Can the new government stabilise house prices?

Presumably one of the things on the agenda of parties negotiating to form a new government will be property prices.

Can much be done to control property inflation? It is a world wide problem.

Is it already under control enough?

Property prices escalated early in the century – I bought a house in Dunedin in 2001 for $108,000 and sold it in 2006 for $245,000.

They flattened with the arrival of the New Zealand recession in 2008, followed by the Global Financial Crisis.

After a few years they took off again, especially in Auckland and some regional places like Queenstown. Over the last year they seem to have flattened off in Auckland but continue to surge in some other areas.

From Reddit: What can the new government do to lower or stabilize housing prices?

I used to live in KL back in the mid 2000s and have seen how housing prices there and in singapore skyrocket with the influx of overseas investors. Funny enough same thing happened here too

Let’s not turn this into a racial issue because it’s not. Money flowing overseas did increase housing prices. That’s a fact. Floodgates open and infrastructure could not keep up.

However Singapore and the likes of Canada have done stricter rules to stabilize and even lowered housing prices.

Not pre 2005 prices cause that’s not gonna happen but at least it’s helped wages to at least keep up with the prices bit by bit.

Rules like a first time home buyer has to stay in their property for first 5 years and not being able to rent it out.

Rules like not being able to flip a house within a few years.

Rules like that seem too restrictive. I have several times sold a house within five years due to changing circumstances or upgrading.

Only residents are able to buy land/property etc.

Capital gains tax.

List goes on.

Some of it is really common sense and I can’t help but wonder why national would not implement such measures years ago.

I can only guess that the Government had hoped that property prices would have levelled off without too much intervention, and that measures aimed at increasing land supply would have been quicker and more effective.

The Government may also have been caught flat footed by the downturn in Australia that saw a big turn around in trans-Tasman migration.

One comment:

I like the idea of foreign investors being locked toward building new houses as opposed to purchasing existing homes or something along those lines.

That is Labour policy. A response:

Australia has always had this, its a good idea in theory, butit doesn’t work on its own. There are too many loopholes and various schemes available to make you a non-foreign buyer. Also it wasn’t ever enforced properly.

Some suggestions:

…assuming that the new government is not as blinkered as the outgoing one, here are some reasonable ideas:

  • Only citizens can purchase freehold property (residential, commercial, and rural). If foreigners want to invest here, allow leases up to 99 years.
  • Universal land tax (e.g. 0.5%), with the revenue raised to reduce income taxes by the same absolute value. The outcome would be that the average family, with an average income, owning an average number of properties, won’t pay any more in tax. It would be a massive help to the economy, as workers would be rewarded significantly more for their labour.
  • Punitive rates (e.g. 3%) on land bankers, i.e. undeveloped land within urban boundaries. This has been used successfully overseas to encourage development and discourage land banking.
  • Stabilise immigration at a rate which corresponds to the country’s ability to build new homes, after accounting for natural population growth and making up the existing shortfall.

A land tax is worth considering, as long as it is offset by a reduction in income tax. It would be simple to implement if it is not complicated by exceptions. We already pay a form of land tax via our local body rates.

Stabilising immigration is not easy. We can control the number of new immigrants – and I think that has been fairly consistent. Winston Peters (and others) have claimed we have ‘mass immigration’, that’s either populist nonsense or ignorant.

But what has caused the biggest change in net migration is a sudden change in fewer New Zealand citizens leaving, especially for Australia, and a surge in New Zealanders returning. The Government cannot control this, and it makes planning stable nett immigration numbers difficult.

Do we need to do much?

Auckland house prices have stabilized already. We are waiting on evidence of falling, but time to sell has increased and inventory is decreasing. These are good signs.

It’s plateaued high, but at least it’s not increasing further.

We may be stuck with the current price levels, unless there is a major international influence. No Government will be keen on a significant slide in property prices.

A detailed comment from FrameworkisDigimon:

OP your solutions are way too authoritarian. And that’s me saying that. I am perfectly comfortable with states spying on me and CCTV cameras on every corner.

Investors are the problem: regardless of where they live. Owner-occupied or even just occupied housing is a crucial feature of doing things the right way. Getting investment money to go towards shares and other opportunities likely to improve productivity is important too. Long term housing availability requires breaking boom bust feature of housing construction because, shockingly, people keep having babies in recessions. To that end…

Land tax. This will encourage developing real estate rather than sitting on the land. There are lots of other benefits. Cut GST along with instituting this. Unless you own buckets of land and spend little, you’ll be better off.

Capital Gains Tax. Ghost properties which are just sitting there maybe being pointlessly renovated or maybe just completely empty are a consequence of being able to flip properties for easy money. Tax those gains. Basically, by Capital Gains Tax I mean adjust the tax system to favour (a) investing in shares and (b) investing in the construction of denser housing forms.

Harder urban boundaries (esp. in Auckland) and end subsidisation of greenfields development. This sound contradictory but if you keep building on fertile land you are literally killing this country. Sprawl is environmentally evil and contra-social sustainability.

Force places which are overloaded with “pull up the drawbridge, I’ve got mine NIMBYs” to accept (a) transit developments and (b) a variety of housing forms. Basically, the idea is that if you have a plot of land and could develop it into 7 units, you should be (i) able to do so and (ii) incentivised by the tax system to do so. The harder urban boundary is accompanied by fewer restrictions on the types of development that are able to occur within those limits… but with definite state oversight in order to avoid, e.g., leaky buildings (turns out, if you don’t regulate the cowboys out of the market, everyone is a cowboy).

Develop a large state owned building programme firm. I don’t care how this is done (the army advertises itself as a tradie’s paradise so maybe we should use it as one, nationalising some suitably large existing firm, starting from scratch) but it needs to happen. This entity would exist to build when private developers don’t want to build, and otherwise to build/oversee particularly large projects. For instance, planners might decide an areas could be more intensely developed. At that point figure out a heavy duty public transport scheme and start building it. Then get our entity to come along and build/fund some tower blocks, terraced houses and other types of property close to the route.

Key ideas: if land is expensive (it is), then you can make the dwellings cheaper by having more of them on the same amount of land, but our entire system is not designed to do this. Even worse, our system is designed to basically stop building anything in recessions. We have to adjust the incentives of all possible sources of money and bring the state in on the construction side, whilst also dramatically altering what kinds of infrastructure we build.

Whatever the incoming Government does to address housing and land availability it is unlikely to have a quick or dramatic effect.

Q+A – Adams v Twford on housing

 

Housing is a major issue for this election. Q+A has another debate between Amy Adams and Phil Twyford.

 

This rehashed the same old housing issues and I doubt whether it changed much in the debate.

Adams tried to emphasise things that are being done by the Government to alleviate a serious housing issue, and tried to divert from the problems that National were too slow to react to.

Twyford repeated his usual one lines, a number of which are blatantly misleading, and lacked in details about how Labour would deal with it. He said the problem was ‘simple’, which is nonsense.

ACT claim ‘minimum 600,000 new homes’

ACT claim that bu cutting ‘red tape’ and allowing subdivisions anywhere around Auckland that it would “allow, at a minimum, 600,000 new homes in areas like Waitakere, Karaka, and Clevedon”.

ACT reveals massive housing negligence

ACT Leader David Seymour has revealed the massive scale of potential home-building that has been blocked on the edges of Auckland.

ACT WOULD CUT RED TAPE TO ALLOW, AT A MINIMUM, 600,000 NEW HOMES in areas like Waitakere, Karaka, and Clevedon,” says Mr Seymour.

The figures were presented at the launch of Mr Seymour’s new book, Own Your Future, which opens with a story about a Waitakere family denied the freedom to subdivide their land and provide housing for their daughter and others, because their property lies just outside the Rural-Urban Boundary.

“By failing to open up this land like this for housing, successive Governments are guilty of gross negligence.

“Land use restrictions are now responsible for 56 per cent of the average Auckland house price, according to one of the Government’s own reports released last month.

“This cost is THE SINGLE LARGEST CAUSE OF POVERTY, INEQUALITY, AND SICKNESS IN AUCKLAND AND BEYOND.

“The poorest 20 per cent of households now spend 54 per cent of their income on housing. When the RMA was passed in 1991 it was only 27 per cent. That’s why we see kids living in cars and garages, going without.

“ACT says IT’S CRAZY TO BAN PEOPLE FROM BUILDING HOMES DURING A CHRONIC HOUSING SHORTAGE.

“National say they’ll build 34,000 houses in Auckland over the next decade, Labour says 50,000. ACT will rezone land for hundreds of thousands.

Here is how many homes could be built if just two restricted zones were reclassified as residential:

  • Countryside Living zone – 223,560 homes
  • Mixed Rural Zone – 403,965 homes
  • TOTAL: 627,525 HOMES

These house numbers are estimated on the basis of 27 homes per hectare (the same density as the Hobsonville Point development) on just one third of each zone’s land area.

WHERE WE COULD BUILD

Blue: Current residential, bordered by Rural-Urban Boundary
Yellow: Where ACT would allow homebuilding (Mixed Rural, Countryside Living)

They give a number of examples.

Freeing up enough land for 600,000 plus houses does not mean anywhere that number would be built.

Economy the top concern in survey

It has long been thought that the thing that makes up the minds of voters the most when it comes to election crunch time is the economy. Other issues get aired and appear to get traction with the media and possibly the public, but a stable and strong economy seems to sway more than most.

The latest Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online survey asked “which of eight issues was most likely to affect their vote”:

  • Economy 25%
  • Health 16%
  • Housing 12%
  • Poverty 10%
  • Immigration 9%
  • Environment 8%
  • Education 8%
  • Unemployment 3%
  • None of these issues 9%

This isn’t surprising as the economy impacts on each of the other seven issues. You need a strong economy to be able to afford to deal with the rest.

The economy was the top pick for both genders and across employed, self-employed and unemployed voters although housing slightly edged out the economy among young, urban voters in their 20s.

Young voters are most affected by escalating house prices but they are also the lowest voting age group.

Overall there is quite a spread of views on what should be done about house prices.

There were different concerns in Auckland to other areas.

Unsurprisingly, housing was more important to Aucklanders than other New Zealanders in the survey. It was the second most important issue in Auckland chosen by 18% of Aucklanders compared to 9% of those in the rest of the North Island.

A higher proportion of Aucklanders also selected immigration as a big issue than those living elsewhere. It was a big issue to 12% of Auckland respondents compared to 9 % overall.

The survey of 1000 was conducted from July 19-26 and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent. It is an online survey by ConsumerLink which runs the Fly Buys panel of 120,000 active members, one of the largest in New Zealand. The sampling was nationally representative and post-weighted by age, gender and region to match the population.

Because it has only started surveying recently and asks different questions to other polls it’s hard to compare the Herald-ZB-Kantar TNS online surveys, so hard to evaluate how accurate they might be.

New housing infrastructure agency

The Government seems to have made as much noise and effort in trying to address housing problems this year than in their previous eight years in power. Housing has become both a critical problem and a critical election issue.

A new announcement yesterday: Govt sets up new housing infrastructure agency

The government is setting up a new agency to speed up the building of housing, starting with a fund of $600 million.

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) will be given $300m in each of the next two years, to co-fund basic infrastructure especially, but not only, in Auckland.

The government’s named the first two projects to be considered for funding, one in Drury in Auckland’s rural south, and the other at Wainui in the city’s northern rural area.

The Drury development by Stevenson Limited could be eligible for up to $68m for roading, water and transport spending to accelerate the start of 700 homes by up to two years.

Up to $149m could be available for new roading around the Wainui area near Silverdale.

The fund is the second housing initiative in a fortnight by the government, which unveiled its $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Funds chosen projects 12 days ago.

These sorts of things and this sort of expenditure takes time to set up but one could be a little cynical about the timing.

Related to this: Immigration, tourism continuing to surge

Official figures show a net migration of a record 72,300 people in the year to June; 131,400 people arrived and 59,100 left.

For the month of June, there was a seasonally-adjusted net gain of about 6400 people – the strongest since the start of the year.

“Annual net migration has been steadily increasing since late 2012 when we had more departures than arrivals,” Statistics NZ population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod said New Zealanders were choosing to stay put.

“The number of New Zealanders moving offshore remains very low, and we continue to see large numbers of New Zealand citizens returning from Australia.

“The net outflow of New Zealand citizens is at its lowest level since 1984 … this accounts for half of the pick-up in net migration since 2011.”

While the number of new immigrants is a contentious issue a lot of the reason for the increase in net immigration is the slowdown in the numbers of New Zealanders leaving and an increase in the numbers returning.

Ironically Chinese money, builders contribute to Auckland housing construction

Chinese money or Chinese builders are contributing to almost a third of all residential construction under way in Auckland.

A top economist says that the billions of dollars of Chinese investment flowing into the New Zealand industry is badly needed.

 

Hard out on housing hand ups

The Government went hard out yesterday promoting it’s $1 billion housing infrastructure fund. Housing has been one of National’s weaknesses heading into the election.

$1b infrastructure fund accelerates housing supply

The allocation of the $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund today is another milestone in the Government’s plan to increase housing supply for a growing New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English says.

“The infrastructure projects announced today will speed up the delivery of 60,000 houses across our fastest growing population centres over the next ten years,” Mr English says.

“This is another major step forward in our plan to permanently lift the capacity of the construction sector to support a more confident, expanding New Zealand.”

The funding will be allocated across nine projects in five different council areas, Auckland, Hamilton, Waikato, Tauranga and Queenstown.

“I want to congratulate the Councils in these areas for their positive engagement with the fund and the quality of the infrastructure projects they have proposed,” Mr English says.

“These projects will make their contribution to lifting housing supply alongside the Government’s own Crown Building Project, the Special Housing Areas, our planning changes, and the already record levels of new home construction taking place across New Zealand.”

The successful proposals are in critical high growth areas including:

  • Auckland Council – $300 million – 10,500 houses

 Greenfield development (North-west) at Whenuapai and Redhills.

  • Hamilton City Council – $272 million – 8,100 houses

Greenfield development (Peacockes) on southern edge of Hamilton.

  • Waikato District Council – $37 million – 2,600 houses

Te Kauwhata (new development on the shore of Lake Waikare).

  • Tauranga City Council – $230 million – 35,000 houses

Greenfield development at Te Tumu (eastern end of Papamoa) as well as a capacity upgrade to the Te Maunga Wastewater Treatment Plant and a new (Waiari) water treatment plant (at Te Puke).

  •  Queenstown Lakes District Council – $50 million – 3,200 houses

Two new greenfield sites (Quail Rise South and Ladies Mile) on the Frankton Flats and an extension of the Kingston township.

They kept the PR flowing through yesterday:

 

Labour campaign exposed as foreign workers rebel

Matt McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ has been exposed as being far from the non-partisan project he claimed it would be, as Labour try to deal with rebelling foreign student election workers complaining about their housing conditions.

Key points:

  • McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ is a front for the Labour Party, not non-partisan as claimed, and not aimed at “full political participation” in election.
  • Foreign students have been brought to New Zealand to work for Labour.
  • The students would not have been paid at all for their work.
  • The students have rebelled against cramped and poor living conditions.
  • They are being used in political deceit.

Last week I posted  McCarten’s ‘new’ project

1 million people did not vote in the last election. 250,000 people who were required to register did not. These numbers represent a crisis of democracy. This group overwhelmingly consisted of young people, workers in low paid occupations…

“The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.” says Director Matt McCarten.

This non-partisan campaign is being created in order to get people engaged and involved. The disconnect between a million citizens and political participation is a threat to our democracy.

The disconnect between what Labour are doing here and what they are campaigning against is a threat to their campaign.

The Campaign for Change is directed by the goal of full political participation.

It’s obviously not. It is using poorly housed foreign slave labour targeting votes for Labour.

Richard Harman at Politik posted Labour Party volunteer workers rebel over living conditions.

A Labour Party scheme to recruit  85 overseas students to campaign for the party during this year’s election has hit trouble.

The students rebelled over their accommodation and their disappointment with what was supposed to be a high powered learning programme but which appears to be not much more than political campaign drudge work.

Now party heavyweights have had to step in to rescue the programme and deal with the complaints from the students.

POLITIK has seen emails which show that the students have now held two meetings with party officials to complain about their accommodation on an Auckland marae and the work they were being asked to do.

Last night Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton confirmed that there had been issues with the scheme which had arisen over the past week.

He said the scheme had been originated by Andrew Little’s former Chief of Staff, Matt McCarten, who now runs Labour’s campaign office in Auckland.

Not quite. Last week McCarten said he was leaving Labour to run a non-partisan ‘Campaign for Change’. Is he still based in Labour’s campaign office?

The heart of the row appears to be the living conditions under which the interns have been accommodated at Awataha Marae in Northcote.

The students met Labour party officials on Saturday to protest about their accommodation and were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

The interns were invited by Labour to help with its campaign.

Kirton says that Labour’s head office had been notified of these problems and had now stepped in.

The interns would leave Auckland and be distributed across the country. They would be billeted with Labour supporters.

Short lectures are promised from some top Labour Party names:

  • Andrew Little
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Helen Clark
  • “Current ambassadors to NZ.”
  • “Senior party stakeholders and staff, including the President and Chief of Staff “
  • Teleconferences with senior staff from US Democratic Party and UK Labour Party

However, Kirton said there were now problems organising these talks because the volunteers were no longer in one place.

This looks more like a farce than anything, but questions of consistency arise – Labour are campaigning against foreign workers, low wages and housing problems.

And it also raises questions about McCarten’s and Labour’s honesty in the campaign.

In Parliament yesterday Andrew Little questioned Bill English on “an acceptable moral standard” and “a cover-up” and “a public figure is lying”.

This isn’t as shoddy as the Barclay debacle, but when asking “Why should New Zealanders place any trust in him as Prime Minister” when McCarten, and Labour and Little by association, have been dishonest about the nature of the Labour campaign to get out votes.

Little said the Prime Minister “told media things that are untrue about his knowledge of Todd Barclay’s actions, and consistently failed the moral standards that New Zealanders expect of their elected leaders”.

Ill-considered deceits like Labour’s ‘Campaign for Change in which foreign student workers are being exploited.

Why should New Zealanders place any trust in Little as leader of Labour?

Is it any wonder many people don’t trust any politicians and can’t be bothered voting?

More Peters posturing on immigration

Winston Peters gave a speech yesterday to the Auckland Rotary Club, slamming immigration and other party’s policies on immigration.

He started oddly:

Fully aware as one’s experience tells you that this is not an audience susceptible to conversion when the facts are laid out.

That said, it is the intention of this address, to lay some facts before you which you are going to have to live with whether you like it or not.

The first fact is, “you can have great wealth in the hands of a few or you can have democracy and stability – but you can’t have both.”

That is not a fact. It’s nonsense.

Anyone who follows international events knows that we are in troubling, restless and uncertain times.

There is growing discontent in many democracies.

That does appear to be true.

People are increasingly dissatisfied with what the major establishment parties of both the Left and Right have delivered.

Any society that allows a pool of discontented and disaffected young people to grow is playing with fire.

Peters is firing off shots here but I don’t think this is anywhere near as relevant to new Zealand as to some other countries.

People who are buying their own home have a purpose, a direction, and a structure for their lives.

People who are buying a home put down roots in their community – because they have a stake in it.

And secure housing is vital in creating the conditions for raising families.

In general that’s true.

They are not then vulnerable to the blandishments of trouble makers.

That’s an odd statement.

For that reason every New Zealand government prior to this one has worked hard to create the conditions that favour widespread home ownership.

But thanks to both Labour, first, and then National that era has ended.

He seems to contradict himself. Labour ran the government prior to the current National government – and Peters was a part of that Government. There was a major surge in house prices during that time.

It is fashionable for media types to talk about the “gig economy” as something trendy and hip.

I mustn’t be trendy, I haven’t heard of the “gig economy”.

A home and a job – those are core aspects of every adult life.

Labour and then National’s shameful failure in both areas has blighted the lives of countless Kiwis.

The truth is that after 32 years of the neo-liberal experiment the character and the quality of our country has changed dramatically, and much of it for the worse.

Pushing the ‘neo-liberal’ button. Peters has been a part of the establishment Parliament for most of that 32 years (and three terms prior).

  • in 1990 Peters became a Minister in the National Government.
  • In 1996, leading NZ First, Peters helped National form a coalition government and took on the roles of Treasurer (senior to Minister of Finance) and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • In 2005 helped Labour form a coalition government, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Racing.

He has been a willing participant in “the neo-liberal experiment”, although was sacked twice for being contrary.

For those who try to refute that statement let them give us the evidence of how we have risen in the graphs of real economic comparisons and not have countless alternative facts susceptible to various sociological interpretations and beloved only in the eye of the beholder.

What?

Such as – show us one piece of economic analysis, just one piece, that says mass immigration is good for a modern economy.

He throws an alternative fact in – New Zealand does not have anything like “mass immigration”, our immigration is very controlled. Most of the fluctuations in numbers are due to the free movement of New Zealanders.

Allowing unprecedented levels of immigration – a staggering 72,000 net migrants a year – directly impacts housing and jobs.

You heard that correctly. There is no mistake.

But there is a mistake. The current rate of net immigration has risen to 71,900 (year to April 2017), but that is a 10% increase on the previous year, it is not per year.

Annual net migration (to July each year):

  • 2016:  +69,000
  • 2015: +59,600
  • 2014: +41,000
  • 2013: +10,600
  • 2012: -3,800
  • 2011: +2,900
  • 2010: +15,200
  • 2009: +14,500
  • 2008: +

It is as plain as day – immigrants need housing and jobs themselves. Notice they don’t bring housing and jobs with them!

But only one political party in New Zealand understood that for a long time.

Yeah, right.

Labour admitted that last week. On this matter their policy is identical to National’s.

That is not a fact.

So here is their FARCICAL VIRTUOUS CIRCLE.

“We need more migrants, to build the houses and the roads for migrants.”

What utter stupendous, imbecilic, idiotic, moronic nonsense.

Yet these parties are in total denial of the facts – they have either the arrogance or stupidity to pretend this isn’t so.

Peters mentions ‘facts’ frequently but rarely actually cites facts.

If we had a government that was actually serious about improving the housing and employment prospects of young people we would see action.

There has been action, it has just been inadequate.

It would pull the obvious lever it does have – and close the open immigration door.

The Government can adjust immigration levels – but it is difficult switching numbers off and on quickly, especially when a large proportion of movements is New Zealanders, which can’t be controlled.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on 12 June the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag and revealed what is actually behind the absurd level of immigration.

When asked why there was not a drastic cutback to immigration his reply was that if that happened it would stall the economy. Bingo!  So that’s how strong the economy really is.

In effect, Bill English is saying “IMMIGRATION IS THE ECONOMY”. So if the brakes are applied, collapse is on the cards.

At last the admission that the whole dishonest show on the economy is a con.

Who is trying to con who?

All our policies are framed with a concern for the future health and security of New Zealand as a whole.

The New Zealand national interest is our starting point.

And there is one overriding imperative right now that is in the national interest and it is to cut back immigration to a sensible level.

We mean closer to 10,000 highly skilled immigrants a year, not 72,000 mostly unskilled immigrants per year.

Many of the 72,000 are skilled migrants and returning New Zealanders.

Our policy will immediately brighten the housing and employment prospects for younger Kiwis.

That’s doubtful, especially on housing, as much as the Government and the Auckland City Council have tried there are no easy or quick fixes to the housing shortage.

If we don’t deal to this crisis created by the other political parties support or condonation of mass immigration we can’t effectively deal with any other concern.

And because of the magnitude of their shorts-sightedness it is going to take well over a decade to fix up.

So it won’t immediately brighten the future.

But beginning with this issue New Zealand First has the policies to rebuild this country and when our manifesto is out soon I trust you will read it.

In the next 96 days you are going to see or hear numerous speculative comment on what New Zealand First is going to do and you can be certain of one thing. None of those commentators will be reciting anything I said.

I have just recited what Peters has said from  Speech: Rt Hon Winston Peters – The farcical virtuous circle, immigration is the economy

But the great news, confirmed from overseas evidence, is that those in politics who speak straight to the people, do gain their support.

And quickly lose that support when their deeds don’t match their rhetoric, as Donald Trump. And Peters barely uses Twitter anyway.

Twyford on land for Kiwibuild

Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Tyford was interviewed on The Nation yesterday (repeated this morning). He was questioned about where Labour would get land to build on in Auckland for the 50,000 houses they planned to build under their Kiwibuild policy.

Twyford seemed unprepared for this fairly predictable line of questioning, and was very vague on what land would be available.

  • “many of them around the railway network in Auckland”
  • “on the fringes of the city as well”
  • “if necessary, we will buy private land to develop”

And “We are going to work with the council, we are going to work with Ngati Whatua, we’re going to work with other investors.” Much like the current Government is trying to get land for development.

With the not insignificant matter of the RMA to deal with.

Let’s move on to what your solution is, which is KiwiBuild. You’ve already said that freestanding houses will be 600,000 or less. And where exactly are these 100,000 houses going?

So, Lisa, we don’t have a land shortage in New Zealand. Fewer than 1% of the land is urbanised. We have a highly restrictive planning system that chokes off the supply of new land. Labour’s going to free up those controls and allow cities to grow up and out.

So where specifically? Where specifically? Because as you pointed out, we’re four months from an election. Where’s the list from Labour which shows exactly where the houses go? Like this list from National, which shows me exactly which suburbs and how many houses. Where’s your list?

So, we’re going to build large urban development projects, many of them around the railway network in Auckland. So places like Henderson, Manukau, Mt Wellington, Onehunga, Panmure, Avondale.

Have you got the sites specifically identified?

Actually, Auckland Council’s already done much of the work on this. Their development agency, Panuku, has already identified all of those sites as being appropriate for development. Lisa, we’re also going to developments on the fringes of the city as well.

Amy Adams says that they are using, in this plan, basically all the available Crown land, so I’m struggling to understand where your land is that you’re going to build 100,000 houses on and why I haven’t yet seen… Because this policy of yours is, what, four and a half years old?

So here’s where Labour’s approach is different from National. National lacks ambition in this area. Their approach is confined to knocking down state houses and building private houses on that land. We are going to take a much broader, more productive approach, so—

So have you got a list of lots, of land lots, that you can give to us so we can have a look at it? Have you got that?

We are going to work with the council, we are going to work with Ngati Whatua, we’re going to work with other investors. And if necessary, we will buy private land to develop.

Okay, and what budget are you putting aside for that?

We’ve committed $2 billion to kick-start KiwiBuild, and we’re going to establish an affordable housing authority that will act as an urban development agency.
So that $2 billion of seeding money, are you telling us that that’s going to pay for the first wave of houses and all the commercially bought land that you’re going to have to buy?

Well, we haven’t identified exactly how much land we will buy, but we are going to establish an affordable housing authority—

Isn’t that the problem, Mr Twyford? Isn’t that the problem, though — the details?
Hang on, Lisa, you’ve asked me a question. Let me answer and I will give you an answer. We’re establishing an affordable housing authority that will cut through the red tape. We’ll put capital in to get it started, but it’s going to manage the Crown’s entire urban land holdings. It will use that balance sheet to buy land and develop land with other partners. So it’s a very different approach to what the government is saying.

Who will build all the houses?

So, who is going to build your 10,000 houses a year? Because we know that there’s a shortage of workers in the construction industry. So who’s going to build these?

So, call us old-fashioned, but we think it’s the job of the government to grow a New Zealand workforce of skilled tradespeople. So we’re going to massively increase the training for the construction trades and professions. That’s our priority. Now, the fact that National—

That takes time, doesn’t it? And you are aiming to build 10,000 houses a year. The apprenticeship industry tells us that we need 60,000 new workers over the next five years, and half of them need to be tradies. So come December 24th, who’s— September 24th, who’s building these houses?

Look, so National has completely failed to build the New Zealand workforce. They haven’t invested in the apprentices and the professions to do this work. Now, if we have to, we will rely on skilled tradespeople. We’ll bring in electricians, plumbers and carpenters from overseas if we have to.

Despite your policy of tightening up immigration.

Well, Lisa, the reason it’s called an immigration policy is we get to choose who comes here. So we will choose the electricians, the plumbers and the carpenters instead of bringing people to this country to flip burgers and pump gas.

Andrew Little has said Labour would cut immigration by “tens of thousands” and at one stage intimated by up to 50,000 a year.

I would have thought on two of the key issues Labour is pushing for this election campaign they would have things worked out better than this by now.

Newshub: Interview: Phil Twyford

Full transcript: The Nation: Lisa Owen interviews Phil Twyford

The Nation: Twyford on housing

This morning on The Nation:

talks to about National’s plan to build houses in Auckland… is it enough?

I hope he is asked what land Labour plans to build their 50,000 houses on.

Twyford says if home buyers need a govt subsidy to buy a $650,000 house it’s not affordable.

Going about ‘affordable’ new houses. Most first home buyers don’t buy new houses, they start with older cheaper houses.

Twyford says Labour will build large developments around the railway line – he says Akl Council has identified good sites.

Twyford says a Labour govt will buy private land if necessary to build houses on.

Pushed on what land they will use Twyford evades and avoids and says they will work with the council and Maori. So no specific land yet.

Twyford says Labour will bring in highly skilled electricians, carpenters and plumbers to build Kiwibuild houses if they have to.

There is already a building labour shortage. If Labour’s houses are additional to the building al.ready under way and under pressure they will need to hugely increase the workforce.

The Nation: Interview: Phil Twyford