Feature articles, New Zealand - Saturday, January 25, 2014 16:06 - 2 Comments
Can Colin Craig help keep the Nats honest?
Numerous polls are suggesting Colin Craig’s Conservative Party may the third party National desperately needs to continue governing at this year’s election. What does Craig bring to the table? IAN WISHART finds out in our first 2014 campaign interview
Q: What inspired you to get into politics?
A: The first thing that inspired me was the leaky homes crisis. Business-wise I was involved managing property in the building industry. I’ve got over a thousand clients with leaky homes and saw it as a major failure of government – particularly because I knew people in Canada, and Canada had the same crisis, sorting it out within five years. It took thirteen years for our government to do anything even about the existing building legislation, let alone address the problem.
I had those two comparisons, and I honestly thought we were living in a banana republic. I tried raising it with various politicians and they didn’t want to know about it, and that just made me politically aware for the first time – I realised there were some major shortcomings in the way we were being governed.
The second thing that inspired me was the anti-smacking referendum. After the result came out (because I wasn’t involved in campaigning for the referendum itself), but I had voted in it and couldn’t believe that John Key would ignore an 87% vote. I just thought that was outrageous, and I guess that led me to organising the march for democracy, which was my introduction to politics.
Q: Just picking up on the leaky homes issue as a conservative…that was a crisis brought about by deregulation in the building industry. Do you see that as ironic, as deregulation swinging too far?
A: Look, I think it was brought about by the fact that we abandoned what had worked for us for so long, and that was building codes that were tried, true and tested. What we had was pressure by certain interest groups within the building industry to say ‘look, you can use anything you like as long as it lasts for fifty years’, and then those same interest groups set up or were part of the certification agencies that ‘decided’ which products lasted for fifty years. They gave themselves all the rubber stamps they needed to use systems which may have worked in an ideal situation in a laboratory but were certainly not going to work in real life.
I don’t put it down purely to deregulation, I put it down to big business interests taking advantage of a deregulated market. And of course some shady operators in the industry – you can’t leave them out – who did pretty much the same thing.
Q: What sort of learning curve has been involved in WOULD YOU LIKE TO READ MORE OF THIS STORY?
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