Small joins slamming of lost property bill

The scathing of Nuk Korako’s Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill continues, this time by Vernon Small

Korako’s inconsequential lost property bill reveals dark side of Govt tactic

None of the derision dumped on Nuk Korako’s Airport Authorities (Publicising Lost Property Sales) Amendment Bill does it full justice.

It is not just a trivial piece of legislative whimsy, it is vanishingly inconsequential.

It’s not often you get to reproduce in full the business-end of a “bill”, but here goes:

In section 9(1)(ff) replace “the insertion of suitable advertisements in a newspaper circulating in the district where the airport is situated” with “publicising the sale in what the authority considers to be a fair and reasonable manner”.

That’s it. 

So let’s bust a few developing myths about the “bill” – and both law professor Andrew Geddis and legal frequenter of social media Graeme Edgeler have made similar points elsewhere.

What it deals with is the fate of stuff people leave in airports; the odd umbrella, a bag of mints, a jacket maybe. Perhaps an iPhone.

But it doesn’t help in any meaningful way to return even those goods to their rightful owners.

What that single limpid clause does is allow airport authorities NOT to advertise in a local newspaper when they decide to auction off the lost property accumulated in their back offices. That’s all.

It doesn’t remove a rule that restricts advertisements only to newspaper, as some have suggested. They can advertise as widely as they like now.

Nor does it require them to advertise the auction in an itemised way – so you could check if your umbrella, emblazoned with elephants, is included in the sale.

In short, it does nothing for travellers, nothing to help reunite people and possessions, nothing to bulwark us against an international tsunami of lost baggage.

What it does is make it easier for airport authorities, when they decide to sell lost property and pocket the proceeds. 

In the House on Tuesday, Korako, a National list MP, gave an amusing defence of the “bill”. Given the material he had to hand, it was valiant but it was also misleading, implying many of the bogus arguments rebutted above.

If Korako doesn’t want his parliamentary career defined by this nonsense he should be banging on the National whips’ door, begging them to can it before it arrives on the floor of the House.

Nobody would want to be in the Government’s, or Korako’s, shoes when the law change lands in the House, nor suffer the the media spray that will follow.

If it has any shame – or sense of self-preservation – it will dump the “bill” altogether and slip the change into the next available Statutes Amendment Bill, where such arcane trivia belongs.

So it looks like this bill is destined for an ongoing hammering if it continues to proceed in some way through Parliament.

See also Gerry Brownlee versus Andrew Geddis.

I don’t think I have seen any defending of this bill, except for Brownlee’s attack on Geddis.

 

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’.

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

Greens turn off comments

Greens have joined the growing number of websites turning off comments. Like others they say that commenting can be done elsewhere, like on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. But that’s not the same.

This is a bit of a shame but political parties and political activists seem more intent on trying to control their messages than engage in open debate.

Sure it can be challenging dealing with trolls and those who try to deliberately disrupt and trash forums, but good democratic debate takes some effort.

The Green announcement:


 

A change to our blog – switching off comments

You might have noticed a change around these parts in recent days. Yes, we’ve deactivated the comment function on the Green Party blog.

We think it’s a good move that will allow us to keep delivering the views of our MPs direct to you. This isn’t a decision we’ve made lightly and we really appreciate our commenters who have engaged with us over the years. Still, it’s time to change things up.

Let’s be clear. The Greens love debate. We love hearing the views of New Zealanders. Indeed, one of our core Green principles is appropriate decision making/whakarite totika, something that only happens when you listen to others speaking. On the other hand, our values also mean that we should:

  • engage respectfully, without personal attacks,
  • actively respect cultural and individual diversity and celebrate difference,
  • enable participation with dignity, and challenge oppression, and
  • foster compassion, a sense of humour and mutual enjoyment in our work.

Over time, we’ve come to the realisation that the comments section on our blog doesn’t really fit with those values. Moreover, as social media has become the main tool people go to for news and discussion, we’ve decided to move with the times.

We’re not alone, indeed we’re in quite distinguished company. Radio New Zealand recently switched off its comment section, something news sites across the world have been doing for a while.

Back when blogging exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s, a lot of people were hopeful that it would usher in a new era of high quality democratic discourse. Sadly, the promise outshone the reality. Now, the most often quoted maxim about comment sections is: “don’t read them”. We’re saddened that the initial promise of online discussion has been undermined by bad behaviour.

But we’re also optimistic. Great conversations still happen elsewhere like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Our MPs and staff work hard to deliver you interesting and relevant stories, videos, and images on these platforms. That will continue. We look forward to seeing you there!

While the comments might be gone on this blog, we’re not going away and we love your feedback. You can reach us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, or good old fashioned email. We also like mail!


A blog isn’t really a blog with no commenting allowed.

One person’s account of comment ‘moderation’ at Kiwiblog: Frog Blog bans comments

David Farrar adds:

So the Labour Party blog has closed down and the Green blog no longer allows dissent. Sad.

Remember Labour’s Red Alert? That collapsed under the weight of increasingly heavy handed censorship of comments and MP paranoia ( believe Trevor Mallard and Clare Curran in particular tried to control the message there).

Remember National’s blog? Neither do I.

Mallard to go list only

Trevor Mallard has announced he won’t stand in the Hutt South electorate next year, where he has been MP since 1993.

RNZ: Trevor Mallard won’t stand again for Hutt South

He will instead seek a place on the Labour list and said he had been given the nod from party leader Andrew Little that should Labour win the election he would be nominated for the position of Speaker of the House.

If Labour+Greens get to form the next Government and if Greens support Mallard becoming speaker and potentially if NZ First support Mallard becoming speaker.

Mr Mallard said it was up to Labour’s moderating committee to decide on list placements ahead of next year’s election.

This could be quite a risk for Mallard unless Labour improves it’s support. Last election Andrew Little only just squeaked back into Parliament via the list.

If Mallard gets back in on the list but doesn’t become speaker what will he do then? Mark time on the back bench.

Mr Mallard said his decision not to stand again in Hutt South had nothing to do with National’s Chris Bishop working hard to make some ground in the electorate.

“We’ve polled in Hutt South and I’m not convinced that Chris Bishop has made any more traction there than any other MP,” said Mr Mallard.

“In fact the local results very much parallel the national results with the significant increase for Labour since the election.”

Labour got 25% in the last election. They got 25.5% in the latest Roy Morgan poll and I didn’t see much questioning of this. They have polled in the twenties up to the low thirties since the election.

Bishop came within 709 votes of Mallard in Hutt South last election, down from 4825 in 2011. Mallard got a considerably higher vote (43.48%) than Labour (27.84%).

Bishop continues to work hard in the electorate. He recently opened an electorate office.

Mallard has put Labour into an awkward position.  He will continue to represent the electorate until the next election, so Labour’s new candidate will have to try and build a profile in his shadow.

However if Labour loses Hutt South it may give Mallard more chance of making it in via the list.

Has anyone positioned themselves solely to become the Speaker before?

Stuff earlier this month: Could ‘the everywhere man’ Chris Bishop win Hutt South off Mallard?

Signs that Government has lost composure

The Government has had quite a bad week or two, and their last month or two hasn’t looked that flash either.

Tracey Watkins details a number of ways the Government seems to have lost it’s composure in Housing solutions out of reach:

  • Ministers have fumbled the housing issue – badly. This week’s “announcement” about the Government forgoing Housing New Zealand dividends seemed particularly untidy.
  • The shine has come off some of its star performers, including Key’s personal favourite to succeed him, Paula Bennett. If housing is the Government’s achilles heel, it has become Bennett’s  bêête noire.
  • There are questions about whether Housing Minister Nick Smith – one of a dwindling number of faces from the last National government in the 1990s – is on borrowed time.
  • Ministers appear embroiled in an escalating war with the bean counters across the road at Treasury, rubbishing the advice of their paid boffins on everything from bowel cancer screening to the 90-day-trial period.
  • A $2 billion programme to renew the state housing stock, and let’s forgo the HNZ dividend while we’re at it? Pah, why not! Even if it’s not so long ago that Finance Minister Bill English was reminding everyone dividends were useful for imposing commercial discipline on Crown-owned entities. A view that is, by the way, as core to National ideology as saving the whales is to the Greens.

Watkins asks why the Government appears to be struggling so much.

National is certainly running hard up against the realities of a third term. The country’s problems are well and truly theirs to own, and fix. 

There are too many seemingly insoluble problems, like housing affordability, which lurches from bad to worse with every $50,000 hike in the median house price.

There’s no doubt that housing – too few houses, too much pricing – has become a major problem for the country and for the Government.

Even National will grudgingly admit to its own polling showing housing is ranked in the top “four or five” concerns of voters.

The aggrieved air with which Government ministers tick off the list of housing measures taken so far is a sign of mounting frustration that none of it appears to be penetrating – either in terms of curbing prices, or in shifting perceptions that the Government has done nothing.

The battery of measures rolled out so far includes more emergency housing, special housing areas, bigger first-home grants, freeing up surplus land, reforming the Resource Management Act, and tax rules to clamp down on foreign based buyers and speculators. The Reserve Bank did its bit, rolling out loan to value ratios that, perversely, only made it harder for first-home buyers to scrape up a deposit.

But nothing has worked.

I don’t think that’s a fair comment. Some things have worked a bit. But nothing is working well enough to get anywhere on top of the problem.

If there was a lack of urgency on the Government’s part previously that was understandable.

The wealth effect of rising house prices is well documented. Kiwis have been back to their old tricks, spending up large on the mortgage. That doesn’t just give the economy a tick, there’s a big feel-good factor as well.

But prices are now so out of whack with reality that the risk of an economic shock could easily be sheeted back to this Government.

National are already suffering from their ineffective handling of housing issues. If there’s a house price crash before the next election voters are likely to give the incumbent Government a double whammy at the polls.

And housing isn’t the only growing problem.

Booming immigration courts a backlash on two fronts: jobs and housing.

Immigration is an issue that is being cynically stoked and deliberately inflamed by opposition parties.

And there’s bigger problems looming with growing threats of an anti-Muslim backlash due to international terrorism and ‘tough talk’ from people like Donald Trump.

Can a tiring and jaded looking Government turn any of this around? Currently it is looking unlikely.

Thinking more broadly on housing

There has been a lot of attempted political point scoring on housing , often on quite narrow issues that try to ignore the complexities of the situation.

The melee has looked messy, especially for National and Labour.

The Government (National) look like they are in reactive, almost panic mode announcing what appears to be policy on the fly, and they have also looked disjointed amongst themselves.

Labour’s double barrelled attack is to claim that we are now in crisis, but announcing policy that won’t even be considered in Government for over a year at least, and that is dependent on them forming the next government and going by current support indicators, will need agreement by both Greens and NZ First.

Peter Dunne has proposed a national conference on housing involving all affected parties – not political parties, local bodies in particular are a vital part of any possible solutions.

Lawrence Yule, President of Local Government New Zealand, via Stuff, says that Thinking more broadly on housing the only way to make a difference and agrees with Dunne:

LGNZ has long advocated for a ‘joined up’ approach to addressing housing provision and affordability. UnitedFuture leader Hon Peter Dunne recently called for a national conference with all affected parties. We agree. Such an approach could be a springboard for developing a shared national strategy to address housing supply.

We advocate that a shared plan should address the many complex factors driving the housing shortage – and that needs to be agreed between central and local government and key players in the construction industry as a matter of urgency.

He says “it is clear we need to think more broadly to make a difference” and suggests six things in particular that need to be focussed on:

  1. Funding and financing of infrastructure;
  2. Addressing land-banking;
  3. Allowing for Urban Development Authorities controlled by local government to speed up development;
  4. Putting in place tax regimes that de-incentivise speculation in residential property;
  5. Addressing a skills shortage in the construction industry; and finally
  6. Addressing an uncompetitive market for building supplies.

Funding

One of the most important priorities for local government is to address the question of why residential-zoned, serviced land is not being released to market at the rate sufficient to meet market demand.

There are two main reasons for this:

  • first the challenge of financing and so providing the essential trunk infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewerage, to ensure that land is ‘ready to go’;
  • and second the practice of so-called ‘land banking’.

Mayors whose districts are experiencing high growth have said publicly they are already doing what the proposed National Policy Statement will require them to do and it is not just a land supply problem.

LGNZ’s funding review highlighted the need for funding options that will incentivise councils and communities to invest in infrastructure to enable more growth.

One way of achieving this would be to allow councils to retain a share of any value uplift arising from a change in economic activity, including a change of zoning from rural to residential – the value uplift potentially being used to fund new infrastructure.

Currently, that gain goes directly to landholders (hence the incentive to landbank).

Land banking

Land banking occurs where developers hold onto land, releasing it only gradually in response to increases in land prices. The problem is acute in some fast-growing areas and councils currently lack the tools to incentivise land-bankers to release land for housing development.

We need tools that act as incentives to release the land. We should look to the overseas jurisdictions that have the same issues as New Zealand to consider what other powers might be needed.

The most obvious is to change the law to allow a targeted rate to be applied to land in these circumstances, currently not allowed by law. The approach taken by this Government is to require additional supply of serviced land with the intention of creating a competitive land and development market.

Development and zoning of ‘brownfield’ commercial sites, well suited to infill housing, is also often hampered by land being in small titles, with multiple owners. The United Kingdom is addressing this problem through Urban Development Authorities.

Both National and Labour have proposed something similar to the Urban Development Authorities. Now would be a good time to have one.

UDAs have the power to compulsorily purchase land, particularly useful when an area is under many small titles (often found in commercial or inner city areas) in order to offer developers a consolidated area where economies of scale can be achieved.

We will want to work with the Government on what the powers and governance arrangements for UDAs in New Zealand could be. 

Future tense is not a good sign, the Government should have already been working with local government on this.

While National insists there is no crisis and Labour insists there is and they keep hitting each other with political handbags the housing market burns.

If there was ever a time that our Members of parliament should be working together – in this case with local governments – it is now.

Rapidly escalating prices are a major problem, and if the bubble bursts and prices collapse it will get worse.

An urgent realistic and cooperative approach is needed.

Compulsory land acquisition

In September last year the Productivity Commission, in its ‘Using Land for Housing’ report, recommended setting up urban development authorities with powers of compulsory land acquisition for housing.

At the time Housing Minister Nick Smith said:

“Obviously the issue of overriding private title for development is a big call, but my view is if we are going to get the quality of urban development, particularly in the redevelopment area where you can often have a real mix of little titles that makes doing a sensible development difficult, in my view it’s one of things we’ll need to consider.”

Just over a week ago at his party’s annual conference John Key said that National was looking in to ‘Urban Development Authorities’ but appears to rule out compulsory land acquisition for housing.

Urban Development Authorities on the way

The government intends introducing legislation later this year to create Urban Development Authorities in areas of high housing need, Prime Minister John Key says.

He told the National Party’s annual conference on Sunday UDAs were being considered, and firmed that up at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday.

“We will consider the best approach to establishing these over the coming weeks with a view to introducing legislation later this year,” he said.

The aim is to give the authorities powers to override barriers to large-scale housing development.

Mr Key says they’ve been used widely and successfully in other countries.

“What’s made them successful is they have total control over the particular area they’re developing, extremely broad-ranging powers,” he said.

Questioned whether they could be given powers to seize land from “landbankers” – people who hang onto land without developing it – he said that wasn’t the government’s intention.

“In the practical world we live in we are not trying to march over the top of peoples’ property rights,” he said.

In policy announced yesterday Labour said they plan to set up a similar type of authority but one that will be able take over private land.

Labour supports compulsory land acquisition for housing development

Labour’s proposed Affordable Housing Authority will have powers to buy land compulsorily, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

The authority will be tasked with partnering with developers to build 10,000 new homes a year priced below $600,000 in Auckland and below $500,000 elsewhere.

Little said it would need to be able to buy land compulsorily to put together land parcels big enough for bulk developments.

“There will have to be acquisition powers with the Affordable Housing Authority,” he said.

“You are trying to partner up with councils and others. The reality is the housing issue is serious and there is going to have to be the means to cut through those barriers.”

However compulsory land acquisition isn’t stated in Labour’s policy as far as I can see, but there are possible hints. From Establishing an Affordable Housing Authority:

LABOUR WILL:

  • Establish the Affordable Housing Authority, an independent Crown entity with a fast-tracked planning process, tasked with leading large-scale housing developments and cutting through red tape

The Affordable Housing Authority will have access to fast tracked planning powers to cut through red tape and speed up development

This coordination with communities and the private sector, combined with the Affordable Housing Authority’s powers and control of Crown land, will enable rapid development of large-scale projects focused on affordable housing.

So suggestions of powers without specifying what they will be (and “cut through red tape” would have to have significant power over or make changes to the Resource Management Act).

Perhaps the compulsory acquisition of land at low prices is one way they will keep the houses ‘affordable’.

Is this the beginning of the end for John Key?

Stacey Kirk asks if this is the beginning of the end for John Key. It probably is, Key seems to be in decline politically, but it’s difficult to predict how quickly the end will come. It may be next year, or he may limp into another term with some heavy coalition parties weighing on his legs.

Is National prepared for a post-Key era? Some lessons National and Labour can learn from each other

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting any sudden demise, but familiarity breeds contempt and few politicians have ever had a best before date stretching longer than three terms. 

The Prime Minister’s favourability ratings across all parties’ internal polling have been in slow decline for months.

Internal polls tend to look more comprehensively at favourability ratings, but decline is not apparent from Colmar Brunton:

“Now thinking about all current MPs of any party, which one would you personally prefer to be Prime Minister?” IF NONE: “Is there anyone who is not a current MP who you would prefer to be Prime Minister?”

John Key since July 2015: 40%, 40%, 40%, 40%, 39%, 39%

But eight years in and he still has capital to burn.

Will he have enough to fuel him first across the line for one more election? At this point, it seems likely. 

That’s certainly not down to his Government’s clumsy handling of a housing crisis, spiralling dangerously out of control (and Labour adroitly capitalising on that).

Nor evidence that inequality is rising, New Zealand is all but a tax haven and essential services like public health are stretched to capacity. 

New Zealanders have a long history of simply voting for change when they want it, but the other side to that is what the alternative looks like. 

Not quite there. 

What Little and Robertson lack in dynamic-duo appeal, Key and Finance Minister Bill English have in spades. 

Colmar Brunton rating Andrew Little: 8%, 10%, 8%, 9%, 7%, 7%

In a way lack of a serious contender helps Key, but it may also make him complacent. If Little finds a way to appeal to voters – he can really only get better – Key may not have anything more to compete with than same old.

And attention will increase on what will happen after Key, especially if voters think he may retire mid term should he win another.

The stars of long-speculated Key heir-apparents, Paula Bennett and Steven Joyce, appear to have waned slightly.

Key still highly rates Bennett however, along with Ministers Jonathan Coleman, Simon Bridges and Amy Adams. 

Any of those options would have to foot it as an effective Opposition leader before they’d have a chance at the ninth floor – Key’s unlikely to step down while he still has a grip on power.

It’s not the end yet. 

National haven’t got an obvious successor. That helps secure Key’s position at the top but as time goes on the lack of other options will figure more in voting decisions.

Labour have had a dire eight years since Helen Clark lost and resigned, leaving both a lack of leadership options and a mediocre support cast in caucus.

Can National hang on for another term? And can they survive the loss of key when he goes?

There may not be a credible alternative Prime  Minister to Key in Labour, still, but is their a credible alternative in National’s ranks?

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