The importance of an ‘efficient and effective regulatory environment’ (Offices of the Ministers of Finance and Regulatory Reform, 2013) has never been more prominent in New Zealand than it is at the present time. The New Zealand Productivity Commission’s Regulatory Institutions and Practices report, which is both a product of and contributor to this enhanced prominence, noted that there is growing interest in regulation in New Zealand stemming from the increased importance of individual freedoms and human rights, the growing awareness of the impacts of both good and bad regulation, the way government now organises itself to provide services and implement policy, and the diversity of society and its range of attitudes to risk and expectations about government’s actions.
There are many ways to enter into a discussion about an efficient and effective regulatory environment: for example, through the lens of boosting New Zealand’s productivity growth, international competitiveness and living standards (Minister of Finance and Minister of Regulatory Reform, 2009); in relation to the increasing focus on good public sector management, which includes regulatory system stewardship (Treasury, 2013); or by addressing the importance of avoiding, responding to and learning from regulatory disasters (Black, 2014). Discussions may or may not include philosophical perspectives on the place or volume of regulation. But, whatever the view on more or less regulation, or the entry point to the discussion (broad economic performance, regulatory stewardship or avoiding regulatory failures), we probably all agree that regulation that is in place should provide benefits that would not accrue in its absence, at reasonable cost.