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Dr Muriel Newman

Replacing Damaging Regulations

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H.L. Mencken, who was regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the early 20th century, once said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

The use of alarmism to justify the introduction of damaging new laws and regulations is a political strategy that sadly, is much more commonly used in New Zealand today than most people realise.

The methamphetamine decontamination scandal is a classic case, where over-the-top scare tactics have been used to justify heavy-handed and overly restrictive regulation.

That’s why the report looking into methamphetamine contamination in houses, by the Prime Minister’s former Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, is so important. His finding, that there’s absolutely no evidence in the medical literature anywhere in the world, of anybody being harmed by passive exposure to methamphetamine at any level, was a welcome reminder that laws should be based on fact not fallacy.

His recommendations bring to an end the ridiculous situation where decontamination standards set for houses that had been used for manufacturing methamphetamine – using toxic compounds and flammable solvents – were being applied to houses where someone had simply smoked the drug.

The dangerous chemicals used in the traditional manufacture of meth include acetone (found in paint thinners), lithium (from batteries), hydrochloric acid (used to remove rust), red phosphorus (found in explosives), sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid (used in drain cleaners), ammonia (found in fertilizer), ether (used in starting fluid), and antifreeze.

Manufacturing using such hazardous substances would normally be undertaken in specially designed laboratories in industrial areas, not a family home. It’s therefore completely understandable that decontamination guidelines were necessary to ensure that, once cleaned up, such properties could again be considered safe for family life.

But someone with oversight responsibility within government, should surely have raised the alarm when the strict criteria designed to clean up houses used to manufacture methamphetamine, were being applied to homes where people had simply used the drug. In the end, the results became ridiculously excessive. The discovery of passive residue from smoking meth, led to stoves being ripped out, carpets pulled up, and entire homes being stripped and re-lined. Meanwhile the tenants, who had been using the drug, were getting high, not sick.

The costs were substantial. While initial meth testing would cost hundreds of dollars, follow up testing could typically cost over a thousand dollars, and the clean-up, tens of thousands of dollars.  

Housing New Zealand claims to have spent over $100 million on testing and cleaning, removing 900 properties from its portfolio for refurbishment, and hounding hundreds of tenants to pay for ‘contaminating’ their houses.

Private landlords and home owners were also caught up in what had become a ‘moral panic’, collectively spending many millions of dollars on largely unnecessary tests and cleaning, not to mention selling houses at a loss, or even, in extreme cases, demolishing them.

So how did it get to this stage?

Essentially the methamphetamine scare saga began in the late 2000s as news stories emerged about an increasing number of clandestine meth labs being discovered in private homes.

Councils were concerned about the toxicity of the chemicals that were being used in the production of the drug, and were considering including the details on a property’s Land Information Memorandum.

In response to these growing concerns and calls for guidance, in 2010, the Minister of Health released guidelines that had been developed by the Ministry for cleaning up former meth labs. Based on Australian risk assessment reports, they set a standard of 0.5 micrograms of meth per 100 square centimetres of surface area after cleaning.

The problem was that this standard, for properties where meth had been manufactured, started to be applied to houses where meth had only been smoked.

As a result, in 2016, the Ministry of Health updated their recommendations, introducing a distinction between the two: the level for houses where the drug had been manufactured stayed at 0.5 micrograms of meth per 100 cm2 of surface area after cleaning, but for houses where the drug had only been used it was raised to 1.5 micrograms if carpets were present, and 2 micrograms for uncarpeted homes.

Standards NZ was eventually tasked with reviewing the situation and, after appointing a 21-strong panel of ‘experts’, they published their ‘consensus decision’ NZS 8510:2017 in June last year. This standard adopted a level of 1.5 micrograms of meth per 100 cm2 of surface area after cleaning, but required the ‘high use areas’ of the affected properties to be decontaminated, regardless of whether those properties were involved in the production or use of methamphetamine. They defined high use areas as those that can be easily accessed and are regularly used by adults and children, whereas for limited-use areas, the standard was 3.8 micrograms of meth per 100 cm2 of surface area.

In other words, their new standard, which was supposedly based on the best possible advice, was less stringent for homes where hazardous chemicals had been used in manufacturing the drug than Ministry of Health recommendations, but still ridiculously restrictive for homes where meth had only been used.  

Following the release of the Gluckman report, the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafo, who is responsible for Standards NZ, announced that their decision and the standard will now be independently reviewed.

In his report, Sir Peter stipulated that remediation was still warranted if a high level of methamphetamine was present that was indicative of manufacturing activity or excessive smoking. Accordingly, Housing NZ has now adopted the Gluckman recommendations: “if a Housing NZ property tests between 1.5 micrograms per 100 cm2 and 15 micrograms per 100 cm2, decontamination is not triggered. If a property tests higher than 15 micrograms per 100 cm2 and a methamphetamine lab or very heavy use has been identified, we’ll decontaminate in accordance with the current Standards to a level of 1.5 micrograms per 100 cm2.”

Many other rental housing providers are expected to follow suit, even though changing the official standards and related laws is likely to take until next year.

Housing New Zealand has now apologised to tenants for the meth testing debacle and hasn’t ruled out paying compensation.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated that there will be no compensation for private landlords, who also wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary testing and remediation work. She says no compensation will be considered because there was no obligation for private landlords to get the testing done: “There was never any mandatory requirement for anyone to undertake any of that activity.”

But her statement is incorrect.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, private landlords must provide a ‘safe’ home for tenants, and as a result, they were required to carry out meth testing and remedial work not only by the Tenancy Tribunal, but also by Councils. In addition there was growing pressure for testing from property managers, real estate agents, banks and the Insurance Council.

So where to from here?

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is property investor Mike Butler, who, in attempting to quantify the harm being caused by methamphetamine, first raised the alarm about the meth testing scam four years ago. But his warnings fell on deaf ears. He is very critical of the lack of evidence being used as a basis for policy making:  

“Evidence of harm should be the basis of any policy intended to prevent harm but there was still no evidence of harm of residual meth in buildings where meth had allegedly been smoked. But there was abundant evidence of harm resulting from the moral panic stirred up by vested interests.

“The multi-millions spent by private property owners forced into clean-ups has not been quantified. Insurance premiums have risen to include decontamination cover. Meth safety warranties are required in the sale of rental properties. The meth tag on property titles reduces the value of properties.

“Housing New Zealand will now use a new standard of 15 micrograms of meth detected per 100 square centimetres after cleaning, expecting to save $30m a year in remediation and testing. That’s 10 times the current limit of 1.5 micrograms.

“The fact that continuation of cleaning is implied in the revised measure shows that Housing New Zealand still doesn’t get it because there is still no actual evidence of harm from residual methamphetamine.”

Mike raises an important point.

To reiterate – in his report, Sir Peter states, “There is currently no evidence (in either humans or animals) that the levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to methamphetamine smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect.”

While he believes that remediation according to the NZS 8510:2017 standard is appropriate for properties where methamphetamine has been manufactured, he reiterates that as far as other properties are concerned, “testing is not warranted in most cases”.

What this means is that meth testing should only be undertaken in properties where there is a strong suspicion that meth has been manufactured. Meth testing does not need to be carried out in any other situation.

When official standards replace the Gluckman recommendations, hopefully, common sense will prevail and the strict meth testing limits will only apply for clandestine laboratories, with no limit for properties where meth has been smoked.

In his report, Sir Peter makes an important point which is applicable to New Zealand’s wider regulatory framework. He says, “Although promoted as being protective of human health, the actions taken in pursuit of zero risk (which is not achievable in any case) have been disproportionate to the actual health risks. There have been huge costs… often based on little or no actual risk. It is important that guidelines for mitigation measures are proportionate to the risk posed, and that remediation strategies should be informed by a risk-based approach.”

With this in mind, we would like to suggest that comprehensive reviews should be undertaken in some of the other policy areas where excessive regulation in the pursuit of ‘zero risk’ is having an extremely damaging affect.

One such area that also affects housing, relates to the overly-zealous air quality regulations that have been imposed in New Zealand. Based on modelling from the United Nations World Health Organisation, rather than local health and hospitalisation data, these standards have led to open fires and wood burners being banned from homes in many parts of the country.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment questioned the standards three years ago, saying: “It would be counterproductive if attempts to reduce emissions from fires and wood burners resulted in more cold damp homes”.

Yet that’s what’s happening – and the problem is getting worse.

Even though winter has only just begun, stories are already emerging about how families can no longer afford to heat their homes because of the high cost of electricity. And while a great deal of effort has gone into ensuring homes are well insulated, the reality is that if such homes are not heated, they are likely to be colder on the inside than they are on the outside.

New Zealanders like choice, so if the opportunity existed, many families would prefer to use a mix of heating methods – fireplaces or wood burners, as well as heat pumps and heaters.

So, while those driving the ban on fireplaces and wood burners are no doubt obsessed with their UN models and the prospect of zero emissions, they should not lose sight of the fact that ‘zero risk’ is not achievable, and that actions taken in pursuit of their ideological goals may be doing more harm than good.

In fact, if Jacinda Ardern is serious about wanting to improve the health of New Zealand children by ensuring they stay warm and dry in winter, she should ask her new Chief Science Advisor Professor Juliet Gerrard to undertake an urgent review of air quality regulations in order to remove the ban on fires and wood burners and bring back some common sense!


Do you believe there should be a greater requirement for law makers to produce evidence-based research before passing new laws and regulations?

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


Yes, yes, yes. The WHO computer model the NESAQ is based on was later rejected by all except NZ. The MfE has lost the plot & the MoH will now have to pick up the broken pieces. All at NZers health & financial expense. Neil
Common sense. Greg
Absolutely. Clark
Total sense Jeff
And keeping old ones that endure despite the evidence against them beingwell establi Craig
Unbelievable!!!! Alan
One great difficulty may be to ensure differentiation from consensus science and true evidence based science. John 
No brainer Graeme
I think only govt and councils could be so stupid Barry
Absolutely!! In this typical case re meth contamination we have another blatant example of how government officials are going ape shit to establish more rules and regulations instead of getting to the very core of the problem– ie—- these bloody gangs who cause all this mayhem in the first place. They have to be outlawed and utterly destroyed.!! Only then we will have a solid base to get to solve the problems related to these satanic roots of evil causing all these massive problems in our society .Everything else is just a crock of shit Michael
Pesonally, I’m NOT convinced that no harm comes to a person who is living in a home or flat that others have smoked P in. An extended family member got caught in this situation and her health suffered. Ted
This is obvious is it not? Citizens get at least fined if they make false claims on a matter. Pieter
Governments must be accountable to the people. Jin
Deep research is an absolute must to ensure no self-serving rulings are forced upon the public. John
I have owned rental accommodation for over 40 years. Last year, as a result of letting to a ‘bum’ I finally got rid of him when he owed me thousands in unpaid rent. The Tenancy Tribunal were worse than useless in that they actively blocked any attempt I made to end his occupation. I then decided I’d had enough and put the house on the market. My real estate agent advised me to have the place Meth tested which I did. The result came up less than 0.5 micrograms. The company advised me to have further testing done. I refused. I stripped the carpet, replaced it and painted throughout the interior. I sold and will never enter the rental market again. The cost to me was close to $10,000. The shortage of rental property can be partly blamed on this type of dishonest tenant who spoil it for the rest. My real estate agent said he had sold many ex rentals in the last 12 months, mainly to first home buyers, hence the shortage. Chris
Very definitely! We have a multitude of stupid laws that politicians have passed, many of which have been reactionary to calls from those who like to scaremonger. Health & Safety laws are creating huge costs in many industries. Just need to look at the so called housing crisis. Part of the reasons that building a house has become so slow & expensive is down to ridiculous H&S requirements which still don’t stop idiotic behaviour causing harm. Rex
NZ lawmakers lost the plot years ago and the bunch there now have absolutely no idea about anything. The greatest scam of all time is global warming. Murray
The left hate science when it is proving facts they don’t like. Who will produce the evidence-based research against the global warming hoax? We need to vote the Greens out of Parliament forever to get rid of this rubbish. Monica
And revoke all laws that were passed without this research Terry
Especially with the rubbish being followed by so-called ‘climate change’ and spurious sea level increases Owen
And aimed at the greater good of society, rather than individuals cases. Lionel
Coupled with binding referendum on major issues. Tony
absolutely there should be a requirement for more evidence before passing laws and regulations ..at 56 I am at a good age to have witnessed a frightening erosion of personal liberties and freedom and not one politician talks of de regulation , here at home on a cold night I sit beside my woodstove keeping warm and dry I have saved electricity and the burden on the grid as I have also heated my hot water and cooked my meal yet these alarmist childish idealists and their anti human/human rights notions.. these academics turned policy maker elites will insist the filthy woodstove is removed in time. perhaps they could all go and sit on the volcanoes going off at present all over the globe….they are are going way too far..in the end in essence everyone will be living outside the law if they are not already…both national and labour and lately the new kids on the block the idealist greens are responsible for untold damage to health.. financial physical and mental. disturbingly there is no pushback from MSM…rather a sycophantic pathetic worshipping like attitude hence I cannot stomach nz radio or television news…how do we wake up the sleepy apathetic New Zealanders?…I don’t know It is very sad. They are happy to have the fireplaces removed from their homes but don’t you dare remove coronation street from their tv screens!..keep up the good work here at NZCPR the country needs you Mike
When and who is going to put a stop to this gravy train. Only lawyers win. Imagine what could be achieved in health and education with these pilfered funds? Bill
The Left has relied upon and fostered policy-based evidence to advance secular globalism through the UN Trojan horse “climate change,” the WHO and “Health and Safety” and UN ECOSOC to name a few. Insisting on evidence based policy would pull the proverbial rug from under their dank hooves. Maurice
Our politicians are far too eager to introduce requirements based on UN dictates. Our laws and regulations must be based on local conditions. Gifford
A definite yes. Winifred
Yes, and not before time Athol
Fat chance Ray
Absolutely! A great example is the Civil Aviation Authority that is a master at trivia, stating the obvious and overwriting rules. Their rule making has multiple rules that cover the same topics. eg. Firearms – has three separate CAR’s that must be met for the carriage of firearms. The rules overlap to such an extent the CAA has “Criminalised” the aviation industry effectively destroying the spirit of aviation that has accompanied it from its birth. The Swedavia MacGregor Report of the 1990’s has produced the opposite – instead of down sizing repressive bureaucracy it has dramatically increased it! Frederick
I have had enough of Maori bogus claims to the foreshore and just about everything else. Things like airwaves that they never knew about before European settlement. Clinton
Emotive political agendas should not be the basis to create laws that have derogatively effect on the public. Dennis
Yes, absolutely! Scott
Common sense should prevail.No Laws should be passed without sound fact based evidence Don
Yes, almost anything would be better than self serving politicians decisions. Stuart
They should always produce evidence based research before passing new laws and regulations. If there is evidence then pass the Laws to were they are needed. Robert
Absolutely too much emotion and too little facts in a lot of issues. Too much of this comes from unbelievable statements from so called UN experts. Maurice
Of course there should be a requirement. However politicians thrive and maybe survive on creating a problem and then proposing a solution; it’s largely about popularism and getting re=elected. Peter
No sensible person would spent a lot of money before they have researched whatever they want to invest in. Again a case of spending money unwisely. And when the two letter word : ‘no’ is to difficult to pronounce we select another committee to pass on the hard decisions. A tactic we see in for instance in health District Boards and the like. Ido
Most certainly and make that evidence totally accurate and not just handed down bullshit without written evidence and that should be made public to all NZ:ers. Alan
Definitely..we have enough chaos with issues that are not thought out carefully and get passed without due thought and consieration Marylin
Absolutely. Another scare that is going on right now is that”all water supplies must be chlorinated to protect the public”. Chlorine is toxic and is proven to cause cancer and it doesnt not remove cryptosporidioum, legionella and pseudomonas from drinking water. Legionella can be fatal. So mush for public safety. This is all about corruption and vested interests again. Ronmac
Let sanity and good sense prevail Laurel
This is a case not uncommon today of Bureaucrats going over the top. Brian
of course, common sense should prevail, some people should come down from the high horse! Gerard
All proposals made by the present Govt. ( like the future of oil business) should be checked for compliance. Jim
For sure, red tape is killing our way of life, most of it is unnecessary Stan
They could just TAKE A GUESS like the NZ Govt does? IAN
Before considering any passing into law of this and any other such proposal, one would expect our bureau-ocracy to take sensible and correctly informed advice on a given subject. Time and again they fail to understand the subject and its consequences. Common sense is a wonderful thing. Chris
Too quick to accept uninformed assertions. How many other Regulations are based on myth? Bill
Definitely needed Marilyn
ALL goverments SHOULD by law LISTEN & READ ALL everdeince ESPECIALLY from OVERSEAS experts cause N.Z. so called experts are USELESS. Cindy
Common sense. Norman
Yes certainly Law Makers should produce evidence – based research before passing new laws and regulations. Ross
By following alarmist down the rabbit hole we all play the price. Only evidenced based science and research, not UN dictates should be used before passing new laws and regulations. Sam
there are too many do gooder’s just waiting to jump on a band wagon when anything like this occurs and don’t know what they are talking about. John
This meth testing fiasco has resulted, as noted by Mike Butler, in increased insurance premiums for those of us who who rent out a home or offer Airbnb, and who have been told by a property manager to advise our insurance company. Will insurance premiums now be reduced? I’m not holding my breath! Laurence
The imposition of laws and regulations reliant on scientific pronouncements must be transparent and present ALL aspects of research, not just that supporting the position that the drafter(s) wish to pursue. This applies to climate change and zero emission legislation when protagonists bandy about things such as sea rises of 70 cm without any projected time frame or counter arguments. Also connected is the claim that “zero” emissions will “save the planet” and the introduction of legislation and regulations to enforce the drive need to be supported by balanced review and analysis not the one-sided half truths that are being presented in such a histrionic fashion Michael
Imaginative interpretations of barely understood or researched findings, only create unjustified over-reaction in the minds of the unqualified. In my experience most politicians have very limited understanding of most technical or scientific research factors or results, and happily LEAP to erroneous interpretations, so long as it suits their current need to be in the forefront of misleading news media claims and pontifications. MervB(BSpLS – Hons)
It’s pathetic that this question has to be asked when it should be standard procedure to obtain all the facts before decisions are made. Have we learned from this farce ????? Tom
But is this current “evidence-based” research correct – i.e. one man’s opinion? Does it not give the impression that methamphetamine use is OK. It certainly is not! Tony
We need fact based decisions rather than ideological and knee-jerk decisions. Harvey
Requirements for New fireplaces’ Also some evidence that a place is taonga before iwi have all the say in decisions. Lynrttr
Evidence based AND risk analysis. Stan
To many laws are being passed with the”Shooting from the hip” Philosophy being applied. Common sense and reasonable background research needs to be achieved before making it into law. Wayne
Common Sense to do so Hylton
To many laws on unfounded science . What’s wrong with a bit of common sense Peter
The Meth saga gives a perfect example of why the poll answer should be YES Richard
Most definitely. This includes so called climate change and zero carbon rules. WHY? Because New Zealand is a very, very small carbon emitter on the global list. If NZ went carbon neutral tomorrow the world would see no difference. Having an overzealous greenie as Minister of “Climate Change” was a very damaging political action. The next general elections will show the results. Graeme
Absolutely!! Oterwise we will have more of sue Bradford’s legislation. Maurice
Definitely. Government has gone crazy making laws which damage peoples lives and rights. we have a case in Northern Buller if wanted. Charlotte
Absolutely. Let’s work on reducing unnecessary rules & regulations. THINK OCCAM Doug
Also for earthquake regulations too! I believe there is much scaremongering here too Isa
But the research reporting must be transparent and strongly critiqued, as it is easy to present the research to give the answer you want. A few years ago the “State of the (Hauraki) Gulf” report stated that the water quality of rivers feeding the gulf was getting worse and therefore was an issue for the Gulf. But I had attended a meeting where the actual scientists who had monitored those rivers, presented their findings, which were that the vast majority of monitored sites showed water quality was either the same or IMPROVING. Funny that those in charge of this “report” would not reply to my emails asking for explanation! Chris
Yes, they most definitely should. There is far too much baseless alarmism and anthropogenic global warming is certainly another one that needs to be looked into very closely because it’s going to cost us dearly and will achieve absolutely nothing. Man does not have God-like ability by any stretch of the imagination. Helen
Half baked regulations can cause emotional and financial hardship. Frank
Clearly, the answer is yes. It seems that most often the laws come about because they fit nicely into an agenda that sits in the background. It seems to happen far too often and then when the truth emerges, everyone ducks for cover and “no one” can be held responsible. Need people who can be trusted to be honest. Neil
applies also to other laws. eg to local Council speed limits RICHard
provided that such evidence has been peer reviewed Richard
It’s a no-brainer Peter
Yes, absolutely !! They are being paid $ 1.5 Million a year ( $ 43 000.00 per week ) The law should include allowance for the lawmaker to recompense & reimburse the State if they incurr invalid expenses. The rule is : People should learn to pay for their mistakes !! Pierre
These claims are another example of democracy being sold down the gutter some of these claims have no merit at all the overall aim is to get more money at the taxpayers expense. Digby
EVIDENCE? Don’t confuse me with EVIDENCE! What about fEElings and emOtion and dOGma – they’re far more important than FAKS – aren’t they? Ron
This is what happens, when you get people to make decisions that have no common sense or a practical bone in there body. Geoff
the cart before the horse ridiculous Barry
If that had been the case there would hardly be a house left standing in Australia Bernette
Definitely Terry
I am shocked and disturbed that this is not the current situation which is plain common snense John
Of course they should but knowing all Governments rush to satisfy the greenies or other vocal half wits they will almost always buckle under pressure and pass laws and regulations to shut them up. One only has to look at all the climate change regulations as an example. Colin
Absolutely – I think Property Investors who have paid out for decontamination should be recompensed by the Govt. Part-Maori claims have less basis and they do alright. Judy
Left wing liberal zealots have far too much say in what is good for the general public. This is often driven by Greenies who would never let fact get in the way of a good story Peter
Yes we currently have MP’s passing laws that are later found incorrect and have cost people $$$ yet NO compensation is offered. WHY?? Carl
Important for central regulations to follow facts as discussed not rely on “fake news”. Your fire place example is a good one. Murray
Of course-what else ? We take far to much notice of what individual so called “experts”say. David
We all have our own opinions on all matters, therefore to provide as much evidence as possible is vital, to provide the full story, thus making people accountable for their final decision on any matter is crucial. Unfortunately, often decisions made by people in places of authority are rarely made accountable for irresponsible and bad decisions. Audrey
Absolutely David
Definitely. Politicians don’t know everything. Tony
It goes without saying that any law should be based on fact not fantasy. Ron
Yes, and (heh, heh!) that could be extended to the Resource Management Act! Rob
“Evidence-based” is not good enough. What is required is demonstrable evidence in support of the regulations. Geoffrey
Politicians prefer agendas to facts Chris
Logic David
I think this would be a sensible thing to do. It would delay things but better that than having the situation we’ve just experienced with methamphetamine. (Although it is alarming that so many people smoke this evil stuff). Barbara
Makes more sense than what we are seeing with overkill and knee jerk reactions from stupid politicians. Throwing money at a problem has always been stupid, instead of spending time consulting experts and institutions who actually know the facts. Lloyd
Why is Sir Peter not required to come up with an independently peer reviewed paper that shows CO2 causes significant global warming or weather related problems. He will not be able to as it does not happen. John Key and Paula Bennett couldn’t either. So shut down ETS Michael
My house has two wood burning heating stoves. If the electricity supply is interrupted I can still keep the family warm and cook meals. Kerry
Surely there should be objective, verifiable evidence before regulations are imposed. Duncan
Jacinda keeps talking about one use plastic bags. Where is the evidence? Mine get used up to four times before going in the recycling bin. What about all the plastic packaging? Most of that is one use and seems to be heavy grade plastic. Don
But don’t hold your breath. This would remove the power of politicians to mislead the public for their own ideological semi religious crusades. Frank
Wasn’t Dr Gluckman also science advisor to the National Govt about the meth contamination in housing?? If this latest Meth can’t hurt people have they up to date science now to prove this fact or was or was not the science proven originally. by the same gentleman. All decisions concerning New Zealand, must be made scientifically or with much debate – definitely not on a bright idea of one person within any party as with the Taranaki oil, and gas drilling. Elizabeth
I feel like a complete idiot! I have always assumed that they did have evidence-based research, that it was so obvious that was necessary. Anne
You only need to look at OSH regulations to see knee jerk reactions to problems that are all out of control. they say workers have the right to be safe & return home to their families every day so why are there power poles on the side of the road & vehicles going the opposite direction ( potential hazards ) that can maim & kill people on their way to work & who will be responsible for it if they do ? Glenn
This like most knee jerk laws, are often based on nothing other that the personal belief’s of MP’s who as we all know, are not “experts” in any fields and only consider what fits their own agenda’s Barry
I’d like my test kits able to be returned. Neville
I have said from the start this meth test was a have, i used thinners for years to no effect !! And as to wood fires, I will never be without a woodfire, its my choice and they will never stop me. Simon
Most definitely It will also stop the money grabbing Quangos Brianb
The problem is of course, whose evidence? How can you trust science that is paid to get certain results? Neither governing bodies nor scientific institutions are trustworthy. Bryan
It’s a no brainer Rob
Government officials including MP’s should be held accountable and thus made responsible for their emotive idiocy…END OF STORY! Steve
High time some common sense and real science prevailed in this country. For all the naysayers this Govt is doing some good things! Rod
The oil and gas debacle is a classic example of philodophy gone mad Graeme
No brainer! Andrew
Absolutely! This a fine example of law makers going off half cocked. Maddi
Let’s have less hysteria and more sensible objective analysis of the politically driven calamities that we are being fed. Lee
Should apply to Climate Change regulations. However the big question is what constitutes evidence-based research. Michael
Surely it is sensible to establish the facts BEFORE legislating?? Ross
For a number of years I have been leading the charge to get the Nelson City Air Plan amended to allow efficient affordable wood burners but the Council hides behind the National Air Quality Standards that are based on false science. The result is many people are suffering from ill health as they live in cold damp homes . Our MP. Nick Smith as Minister for the Environment promised a review of the regulations but it never happened. As your article suggests the new Government Science Adviser should make this a top priority. Neville
This should also include climate change laws. Elizabeth
…the law makers….are a conceited load of idiots. CHowes
Wood burners do not create a problem Richard
The overbearing regulations being imposed are a straight jacket on the community. Willy
Common sence is lacking in many regulations along with comprehensive evidence Ian
Nanny State again… Don
We are living in an era where BS baffles brains. Like most others, I am totally fed up with my life being controlled by these green fruitcakes. I have two ancient wood burners in two houses. I cant replace them because to do so requires a resource consent that I wont get. WE cannot afford electricity, so we continue fires that are well past their expiry date. It is truly a ridiculous situation. We are in our seventies, and need the warmth in winter. Tony
Too much regulation is passed because someone is pushing their own Agenda. Which is not in the best interest of the General Public Frank
Proven Science, correctly managed should prevail over political ambitions and supposed ideals of the regulation / law makers. Paul
It’s common sense Terry
Unconscionable changes by errant gutless politicians have resulted in the undemocratic state of our nation Bryan
Back up changes with credible research Kevin
Many local body and government employees incomes rely on following exaggerated, alarmist directives from their political masters. If these employees were made personally accountable, if only by publishing their names, much of this would stop overnight. Second hand cigarette smoke and asbestos contamination are two other alarmist subjects. Rex
Evidence based and common sense based. Both lacking in local government it seems. Mark
We are grossly overburdened with legislation. We need many laws to be removed as they are just an impediment to happiness, growth, and success Tony 
But, evidence can be manufactured to suit like Al Gore’s and Unfortunate Truth. Unfortunately it was a blatant lie that is now believed to be the truth. What is Truth?? David
The report from Gluckmans office is based on the fact that there was NO data to collect. From the report: Less is known about the effects of breathing in second-hand smoke arising from methamphetamine use, and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that available evidence for adverse health effects of secondhand exposure is currently lacking [38]. In contrast to the known effects of first-hand exposure, no data have been reported relating to third-hand exposure situations, which affect a greater majority of the population that is, non-users living in dwellings (whether remediated or not) that had been previously used only for smoking of methamphetamine (Figure 4). To the best of our knowledge there is currently no available evidence in the scientific or grey literature that low-level methamphetamine exposure, involving levels that may be encountered from skin contact or oral ingestion of residues on household surfaces, poses a health risk in humans. There is currently very limited toxicity data that can inform the assessment of long-term environmental exposures to methamphetamine residues. We note, however, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of an effect. In addition to the above, this paragraph is also included within the report: Because there are no data to suggest that low doses of methamphetamine are toxic in humans, the assessment was based on a single clinical study of methamphetamine used as a weight control therapy in pregnant women in order to have a starting point from which to measure any dose effects. Considering I have seen some HNZ houses with amounts of 16.8 in one room is trivialised by this bull report. Plus HNZ properties are supposed to be smoke free, fullstop. I cannot imagine Jacinda and Clarke would want their toddler crawling on a floor, hiding behind curtains, touching doors and sitting on a toilet (where alot of meth is smoked) in a house where meth has been smoked. You have been sucked in by this report. Toni
A plethora of non objective laws is delivering to N.Z. an economy of domestic fascism. American author, producer and political commentator Dinesh D’Sousa, defined fascism as: State-directed capitalism. I refer you to D’Sousa’s 32m address on his recent book: The BIG LIE, at Liberty University September 21, 2017, now on YouTube. Don
But if the evidence is then interpreted incorrectly, we will still be stuffed. Gert
Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to create legislation. Jon
It is appalling that laws and regulations are made that are based on ideology instead of evidence. It’s no wonder the country is in a mess!  David
Sir Peter’s report is excellent – a breath of common sense and fresh air. He needs to be set loose on food safety regulations which are a minefield of ideological agendas instead of science.  Pete
Of course science and evidence should be the basis of law-making, not wishful thinking!  Dianna
I would like to suggest that the PM should apply her comments that law should be based on science and evidence to the whole issue of global warming, where her government is getting ready to wreck the economy. Simon
Yes, far too many of our laws are ideologically based. Where they are causing harm, they should be urgently reviewed.  Murray