Thin end of the ‘ethical investment’ wedge

Last week it was reported that some Kiwisaver funds invested in munitions and tobacco companies. This prompted a lot of comment about ‘ethical investments’.

An ODT editorial looks at Socially responsible investments:

Last week, Commerce Minister Paul Goldsmith said in Parliament there were indications several KiwiSaver providers had broken strict laws banning investments in cluster bomb makers.

A newspaper investigation analysed more than 100,000 individual assets held in nearly 500 KiwiSaver funds looking for 169 companies blacklisted by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

The analysis found half of KiwiSaver providers — mostly smaller boutique providers — have avoided blacklisted investments, but some people were unwitting investors in big tobacco companies and makers of banned weapons.

The investigation found three KiwiSaver providers have made investments worth a total of $2.3 million in a trio of United States companies blacklisted by the New Zealand Superannuation fund due to their production of cluster bombs.

The latest KiwiSaver report shows more than $28 billion is invested in KiwiSaver by 2.5 million New Zealanders.

Although the amount invested is a tiny percentage of  total KiwiSaver funds, it is still unacceptable some funds have broken the law.

The KiwiSaver providers should have been more careful to adhere to the legislation specifically forbidding investments in such companies.

Yes, if it’s illegal to invest in a certain type of business it is simply unacceptable.

But it can get tricky because many investments are not simple and easy to identify. The investigation found that Kiwisaver funds from the ANZ and ASB invested in other funds that invested in munitions and tobacco companies.

And it can get more convoluted. The Fisher Fund invests in the ANZ in Australia, so could be seen to be (very) indirectly linked to cluster bomb manufacture.

But the rest of the problem becomes murkier.

It is still legal to smoke in New Zealand and there will be some KiwiSaver investors who are relaxed about their funds being invested in tobacco companies.

In total, New Zealanders were found to have $102 million in tobacco companies, a small proportion of the total amount invested.

I certainly wouldn’t choose to invest in tobacco. But would it matter if the fund I invested in indirectly had a small amount in tobacco? It would make no difference to tobacco production or use if I was minutely and remotely connected or not.

The Government has rightly said it was unlikely to further regulate the KiwiSaver sector and the choice of the fund — and where to draw lines on what was an acceptable investment —  was up to individuals.

This stance has outraged Opposition MPs who want the Government to step in to tell the funds where they can and cannot invest.

Telling New Zealand KiwiSaver providers where to invest is a thin edge of something rather larger.

And that wedge was given a nudge last week. For example Kevin Hague tweeted “No doubt you’re shifting your KiwiSaver account to a company that doesn’t invest in cluster bombs. When you shift, think fossil fuels too”.

Currently, about 50% of New Zealand investors hold shares in Australian companies, including mining companies dealing in fossil fuels and extractive industries such as uranium, a key component of nuclear energy generation.

If all investment ceased in fossil fuel and other extractive industries it would create chaos around the world. While natural energy like wind and solar is great we are still very reliant on oil.

No government has the right to decide whether New Zealanders can invest in liquor or tobacco companies.

It is the individual’s responsibility to ensure they ascertain where their money is invested.

But the Greens seem to want to hammer the ‘ethical investment’ wedge. Julie Anne Genter:

Govt must set the ethical standard on KiwiSaver investments

The Government needs to set higher ethical investment standards for its default KiwiSaver providers, the Green Party said today.

“Profiting from the production of cluster munitions, landmines, and nuclear weapons is immoral, and most Kiwis wouldn’t want their Government directed savings invested anywhere near these companies,” Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“Default KiwiSaver Funds need to be legally invested, at a minimum, and preferably ethically invested, so that New Zealanders have the best choices over where their money goes.

Obviously investments need to be legal. But ‘ethical’ is quite different.

New Zealanders already have the choice where their Kiwisaver funds are invested. As they should.

But I have concerns about Government setting ‘higher ethical standards’ for investments.

An interesting New Yorker article on whether divestment (ethical reinvestment) makes any difference – DOES DIVESTMENT WORK?

And there can be a costly downside as the ODT reports in City pays cost for divesting

Some of the Dunedin City Council’s divestment decisions have cost the city, it was revealed at yesterday’s council finance committee meeting.

The council voted last May to scrap any investments the fund had in the munitions, tobacco, fossil fuel extraction, gambling or pornography industries and to bar future investment in those industries.

The fund had produced $783,000 in profit during the eight months to February 29. However, this was $1.657 million down on the budgeted $2.44 million profit.

Some of the unfavourable variance was because of divestment losses, Mr McKenzie said.

The Dunedin City Council has a strong green lobby, and they succeeding in forcing divestment from companies they considered to be unethical. At a cost.

Kiwisavers should have choice. That could cost them. Apart from ensuring illegal investments are avoided the Government should not dictate what we can invest in.

Clear majority supports cannabis change

A poll commissioned by the NZ Drug Foundation on cannabis shows a clear majority supporting growing and using cannabis for medical purposes, including a majority of supporters of all of National, Labour, Greens and NZ First.

Growing or using for a medical reason like pain relief:

  • Keep illegal 16%
  • Decriminalise 16%
  • Make legal 63%

There was slightly more support fro ‘make legal’ – 66% – if a terminal illness was involved.

Results on possession for personal use are more mixed but still with a clear majority of 64% wanting change.

Possession of a small amount for personal use:

 

  • Keep illegal 34%
  • Decriminalise 31%
  • Make legal 33%

Full results:

150816cannabisonline

The poll of 1029 respondents ran from July 18 to August 2 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

However chances of change look non-existent under a National Government, even though a majority of National voters support change.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has said that the Government is clear on its position – that leaf cannabis would remain illegal.

This is political speak for ‘National refuse to go there’.

And don’t expect much from Labour either. Last week Andrew Little told a student radio station that Labour could hold a referendum but later backed off that position.

Newshub: Where does Labour stand on decriminalising cannabis?

In the interview with Salient FM on Tuesday he was asked to clarify his stance.

Asked “so you will possibly have a referendum?” he replied: “Yeah, we want to make sure that there’s a good information campaign about it and have a referendum about it and let people decide.”

When asked how much of a priority it was, Mr Little said it wouldn’t be in his first 100 days.

“[It] may not even be in the first term but it would be something I’d be happy to see at some point in our term of government.”

But today he’s backpedalling.

“I’ve been very clear, it’s not a priority, I’ve got no commitment to make about it; it’s not a priority,” he told Newshub.

Would Greens force the issue with Labour? How hard Greens pushed Labour for change on cannabis law would show how serious they are. It is Green policy but tends to be ‘not a priority’ with them as well.

‘Not a priority’ is political speak for ‘we want to look like we support it but don’t want to actually do anything about it’.

 

NZ First versus Labour (and the rest)

It looks increasingly likely NZ First may be in a deciding position after the next election based on current polls, by a margin.

Winston Peters simply won’t indicate which way he will go, with National or with Labour-Greens, if he sticks to past practice. He claims this is letting the voters decide first but it’s difficult for voters to decide if they don’t know what he might do.

Peters has attacked the Government and National a lot. But NZ First seem happy to also attack Labour – this isn’t entirely surprising as they will compete for votes with Labour.

Audrey Young writes NZ First’s salvoes hit home in war of words.

With every passing week, it becomes more likely that New Zealand First will decide the next Government.

New Zealand First attacks the National Government frequently.Until now, it has largely avoided open attacks on Labour in the 4 years the parties have shared the Opposition benches.

But for a party that will go into the election with no coalition preferences, it has to change that perception.

In that context it was significant when New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark publicly rubbished Labour twice this week, in the general debate on Wednesday, then again on Thursday in Question Time.

Winston Peters was away but he apparently has no qualms about it.

Mark’s salvoes represent a new phase for New Zealand First – a “no favourites” phase.

In General Debate on Wednesday:

RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First): It is one of those days, is it not, when you come down to the House, you have got a whole bunch of speech notes and you are ready to deliver something that is prepared, and then someone stands up in the House and says something that rocks you in your shoes. That has just happened with Mr Iain Lees-Galloway’s speech on immigration.

Like one of the previous members said, the adjournment time gives us the chance to get out and take stock and listen to people. We have to say, in New Zealand First, we have to say we have travelled up and down the country. From Invercargill to Auckland, I have been everywhere, and the message we are getting consistently is that the public is actually tired of the type of speech that Mr Iain Lees-Galloway just gave. They are tired of one side of the House claiming that another party in this House, whose immigration policies have always been sane, sensible, and population-focused—is racist and xenophobic.

Now, suddenly, on the back of a poll that Mr Iain Lees-Galloway from Labour has seen, which tells him “Oh my gosh, 60 percent of the country agrees with the Rt Hon Winston Peters in New Zealand First that immigration policy is chaotic, is out of control.”, suddenly everyone should listen to Labour.

Let me tell you what people are saying out there: “Red or blue, there’s nothing new.” National and Labour are just the same. It is like Pepsi and Coke: tell me whether one can tell the difference. One comes in a blue package; the other comes in a red package, but everyone knows 90 percent of the people cannot tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, and that is exactly what is happening right now.

We do not actually care about the argument that goes on between National and Labour on who put more police here, who has got a stronger focus on law and order, or who wants to get immigration under control—we see them both as exactly the same and so does most of New Zealand right now, who are all coming to that realisation.

We go down to Invercargill, down to Gore, and who is filling in my meeting? It is National Party farmers, who have had a gutsful.

Todd Barclay: Absolutely no one—no one is there.

RON MARK: Todd Barclay can stand up and rant but Todd Barclay should ask the listing committee of the National Party where his committee has gone. Where has his committee gone? People are looking at this Government as being no different from the last Government.

Then we have Mr Grant Robertson on Q+A telling the whole nation the trickle-down economy does not work. Hello! Mr Robertson, if you had not realised it, it was started by the Labour Party. It was called Rogernomics, and then National picked it up and called it “Ruthanasia”. The result was the same: devastation in the provinces and farmers out there being told they should get on and keep their chins up and handle the economic changes, whilst this Government, which trumpets free-trade agreements—which the Labour Party promoted as well—has done nothing to curb the excessive use of subsidies in these countries that they proudly proclaim they have established a free-trade agreement with.

Mr Speaker, you are a farmer from the Banks Peninsula and I know that you were raised like me in rural New Zealand, in the Wairarapa, and we know something that our grandparents told us a long time ago, and farmers down in Gore and down into Invercargill were telling us this as well: nothing is free—nothing. Do not come into this House and trumpet “Ruthanasia” policies or Rogernomics policies and tell us that the poor at the low end of the chain are going to benefit from that, because all the evidence shows, after 30 years of rampant neo-liberal experimentation—started by the Labour Party—that the gap between rich and poor is greater than it has ever been. It has actually reached the level where you may never be able to turn it back—well, looking at the housing situation.

By the way, we are getting to the stage in New Zealand First where we actually think we have got a security problem, because it seems that every second day Labour is picking up one of our policies and trumpeting it as its own. The thing that disappoints us more than anything is that the media print it. We would simply ask them: “If you want the original Rolex, come to New Zealand First—do not go buying a cheap, Singaporean model from the Labour Party.”

In Question time on Thursday:

Ron Mark: Is the Minister surprised that he has so many anti-immigration questions from Labour these days, given that previous Labour leaders have so viciously attacked New Zealand First and Winston Peters on the very same topic?

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will hear from Mr Chris Hipkins.

Chris Hipkins: The Minister is not responsible for questions that the Opposition asks.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I cannot see that there is any ministerial responsibility, anyway. We are moving on.

Ron Mark: Is the Minister confused by reports from political parties that have formed a coalition recently, when we have questions such as this and he is being asked to answer questions such as this, and then the leader of the Green Party, James Shaw, goes on radio and says—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no ministerial responsibility whatsoever. [Interruption] Order!

Young:

Mark: “Is the minister surprised that he has so many anti-immigration questions from Labour these days, given that previous Labour leaders have so viciously attacked New Zealand First and Winston Peters on the very same topic?”

The “vicious attacks” haven’t happened for years.

But Mark and Peters have long memories and can quote chapter and verse about who said what when as far back as 2002.

Despite their party supporting Labour in Government from 2005 to 2008, they hold a grudge.

So will the next coalition government be based on which party grovels about grudges the most to NZ First?

It sometimes seems Peters has a blanket grudge against the Greens so that could get interesting.

But for now Peters and Mark will be targeting votes. From ex-National voters who are tired of the current lot. From the big pool of voters who despair about Labour getting themselves sorted and looking capable of leading. And from the sizeable pool of potential voters who use NZ First and Winston as a protest vote.

That’s actually smart politics – votes are what count.

Then after the election Peters will smile at Key, and at Little and Turei and Shaw, and he probably won’t even have to use the word ‘grovel’.

Turei Members’ Bill for renters

In yesterday’s Members’ Bill ballot a bill submitted by Green co-leader Metiria Turei was drawn, aimed at giving much stronger rights to house renters.

As usual Greens were quick off the mark with a press release promoting the bill and renters rights.


Green Party Bill puts renters’ rights on the agenda

A Green Party Member’s Bill pulled from the ballot today will put renters’ rights firmly on the political agenda, where it belongs.

Metiria Turei’s Residential Tenancies (Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill strengthens tenants’ rights, and will lead to stable, long-term tenancies that are good for both renters and landlords. The 2013 Census records 453,135 households as renters, an increase from 388,275 in the 2006 Census.

“My Bill will help people who rent get the stability they need to put down roots in their community,” Mrs Turei said.

“The home ownership rate is reducing and more families are renting – those families’ rights need be protected so they too can have a stable and secure home life.

“Families who rent often find themselves pushed around from house to house, and their kids moved from school to school, unable to settle down.

“The rental market is the other side of the housing crisis that affects hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.

“In many other countries, particularly in Europe, long-term tenancies in quality, warm homes are the norm.

“Landlords benefit too when tenancies are stable and long term, because the property gets looked after and there are no time gaps when tenants aren’t paying rent.

“Home ownership is at the lowest level since 1951 and everyone deserves a home to call their own – whether they rent or buy,” said Mrs Turei.

The Bill makes six changes to the Residential Tenancies Act:

  • Allowing tenants a right of first refusal when their lease expires.
  • Requiring landlords to be transparent about how they calculate rent rises.
  • Removing obligations on tenants to pay leasing fees.
  • Creating a default lease term of three years, with the ability to choose a shorter term.
  • Preventing rent increases more often than once every 12 months for periodic and fixed-term tenancies.
  • Restoring the 90-day notice period when landlords wish to sell the property.

There’s comments on this plus rental property Warrants of Fintess – “Landlords can pay” – at  The Standard in Green Party Bill to improve the rights of renters

Trump supported as well as Little

Newshub tacked a question on to their Reid Research poll on support in New Zealand for the two main party US presidential candidates:

  • Hillary Clinton 76%
  • Don’t Know 15%
  • Donald Trump 9%

So Trump is around the support level of Andrew Little and Winston Peters for ‘preferred Prime Minister’.

Newshub says “the poll was conducted during the recent Republican and Democratic Conventions” – the timing may not make a lot of difference here but polling across both conventions could get uneven results if done in the US.

And Trump is most popular (perhaps that should be least unpopular) amongst NZ First supporters.

  • NZ First 23%
  • National 9.3%
  • Labour 5.7%
  • Greens 3.5%

But 23% of NZ First supporters is about 2% of all people polled, which is about the same number of Labour supporters, while a bit over twice as many National supporters also support Trump.

The poll of 1000 people was taken between July 22 and August 3 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent (but the margin of error will be much bigger for the smaller sample sizes for party/Trump support).

Source: Only 9pct of Kiwis want Trump as President

Mayoral candidate ‘rumoured’

Otago Daily Times reports on a ‘rumour’ of a new entrant to the Dunedin mayoral race that could liven up the contest somewhat.

If this proves top be true it would pit a fresh face with strong business interests against the incumbent Dave Cull who has had strong Green leanings, Aaron Hawkins who is the official Green Party candidate, and long time Cull combatant Lee Vandervis.

Bid for mayoralty rumoured

The Dunedin mayoral race could be about to heat up as  lawyer Susie Staley, of iD Dunedin Fashion Week fame, is believed to be considering a bid for the city’s top job.

Councillor Andrew Whiley said yesterday he would pull out of the race if another candidate, who he declined to name, entered the race.

The Otago Daily Times understands Cr Whiley was referring to Ms Staley, but she declined to confirm or deny she was standing when contacted yesterday.

“The rumours can keep going,” she said.

Apart from being a lawyer, Ms Staley has served on a variety of boards including those of Tower, Maritime New Zealand and PGG Wrightson, and was a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards in 2013.

She stood down as iD Dunedin Fashion Week chairwoman last year after more than 15 years of service to the event.

If Whiley doesn’t stand for mayor (he would presumably stand for re-election to council) Staley (if she stands and gets significant backing) could threaten Cull’s hold on the mayoral chains, especially if Hawkins splits Culls vote.

Hillary Calvert has announced she won’t stand this year,.

Cr Whiley said it would be in the “best interests” of Dunedin for him to stand aside should the other candidate stand.

“I think there is a very good candidate who could do a lot for Dunedin.”

If elected, they would give Dunedin a more “pro-business” focus and tap into a widespread sentiment that council had not achieved much in recent times and fresh leadership was needed.

This could make the Dunedin contest a clear clash of business versus green interests.

Plus Vandervis, who may continue to pick up protest and maverick votes but has proven to not have the temperament for leading the council after ongoing ugly clashes with Mayor Cull (he recently served defamation papers on Cull).

I don’t know if Staley has any political affiliations. If not she will be up against the Green Party, plus Cull, who I presume will be standing as an independent now that the fairly (some say very)  left leaning Greater Dunedin group has been officially disbanded this year.

 

Turei telling the truth as she saw it

Audrey Young writes that their can be harsh political lessons in telling the truth, and she thinks that Metiria Turei has been taught one, in Harsh lessons about telling truth in politics

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was telling the truth as she saw it, that in order to improve affordability of housing, house prices needed to fall by up to 50 per cent. She didn’t say they needed to fall fast. In fact she said they needed to fall gradually to prevent a crash.

But she didn’t think it through and Labour was smeared with it, less than two months into the memorandum of understanding between the two parties.

Disregarding the political carelessness of her comments, they also breached the agreement because Labour was not warned in advance that Turei was going to posit such a controversial policy. Andrew Little and John Key seized on them.

You can hear it already: A Green-Labour Government says house values must fall. It is a gift that National will return to no matter what qualification the Greens put around it and no matter how much Labour seeks to distance itself from it.

Little needed to distance himself quickly from the Green policy. The only thing scarier than the prospect of falling house values for a home-owner is a politician with a plan for falling house values – and Labour cannot be associated with that plan.

But it appears to have been a carefully planned announcement by Turei.

The Greens promote themselves as a party of principle and courage.

Turei was attempting to meet the challenge of former National leader Don Brash who told me three weeks ago that politicians of the left and right were terrified of saying house prices had to fall.

She later described her own comments in terms of political courage.

Somebody has to be “brave enough” to talk about cutting house prices so a rational conversation about how to do it could begin.

But…

Turei may have told the truth as she saw it but for someone who has been a party leader for seven years, it was careless and damaging to her party and to Labour.

Stacey Kirk: Labour and the Greens fall out over whether house prices should be cut in half

Just two months later the Greens have thrown a grenade at their cosy little home.

More precisely, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei announced (debatably on the hoof) that her party supported slashing house prices in half to fix the crisis.

Labour leader Andrew Little was never going to agree to this – he’s spent the last however many months repeating the word “stabilisation” like it’s going out of fashion.

To add salt to the wound, the first Little heard of the Greens’ plan to drop house prices to about three or four times the average household income, was when media started calling him asking for his thoughts.

Turei’s random announcement is a serious breach of the MOU – there’s no two ways about it.

What possessed the Greens to put a wedge between the two just as the Opposition was making some headway is anyone’s guess.

LabourGreenSplit

How ‘on-the-hoof’ was Turei’s announcement?

At Dim-Post, on the Notes towards a Red Queen hypothesis of New Zealand politics thread, a claim was repeated that everything the greens decide on has to be agreed to by the membership:

RJL:

The Greens are driven by their membership, so for the Greens to move to the right, their membership would need to utterly change. That is, not going to happen.

But Ximenes responded:

Strange that none of the Greens I know knew anything about the latest policy on driving down house prices. Did that ever go before the Policy section or was it just made up on the hoof? At the latest branch meeting not a single person was aware of the policy.

Turei made it sound like it was a party proposal – Greens want 50% house price drop:

“The Green Party is putting together a plan for how to reduce house prices responsibly and gradually, and that will include making sure people who’ve recently taken out big mortgages to buy a home are safe and secure.

“Nobody, including the Green Party, wants to see the housing market crash and equally nobody thinks the current situation can go on like this.

“Our plan for more affordable housing will include building more houses, a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting non-resident foreign buyers,” Mrs Turei said.

But she went further on RNZ, clearly saying that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50 percent over a period of time to make the market affordable again.

Andrew Little and Labour weren’t aware of this Green target, and Little strongly reiterated opposition to any drop in house values.

It appears some of the Green membership was unaware.

Was James Shaw in the Turei loop, or did she decide to go it alone?

She may have been telling the truth as she saw it, but perhaps it wasn’t the Green truth, and it certainly wasn’t the whole truth in respect of the Labour/Green MoU.

The truth is Turei made it look like a Misunderstanding of Unity.

 

The biggest left wing blog?

A few days ago The Daily Blog posted a fund raising drive – July Contributions drive – last days

Brothers and Sisters, if you think The Daily Blog is an important voice in the NZ media landscape, then we need your contribution.

The Daily Blog is the largest left wing blog in NZ and you know how dire the mainstream media has become so these few platforms left to fight back at the Government and corporate power are more essential than ever before.

Asking for pocket money from brothers and sisters aside, the largest left wing blog in New Zealand?

Yesterday The Standard made a slightly different claim in Offer to NZLP candidates:

As the most widely read left blog in New Zealand, the Standard is a regular stop for most Labour Party members who spend time online.

Whether the largest or most widely read blog doesn’t really matter, a lot of political discussion happens on other types of forums anyway, especially Facebook.But the two posts highlight the different niches that the blogs are trying to cater for.

The Daily Blog:

Putting together a 5 night a week 7pm current affairs show and co-ordinating 40 of the best left wing progressive voices each month don’t come cheap.

A lot of Bradbury’s and The Daily Blog’s focus is now on Waatea Fifth Estate streamed talk show. It is quite a commitment and a big task rounding up participants for that every week day. It can sometimes be interesting but I doubt whether it makes impact beyond a fairly small audience.

Meanwhile The Standard and Labour have both moved in new directions – more openly campaigning for local body elections.

We think that offers candidates for Labour Party positions a great platform to get their ideas out to members and to debate them. Which is why, with nominations for various significant party positions closing soon, we’re offering candidates the opportunity to provide guest posts ahead of the conference in Auckland this year.

Democracy works best when people know who they’re voting for and the Standard is about democracy. So if you’re planning to stand for a Labour role and you want to speak to thousands of Labour members, contact us via thestandard@gmail.com

We’ll make sure that your post is at the top of the site for at least half a day and will moderate comments.

In the past The Standard has been adamant it represents the ‘labour left’ and not the ‘Labour Party’. Despite this they have dabbled in party politics at times, but is the most hard out Labour campaign approach I have seen there. This looks to be a significant change for both the party and the blog.

Will The Standard offer similar campaign support for Green candidates, especially now that Labour and Greens are promoting themselves as a joint election deal? Or are Greens not labour left enough for them?

There’s an opportunity for attracting more Green blog discussion now that Frog Blog has shut down comments.

Greens want 50% house price drop

On RNZ this morning Metiria Turei said she supported up to a 50% drop in house prices.

Auckland house prices need to drop 50 percent – Greens

Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50 percent over a period of time to make the market affordable again, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Ms Turei said the only way to reverse that was to slowly bring prices back down to three or four times the median household income.

She told Morning Report the Green Party was considering what timeframe would work without crashing the market and hurting people who already owned homes.

“The only way to prevent a bust, and to protect families in the short and long term is to lay out a comprehensive plan, which means using every comprehensive tool that we’ve got so that we can slowly bring down house prices so that they’re reasonable.”

She backed this up (without the numbers) with this:

Responsible house price reduction needed to avoid bubble bursting

Auckland housing is unaffordable and a responsible Government would have a sensible plan to reduce house prices over time, while protecting families with mortgages, the Green Party said today.

“The simple fact is that housing in Auckland is totally unaffordable and if we don’t take action to bring house prices down, we will have a whole generation of people locked out of ever owning their own home,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“In around 10 to 15 years’ time, we’d like to see families on the median household income buying their first home for about three to four times that income – not 10 times like it costs now.

“I want to be very clear that we are talking about a responsible, carefully managed reduction in house prices over a period of time like 10 to 15 years.

“The Green Party is putting together a plan for how to reduce house prices responsibly and gradually, and that will include making sure people who’ve recently taken out big mortgages to buy a home are safe and secure.

“We know housing isn’t affordable for families now, so the only way to protect people from market instability is to lay out a plan using every tool we’ve got to slowly bring down house prices to a reasonable level.

“Nobody, including the Green Party, wants to see the housing market crash and equally nobody thinks the current situation can go on like this.

“It’s a fundamental part of Kiwi values that people who work hard should be able to afford their own home.

“Our plan for more affordable housing will include building more houses, a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting non-resident foreign buyers,” Mrs Turei said.

Back to RNZ with Labour’s reaction:

The Auckland Council’s chief economist had suggested bringing prices down to five times the median household income by 2030, she said.

Labour leader Andrew Little said Ms Turei’s declaration that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced was irresponsible.

There was no way a Labour-led government would consider the idea, he said.

“We have a very clear plan. It’s not about crashing house prices. It’s about stabilising prices.

“We don’t want to cause undue economic harm to those who – in good faith – have bought homes, entered into mortgages. That’s not a responsible approach.”

Labour and the Greens recently struck a co-operation agreement, including a no-surprises policy.

This seems like a planned announcement by the Greens, and they are likely to have known it would be a bit of a surprise to Labour.

So who is right?

I don’t think a 50% reduction in values is a sound target. Too many risks.

For a start it’s probably impossible to plan house prices over the short term let alone over a decade or two. There are too many factors that are hard to control, and major ones of those are international.

I think if house prices drop by more than  20% it  starts to put recent purchasers at risk of going into negative equity, so dropping much more than that must be highly questionable.

Perhaps there needs to be some middle ground – some drop in values, limiting increases in values by ensuring adequate land supply, and and working more towards raising wages to meet somewhere in the middle.

Ideally. If that were at all possible.

 

Reactions to predator free target

Some reactions to Government sets target to make New Zealand ‘predator-free’ by 2050

@rodemmerson:

Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague…

…said welcomed the target, but said research showed it would cost $9b to make New Zealand predator-free. 

“The Government seems happy to once again put out the begging bowl to the private sector to fund what should be taken care of by the Government.

“We have real concerns over what will happen to this predator-free dream if the Government can’t attract private funding, or if that private funding dries up.”

The Greens are usually quick off the mark on policy issues but no media releases from them yet and nothing on their Facebook or Twitter.

ACT Leader David Seymour…

…has welcomed the announcement and said it echoed his own policy to sell off Landcorp and place the money it gains into a trust, so community groups and private enterprises can apply to operate inland wildlife sanctuaries.

“We’re interested in seeing how the Prime Minister plans to skip inland islands and eradicate pests from the nation wholesale.  It’s a laudable and ambitious goal, we look forward to seeing the detail.

A lot will depend on the detail.

Labour…

…is questioning the Government’s level of commitment. 

It’s far to soon to seriously question commitment. The target has only just been announced.

Predator Free New Zealand is a laudable idea but the Government has not committed any real money into killing New Zealand’s pests, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

“The only promise is that the Government will ‘look’ to contribute one dollar for every two dollars from councils and the private sector.

“This lack of long term funding to kill our millions of pests has to be considered alongside years of funding cuts that have blunted the work of the Department of Conservation.”

Whether it’s feasible to become anywhere near predator free is being questioned.

While some think that it really is possible others have serious doubts.

But even managing to reduce rat, stoat and possum numbers by 50%, 0r 75%, would be a significant achievement – as  long as the reduced numbers were maintained.

Without continuous containment the numbers would increase again, as they have done when the predators were first introduced or introduced themselves.

Government details: Predator free by 2050

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