ACT on housing, housing and housing

David Seymour gave his first ‘state of the nation’ speech yesterday. It doesn’t seem to have attracted a lot of media attention, with most political focus on the annual party pilgrimage to Ratana.

It is all about housing and associated issues like the Resource Management Act.

Video:

Stuff: ACT leader David Seymour calls for action on housing affordability

ACT Party leader David Seymour has told the Government to “get some guts” and stop tinkering with housing policy.

Giving his “State of the Nation” speech in Auckland on Monday, Seymour said everyone knew housing had become a problem but nothing had been done.

In the past 30 years the number of homes built per capita had halved and created an asset bubble that was a risk to New Zealand’s economy, he said.

NZ Herald: David Seymour: Kiwi politicians need to have ‘guts’ to address housing affordability

New Zealand’s politicians need to get the “guts” to introduce major reform aimed at tackling housing affordability, ACT Party leader David Seymour says.

…he said ACT would boost housing supply by making it easier to build new homes and shortening approval times.

“We can’t just tinker … we need to act,” he said.

“If ACT holds the balance of power after this year’s election, we’ll be ensuring that the government accepts the housing market is dysfunctional and reforms the fundamentals.”

Speech notes: David Seymour: State of the Nation Speech

ACT’s policy summary:


The House Price Problem

ACT believes that the cost of housing is unacceptably high. Auckland has a significant housing shortage. The price of an average house in Auckland is nearly ten times the income of an average household. Internationally, three times the median income is considered ‘affordable’. The high price of houses means mortgage payments and rents are higher. Household budgets feel the pressure.

The high cost of housing is widening the gap between people who own houses, and who don’t. People who own houses have increasing wealth as house and land values increase. People who don’t are paying more in rent and their income is not keeping pace. It is getting harder for renters to save for a deposit on their house. High rents are a cause of deprivation for low-income families.

The housing shortage is placing costs on taxpayers as well. The high cost of private housing means the Government spends more on social housing through the Income Related Rent subsidy, and funds more support in Accommodation Supplements.

The Resource Management Act:

ACT believes that the major cause of the housing shortage in our cities is the RMA. Council plans and policies under the RMA determine whether enough houses will be built.

The Act gives too much power to councils to restrict development. It requires councils to provide for environmental protection and conduct consultations, but doesn’t require them to consider property rights of owners, economic growth or provide for an adequate supply of housing.

The number of new dwellings consented nationwide each year is still well below its peak of 39,000 in 1974. The Government’s Housing Accords and Special Housing areas have been a band-aid on a broken planning system but they do not address the fact that the RMA in its current form is not fit for purpose to deal with a major housing shortage in our main urban centres.

ACT’s Housing Affordability Policy

ACT believes that the shortage of housing can be filled by private developers, when local and central government get out of the way. We would change the planning law that controls development of cities, and we would give councils the funding incentives to approve more consents. We care about the social impacts of high house prices, and believe the shortage of housing is a problem that can be solved by making our planning and building laws fit for purpose.

Take Cities Out of the Resource Management Act.

ACT would rewrite the Resource Management Act, and introduce new supply-focused urban planning legislation for cities of 100,000 people or more. Urban environments, and areas at the edges of our cities should not be regulated and protected in the same ways as undeveloped natural environments.

ACT’s urban development legislation would prioritise supplying land and infrastructure, in response to demand. We would set price thresholds above which land would be automatically released for development. It would include obligations to set out future infrastructure corridors.

We would make zoning less restrictive, with fewer levels and types of zoning. We would strengthen property rights for existing owners by limiting objection rights to people who are directly affected, rather than allowing third parties to have a say.

Share GST Revenue to Build Infrastructure.

ACT would share a portion of GST revenue collected from the construction of new housing with the local council to incentivise them to approve planning of new homes.

The shared revenue would help cover the cost of infrastructure like roads, water and sewerage which councils must build to support new development. The cost of this infrastructure currently disincentivises approval of new houses and subdivisions.

We also allow councils to use more flexible funding mechanisms for infrastructure. This could include permitting special targeted rates on new developments, to pay for the new infrastructure. Councils need both more flexibility and stronger incentives to plan for more housing.

Compulsory Insurance for New Buildings.

ACT would reduce the cost of compliance for builders, and reduce the financial risk on councils, by removing council building certification, in favour of a compulsory bond or insurance over new buildings. Requiring insurance for the replacement of the building would ensure standards are upheld while reducing the time spent on council inspections and red tape.

Replacing council building certification with compulsory insurance would incentivise insurers to find the most reliable builders and best building supplies to insure. The builders’ incentive would be to get the best premiums and service, by proving they are building high-quality homes. Insurers could sign-off on building materials that are certified overseas, where councils are reluctant to today.

This is an agenda to fundamentally reform the housing market. Our great country deserves nothing less from its politicians.

David Seymour – ACT Leader

Leave a comment

23 Comments

  1. Conspiratoor

     /  24th January 2017

    Listened to him on the Larry.show. he’s focused on the symptoms not the cause. Thinks rampant immigration from China and India is a wonderful thing. Until the drivers behind this housing ‘crisis’ are addressed our cities are going to look increasingly like big congested Asian suburbs with clogged roads and third world infrastructure

    Reply
    • NO, he’s not. Many countries worldwide, and our own in the past, have dealt with population expansion; countries with effective and focused policies can cope and we certainly used to prior to the RMA. (1974 – 39,000 permits and who doesn’t want one of those solid houses!) My father used to say anyone with enough resources (read money) could stop anything under the RMA, and he was right. Look at the NIMBYs and BANANAs near any expansion.

      There is no question that the RMA, current regulations and policies are outdated, inadequate and inflexible for today’s environment.

      Let’s talk incentives. In Switzerland and Germany, local government bodies are incentivised to be pro-development because they levy a resident’s tax and/or receive a capitation grant from central government.

      The result is housing supply meeting demand, and councils competing on service delivery to attract new residents to their areas because they represent additional revenue. More residents also mean greater efficiencies of scale and lower taxes, going some way to mollifying NIMBYs and BANANAs. (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)

      As residents have moved out of cities to the suburbs, so urban areas are forced to redevelop to attract people (and revenue) back, establishing a sort of equilibrium.

      “The Act gives too much power to councils to restrict development. It requires councils to provide for environmental protection and conduct consultations, but doesn’t require them to consider property rights of owners, economic growth or provide for an adequate supply of housing.”

      As for “renting” rather than “ownership” models affordability issues. Incentives and policy inducements are decidedly stacked against the delivery of affordable rental housing also. Moving away from government, I think that we should look into better-conceived incentives and tax breaks for developers willing to build and hold to rent, providing a determined percentage of affordable housing. The structure of this would be determined by a tax working party, but we need to stop rabbiting on about ownership as the be-all-end-all. This is no longer a reality in Auckland, any more than it is in large, highly desirable cities worldwide. Not everyone needs or wants home ownership either, at least not until well into their 30s, and I believe that upping the ante on secure, healthy, low-income tenancy accommodation would be greatly increased were comprehensive offsets and incentives available.

      Good start ACT.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  25th January 2017

        Had to look it up. For anyone else puzzled too, BANANA means Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  25th January 2017

          Oops 😳 you said, that. Sorry trav. ☹️

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  25th January 2017

            “Not everyone needs or wants home ownership either, at least not until well into their 30s, and I believe that upping the ante on secure, healthy, low-income tenancy accommodation would be greatly increased were comprehensive offsets and incentives available.”

            Secure, how?

            Reply
  2. David

     /  24th January 2017

    Hard to disagree with any of what he said, Auckland council has been woeful but National have been too slow to help/intervene and they really need to deal with the Indian education scam.
    The building code has got far too restrictive and this is from someone with 2 leaky buildings.

    Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  24th January 2017

      It’s what he left unsaid David that will lock him in as a one percenter. I can’t blame him though, he has to play to his constituency

      Reply
  3. Seymour – “In the past 30 years the number of homes built per capita had halved and created an asset bubble that was a risk to New Zealand’s economy.”

    No: In the past 30 years the number of homes built per capita had halved and created an asset bubble that WAS New Zealand’s economy. It IS New Zealand’s economy.

    “Urban environments, and areas at the edges of our cities should not be regulated and protected in the same ways as undeveloped natural environments.”

    Well, no, unless the edges of our cities are “undeveloped natural environments”? And what of highly productive farmland that simply becomes more valuable as housing development because of the “asset bubble that IS New Zealand’s economy”? What if the city edge is adjacent a significant waterway, foreshore or seabed like, for instance, the Manukau Harbour?

    “We would set price thresholds above which land would be automatically released for development.”

    Dear David is starting to not make sense here. Whose land would be “automatically released”? Is he talking about the private property ACT so zealously defends?

    ” … by removing council building certification, in favour of a compulsory bond or insurance over new buildings.”

    Can someone explain this to me? Who wears the cost of this “bond or insurance”? The home owner?

    What this sounds like to me, in a FIIRE economy, is to allow the FINANCE & INSURANCE industries to regulate the construction of buildings on the REAL ESTATE …. perhaps using mostly IMMIGRANT labour … ?

    I’m not against housing development. Look around the back of Orewa/Silverdale and you’d think the housing boom never faltered! Once again I think its all about striking a sensible balance between the individual and the collective or ‘community’ …

    We have a his/herstory of tossing the baby with the bathwater. Let’s desist from it …

    Come in Blazer …

    Reply
    • Seymour – “We would strengthen property rights for existing owners by limiting objection rights to people who are directly affected, rather than allowing third parties to have a say.”

      I sense a spin-doctor wrote this …

      When does one become an “existing owner”? Is it immediately upon purchase of land adjacent long-term owners? Also, in the case of infill sub-division, are people allowed to object to the sub-division itself, prior to building even becoming an issue?

      Who decides who’s directly affected? Example: A person buys an infill section with 3 immediate neighbours. They propose to build a two-and-a-half storey house on this tiny space which, when completed, will be seen from 60 dwellings in the vicinity. Are the 60 other homeowners directly affected or not?

      What if instead the new owners propose to build a ten storey apartment block which obscures 300 people’s view of a nearby maunga?

      What if this all takes place in a designated Heritage Precinct where there are community generated, Council monitored guidelines for development including suggested building style and appropriate heritage paint colours?

      Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  24th January 2017

    Blazer has I think been deeply hurt by criticisms. He may not yet be emotionally strong enough to resume throwing ellipses around here, but we wish him all the best.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  24th January 2017

      No, he has been told to stop the name calling and without that has nothing else to say or contribute.

      Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  24th January 2017

      Not good G if true. Thought the young man was made of sterner stuff. Link to proof please

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  24th January 2017

        Damn. Thought you would be busy beating bastards back. Wait here please.

        Reply
        • Wandering aloofness meets ad-hominen ….

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  24th January 2017

          @ c
          Last seen here, where, after he got a good telling off from the blogboss for name-calling, Mefrostate suudenly screamed out of the ether like an evil spirit in the night and commenced mercilessly flaying Sir Alan’s hide, although he fought back bravely. Blazer got caught in the melee and was also given a serve. Patu & I looked on, horrified, at the bloodshed, as you can probably imagine.

          My theory is that this has temporarily knocked Blazer out of play.
          https://yournz.org/2017/01/15/nationals-index-of-shame/

          Reply
          • Conspiratoor

             /  24th January 2017

            Cheers G, I’m sure we will get to enjoy his company again. I’ve always had some respect for his ability to take a lost cause and defend it to the last ellipsis. Mefro appears to be a well balanced fellow though – chip on both shoulders

            Reply
  5. duperez

     /  24th January 2017

    I guess it all had to come out in a speech. Leaning over to his bedmates and getting his ideas included in the famous Comprehensive Housing Plan didn’t work.

    Reply

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