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

 

ACT on ‘Labour-lite’ housing policy

Yesterday the Government announced plans to build about 25,000 extra houses in Auckland over the next ten years – see National’s Auckland housing policy.

This looked a lot like a partial Labour ‘Kiwibuild’ policy. Despite this Labour MPs slammed it.

Andrew Little belittled the policy:

Breaking news – National admits there’s a housing crisis

National finally admits there’s a housing crisis, but today’s belated announcement is simply not a credible response to the problem it’s been in denial about for so long, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“National can’t now credibly claim to be tackling the housing crisis four months out from the election when, for nine years, they’ve ignored the plight of first home buyers and families in need.

“This Government has long rubbished the idea of building houses. Time and again it’s failed to deliver any significant increase in housing supply.

“National cannot be trusted to do anything meaningful for the thousands of first home buyers in Auckland who have been denied their shot at the Kiwi dream.

“Amy Adams has fudged the figures. How many of these houses will actually be affordable? What does ‘affordable’ mean? How will that give hope to first home buyers when speculators can buy these houses too?

“It’s just more smoke and mirrors from a Government that’s failed miserably. It’s a mish-mash of old and new housing programmes. Many of these houses have already been announced.

“Auckland currently has a shortfall of 40,000 houses and growing. This plan won’t address the shortfall, let alone build the extra houses needed to keep up with demand.

“This last minute announcement just won’t do enough. National has had its chance. It’s time for a fresh approach.

“Labour will build 50,000 houses in Auckland people can afford to buy and we’ll increase the supply of state houses; we’ll crack down on speculators; and we’ll invest in warm, dry homes.

“National hasn’t a shred of credibility left. The evidence keeps mounting:

• It promised a big increase in emergency housing beds in the last six months, and hasn’t delivered.
• It’s Special Housing Areas promised an extra 39,000 homes, fewer than 2,000 have been built.
• Housing New Zealand has failed meet its building targets and reduced the number of state houses by 2,500.

“This cynical announcement by National should be seen for what it is – an election year fudge to paper over the cracks of its failure in housing. It’s time for Labour’s plan,” says Andrew Little.

However it was ACT’s David Seymour who went into detail with his criticism.

National need to think bigger than Labour-lite

National needs to do more than just adopt tunnel-vision Labour policies, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“If the goal is to close the housing shortfall, this is a step in the right direction, but it won’t be enough. The proposal will add 25,000 homes when what we need is another 500,000.

“We can only achieve this by fixing the underlying problem: that regulations and infrastructure pressures prevent private developers from building homes.

“The Government will have to loosen up land use rules if it wants to get 34,000 homes built on a few scraps of Crown land. Why not just follow ACT’s plan to replace the Resource Management Act for the whole city, letting private developers do the building for us?

“The Government will also struggle to build houses at an affordable cost under current construction regulations. ACT has a policy for this: we’d replace construction red tape with an insurance requirement, letting developers cut costs in risk-free ways.

“The other problem the Government will face is pressure on infrastructure. Fortunately, ACT has a plan for this too. ACT will allow Councils to use half of the GST from construction projects to fund local infrastructure.

“The Government is right to say we need more homes. But if we want to see these homes built on anywhere near the scale required, we’ll need a stronger ACT to make the government enact substantial reform, instead of Labour-lite tinkering.”

National has failed in it’s attempt to substantially reform the RMA this term and even if they get the chance and try again next term that would talk some time, they would probably need the support of NZ First or Labour, and in the meantime Auckland’s (and New Zealand’s) housing shortage will get worse unless a lot more houses and flats are built.

National’s Auckland housing policy

The Government 9alias the National Party) announced housing policy today to address the severe shortage of housing in Auckland.

They say they have been planning and preparing this for two years but the timing looks a bit cynical, not just because it is election year, but also being soon after Labour announced housing policy at their Congress.

And Labour MPs are all over Twitter claiming National has stolen their policy but it is too late, too little and not good enough.

Govt to build 34,000 new houses for Auckland

For and against Labour’s housing policies

Andrew Little announced a range of policies trying to address housing issues at Labour’s Congress yesterday.

NZ Herald: Labour to end tax breaks for landlords and property investors

He said Labour will:

  • Ring-fence losses on rental properties so they can no longer be used for tax breaks on other income. It will mean losses can only be applied to income from housing.
  • Use the estimated $150 million in increased taxes for $2000 grants toward insulation and heating.
  • Negative gearing will be phased out over five years.

The tax breaks benefited property speculators and those on high incomes and were heavily used by foreign buyers.

“This will create a level playing field for home buyers and help families get a fair shot at buying a place of their own.”

He said both the International Monetary Fund and the Reserve Bank had recommended removing the tax breaks.

Last year, the IMF said ringfencing tax losses on housing investments would weaken a significant price driver in real estate.

Little said the so-called “mum-and-dad” investors who had a rental property as a retirement investment were not the target of his policy, but admitted some could be affected.

“The vast majority of them don’t use this loophole. Those that do will have time to adjust.

This policy is about the big speculators who purchase property after property. It’s about those big-time speculators who are taking tens of thousands of dollars a year in taxpayer subsidies as they hoover up house after house.”

He said it was indefensible to hand out tax breaks that were effectively subsidies to property speculators when many couples were struggling to buy their first home.

But not surprisingly there are some critics.

NZ Herald: Labour Party’s focus on tax breaks ‘cynical’

Steven Joyce…

…said removing the tax breaks for property investors would not have the effect Labour claimed – and would hit mum and dad investors more than Little believed.

He said Little’s claim few small-time investors used it was “pulled out of the proverbial”, saying negative gearing was used for all loss-making investments – not just residential property.

He said tax working groups under Labour and National had concluded getting rid of negative gearing was unlikely to result in more housing supply and the most likely impact was higher rents. “You’ll end up with fewer houses being built and higher rents.”

He said countries which had ring-fenced housing losses still suffered fluctuations in house prices.

Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church…

…said it was a cynical move designed to set one section of New Zealand society against another and a “direct attack” on those who bought an investment property as a nest egg for retirement.

He said it could also result in fewer rental properties – and higher rents as landlords tried to claw back the losses.

“Your typical property investors are average mums and dads – not wealthy cigar-smoking fat cats.

“This move would certainly stop them investing, but in the process it would quickly lead to a shortage in rental housing which would fall back on the Government – so it would end up costing the taxpayer a lot more in the long run.”

Church also disputed Little’s claim it would even things up for first-home buyers, saying families were being closed out of the housing market by high loan-to-value ratios, not investors.

Andrew King, executive officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation…

…said the advantage the tax breaks gave to investors was over-exaggerated. He estimated that removing the ability to claim losses for rental property providers would increase the cost of providing the average home from $6184 a year to $10,293 – an increase of $79 per week.

That sounds significant to me, especially if part or all of that $79 cost per week as added to rentals.

The biggest potential problems seem to be:

  • If property investment costs are increased then rents will increase
  • If property investment is less attractive less houses will be built to rent so less will be available, which will put pressure on the cost of renting
  • If property prices remain at their current very high levels then poorer people will still be unable to but their own home.

ACT response to Labour’s housing policy

David Seymour has responded to Labour’s housing policy.

Labour puts Envy Politics over Economics

“The Labour Party’s policy of ring fencing and negative gearing will only pass costs onto renters in a tight market,” says ACT leader David Seymour.

“As renters well know, the rental market is a tight one, it is a landlord’s market.  Renters have few options, so landlords can pass costs on to tenants easily.

“Labour’s policy is unbelieveably stupid, because it pushes up costs without generating more homes. It is a recipe for rent hikes, putting the most vulnerable out on the streets.

“Unfortunately the Labour Party is still driven by envy first and economics second, it is highly disappointing.

“The only way to improve conditions for renters to increase the overall supply of housing, creating a renter’s market where it is the renters who have the options.

“ACT advocates serious policy reform that would do just that. Replace the RMA in cities, and fund infrastructure by giving councils half the GST on construction that they consent. This policy would get homes built and improve tenant’s options, whereas Labour’s policy will only price more people out of the market as landlords pass costs on to them.

What are we resisting?

Is there revolution brewing in New Zealand? If so, what are we resisting?

Jonathan Milne writes: Vive la resistance! Now to decide what we’re resisting.

As a country what New Zealand may be resisting most is much interest in politics.

After the surprise conservative uprisings that were the UK’s Brexit vote and the US election of Donald Trump, it is easy to look for a grand sweep of history to explain Le Pen’s rise. Will that same broom sweep through the UK general election next month, we ask, through Germany in September, through New Zealand the same month?

The last post The ‘Meh’ election? started off as a reference to this but grew legs of it’s own, I think we are different to elsewhere.

Drawing such a line in the dust, though, is a lazy attempt to avoid looking closely into the challenges facing our own communities. It’s easier to blame history for a rise of fear and loathing than to take responsibility for what is happening close to home.

Brexit and Trump and Le Pen are not the bastard offspring of Russian hackers and alt-Right hate merchants. They spring out of genuine unhappiness within large tracts of their nation’s populations, a belief that others were prospering at their expense. In France this week this can be discerned in an ugly combination of moderately high unemployment, terror attacks, and a fearful instinct to blame immigrants for both.

So in New Zealand, are we listening to our own neighbours? Or are we only listening to friends with whom we agree, our mutually-reinforcing opinions rising to the top of each other’s Facebook feeds?

Those of us with an interest in politics look for people who are willing to talk about it, but probably the vast majority of Kiwis choose to ignore most politics most of the time.

Like France, New Zealand has a widening rift. In this country, it is between those with homes and those without.

I don’t see a lot of similarity between us and France politically or socially.

Our housing crisis is creating an underclass: poorer, often young, more reliant on the social media purveyors of fake news in forming their opinions.

The French may blame foreigners for terrorism; in New Zealand we like to blame them for our housing crisis.

That’s true to an extent. And politicians in particular like to lay blame, usually on each other. But sometimes they pick scapegoats to campaign on. Immigrants, who some see as virtual foreigners, are easy targets for politicians wanting to pander to those who may be intolerant of people who are “not like us”.

The more fearful and paranoid we become of outsiders – whether that be Asian immigrants, Russian power-brokers or Trump’s alt-Right backers – the more we are distracted from responsibility for solving our own problems.

That’s a good point.

Our biggest problems in New Zealand – like violence and alcohol abuse and P abuse and related crime, and mental health that is related to both crime and drug abuse – our our own problems.

Even then some try to blame these problems on others amongst us, like Maori, or men.

We also have an obvious housing problem – simply put, we aren’t building enough houses for a growing population. But this is a self inflicted problem too. We choose how many immigrants come here, we choose how difficult it is to subdivide. And more Kiwis than usual choose not to go overseas or choose to return home.

We need to solve our own problems without creating other problems out of nothing but a stoking of intolerance.

Perhaps in New Zealand we need to revolt against our own way of thinking, of blaming rather than fixing.

Housing equation = increasing problem

According to Nick Smith about 30,000 houses are being built a year at the moment, up from 13,000 a year when he became Minister of Housing in 2013.

From Stuff: Nick Smith reflects on ‘small reduction in responsibilities’ after cabinet reshuffle

“There’s no question housing was under pressure because our population is growing strongly.

“I’m proud of my record in that when I became minister across the country we were building about 13,000 homes a year, we’re now building about 30,000 homes a year.

“And I’ve had my work cut out in getting the growth in house construction to match the strong population growth.”

According to Stats NZ and my calculations the population is currently increasing by about 145,000 per year:

New Zealand’s population is estimated to increase by one person every 3 minutes and 37 seconds.

According to NZ Population and Stats NZ the approximate population increases since Smith became Minister of Housing are:

  • 2013 – 50k
  • 2014 – 79k
  • 2015 – 92k
  • 2016 – 99k
  • 2017 – 145k

So in 2013 we were building 13k houses for about 50k more people, and now we’re building about 30k houses for a 145k increase.

That equates to 1 house per 3.84 people in 2013.

And Stats NZ say

In 2013, the average household size in New Zealand was 2.7 people per household, the same as in 2006.

That suggests a problem in 2013.

Now it’s 1 house per 4.83 people.

That suggests an increasing problem. Note though that “Stat NZ forecasts are based on recent trends and do not necessarily reflect actual population change”.

But even at last year’s increase of 99K  which at 30k houses is 3.3 people per house.

There’s other factors and possibilities – new households might be much bigger than average – but the housing situation doesn’t look like improving, in fact we are more likely to be slipping further behind.