Responsive – Part 2

Steven Whittaker, Deb Despard, Michelle Peden, Karel Boakes

Inland Revenue, Maritime NZ,  Financial Markets Authority, Manawatu District Council

Ian Caplin: Kia ora and welcome to the program, you’re watching G-Reg, the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative.

My name is Ian Caplin and if you’ve just joined us for the first time in this series, this is episode four in a series of 10 webinars, which, taken together across the month of October and November stand as our 2020

G-Reg conference. It’s our sixth conference year, but the first time that we’re doing it this way.

For those of you who are new to us, G-Reg, the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative, is the world’s first and only cross government network for users of the regulatory powers of the state, whether they’re coercive, facilitative, or if you’ve seen me say this before, ‘anything else-ive.’

And it is very germane to what we’re going to be discussing today, because our conference theme is the modern regulator and we’re going to be talking about the responsive regulator.

In particular, the responsive regulator in terms of how do regulators, or anyone in the business of government exercising a discretion, make the correct choice and the setting as to whether their powers are going to used perhaps in a more coercive way or a more compassionate way.

It’s very much part of the case of this conference that despite the fact it’s Halloween, this kind of discretionary delicate exercise is not some sort of random knocking at the door, ‘trick or treat’ where the piece of government dealing with the regulated party gives what they happen to capriciously fancy, there’s very much a science and not a little bit of art to it. More on that later.

G-Reg is based here in New Zealand, but I do reiterate, as I always do, our welcome to our international audience of fellow regulators, those involved in the business of government in these live and recorded

public webinars.

Wherever and whenever you are, you’re very welcome here. If you’re watching us live and you’re watching us in the New Zealand timezone it’s 11 O’clock New Zealand Daylight Time, although I look outside the studio window and the weather doesn’t actually necessarily underscore that proposition.

But a spooky pre-Halloween coincidence – I’m sure it’s not lost on you, members of the audience, is today, the 20th October, is the 202nd anniversary of the birth of this gentleman.

And you’ll see him, like my personal photograph of him, Sir Stafford Northcote, I think, Sir, Stafford Northcote, the British Foreign Secretary and Finance Minister in the mid 19th century.

And he co-wrote with a gentleman called Mr. Trevelyan what is imaginatively referred to as the Northcote-Trevelyan Report, which was an absolutely groundbreaking seminal piece of work.  They’re a dream team. This is a civil service equivalent to the Beatles White Album.

And a number of the recommendations that they put in the Victorian audience at the time, either found most alluring as they probably put it, or possibly even most alarming, but I will just quote you one piece because it’s inspired…the report in its entirety, by the way, is only 22 pages. And I challenge anyone who’s trying to reform any civil service or public service anywhere on the planet, to knock it out in 22 pages and I recommend page 23. It’s a bit Queen Victoria and Halloweeny and it says, and I quote, it’s a recommendation to “mitigate the evils which result from the fragmentary character of the public service by, in effect, introducing a workforce whose services may be available at any time in any office, whatever.”

Now, that’s basically a posh way of saying working across government and historians of this sort of work will debate whether or not that was implemented, but it’s very much part of the case of this conference, particularly when we looked at episode two about collaboration, that the modern regulator is a collaborative regulator. In this episode, we say that the modern regulator is a responsive regulator. We discussed responsiveness in the previous webinar in the context of agility, but in this particular context we’re looking at when a regulator can make choices about how they exercise their discretion according to the circumstances and according to a necessary and proper responsiveness in the settings that they involved.

And far away from a treat, trick I should say, and very much a treat, I do emphasise, are our four guests in the panel. They’re going to tell you a little bit more about themselves and also comment on this issue and then it’s over to you as it always is, members of the audience, to join in this conversation.

Deb Despard from Maritime New Zealand, Steve Whittaker from Inland Revenue, Karel Boakes from Manawatu District Council and, last but not least, Michelle Peden from the Financial Markets Authority, all join us and I look at the running order now and it’s straightaway, just to say, a brief hello, with a little commentary on that, over to Deb, welcome.

Deb Despard: Not to spend any time on myself, except to say that I’ve been hanging around G-Reg circles for quite some time now. I’m very passionate about the work of regulatory practice and G-Reg, so I’m going to get straight into it.

And look, I’m going to start with some general ideas and then talk about some specifics around what Maritime New Zealand has done in response to Covid.

As modern regulators, I think we always need to understand the context that we’re operating in and then adapt in a way that we can keep being influential, and credible and protect our authorizing environment.

And to me, that means arranging ourselves in ways that allow us to understand the factors that could give rise to the need to quickly adapt our practice and to make sure we’re still on the right path to achieve our regulatory outcomes.

For me, that’s about understanding the risks, the pressures, the changes to our regulatory regimes and watching for a turning of the tide, if you will.

And that’s an important feature of the modern regulator. Being familiar with precursor events, indicators that could indicate harm or failure.

A change in social, political, economic conditions will alert us to the need to change tack to generate a proactive or preventative response or some other adaptation.

And to me, balancing that agility is key. And I dare say that many of us will have seen or experienced a regulatory pendulum that attempts to counter a perceived or an actual problem with a regulatory function.

And I’m not in favour of a pendulum, because I think the hard and the soft belong in good regulatory practice, it’s about getting the basics right and making sure we can pivot from those basics.

And agility requires strong leadership and confidence to use our discretion, allowing leniency in the right proportions whilst not raising the risk of our regulatory outcomes being compromised.

Covid’s been a great example of where we’ve needed to be agile and responsive to the needs of our regulated sector. It’s a good example because of its intensity, it’s impacted everyone in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

But, in my view, it’s not just these big events that we need to be on the lookout for, we need to be making sure that our settings are right, whether there are subtle changes or something as obvious as Covid. And I think along with that, we also need to take active steps to avoid a set and forget mentality.

At Maritime, we knew we needed to think about our seafarer and operator approvals and certifications from a different standpoint during Covid. And so we utilised our exemptions provisions in our Act as part of our regulatory toolkit.

That allowed us to take a compassionate approach to those who are facing business and livelihood impacts as well as factoring in the potential impacts for the broader community who are dependent on shipping, freight and maritime operations.

Our approach was informed by a deep understanding of our sector and its risks and from there we could predict any pinch points created by Covid and exercise compassion in our decision making while not exacerbating risk to an unacceptable level.

And we use some of our existing tools and functions, and in particular the Exemptions Task Force had previously been set up to deal with novel situations, where sometimes not fit for purpose rules would get in the way of good practice, and that task force allowed us to proactively and re-actively manage exemptions for our unique situations.

But what we could do with the task force was enable our maritime community to keep operating.  And what we did was we issued around half a dozen general exemptions in relation to seafarers and operators. We issued guidance, all of that at pace as I’m sure we can all relate to and in some cases we made general exemptions for a good proportion of seafarers, for example, in days, rather than months. The other thing that we did is that Maritime New Zealand leadership restated our messages to support our thinking and consistency in relation to how we should consider and make decisions, and we call that at Maritime New Zealand, the three E’s, which is Engagement, Enabling… and if my technology works, I’m going to share that screen with you, and you can see on the screen, usual meanings actually engagement, working with others, identifying outcomes and playing our part in achieving them.

Empathy, being able to see someone else’s perspective, i.e. the regulated party, and enabling –

10 mins

seeking to make something possible, not by removing any constraint, that’s really important, but by finding ways to work within the necessary constraints in the most efficient and effective way.

So we underpinned by a concerted leadership drive, the three E’s combined with the elements of being a modern regulator, responsive risk based and anticipatory.  We were able to be agile and compassionate in our response to Covid.

Ian Caplin: Deb, thanks very much indeed. And before we move on to our next guest, I just note the turning of the tide, not lost on Maritime and not lost, members of the audience, I suspect, on you, in terms of the regulatory pendulum. Is it a swing from coercive to compassion or should they coexist? And what do you think, what would you want to raise in terms of comment or question?

You don’t have to hold fire on any of those things because if you look at the bottom of your screens, you’ll see the Q and A function. Feel free right now to just put any comments down or questions down. Once all of our panellists have opened, they’ll be very happy as will I to take and deal with your question, so open fire.

Agility is another thing, members of the audience, and of course, those of you who were there at the previous webinar will look at the agile way in which Inland Revenue who presented then, dealt with the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme.

All of our webinars are ultimately going to be online, available at the G- Reg website and there’s no particular order in which you need to watch them. They’re all very much self contained but also interactive and interlocking into the overarching theme of what makes the modern regulator. Without further ado, we move straight to Karel Boakes, Karel, over to you.

Karel Boakes: Thanks, Ian.  As Ian said, my name is Karel Boakes and I’m the Regulatory manager and I work for Manawatu District Council.

I cover quite a broad area of functions; building control, planning, environmental health, animal control, liquor licensing and compliance and enforcement, so quite a lot going on in my space.

Right, so, modern regulator. What does that mean for us? So basically we live and work in a dynamic environment, has a lot of complex factors and triggers and obviously Covid-19 was particularly disruptive for everyone.

We need to be adaptable and empathetic to people as in new situations people are under significant amount of stress.  So it’s about understanding that and working with those people. It’s a balancing act. We must consider the obligations under the legislation and the level of risk with the enforcement decisions we are making.

What we try and do a lot is education first and try and provide as many options as possible for people and talking through that. That is obviously quite time consuming but it’s worth it in the end. So I’m going to give you some couple of real life examples that we’ve dealt with, the first one obviously being Covid.

So in that situation, I was actually Recovery Manager, as well as the Regulatory Manager, so what I had to make sure was happening, was that we were enabling recovery, rather than disabling it through compliance and enforcement. So some examples of things we had to put in place or we tried to help as much as possible were deferred payments for alcohol and health registrations. Obviously, they weren’t operating much at the time and their revenue was reduced significantly, so we recognised the need to do that.

Other things we did, were no charges at all for food businesses who needed to change their food control plans during levels three and four.

We provided the ability to have temporary activities so we allowed them to go ahead without any resource consents, with the idea of having delayed enforcement after lockdown, so [inaudible] through that way.

Another area was delayed payments and enforcement for dog registrations, which were occurring around June, July due to financial hardship caused by Covid 19. So these are all things we were trying to help people get back on their feet and to recognise that this wasn’t a normal environment.

The other example, which was non Covid related, related to our district plan rules for multi dogs. We had a rule where if you have more than two dogs in a rural area you needed a resource consent, which was really nonsensical, it was out of date. I certainly didn’t feel comfortable enforcing them.

And so what I did was seek legal advice to assist in a decision not to enforce whilst managing that risk associated with them being current rules in play. So what we did there was proactively encourage a change to those district plan rules to make them more appropriate and suitable, and then we have, we’re in a situation now where they’re in place and we have an amnesty period for enforcing those rules and are obviously working with those people who don’t comply currently to get through the resource consent process. So very much a soft, soft approach to a situation that just didn’t make sense in that space.

Things we need to do to make this all successful, in my opinion, we need three things. One of the first things is support. So in order to be successful as an enforcement and compliance team in this space, you need the support of your executive team including your CE and governance team.

And establishing a compliance and enforcement policy is also very helpful in this space. It’s good to know that when things get sticky and they do often that the organization has your back in that situation.

The second thing I think is important is that ground truthing element. So the governance team, who make decisions often, need to understand what the operational environment is all about.

So what we do there is make sure that we present to them the real world operational environment, just to make sure they’re aware of what’s actually happening on the ground when they’re making those decisions.

And the last one in terms of being a successful compliance enforcement team in this space is consistency. So you need your whole team to have a common understanding and a common goal and obviously great communication as well to make sure there’s a consistent approach going out there. Often that helps, with open plan physical environment, it really does help with that common communication and common goal and understanding.

So yeah, those I think are the three things you need in a compliance enforcement team in a modern regulator space to be successful.

Ian Caplin: Karel, thanks very much indeed. And a number of things there, food for thought, members of the audience, I can see you’re not shy already coming through with those questions.  Before we turn to you though, let’s go straight to my colleague at Inland Revenue, Steve. Steve, over to you.

Steven Whittaker: I’m Steve Whittaker, I’m a group leader at Inland Revenue in Takapuna.

My work’s focussed on small and medium enterprise businesses. Within that I had a particular focus on outstanding tax and overdue returns.

So I looked at this issue predominantly through that lens. In preparing the discussion, I talked to a wise colleague called Jim. Jim’s originally from the UK so got a perspective based on both the New Zealand tax system and overseas, which gives him a bit more of a perspective, I suppose.

And he summed it up very well for me when he said that the New Zealand tax system has an ingenious way of making compassion part of the system rather than something separate, so there is no trade off between compassion and integrity.

I’ll just put a slide up to give you something to look at. So to explain that, the core provisions of the Tax Administration Act charge the Commissioner and her officers with the duty of care and management.

So what does that mean? We must at all times use our best endeavours to protect the integrity of the tax system, including the public perception of that integrity.

So customers who file and pay accurately and on time are assured that IRD will take appropriate action against people that don’t, but at the same time will have regard for factors that prevent a person who is trying to comply from doing so.

We must also endeavour to collect the highest net revenue practicable within the law – that really doesn’t mean every last cent and has regard for such factors as the provision of relief and the benefits of healthy businesses continuing rather than failing due to events beyond their control and obviously the current Covid-19 pandemic would be an example of those sorts of situations.

We’ve also got to recognise the importance of promoting compliance, especially voluntary compliance, by all persons. People are more likely to comply voluntarily if they see the law being applied consistently and with appropriate compassion. I’d suggest that unless we take a compassionate approach, we will compromise integrity and certainly undermine the willingness of taxpayers to voluntarily comply.

IRD has a customer charter and included in that charter under the heading Consistency and Equity, is a commitment that we will take your – the customer’s – particular circumstances into account as far as the law allows. This has been described as standing in the customer’s shoes.

So how does it play out in practical terms? Using the example of outstanding payments, the majority of people file and pay their taxes in full and on time. If you don’t

20 mins

pay on time or you pay late, or you don’t pay at all, late payment penalties and use of money interest are applied or charged automatically. Now that in itself doesn’t sound very flexible or compassionate.

However, IRD can allow a customer to pay their liability over time in full or in some cases with a partial remission. We call this an instalment arrangement. We may also write some of the tax off. And while the arrangement is being met, we won’t charge further penalties, although an interest charge would still apply.

Customers can apply for relief or remission of penalties and interest. This can be because the penalty arose as a result of an event beyond the customer’s control, there’s reasonable justification for the breach and the customer’s corrected the failure as soon as possible.

IRD’s been able to supplement these provisions to provide relief to customers affected by events such as Covid-19, where automated remission of interest and penalties for certain customers, whose businesses were affected, have been introduced.

IRD can also remit a penalty where it’s clear the penalty arose due to a genuine error or an oversight, and to punish such an error would not promote voluntary compliance.

IRD’s legally prohibited from collecting a debt, where the payment would leave the customer unable to meet basic certain essential expenses, such as medical treatment or the cost of educating dependents. This is called serious hardship.

It only applies to natural persons and small closely held companies. In these situations, IRD may write off some or all of the customer’s debt, although the law and the courts, accept that the Commissioner is entitled to consider the compliance behaviour of a customer before actually writing the debt off.

It may be for non-compliant customers, somebody who’s got a history of non-payment or evading their taxes, that rather than giving relief under  that provision, bankruptcy or liquidation may be a more appropriate outcome.

Again, that has regard to the Commissioner’s duty to preserve the integrity of the tax system. If the amount available to recover against a debt doesn’t cover the entire debt, IRD may also write the remainder off as maximum recovered. Once explained to me as that we don’t try and get blood out of a stone.

Examples provided in the time that we’ve got today relate primarily to the issue of outstanding taxes, penalties and relief. The Tax Acts provide numerous other exemptions, discretions and permissions that also equally reflect a compassionate approach to our customers and perhaps might be the discussion, part of a discussion for another day. Thanks.

Ian Caplin: Thank you, Steve and also thank you to the Englishman called Jim, one of my colleagues who is very well placed to give that sort of advice. Last but not least, before we go to you in the audience and do please keep those questions coming in – Michelle.

Michelle Peden: Kia ora tatou. I’m the Head of Conduct Assessment at the Financial Markets Authority and my team really looks after the stuff that’s right on the fringes of regulation, where we have limited tools and treatments available to us.

But generally as regulators, we make choices all the time about what we pay attention to, where we look, what we look for, and what we do about what we find. Those choices are deployed through strategic priorities, policy settings and tactical and operational decisions.

Even within those things that we are required to do, we can choose how we do it and the amount of resources we apply. So using our discretion as regulators is just par for the course.

As an example, where there’s a new regulatory regime, bringing in market sectors that haven’t been regulated before, regulators will generally have a deliberate focus on education and some leniency around compliance, while the regime beds in.

As regulators, our attention will generally be on where we see the greatest risks. In our case, to the markets or to the integrity of the regulatory regime, or to the agency’s reputation and effectiveness.

We set our regulatory priorities based on this and we review and update them periodically to make sure that we continue to focus on the right things.  We also think about where a strict application of statutes might have unintended consequences for a market sector or prevent desirable innovation and we can use exemptions or designations to remedy this as my colleagues talked about.

An example is we might grant an exemption in favour of small to medium sized licensees of discretionary investment management schemes in our environment and that provides relief from certain financial reporting and audit obligations.

Another example is the personalized digital advice exemption, which allows for financial advice to be provided by via computer algorithms, rather than a person, which wasn’t contemplated under the older legislation.

We might have a compassionate view of compliance where the potential for harm is limited and where circumstances mean that full compliance might be difficult.

So in the case of Covid, we relaxed reporting timelines, when lockdown, and significant uncertainty might impact the ability for firms to finalise their reports, we might give firms more time to produce information or to file returns, but not forever.

When it comes down to it, harmful misconduct will always be a priority for action. By definition, it compromises the integrity of the system.  In a time of crisis, it might be even more important to address it swiftly.

So, under Covid, where we saw firms engaging in activities they’re not registered for or advertising in a misleading way about the impact of Covid and the need for their products or services, where we saw that kind of behaviour, we’re likely to respond faster and harder, even in the time of Covid.

Over time, our priorities and policies may shift to accommodate new circumstances or problems as well as in the way we do things. This is even more heightened in a crisis. We may need to move rapidly to respond to new and unexpected risks or threats or areas that weren’t previously viewed as high risk may become more important as the crisis unfolds or deepens.

Ian Caplin: Thank you very much indeed, Michelle. One thing that I think emerges for all of us, from all of those presentations is, though it’s the Halloween season, whatever time of year we’re in, the professional costumes that we wear will vary, very much, according to the occasion.

And what I’m picking up from all of those introductions and thank our panellists again, for those introductions, is the sense of proportionality and the kind of the shrink to fit, the adjust to fit.  We’ll go straight into the questions now.  This one Deb for you and I’ll just pick it up from the screen next to me.

I presume that there was already a built in ability to provide exemptions by Maritime in relation to Covid, the question goes, but if there wasn’t, wouldn’t an exemption ability on the exemptions that we discussed in depth that you spoke about, need to have been built into an amendment to the relevant Act, and I just add to that it’s an interesting one, because some of the things that we’ve talked about, we’ve got something that’s baked into our legislation and there’s something that’s overtly authorised, and sometimes it’s a question perhaps of stretching the envelope, obviously within the rule of law, but being more creative and taking a balanced view within a wider legislative mandate.  Deb what, what do you say?

Deb Despard: Yeah. Thanks, Ian. Yes, we do have something built into our legislation that allows us to consider unique situations or novel situations where as long as there is no increase in safety risk, and there is a bit more to it than that, but it’s probably okay for the audience. I think that legislation is often not as black and white and clear as we would really like it to be and regulators often work with legislation that doesn’t quite work for them and for that reason, I agree with what you said, is that we do have to really carefully, be able to interpret our legislation and think creatively as much as we possibly can to be able to get the right outcome.

So, many of us would have heard Malcolm Sparrow talk about you can have poor legislation and a great or really well regulated sector and vice versa. So for me, it’s about, you know, how can we think about our legislation in ways that are going to facilitate the thing that we want to have happen.

So yes, we did have an exemption provision, probably we would have needed an amendment, but we’re more and more thinking about how we can use our exemptions provisions as part of our toolkit so that even in non-Covid times, if we have we have some new innovations which would actually increase safety within our sector, we would want to be able to look at that and say, how can we make this happen.

The advent of technology and autonomous shipping, for example, is a place that we would really want to explore; how can we utilise the exceptions in a good way?

Ian Caplin: And it’s an interesting one isn’t it, regulating with integrity and it’s something that all of us in the business of government are looking at where we have a discretion.

Some of us have statutory provisions where integrity’s, as it were, baked into the scheme. I know Steve perhaps you’d like to comment on that, in relation to the tax system.

30 mins

Steven Whittaker: Yeah, as I said in my brief presentation, it is very much baked into the scheme.

I suppose the issue for a lot of people at the moment though, is certainty and from a customer perspective, knowing that – and the example of the Covid-19 relief provisions, you could look at the relief provisions that already existed, and they would probably cover the situation that we find ourselves in.

But, rather, you know, than having individuals applying for relief and having a lack of certainty about that, IRD took the front foot and said, we understand the situation and these circumstances apply to a broad group of people, so let’s front foot that and get that out there.

Ian Caplin: And I think it’s also a public perception point as well, isn’t it, that I mean, the tax legislation I know, has baked into it integrity also equals public perception of integrity of the tax system. Moving to you, Karel, you mentioned I think implicitly, possibly a public perception point in relation to needing further resource consent if you own two dogs.

Karel Boakes: Yeah, so that that was an old rule, and district plans are reviewed every 10 years, and ours was overdue as well. So they get out of date pretty quickly.

So that was a situation where it just wasn’t reasonable or appropriate, that rule any longer. So yeah, just uncomfortable pushing cost and effort onto people for no reason.

So that’s why I’m seeking legal advice on how to not enforce the rule. If you actually get a complaint coming in, then you’re obliged to deal with it, so you have to be comfortable when you don’t.

And so in that situation, we were able to get some advice, put a proactive plan in place to get those rules changed, which kind of delayed our enforcement process.

And it also meant the outcome at the end was that a significant smaller amount of people were non compliant in the end, and then we help them get through that process. So it was just the right thing to do in that situation, you just find ways around it.

Ian Caplin: And briefly, to your point that you mentioned, Karel, I think, also, in terms of taking a more flexible proportionate view – critical that the execs, management, has to have your back, as it were, and I know we’re looking at culture and well being really in episode eight of these webinars. How important, in a nutshell, is it to have that critical backing on that sort of issue?

Karel Boakes: Essential. It’s very difficult to operate in an environment where you’re being challenged internally as well. So yeah, I’d say that’s absolutely essential and good leadership from the chief executive who kind of pulls everything together because you have the governance team. And then you have chief executive, as well.

They all need to be on the same page and having your back is definitely essential, but part of that is making sure they’re fully aware of the implications and real world, which was part of that ground truthing I was talking about.

Ian Caplin: Yes. And there’s a proportionality. Going to you, Michelle, there is proportionality in all of this isn’t there, in terms of regulating in terms of exercising discretion.

Somebody said to me that really regulation is kind of the soft infrastructure and in times of Covid, or if I can put it this way, non-Covid peacetime, it always needs to be there because it governs the essential regulation or flow of services, markets and everything.

Where do you draw the line in terms of when to be harsh, if I can put it like that, and when to be more facilitative, Michelle, in the context of your, your work.

Michelle Peden: Yeah, Deb touched on it as well. It’s where you’re seeing the harm. Where you’re seeing, really, where non compliance, if you like

is going to have a harder impact, not just for customers, potentially, but also for the integrity of the regime, where somebody who’s non compliant gets away with it, if you like, the freeloaders who are pushing the boundaries.

So you always have to be alert to that and you do – the priorities are going to shift all the time, as markets and products and those sorts of things change. So, you know, if you think about it, when you’re exercising compassion, we’re making decisions about what you regulate, you’re always looking at where do we look, what do we look for, or how do we look for it. And what do we do with what we find.

Those decisions, at each point, you’re exercising your discretion and in a Covid time it might be different. So, for example, if you’re thinking about, in a Covid situation, where we do we look, you might shift your focus to look for opportunistic behaviour that seeks to take advantage of the Covid situation.

So it might be in our case, we saw some firms misrepresenting the cost of and access to health services for Covid, in order to persuade people to buy insurance on which they get a commission. So we were looking for that sort of behaviour.

And we spotted that and we jumped on that much harder than we normally would in a case of misleading advertising because they were really trying to push what was already a complex and difficult time for people in order to advantage their business.

Ian Caplin: Yes. Context is all. Back to a point, I think, that Michelle you’re picking up from what Deb said, and also it leads nicely into a question here, Deb, to you.

Are some aspects of a regulatory pendulum inevitable? Question goes, a policy pendulum exists, which in the 90s was all about industry self regulation, but seems now to have swung back in the direction of government overnight. What can a modern regulator do to dampen these swings and I guess, picking up on what you said, Deb, do you think these swings are the way to look at it?

Deb Despard: It’s interesting, isn’t it. I think if anyone was at, or for those of you that were at the G-Reg conference last year, I think, was last year’s definitely, when Stephanie Winson’s really great presentation on regulatory stewardship.

She showed a graph in which, you know after a disaster, there was an increase in resources and a change in approach to a regulator and so on. And there was kind of a cyclical component to it.

I guess what I think is that if we get it right, we can avoid the need to have a pendulum and that will mean that we’re doing our regulatory work really well. We’re getting the outcomes that we want to, safe, secure clean, in Maritime New Zealand’s case.

And there won’t be a need for that knee jerk reaction. In my view the knee jerk reaction action often takes us too far, usually towards enforcement, where something bad has happened.

And I think if we can be confident and actually G-Reg is a perfect example of how building the professionalism of the regulatory work that we do and engaging with one another and building capability, then we get to avoid and stay steadfast in our approach to the work that we’re doing, being able to convince people that we’re on the right track, because we are.

Ian Caplin: And thank you, Deb, for the plug there.  I was going to take a little commercial break a bit later, but I’m going to bring that forward and mention the G-Reg qualifications which you can find out more about on the G-Reg website, as with all our offerings and resources, do please take a look at that website.

There probably is now or will about to be, a poll, just slightly tinctured with a Halloween theme, to see what you thought of this webinar, the issues raised by it and just your comments on it. So, members of the audience, I can see it’s been put up in front of me, has this webinar been more of a trick or treat?

Has it inspired you to consider your responsiveness settings as a regulator? And what would you like to see more of in terms of treats? Perhaps, as you look at that, have a look at the website to see what treats we do have in store. I’m going to go to a question that’s very, very germane, I think.

Presenters have mentioned, lots of e-words; empathy, engaging, enabling, educating and enforcement, right along the spectrum, whether it’s pendular or not. Where does evaluation fit in and how is it approaching this panel’s context of responsiveness? Evaluation is, I wouldn’t say it is a neglected cousin, but it’s important, but perhaps we don’t see as much of it as we might. And I wonder, Steve. Let’s see what you think of that one.

Steven Whittaker: Yeah, it’s, it’s a broad term, isn’t it, evaluation.  I suppose it is very much part of it, because in being an intelligence led organization, you want to know what’s going on out there. You want to see what trends exist and what harms and risks are becoming apparent so you can be responsive.

I think also evaluation at a customer level, at an individual level of a customer’s affairs and evaluation, to be able to apply the tests that we do, we have to obviously be informed of all the factors that might be influencing their ability to comply or not comply. So I think yes, it is very much part of it [inaudible]

Ian Caplin: And I think. Yes, and I think it’s an interesting one because I mean it translates across all sectors, just thinking aloud. Karel, in terms of some of the things that you’ve achieved institutionally, how do you measure the success?

Karel Boakes: How we measure success. Yeah, that’s that is a difficult one.

40 mins

Obviously, making sure that the harm isn’t there, but the legislation’s there to protect. So, and also complaints is a big one for us.

So measuring the amount of complaints coming through. If there’s a lot coming through, there’s obviously a problem somewhere along the way, usually. And so, yeah, we, we obviously have KPIs which are set by legislation anyway.

A lot of our KPIs are statutory timeframes and those sorts of things. So they’re pretty much 100% all the time. Yeah. You have to comply with those. Very difficult to meet that all the time. 100 percent have to say.

But yeah, the ones where you have discretion over are more difficult. Some of them are quite subjective as well. So that does make it difficult in terms of measurement.

But at the end of the day it’s a gut feel, I think. You know when things are going well, and when you’ve done a good job and you know when things are turning badly. Maybe that’s where the evaluation starts to come in and you have to really look at what you’re doing and sort of work a way forward that is going to change that for a more positive route. So yeah, not an easy answer or an easy question, so thanks Ian.

Ian Caplin: No, that’s a pleasure. It’s always tricky to determine what is a trick or what is a treat. And I think we’ll leave it there to say thank you to all our panellists once again, for their contribution, very much a treat.

Do please, members of the audience, keep watching. This webinar series comes out every week, and you can also see repeats on our website ultimately.

We’re moving towards a broader kind of nexus, regulatory stewardship, same time, same channel, wherever you’re finding us, next week. In the meantime, until next time, from all of us here, stay well, and ka kite ano.

ENDS