Grant Robertson to Business NZ on “Our Plan to Respond and Recover”

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson addressed Business NZ today, and ‘filled out further detail’ of: “…our plan for the response and recovery from COVID19, through the first wave of the immediate response, to the second wave of kickstarting the economy and the third wave where we reset and rebuild our nation from this once in a century shock.”

He also spoke on “the economic context… what our exit from Level 4 and moves through Level 3 and Level 2 look and feels like”.

The following has the Government self praise edited out.

Our Plan to Respond and Recover

Wave One: Fight The Virus and Cushion the Blow

Our initial $12 billion package included an initial $500 million boost for health, wage subsidies for affected businesses in all sectors and regions, a $2.8 billion income support package for our most vulnerable, a $100 million worker redeployment package, $2.8 billion in business tax changes to free up cashflow encourage investment, and support working from home, and a $600 million aviation support package.

We have continued to add to and modify the range of policies aimed at cushioning the blow of COVID-19 on New Zealanders.

We’ve put together the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, alongside the Reserve Bank and retail banks. The Scheme is designed to help enable banks to provide credit to customers where otherwise the bank may not be willing to do so.

Nine banks have signed up to participate in the scheme including ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Heartland Bank, HSBC, Kiwibank, SBS Bank, TSB and Westpac. Over the weekend I signed the deed, executing the agreement between the Crown and the banks, with some banks now able to deliver on the scheme as of yesterday.

We’ve also recently announced changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency remain viable.

These changes include giving directors of companies a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency duties under the Companies Act, enabling businesses to place existing debts into hibernation, allowing the use of electronic signatures, and giving temporary relief for entities that are unable to comply with requirements in their constitutions or rules because of COVID-19.

In addition to these changes, this morning we announced a suite of further support measures for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Our tax loss carry-back scheme will allow a large number of businesses to access their previous tax payments as cash refunds, at an estimated benefit of $3.1 billion.

We are bringing forward the tax loss continuity rules to make it easier for firms to raise new capital without losing the tax benefit of their existing losses. This is a useful initiative particularly for start-up companies.

Using established services including the Regional Business Partner Network and the helplines run by the Employers and Manufacturers Association and Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, we are providing $25 million to fund specialist, tailored advice to where it is needed, fast. We have been getting clear feedback that particularly small and medium enterprises are asking for support on business continuity.

We have also introduced measures to support commercial tenants and landlords.

Many businesses may be finding it difficult or impossible to pay rent if they are no longer able to access their property, and if landlords are not receiving rent, they may not be able to meet their mortgage obligations.

As a result, the Government will extend the current 10 working day timeframe that commercial landlords may cancel the lease to 30 working days. This will be for both the period the tenant is in arrears before the notice is given, and for the period to remedy the breach.

The Government will also extend the timeframes for lenders from 20 to 40 working days for mortgaged land, and from 10 to 20 working days for mortgaged goods.

Wave Two: Kickstarting the Economy

The guidance we are releasing on Thursday for coming out of Level 4 will give businesses and workers a much better idea of what the more medium-term picture looks like for them, for the economy, and for society.

We have a range of workstreams well underway aimed at the medium term positioning for recovery.  I will mention some critical ones today.

  • We have established the Economically Significant Business Group inside the Treasury to guide our work with New Zealand’s major businesses.  We have brought in outside commercial expertise to support this, and have begun conversations with a range of network critical businesses.  There are a variety of options available should the Government need to support businesses that are essential to our recovery and our supply chains.  We showed with our $900 million package for Air New Zealand what we can do.
  • Phil Twyford and Shane Jones have tasked the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group to prepare a list of infrastructure projects and programmes from across central and local government, and the private sector, that are shovelready. These could be deployed as part of a stimulatory package as soon as the construction industry returns to normal.

The Reference Group is headed by the Chair of Crown Infrastructure Partners, Mark Binns.  It is supported by the work David Parker is doing in terms of changes to the RMA and consenting process to move things forward as quickly as possible.

Phil Twyford and Shane Jones have also continued to work on redeployment support, especially in our regions and they will have more announcements to make about that in the near future.

  • Megan Woods as Housing Minister is working to bring forward projects that will drive not only jobs, but also deal with our long term housing issues.
  • I have asked Chris Hipkins to lead the work on the critical training and employment support programme that has to take place from here.  Thousands of New Zealanders are going to need to retrain, gain new skills and support the kickstarting of our economy.  This work is in partnership with business, with unions and with training providers.
  • The Prime Minister, drawing on advice from her Business Advisory Group, has called for the creation of the world’s smartest border.  Using technology and our ‘natural moat’ as she calls it, to give us not just protection against the virus but a window to a future where we can move people and goods safely again.
  • Winston Peters and David Parker are charting a new course for trade and diplomacy in a radically changed world.  We need to continue to trade, and look again at our relationships to see how we can leverage our natural advantages and excellent progress on controlling the virus.

In every sector of our economy and society we have a need, and an opportunity, to come through the other side of this with a strong recovery plan. We have tasked all Ministers with reaching out to their sector to help develop these plans.

The Budget will be a Recovery Budget. It will include funding for the cost pressures that are necessary part of keeping our country ticking over.  But we will devote much of our resources to kickstarting this recovery.

Wave Three:  Reset and Rebuild

We have formed a core Ministerial Oversight Group for this work with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, myself and Minister Parker.  We will soon be reaching out to both Ministerial colleagues but also the private sector, unions and more to have input into this work.

Climate Change will continue to be a major challenge long after the effects of this pandemic have been mitigated. As Rod Carr raised yesterday, our economic recovery needs to be one where emissions continue to reduce and more sustainable technologies are invested in and taken up.

New Zealand has had a long-run problem of low productivity. We need to look at our uptake of new technology and new ways of working to ensure that this problem does not again become baked into the New Zealand economy through our recovery.

We’ve seen through this virus what happens when sectors and industries are overly reliant on certain markets for their export revenue. New Zealand must always remain a trading nation, but we will need to look at greater diversification of our export markets to make sure we are prepared for any future shocks to trade networks.

The importance of the role of the state has been underlined by this crisis.

I believe it is of the utmost importance that the state continues to play an active part in the economic recovery, providing leadership and direction as we move forward through the challenging times ahead.

Economic context

This is largely a preamble to the announcement being made tomorrow “guidance for how businesses could operate under reduced alert levels and what measures need to be taken for them to do so” so we might as well wait for what is released tomorrow.

Reid Research party support poll

A Business New Zealand Reid Research poll on party support slipped under the radar this week. It was taken from 15-23 March, the day of and just after the Christchurch mosque attacks, so it should be treated with more caution than normal.

  • Labour 49.6%
  • National 41.3%
  • Green Party 3.9%
  • NZ First 2.3%

Labour are up from 47.5% in the RR February poll (which was up 4.5% from the previous poll). It isn’t surprising to see an (small) increase in support for Labour at the  time of a major adverse event. Jacinda Ardern’s adept handling of the attack aftermath has been rewarded in the poll.

National have hardly moved, down just 0.3% from the February poll, but had dipped 3.5% to a record low in the previous poll. They may struggle to hold even at that after Simon Bridge’s performance since.

Labour’s gain has been Green’s loss.

Greens have dropped from 5.1% to 3.9%, which must be a concern to them. James Shaw was largely unseen after the Christchurch killings, with Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman being more prominent, and they tend to be polarising – popular in part but also annoying many.

NZ first have slipped 0.5% to 2.3%, after dropping by the same amount in February. Winston Peters and NZ First fully backing the Arms Amendment Bill happened after the poll period so they could easily slip further. They have disappointed a lot of their 2017 supporters.

The Business NZ Reid Research poll of 1,000 voters was taken from March 15-23 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent. 750 were interviewed by phone and 250 online.

Source NZ Herald – Claire Trevett: Poll puts Labour support up after mosque attacks but tax is back in debate


Poll – most people against Capital Gains Tax

A Business New Zealand/Reid Research poll has found that most people are opposed to a Capital Gains Tax. Labour has found in the past that a CGT was unpopular with the electorate.

CGT should be a priority for the Government?

  • No – 65%
  • Yes – 22.8%

Has CGT harmed the Government?

  • No – 33.1%
  • Yes – 47.8%
  • Don’t know – 19.2%

I don’t know if the CGT proposals have damaged the Government. I don’t know how anyone else can say with any certainty that it has or hasn’t.

Do you think there should be a capital gains tax on things like businesses and farms?

  • No – 54.3%
  • Yes – 31.6%
  • Don’t know – 14%

Do you think there should be a CGT on earnings on KiwiSaver?

  • No – 90%
  • Yes – 4.4%
  • Don’t know – 5.6%

The Reid-Research poll was conducted between March 15-23. It had a sample size of 1000 voters, with a margin of error of 3.1 percent. 

Source – Newshub

No reported and presumably not asked – do you understand what a Capital Gains Tax is?

Also not asked – will NZ First allow Labour to implement a CGT?

Also today, a pro-CGT protest at Parliament was very poorly supported – Few people at campaign launch in favour of capital gains tax

About 10 people were present for the launch of the campaign by Tax Justice Aotearoa NZ at Parliament this morning.



Ardern’s pre-budget speech

A pre-budget speech given by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Business NZ:

Nau mai. Haere mai.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kā nui te mihi ki a koutou.

Thank you for the invitation to join you here today.

I’d like to acknowledge your CEO Kirk Hope.

And sponsors of today’s event, Fujitsu – Managing Director Michael Bull and Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Change Management Megan Keleher.

I’m also grateful that my colleagues Grant Robertson, Shane Jones, James Shaw and Fletcher Tabuteau are here to show the importance this Government places on connecting with the business community.  But not just connecting; listening, debating, and moving forward. We are after all a positive and stable government that knows that fixing long term problems requires fresh thinking and energy.

As we are just two weeks out from Grant presenting the Government’s first Budget, I’d like to talk to you a bit about that today. Without giving too much away, of course.

I will outline our plans for the economy and how we want to partner with New Zealand businesses to bring about transformative change for the good of all New Zealanders.

We promised we would be a Government of change. Because it is clear that a shift is needed. Change can require some adjustments, I know. It can bring uncertainty. But it is inescapable. For the world is changing and we know it is changing rapidly.  We must adapt and change with it or be left behind.

As business people, I’m sure you know that change can bring great opportunity. And I’m sure you’re also aware that during change it is important to always keep focus on what you want, so you are better able to seize the opportunity when it is presented. My Government is keen to do just that.

We are committed to enabling a strong economy, to being fiscally responsible and to providing certainty. We have a clear focus on sustainable economic development, supporting regional economies, increasing exports, lifting wages and delivering greater fairness in our society.

We have already spelled out our ambitious agenda to improve the wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders through sustainable, productive and inclusive growth.  Now we want to work with business and investors to get on with it and to deliver shared prosperity for all.

My Government is keen to future-proof our economy, to have both budget sustainability and environmental sustainability, to prepare people for climate change and the fact that 40 percent of today’s jobs will not exist in a few decades.

If we are to stay ahead of the curve, we need to develop a robust plan. To do that, we have to work together. We can’t do this alone.

We said at the time of the Future of Work Commission report, which Grant Robertson was very much the driver of in Opposition, that a key principle was collaboration with stakeholders.

That’s how we built the report. But it’s also how we’ve operated. A few weeks ago I sat down with a group of business leaders and discussed their key issues, opportunities and concerns.

A key theme was the future of their workforce, and training, finding the skills they need, and ensuring they are adaptable.

That is why I’m very pleased to announce today that we are establishing a tripartite Future of Work Forum – bringing together the three key partners in the economy – the Government, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions.

I have asked Grant Robertson to lead this work with Kirk Hope and CTU President Richard Wagstaff. Thanks Kirk, and Richard, for your support on this.

There is much the forum can focus on. For example, technology – we need to do better at understanding and harnessing the new technologies that are emerging such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, and supporting workers to adjust to these new technologies.

No-one has the same job for life any more. We may well have several careers so it’s vital that workers are equipped with the foundation skills that will enable them to transition to other careers, that our school leavers are easily able to transition from school to work, and equally so we have an education and training system that readily responds to changing skills requirements.

We also know that a low carbon economy is our future if we are to meet the challenges of climate change and safeguard our country. That will also impact on workplaces so we need to support communities, workers and industries in making a just transition to that low carbon future.

The productivity challenge is another key area I see for the forum. We have stated our commitment to lifting R&D spending. But we also need high performing workplaces that provide flexible environments; that are responsive to new ways of working.

Over coming months we will do further thinking together on the themes that will inform the key work areas for the forum.

Ultimately, the forum will be focused on helping us shape the policies we will need so workers and businesses can be equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of work.

We know the challenge is coming, we need to be ready and together I am hoping we can work through these issues.

And most importantly avoid the mistakes of the past where economic shocks damaged communities up and down New Zealand.

That is why we have tasked the Ministry of Business Innovation and Development with our Just Transitions work programme so we can prepare now.

A strong and resilient economy is our ultimate aim.

Business can be assured that this Government will support those who produce goods and services, export and provide decent jobs for New Zealanders.

We are in favour of trade. We wish to be an outward-looking trading nation that supports and delivers on our people’s basic needs.

We understand the need for security, while also staying true to our guiding principles for open borders, free trade and international responsibility. The Government I lead is determined to prove that it’s possible to have a trade agenda that is both progressive and inclusive.

We are not alone in wanting a new approach to trade agreements. On my recent visit to Europe, both President Macron of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany, underscored to me the need for FTAs that have broader scope – ultimately it’s how we can build wider public support for these agreements.

We have recently embarked on a consultation process with the public on our new Trade for All Agenda so we can build consensus for the framework we take into future FTA negotiations.

We’ve already got some runs on the board in this regard. The reworked Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) which was recently signed, will significantly improve New Zealand’s access to a wider range of export markets – especially Japan, pointing to a brighter future for New Zealand exporters. The benefits of this deal are so clear that apparently even the United States, amongst many others, is talking about the deal.

My Government knows what we want. We will encourage the economy to flourish, but not at the expense of damaging our sovereignty, our natural resources or people’s well-being. Our plans have been spelled out from the beginning, in the Speech from the Throne, in the first 100-days plan, and very soon you will see more detail in our first Budget.

Our first Budget will be presented in just two weeks on Thursday May 17. So, what will you see in it?

You will see a clear plan to build a robust, more resilient economy. You will see a strong focus on delivering economic growth, on running sustainable surpluses and reducing net debt as a proportion of GDP.

We know we have to live within our means and we will.

At the same time, we want to lift productivity, education, research and development, and address skill shortages.  This will involve increases in both public investment as well as incentives for business.

You will see a clear commitment to investing in the critical services we rely on and addressing areas of neglect.

I’m sure everyone here is aware that sometimes more investment is required. This Government will make targeted investments to address our social and infrastructure deficits.

The critical public services we rely on – such as transport, health, housing and education – must be adequately funded so they function well.  It is time to acknowledge that public services are under pressure, unplanned growth has left roads congested and our cities crowded while our regions have been left behind.

We will improve public infrastructure and access to critical core services. There will be significant investments in these areas in this year’s Budget.

You will have heard already about some of our plans for investment in transport. Together with Auckland Council, we recently unveiled a record investment of about $28 billion under a new 10-year funding package aimed at unclogging our biggest city.

We now have an overarching 30-year blueprint for tackling Auckland’s transport issues, which we all know are a nightmare. About $8.4 billion will go into the construction of a rapid transit network featuring light rail while about $940 million will go towards heavy rail improvements.

This is expected to allow for the development of 124,000 additional homes across the Auckland region, with another 30,000 homes being able to be built in greenfield sites.

This is a huge civil construction project with a detailed and fully costed plan. Clearly, we can’t keep growing our population and not put the money into infrastructure to support it. And we also cannot do it alone – in order to finance and deliver these projects we will need to work with infrastructure partners.

And the regions need not fear they will be neglected. We have committed $1 billion per annum towards the new Provincial Growth Fund and over coming months there will be more detail about how this spending will be targeted. After all, nearly half of us live outside our main cities and our provinces also need to thrive if New Zealand is to do well.

The Provincial Growth Fund aims to enhance economic development opportunities, create sustainable jobs, contribute to community well-being, lift the productivity potential of regions, and help meet New Zealand’s climate change targets.

We are aware that all these issues can’t all be solved within one Budget. One Budget cannot fix all the systemic issues. But this is the first of three budgets by this Government and we are confident of seeing some real improvements in that time.

We believe we’re getting the balance right to support all New Zealanders to get ahead and to have confidence in the future.

Confidence in the future certainly helps. And that is often an issue of perception. The perceptions you have determine your actions – whether you invest, whether you export, whether you take risks.  It can also determine how you feel about all those things.

Whether or not our perceptions are accurate is another question. Our perceptions are often influenced by our beliefs in general, or our assumptions.

We all know that reported business confidence levels reflect this.

I have been known to speak openly about the reports I read of business confidence surveys. It’s the elephant in the room and I’m quite happy to point that out. I know the perceptions we face, but I will always focus on improving New Zealand’s reality with the goal that perception will then reflect that.

The news is good. The IMF, following its annual visit this month, said New Zealand has a favourable outlook with strong annual economic activity expected and our fiscal, monetary and prudential policy settings are appropriate.

The major credit rating agencies recently positively reviewed my Government’s economic plan and priorities. We are making steady progress. We’ve got record-high terms of trade and a positive outlook for incomes.

Over the next four years, economic growth is set to remain strong, averaging 3 per cent. Unemployment is forecast to fall to the Government’s 4 per cent target, and wages are forecast to rise on average by more than 3 per cent annually.

I note too that official figures released yesterday show unemployment in the March quarter has fallen to its lowest level since December 2008 at 4.4 per cent.

We are in good shape.

The Budget Policy Statement and the Treasury’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update show we can deliver our promises while running sustainable surpluses and paying down debt.

I can assure you Grant Robertson takes the Budget Responsibility Rules seriously. These mean we will operate budget surpluses, bar significant events like a Global Financial Crisis or an earthquake. We will get net Crown debt to 20 percent, Crown spending will sit at roughly 30 percent of GDP, and at the same time we will invest in the infrastructure we need.

So business can be confident in this Government. And I am determined to prove that.

Surveys show that businesses are actually feeling pretty good about their own activity. I look forward to hearing the same level of confidence expressed about the economy as a whole.

It’s important to see clearly.  We do not want to view the world as worse or as better than it is, but to see things as they are. Only then will our actions be able to make a real difference.

On that score how we measure our success is important. In the past we have used economic growth as a sign of success. And yet a generation of New Zealanders can no longer afford a home. Some of our kids are growing up living in cars. Our levels of child poverty and homelessness in this country are much too high.

We all want a strong economy. But why do we want it? What is it for? It is vital that we remember the true purpose of having a strong economy is for us all to have better lives.

The centre of our work will always be the wellbeing of people.

For that is absolutely the purpose of government. Surely that is also the purpose of business. Just think about why you first went into business and investment. What were you looking for? I am sure you wanted to improve your wellbeing, and that of your family and the community around you.

We all have wellbeing as our common goal. And we must not lose sight of that purpose which underlies all we do.

That is why my Government is making a formal change to move beyond narrow measures of economic growth and broaden the scope and definition of progress.

We want to ensure that the Budgets we produce are not just narrow fiscal documents which consider success only in financial terms.

Next year we will be the first nation in the world to report our annual progress against a range of measures in a living standards framework which tracks the wellbeing of our people and our environment alongside the traditional measures of economic growth.

The Government sees this approach as a core element for future Budgets, giving a more rounded measure of success and of how government policy is improving New Zealanders’ wellbeing. The Government’s fiscal strategy then becomes the means to the end of supporting New Zealanders to have better lives.

After all, if economic growth is not reflected in the well-being of your people, then what is it for?

We’re being really honest that we can’t do this alone. So I ask that you join us.

We can make an enormous difference if we work together.  And we should, not just because I know we have a set of shared goals, but because many hands make light work, and a problem shared is a problem halved.

Together, we can do this.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Twyford praised for call to abolish Auckland urban growth boundary

Twyford today:

The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

Business NZ praises this:

Proposal to ditch Auckland growth boundary welcomed

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford’s proposal to abolish Auckland’s urban growth boundary as a way to rein in ballooning land prices in the country’s biggest city has attracted the support of business lobby group BusinessNZ.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:

A great policy from Labour

Twyford had been showing signs of getting it for a few months now, acknowledging that land supply restrictions were a huge issue. Every expert report into housing says the artificial restriction of land for housing is the biggest factor, and other measures will be ineffective if you don’t fix this.

This is excellent they have. Huge kudos to Phil Twyford for getting Labour to agree to this.

National needs to get some balls, and come out with the same policy. Auckland Council should be left under no mistake – abolish the boundary, or Parliament will step in and do it.

There is a less dramatic way to abolish it. Labour’s candidate for Mayor Phil Goff could adopt this as policy.

UPDATE: You can sign a petition here (from the Taxpayers Union) calling on the Government to adopt Labour’s policy on abolishing the Auckland Metropolitan Urban Limit. The more people who sign the petition, the more pressure on National to do the right thing and sign up to Labour’s policy.

Good policy and good politics.

Minister of Housing has weighed in with his support.

Labour support on city limits welcomed

The new position by the Labour opposition calling for an abolition of city limits has been welcomed by Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This is a welcome repositioning by Labour. Tight city limits and not allowing intensification is at the core of Auckland’s housing problems. It is limiting new housing developments, driving up section and house prices and encouraging land banking.

“A broad political consensus that the policy around city limits needs to change is helpful to progressing the necessary reforms to increase housing supply and to make them more affordable.

Rare cross party support should get the message across to the Auckland City Council.

Twyford’s media release:

Government should abolish Auckland urban growth boundary

The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn’t prevented sprawl, but it has driven land and housing costs through the roof. It has contributed to a housing crisis that has allowed speculators to feast off the misery of Generation Rent, and forced thousands of families to live in cars, garages and campgrounds.

“Labour’s plan will free up the restrictive land use rules that stop the city growing up and out. It will stop land prices skyrocketing, and put the kibosh on land bankers and speculators.

“Nick Smith is talking up his soon to be released draft national policy statement under the RMA. But to avoid it becoming yet another of his long list of his ineffective stunts, he needs to stop land bankers by doing away with the urban growth boundary – and make sure it doesn’t re-emerge under a different name.

“The urban growth boundary creates an artificial scarcity of land, and drives up section costs. Land inside the boundary is up to ten times more valuable than rural land.

“It is not enough for the Council to progressively add more land zoned for development here and there. That just feeds the speculation that is an inevitable result of having the boundary.

“There is a smarter way to manage growth on the city fringes by properly integrating land use with transport and infrastructure planning. There should be more intensive spatial planning of Auckland’s growth areas in the north, north-west and south. Land of special value can be set aside, like the northern coastal strip or Pukekohe’s horticulture soils. Corridors should be acquired and future networks mapped for transport and other infrastructure.

“This requires bold reform. Freeing up growth on the fringes needs to go hand in hand with allowing more density – so people can build flats and apartments in parts of the city where people want to live, particularly around town centres and transport routes.

“It is also essential to reform the way infrastructure is financed. The cost of new infrastructure must rest with the property owners of new developments to prevent the ratepayer carrying the can for expensive infrastructure investment in places where it’s too expensive to build. Labour proposes using bond financing paid back by targeted rates over the life of the asset. This can range up to 50 years in some of the jurisdictions using this mechanism.

“Nick Smith and Bill English have been playing politics with the RMA and Councils for years, blaming them for expensive housing. However, National have done next to nothing meaningful in eight years in government to tackle restrictive land use rules that drive up land prices and choke off the supply of affordable housing.

“Fixing planning rules on their own won’t solve the housing crisis. It also needs to go alongside cracking down on property speculators, and a massive government-backed building programme.

“With the Budget coming up, the Government has a chance to finally do something to genuinely rein in Auckland’s housing crisis. But unless Nick Smith deals to the urban growth boundary –
and its proposed watered-down replacement – integrates transport planning and investment, frees up the density rules, and reforms infrastructure finance, his national policy statement won’t amount to much,” Phil Twyford says.
Background Questions and Answers:

Won’t this lead to more sprawl?
No, it will manage sprawl because development and investment decisions will be carefully planned. Auckland must grow to accommodate another million people over coming decades. However arbitrary lines on the map where land owners can virtually strike it rich thanks to the stroke of an Auckland Council planning pen is clearly not delivering a quality, compact city – or affordable housing for young families.

Are you saying the Government should override Auckland’s Plan?
Restrictive land use rules like the urban growth boundary and density controls are a major contributor to the housing crisis that is locking young people out of home ownership. It is entirely appropriate that central government should have a say on behalf of them and future generations. While the detail of planning decisions is a matter for local councils, housing affordability is a matter of national interest.

Hasn’t Auckland Council agreed to get rid of the old Metropolitan Urban Limit?
Auckland Council has replaced the old Metropolitan Urban Limit with a new more flexible rural urban boundary which progressively releases more land for urban development. They are now talking about replacing the rural urban boundary with zoning. It is nothing but a semantic response.