More KiwiBuild houses fail to sell

The effectiveness of Kiwibuild is under further fire, with more houses failing to sell, this time in Canterbury. This means they mustn’t be affordable enough for the market.

This had already been a problem in Wanaka.

Interest.co.nz (September 2018): KiwiBuild houses at Wanaka to be priced between $565,000 and $650,000

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says 211 KiwiBuild homes will be built over the next two years as part of the Northlake development, a master planned development of more than 800 homes on the outskirts of Wanaka township.

“Our Government is taking a comprehensive approach to assisting first home buyers in one of our least affordable areas.”

How affordable are those prices to first home buyers?

Not very – ODT (February 2019): ‘It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them’

As revealed by the Otago Daily Times last week, only four of the first 10 KiwiBuild houses had been sold.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said yesterday she considered the houses ”not practical” and ”not functional”.

”The Government expects Wanaka families looking for a home to pay over half a million dollars for a two-bedroom townhouse that doesn’t even have a garage.

”How appealing is a two-bedroomed town house that’s attached to another property by a shared wall, with no garage, and costs upwards of $560,000?

”It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them.”

Ms Dean said the lack of interest showed how out of touch the Government was ”when it comes to delivering suitable first homes for young Kiwi families”.

RNZ today:  Lack of sales in Christchurch adds to KiwiBuild pressure

Another KiwiBuild development backed by taxpayer money is failing to generate buyer demand – prompting more calls for Labour’s flagship programme to be dumped.

The Wanaka development has already come under scrutiny after slow sales – now KiwiBuild houses are sitting unsold in Canterbury.

Under the contracts, the developer can now either sell them on the open market at a cheaper price, with the government topping up any shortfall, or require the government to buy the properties back.

Back in February the government announced it would partner with Mike Greer Homes to build 104 houses in Auckland and Christchurch and the outer suburbs – 65 in Canterbury.

Last November, ministers were told there were 4083 people on Kiwibuild’s Register of Interest in Christchurch, with an estimated shortfall of 1000 houses.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said in parliamentary responses to National’s Judith Collins none of the houses in the Canterbury developments had been sold; all had gone on offer on 20 February.

Mike Greer is currently marketing seven KiwiBuild homes, with prices ranging from $459,000 to $480,000.

Helen O’Sullivan took over as head of the KiwiBuild unit in February. It was surprising, but she was not “overly concerned” the houses had not sold, she said.

“They’re good quality homes, they’re warm, dry, modern and by a recognised builder.”

The focus had been on first home buyers who “take a very long time to make up their minds to purchase and it is a complicated buying process”.

It can also take prospective first home buyers to save up a despite for a half million dollar house. It can also take a long time to be earning enough to service a close to half million dollar mortgage.

Labour identified two problems – not enough houses, and houses were too expensive.

They launched into Kiwibuild by building, or paying developers to build, expensive houses.

Wouldn’t it have been better to do more to lower the cost of land and the cost of building first?

 

History of ‘white power’ in New Zealand

Sad idiots, or potentially dangerous?

Do a small number of people with extreme views raise the risks that one person will get encouragement to do go beyond extreme rhetoric and do something violent?

Patrick Gower and Newshub have been investigating ‘;white supremacy’ in New Zealand.

Gover’s latest report – Revealed: How white supremacists terrorised New Zealand for decades

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says up until now, much of the far-right has often been viewed here as sad idiots.

“They were more sort of bumbling, no one took them particularly seriously,” he told Newhsub.

But there has always been a dangerous element to the white power movement here. Gilbert describes them as “hard-as-nails skinhead street-gang kind of guys” who thrived in the South Island.

The most notorious was the Fourth Reich, which terrorised Nelson and the West Coast.

They were responsible for the murders of young Māori man Hemi Hutley, gay man James ‘Janis’ Bamborough, Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim and Christchurch woman Vanessa Pickering.

Like the Nazis they emulated, most of the skinheads’ venom was aimed at Jews. But then, in 2001, 9/11 happened and the extreme far-right added a new ‘enemy’ to the list. Sociologist Paul Spoonley says this led to new followers.

“They were much more online and they were much more Islamophobic than anti-Semitic. And they were much more internationally connected,” he told Newshub.

It only takes a small number of people reinforcing each others hate and amplifying claimed threats to lead to terrorism.

Joris De Bres was the Race Relations Commissioner from 2002 until 2013.

Alarmed at an increase in threats against Muslims, he repeatedly asked the Government and police to start recording crimes motivated by hatred and racism.

“I don’t think we’re sufficiently aware that we do have people among us who do those things and who have a real and worrying hatred,” he told Newshub.

But when they wouldn’t collect the data, De Bres started collecting it himself. During his time as Commissioner there were more than 100 race-related crimes reported in the media.

“I always had the sense that it was only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

I’m not sure that it’s the tip of an iceberg type scenario. It only takes a few violent extremists to harass and to kill – Brenton Tarrant has demonstrated that it takes just to one to go as far as a violent massacre.

Aliya Danzeisen from the Islamic Women’s Council has been abused many times for her religion and the clothes she wears.

“I’ve had a car drive up on the curb towards me and then swing by laughing,” she told Newshub.

She says the rise of the Islamic State saw a rise in Islamophobia here. So five years ago the Women’s Council wrote a report about the increasing discrimination and sent it to the Ministry of Social Development. She says nothing happened.

She says regular pleas for the police and the SIS to monitor the rise of alt-right groups followed – and were also ignored.

The police had a sudden wake-up call in Christchurch in 15 March. Now they are being proactive.

It’s Sunday morning, and armed police are visiting New Zealanders’ homes as part of the response to the Christchurch terror attack.

“The reason we’re here, it’s basically down to the recent events in Christchurch,” a police officer tells one man.

“A number of people have been identified that we’ve been tasked to go and speak to. You are one of those people.”

But while there have been 13 arrests for sharing the video, when it comes to white supremacy or people linked to it, police say they have made zero arrests. They say the response is about “community reassurance” instead.

I think it is also about putting warnings out. It may seem (and may be) draconian for innocent people to be approached by a number of armed police, it serves a useful purpose – it sends a signal that the police are now looking for signs of extreme views becoming a violent act.

Globally, white supremacy was on the up: the march on Charlottesville was just one symbol of a global movement linked by everyday social media platforms and darker sites like 8Chan.

“They are part of a big international network and that’s a big challenge here in New Zealand, just not realising that we’re now hooked into this conspiratorial, racial vilification, white supremacist network,” Spoonley says.

Of the Christchurch victims, the Prime Minister said: “They are us. This person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”

But he is part of a growing movement in New Zealand.

Blenheim man Joseph Ward has a swastika tattoo and the email handle “Nazi New Zealand”.

“I’ve been told I am you for 30 years.  And now I’m not you… I’m exiled,” he says. “We need to have a national conversation.”

We can start by saying that Ward was getting a false impression that ‘I am you’, probably from within a small bubble – I think most New Zealanders would want his sort of views exiled from New Zealand.  All that has changed is that now he is getting that message.

So the warning signs about white supremacy have always been there – year after year.

But as a nation, we ignored them.

Tarrant has ensured that people who express extreme white supremacy views will be viewed with more suspicion. As they should be.


More on white supremacy from Newshub:

 

 

Bridges confirms talks on breakaway Christian party

There were reports last week that National MP Alfred Ngaro could lead a new Christian Party. With cooperation from National Ngaro would have a reasonable chance of winning an electorate, which is the only way around a prohibitive MP threshold for new parties.

The only new parties to have succeeded in getting into Parliament under MMP are those with incumbent MPs.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges confirmed he has talked to Ngaro about the possibility of splitting, but was vague about details. However significantly Bridges did not deny the new party being considered.

Stuff: Simon Bridges confirms he’s talked with MP about a breakaway Christian party

​National leader Simon Bridges has confirmed he’s talked with MP Alfred Ngaro about the establishment of a “values-based, religious party”.

Bridges says it’s an “alluring idea” and he’s giving Ngaro, a former National party minister, “space” to explore the idea.

But he’s being vague on who is behind the nascent party, and sending mixed messages on whether there will be an electorate deal.

“I am not setting up a religious party…I don’t think I’m giving him support or not, I’m just giving him space,” Bridges said.

Bridges would only be ‘giving him space’ if he did not oppose the idea of a split.

Bridges says Ngaro was approached by “some people” in the last few months. He claims not to know who they are.

Sounds like a deliberate ‘plausible denial’ situation.

“Look, I am not interested in electorate deals, that is certainly not something I have canvassed with Alfred or anyone else…

“I can confirm to you I have not done any deals, I have not talked about any deals and actually I am pretty unlikely to want to get into that.”

He won’t want to get into that with the media, but he hasn’t ruled anything out there.

Bridges says he spoke to Ngaro once about the fledgling party. He wouldn’t be drawn on whether the post-Christchurch political environment was the right time to be launching a party hinged on religious values.

“I’ve simply said to them ‘ok let me know how you get on’. We haven’t had other conversations on this…

“We have seen in the past, these sort of values based, religious parties can do very well and I suppose that’s why Alfred and others are exploring this…there potentially is a gap in the market for a Christian or a value-based party.”

Bridges sounds quite amenable to the proposition.

As I have already said, I think that a Christian based party with a good chance of getting into Parliament is a good idea. Doing it with a sitting MP splitting is probably the only of succeeding inn spite of the 5% threshold, which has effectively stopped any new parties getting into Parliament, unless they have an MP with an electorate seat.

I am unlikely to vote for a Christian party, but I strongly support aa party that can get a few percent of people voting for them being represented in Parliament.  That is what MMP should allow, and a number of viable smaller parties would result in better representation in Parliament. Currently the threshold effectively disenfranchises people who prefer niche parties.


Update: bridges is being about this on RNZ. He stated that National will stand an MP in the Botany electorate next election (Botany was mooted as an electorate that Ngaro could stand).

Swiss majority support for tighter gun restrictions

Switzerland is often cited as proof that many people having easy access to firearms can be safe, but a clear majority of Swiss support tighter gun laws that would bring them more into line with EU gun laws. Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but EU restrictions apply because Switzerland is part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system.

RNZ:  Swiss voters approve tighter gun laws

Swiss voters have agreed to adopt tighter gun controls in line with changes to European Union rules, heading off a clash with Brussels, projections for Swiss broadcaster SRF show.

The projections from the gfs.bern polling outfit saw the measure passing in the binding referendum by a comfortable 67-33 percent margin.

The restrictions, which apply to non-EU member Switzerland because it is part of Europe’s Schengen open-border system, had raised hackles among shooting enthusiasts ahead of the vote under the Swiss system of direct democracy.

After militants killed scores in Paris and elsewhere in 2015, the EU in 2017 toughened laws against purchasing semi-automatic rifles such as the ones used in those attacks, and made it easier to track weapons in national databases.

Opinion polls had shown Swiss voters backing the measure by a two-to-one margin.

The initial EU proposal provoked an outcry because it meant a ban on the Swiss tradition of ex-soldiers keeping their assault rifles. Swiss officials negotiated concessions for gun enthusiasts who take part in the country’s numerous shooting clubs, but any restrictions imported from the EU go too far for right-wing activists concerned about Swiss sovereignty.

Gun rights proponents complained the rules could disarm law-abiding citizens and encroach on Switzerland’s heritage and national identity, which includes a well- armed citizenry.

Switzerland has one of the highest rates of private gun ownership in Europe, with nearly 48 per cent of households owning a gun.

Switzerland has a relatively low crime rate, but easy access to firearms can still be a problem.

Switzerland’s rate of gun suicide, at 2.74 per 100,000, is the second highest in Europe. Gun control supporters claim the fact that guns are to hand at home in moments of desperation leads to suicides that could otherwise have been prevented.

I think it is highly debatable that half of Swiss households having firearms serves any useful purpose.

Love everyone…

Australian elections – are polls bad, or does media misuse them?

Scott Morrison and his National Coalition winning the Australian election is being reported as a shock, in part due to polls predicting a loss.  Are polls a waste of time? Or does media put too much weight on imprecise indications of how people might vote?

I keep saying that at best polls are an approximate indication of how people may vote in the past, and can in no way predict accurate election results in the future. Polls have well known statistical margins of error, but media reporting on them seem to largely ignore this.

Perhaps more accurate ways could be found to predict election results, but I think that a media obsession with trying to predict what will happen in the future is aas much a problem as polling methods.

RNZ – Australia election: Why polls got it so wrong

It was predicted to be the federal election Labor simply couldn’t lose, but after last night’s surprise Coalition win, the opinion poll may struggle to stand the test of time.

Experts say cost cutting and technological change in the polling process is leading to many inaccurate and misleading suggestions.

Nearly all polls predicted Labor leader Bill Shorten would have an easy win with a 51:49 lead over Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a two-party preferred basis.

I dispute that. Polls generally ask something like ‘if an election was held today who would you vote for?’ – perhaps some polls ask ‘who will you vote for on election day?’ but i have never seen that.

And a 2% gap is well within margins of error, which are usually around 3-4%.

51% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 48% and 54%.

49% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 46% and 52%.

So there is quite an overlap.

In fact, for three years the polls had picked the Opposition to take government.

Again I dispute that. Over the last three years polls tried to measure who people might vote for in the week or two prior to the poll being published.

They are usually whole country polls. Elections in non-MMP countries like Australia and the USA can be decided in just a few key swing electorates or swing states. \being swing electorates they have a history of impressionable swing voters.

Election campaigns are carefully planned to try to change crucial votes right up until election day. Polls are not designed to examine how people mat change their mind at the last minute.

I obviously have ideas about who to vote for in the weeks and days before an election, but I don’t decide for sure until I vote. There must be others who do similar. Polls can’t get inside our heads.

So why exactly were the polls, as ABC political editor Andrew Probyn put it last night, such a “shambles”?

Former Newspoll boss Martin O’Shannessy blamed the flawed forecasting on the fact that many people’s telephone habits have changed.

“Not everybody has a landline and the numbers that are published are incomplete.”

That might be a part of the problem – but that doesn’t address the ‘trying to predict the future’  misrepresentation of polls.

Polls can only be approximate.

I think that media trying to use polls as precise predictors of future voting is the biggest problem here.

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Media watch

20 May 2019

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20  May 2019

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