill went through its second reading on 20 March. Parliament is now considering a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) from the Building and Housing Minister which will implement the government’s proposed retentions scheme.

The SOP provides that the scheme come into force on 31 March 2016 and apply to construction contracts entered into or renewed on or after 1 July 2015. The extension of the Act to related construction services (design, engineering and quantity surveying), will apply to contracts entered into or renewed on or after 31 March 2016. The other provisions in the Bill will come into force from 1 July 2015.

Link: SOP

Deadline extended for earthquake strengthening Bill

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill has had its deadline for report back to the House extended by four months - from 30 March to 30 July.

Update on the social housing sales programme

The Government has released an indicative timeline for its social housing programme, and some further detail around how the sales will be conducted and the conditions which will apply.

Link: Chapman Tripp commentary

Court delivers subcontractors a win

The importance of communicating clearly a decision to exercise a contractual election in a construction contract has been reinforced by the Court of Appeal in a judgment delivered late last year.

Link: Chapman Tripp commentary

SHA total reaches a 100

Twelve more Special Housing Areas have been created in Auckland, Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty, bringing the number across New Zealand to 100.

Link: Minister’s press statement

Local Government

Local government seeks new funding tools

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has released a discussion document seeking new funding sources to reduce its reliance on general rates. It has made the argument many times over the years but says the need for change is becoming more acute given the ageing population and burgeoning infrastructure costs. Based on the Prime Minister’s immediate response to the report, the chances of LGNZ getting a sympathetic hearing from central government do not look good.

Link: Chapman Tripp commentary

Resource management

RMA reform and the “Peters effect”

Winston Peters’ win in Northland will delay and dilute the government’s planned RMA reforms.

The Prime Minister has said that the proposed changes to sections 6 and 7 will have to be ripped up, and Environment Minister Nick Smith has indicated that his hopes to have the Bill through the select committee process before the end of this year may now not be possible.

Link: the PM on National Radio

2013 RMA changes in force from 3 March

The last of the amendments in the 2013 Amendment Act are now in force. These introduce:

  • some new matters to address in resource consent applications and environmental effects assessments, including new requirements to assess a proposal against Part 2 of the Act and plan objectives and policies, and
  • a new six month consenting timeframe for medium-sized projects: 130 working days if the application is publicly notified, 100 working days where the notification is limited. There is some “wriggle room” as there are mechanisms to stop the clock or secure an extension.

Motorway project a watershed in NZ infrastructure contracting

The Further North Alliance, created by the NZ Transport Agency to obtain the statutory consents for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension, has outperformed expectations and may represent a watershed in infrastructure contracting both in New Zealand and further afield.

The Alliance, of which Chapman Tripp was a non-owner participant along with engineering and environmental consultants, Jacobs and GHD, used innovative methods to deliver the necessary consents within tight timeframes and under budget.

The Transport Agency’s requirement that a new benchmark be set for industry performance was achieved.

Link: Chapman Tripp article

Pressure from Greens for NPS on rising sea levels

The Greens have used question time in the House to press the Government on the need to provide an NPS or an NES to assist local authorities to adapt to the effects of rising sea levels. Currently the only guidance is from the Ministry for the Environment.

Links: Parliamentary question, MfE guidance

Second off-shore mining application rejected

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected a second application for offshore mining under the EEZ Act – making the tally 2:0, and raising concerns at the stringency of the new regime.

Link: Chapman Tripp commentary