Saving our Standards

The BusinessNZ Network alongside a number of building and construction industry associations have achieved a win, securing the future of critical Standards needed by NZ industry.

Industry standards (‘Standards’) are needed for product safety, regulatory compliance, successful exporting and importing, efficiency, consistency, and many other needs.  All manufactured items must be manufactured to recognised Standards.  All recognised trade training in NZ is linked to Standards.

Many Standards in use in NZ are Australia-NZ Joint Standards, created by joint work between industry groups on both sides of the Tasman.  (Joint Standards are needed as Australia and NZ are each other’s biggest market for manufactured exports and given the closeness between the two economies and business sectors.)

Since 2016 the future of this joint work has been under threat because of a lack of funding on this side of the Tasman.

The Standards work in Australia receives some funding from the Australian government and they operate in a much bigger market which makes them financially viable.  However in NZ, Standards work has been 100% user-pays, which in a very small market has never generated enough income from the sale of standards to invest in standards development.  Standards development gets no funding from the NZ government, unless a Government agency decides to fund a standard that they reference in regulation, but this is very ad-hoc.

Without reliable funding, NZ has been unable to contribute to the creation or updating of joint standards, resulting in more than 500 joint Standards being je-jointed, becoming solely Australian standards.

This has left several NZ industries in a situation where their Standards are out of date, invalid, or where they do not have relevant Standards for the work they do. 

This has been particularly challenging for construction and building industries, where safety could be compromised through inadequate Standards.

BusinessNZ and construction industries find solution

Last year, BusinessNZ invited affected industries to work on a joint request to MBIE for funding joint Standards.

Following ongoing representations and persistent advocacy, it was recently agreed that MBIE would use funds from its Building Levy to support Standards related to building, construction, and health and safety.

The result is that work on joint Standards can resume, and those NZ industries are now able to benefit from operational joint Standards.

“This successful outcome represents a triumph of the collective effort and persistent advocacy of various industry groups, the leadership of Business New Zealand, and the industry bodies that collaborated to find solutions,” the CEO of Master Electricians NZ said.