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Publishers Letter

Anyone should be able to do their own house wiring

By Leo Simpson

Over the last few months we have had a lot of correspondence on the subject of whether or not an electrical licence should be required to do repairs on electrical equipment or even assemble a 240VAC mains-powered kit.

Some of the correspondence has been quite heated, so much so that we have not published it. Some letters from electricians feel that others are unfairly attacking them while some corre-spondents have asked that their names not be published because they are afraid that the official body concerned may victimise them in some way. All of this is a pretty unhealthy state of affairs.

Up until a week ago I felt that the situation was pretty hopeless. The official bodies were not likely to review their existing regulations to free things up and many people would continue to do much as they always have, disregarding authority and their "petty" rules. Our view was that electricians should be the only ones to work on fixed mains wiring in buildings and homes but that assembly and repairs on mains-powered equipment is none of their business. That was what I wrote in the "Publisher’s Letter" in the September 2000 issue.

Then a week ago we received a letter from Otto Hoolhorst and this has blown the lid off the whole topic. You can read his letter on page 59. The essence of his letter is that anyone in New Zealand can do their own house wiring and that includes the switchboard! Not only that, they have been doing it since 1992!

Mr Hoolhorst has been kind enough to send me the relevant NZ legislation (Electricity Act 1992), their Codes of Practice booklets and so on. It is all laid out in black and white and is very straightforward. They can do it all - legally.

Now apart from the accent, New Zealand is not a radically different country from Australia and in fact, they use the same electrical fittings and same electrical standard as we do: AS/NZS3000. So if New Zealanders can do their own electrical wiring, why can’t we? In fact, our New Zealand readers must be wondering what all the fuss is about. There they are, happily wiring up everything within sight and they’re not dying like flies because of hazardous wiring. No-one, in fact, has died in New Zealand due to hazardous wiring created by a householder.

So let’s get some common-sense into this whole scene. Let’s lobby the politicians to have most of the regulations scrapped. Let’s make it unnecessary for electrical licenses for people who repair electrical equipment, assemble electrical equipment and for anyone who wants to do home wiring.

There will still be just as much work as ever there was for licensed electricians - they won’t be put out of business. There will still be plenty of people who are capable of doing electri-cal wiring who will still want it done by a tradesman. Why fiddle about doing wiring when you don’t have the time or inclination? But if you want to do it, and can do it, why shouldn’t you have the right to do it? New Zealanders can and so should we.

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