Chinese sounding names revisited

In 2015 Labour got blasted for their claims that data of Chinese-sounding-names proved some point about housing. Most of what I remember is the mess Labour made of it.

Russell Brown has some new information on this that looks bad for both Labour and for the media that ran their story.

At Public Address – Harkanwal Singh: What really happened with those Chinese-sounding-names

The 2015 publication of what has become known as the the “Chinese-sounding-names” story on Auckland home ownership was, says Harkanwal Singh, “a really pivotal moment for me, working in a New Zealand newsroom. Because that’s when I realised that things don’t have to be true to be published.”

Singh was working as the New Zealand Herald’s first dedicated data journalist and was at the meeting where Labour Party MP Phil Twyford and party researcher Rob Salmond brought in their data – which they said showed a hitherto unsuspected level of Chinese foreign ownership in Auckland housing.

“They said ‘we’re not being racist’ as they handed over the data set,” he told Jogai Bhatt and I at last Sunday’s Orcon IRL.

Singh’s questions over the data delayed publication by a week. During that week he contacted Auckland University’s Thomas Lumley and Edward Abraham of Dragonfly Data Science (“the best statisticians in the country”).

“And I went back to my editors and I said, look, you should publish it, but you should say that Labour is saying this – and the statisticians are saying that it’s not true.”

His suggestion was not taken up by his editors.

“The story ran with the headline ‘We have Chinese buyers’ and and all I did was add some bullet points which said ‘this data is wrong’. But they were published on the fifth page, inside, in a little box, so no one really saw them.

“It was hugely problematic and as a immigrant and as a person of colour, I saw a huge problem with it. But no one else in the newsroom saw any problem with it. And when I approached senior journalists I was told ‘it’s a great story’.

“I think it’s still not been addressed and no one’s really addressed how they went about doing it. And it’s a huge issue of data literacy if you’re just going to publish analysis done by political parties for their own goals.”

Concerns of a data expert were ignored in the race to make headlines. This is a stain on the Herald as well as on Labour.

Video of the whole interview:

While this was poorly done by Labour and by the Herald there could be valid concerns about who was buying and financing properties that stoke the price surge.

James Ting-Edwards in comments:

Attachment

Among the sad parts of this story is that the “foreign money” conversation could have happened without anti-migrant language or dog-whistles.

David Hood had a good go at telling that story here (with the graph above), drawing on data to show a divergence between the rise in NZ house values and domestic borrowing. That “magic money” came from somewhere, and is a legitimate domestic policy target regardless of its source in terms of countries, geopolitics, or cultural ties.

He quotes a key paragraph:

Is all the magic money offshore capital? We just don’t know. There is a lack of evidence of it coming from other parts inside the New Zealand economy, and given the hundreds of billions of dollars, a local source would be somewhat obvious. We also know that in other countries, with more internal housing markets, household debt does not just match the pattern of house value, the amounts add up to the same in gains. In New Zealand there is a 300 billion shortfall.

Proper investigations by Labour and the media may have found the answers.

Instead they went for dog whistling using dodgy data.

Phil twyford is now Minister of Housing, and NZ Herald continues to promote click bait headlines and sack journalists.

Prime Minister refuses to reaffirm Kiwibuild numbers

In the first Question Time under the new Government Bill English pressed acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis on Labour’s commitment to build 100,000 houses in 10 years. Davis refused to reaffirm this repeatedly.

(Davis is Acting Prime  Minister while Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters are at APEC in Vietnam.)

GovernmentMeasurable Targets

1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What will the specific measurable targets be, if any, that she will use to hold her Government to account?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Acting Prime Minister): As Prime Minister, I will hold my Ministers to account for improving the well-being and living standards of New Zealanders.

Rt Hon Bill English: What is the appropriate measure we should follow to monitor progress on KiwiBuild where the Government has committed to build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: So does that mean that the current expression of the Government’s commitment, which is “to build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years” does not necessarily mean what most people would take it to mean?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister stand by her Government’s commitment to “build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years”?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: Why did the Government commit to “build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years” if it is now not willing to re-express that commitment in this House?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Because the previous Government didn’t build houses.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is it possible that the Government is revising this commitment because of public statements made by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, that the commitment may involve not building houses but buying existing houses?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No.

Rt Hon Bill English: What other reason could there possibly be for not being willing to restate a commitment made by all its members right though the election campaign to “build 100,000 houses”? What other reason could there be not to make that commitment here today?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are not revising targets. We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: So is the commitment to build 100,000 houses an appropriate target, or one that is subject to revision or further decisions, or is it one that we should take at its word?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member will find out in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: My question to the Prime Minister is this, then: are there other commitments that were made during the election campaign and in the Speech from the Throne that are now open to revision and later decisions?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are committed to implementing what the Governor-General has said in the Speech from the Throne.

Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to clarify: it’s been the practice in the House for some time that a member answering on behalf of another member should clearly identify that. I didn’t want to interrupt the question, but can you clarify whether that is still the case?

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister answered the question.

Davis may have been playing safe, but this was an odd opening performance.

From the Speech from the Throne:

Housing is a top priority for this government. Action will be taken to address homelessness. State house sell offs will stop. And the State will take the lead in building affordable houses.  Through its Kiwibuild programme, this government pledges to build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over the next 10 years; half of them in Auckland.

Davis said they were committed to implementing that but wouldn’t make a direct commitment.

In the next question Housing Minister Phil Twyford was prepared to make a commitment.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Housing and Urban Development have reiterated our policy, which is to build 100,000 affordable homes to restore affordable homeownership to this country.

So it is odd that Davis wasn’t prepared to make this same commitment directly.  He seemed to be avoiding saying anything.

However the Opposition has emphasised the Government’s housing commitment to build 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes in ten years.

Of course amongst other things this may depend on whether Labour stays in government for long enough to ensure they fulfil the commitment.

Source: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20171109_20171109_12

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.

Labour’s capital gains tax plans

Labour’s campaign plans for a Capital Gains Tax seems to be to say how bad a lack of a CGT is, but not admit the intention to introduce one once they are leading government.

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford on The Nation:

Lisa Owen: So is it Labour’s goal to get it down to that – about four times?

Phil Twyford: We want to stabilise the housing market and stop these ridiculous, year on year, capital gains that have made housing unaffordable for a whole generation of young Kiwis.

Lisa Owen: But in essence, you’re going to drop the value of houses, if you want them to be four times the price of the average income.

Phil Twyford: Well, we’re going to build through KiwiBuild. We’re going to 100,000 affordable homes.

Lisa Owen: I want to come to KiwiBuild in a moment. I just want to talk to you about the price.

Phil Twyford: That will make housing affordable for young Kiwi families. That’s our policy.

Lisa Owen: Well, do you need a capital gains tax to get that threshold down to where you would want it to be?

Phil Twyford: Well, we are going to shift the goalposts by taxing speculators. So under our plan, if a speculator sells within five years—

Lisa Owen: Yeah, that’s the bright-line. I am asking you about capital gains – a bit of a sensitive issue for Labour.

Phil Twyford: Not a sensitive issue at all.

Lisa Owen: So do you think we need a capital gains—?

Phil Twyford: If a speculator sells a rental property within five years, they will pay income tax on the capital gain.

Twyford keeps referring to taxing speculators. He must know that speculators and property developers who by and sell property with the intention of making a capital gain are taxed now.

From Inland Revenue “If you’re selling a residential property and one of your intentions when you bought the property was to sell it, then you’ll have tax to pay on any profit you make from its resale.” – http://www.ird.govt.nz/property/property-selling/selling-property.html

The bright line test (currently two years, Labour say they will increase it to five years) just makes it easier for IRD to enforce taxing capital gains.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, we know about the bright-line. What we don’t know about is a capital gains tax. So do you think that you need a capital gains tax to get house prices down to the ratios that you think are right?

Phil Twyford: Well, we think comprehensive tax reform is overdue in this country, not only to tilt the playing field away from real estate speculation

Lisa Owen: Last chance – capital gains tax?

Amy Adams: Answer the question, Phil.

Phil Twyford: In the first three years, we’re going to do a tax working group that will redesign the entire tax system.

So Labour are campaigning on “redesign the entire tax system” but generally avoid saying whether their intention is to include a more comprehensive capital gains tax.

The lack of pre-election clarity on Labour’s CGT intentions continued on Q+A yesterday. Grant Robertson repeated how ‘transparent’ Labour has been, and said Labour “won’t shy away from hard decisions”, but refused to be transparent about their intended decisions on a CGT.

Grant Robertson: It’s also about cracking down on speculators. We have to make sure that if someone’s flipping their third or fourth property within five years of of buying it then they’ll pay tax on that.

I would be very surprised if that example wasn’t already covered by current tax law and  IRD now. See Property tax decision tree – Is your property sale taxable? “To work out if the property you are buying or selling is taxable”.

Grant Robertson: “We’re saying that we’ve got to take some action both in terms of cracking down on speculators, building more affordable homes, and we will get better balance in our housing market.

Corin Dann: A capital gains tax. You need to clear up for us what exactly is the position here, because it’s, what’s going? Is there going to be a capital gains tax within side the next three years if you’re elected.

Grant Robertson: So we’ve been absolutely clear. We’re going to this election with a policy that says that if you sell off an investment property, not your family home, within five years, you will pay tax on that. That’s building on a form of capital gains tax that Steven’s government’s introduced.

What we’ve then said, and I’ve been saying since 2015, is that we will have a working group that will look at getting a better balance into our tax system, between how we tax assets, and how we tax income.

Labour wants ‘a better balance’ – that is, a change.

Corin Dann: Would you seek a mandate for that capital gains tax?

Grant Robertson: Just as the working group that Steven had in 2010, didn’t go back to the election and then increased GST, which he’d campaigned against, we will look at the outcomes of that.

It seems clear that Labour has intentions to introduce a more comprehensive CGT if elected (if the working group they appoint recommends it), before the 2020 election.

Corin Dann: That’s a change from Andrew Little.

Grant Robertson: It is a change from Andrew Little.

A significant change. In 2015 Little told The Nation: “Well, we won’t introduce it in our first term, and we won’t introduce any change that significant to the tax system, any material change to the tax system, without going to the people first and getting a mandate to do so.”

Grant Robertson: Let me be absolutely clear about this. We have a housing crisis. We’re not going to sit on our hands for years, the first term of government and not do anything about that. I want the experts to talk to us about that.

Steven, is it right at the moment that someone who goes to work every day, pays tax on every cent of their income, that someone who flips a property after owning it for three years doesn’t tax on that property?

Steven Joyce: Well actually…that’s actually taxed now. So there’s the news for you Grant, if someone actually buys a house, gets an income…

Grant Robertson: Why did you put a bright line test on it then?

See Govt to tighten tax on capital gains (RNZ)  on the budget announced in May- “Capital gains on residential properties bought and sold within two years will soon be taxed by the Government. Unlike the current regime, the new test will not rely on proving a seller’s intent to make a capital gain.”

Steven Joyce: That’s the absolute minimum, under the New Zealand law right now if you’re buying and selling houses for profit you must pay tax.

You know that’s not happening…

Steven Joyce: Well actually it is happening now, that’s the truth, if you go and have a look at Inland Revenue that’s the case.

But coming back to your point. So you’re saying a capital gains tax, is that on unearned capital gains? So when the value of somebody’s business goes up, or somebody’s farm goes up, this us why you don’t want to talk about it…

Grant Robertson: This is why we’re doing a working group.

Steven Joyce: I get that. So that’s why you don’t want to talk about it.

Grant Robertson: This is why…because we’re not going to shy away from the tough challenges.

Steven Joyce: So it could be on the business.

Grant Robertson: We’ve been absolutely clear. If we ever put a capital gains tax on it would not apply to the family home, but right around the world people do this to stop speculators in the housing market.

Turning to Joyce.

Corin Dann: Is it an equity issue, is it a fairness issue? People have made an enormous amount on capital, and income earners, the vast bulk of the population who are earning wages are not seeing anywhere near the gains of capital.

Steven Joyce: In terms of capital gains tax the answer to that question is it depends on what it is. If it’s an unearned capital gain, which is actually what a comprehensive capital gains tax is, ie if your house price goes up in value the tax man sends you a bill, or if it’s your business goes up in value the Tax man sends you a bill, or if your farm goes up in value the tax man sends you, that’s what a capital gains tax is about, that you get taxed on capital gains.

Corin Dann: So how is it that the OECD, the IMF, Treasury, the Reserve Bank, just about every mainstream economic organisation you can think of says New Zealand has needed a capital gains tax for years.

Steven Joyce: Yeah but they want it on the family home. That’s what they want.These are the theoreticians saying tax the family home, and tax them on the unearned capital gain every year, so you should get a bill at the end of the year, if your house has gone up a hundred thousand dollars you should get a bill for thirty thousand dollars or whatever your tax rate is for that unearned capital gain.

That’s never going to fly, Grant’s acknowledged that, but what he isn’t telling people…

Grant Robertson: exactly because we’re not proposing that.

Even if Labour’s working group recommends it.

Steven Joyce: …he’s not telling people whether it would go on their business or on their farm or on their second house…

Corin Dann: Well lets clear that up because it will come up.

Grant Robertson: What we want to do is to address the fact that we’ve got a huge imbalance in our tax system between hardworking people who go to work every day and pay their taxes and people who are speculating in the property market who don’t. We’re going to get the experts in. We’ve been transparent about this…

Steven Joyce: Have you ruled out small businesses?

Steven Joyce: Are you going to rule out small businesses?

Grant Robertson: …we’ve been transparent about this from the very beginning. In 2015 I announced that we were going to be having this working group. What we’re not prepared to do is shy away from hard issues, and that’s what Steven and his Government have done for nine years.

Steven Joyce: Are you saying that you won’t be taxing small businesses on their capital gains?

Grant Robertson: We are focussed on the speculation in the housing market.

Steven Joyce: Is that saying you won’t…

Grant Robertson: We’re focussed…because I actually want to listen to the experts

Steven Joyce: …so you won’t do farms?

Grant Robertson: I don’t want to shy away from these tough issues…

Steven Joyce: …will you do capital gains on farms?

Grant Robertson: This is about speculation in the housing market.

Steven Joyce: No I don’t think it is, because he’s refusing to rule it out.

 

 

Robertson keeps pushing for tax on property speculation, which is already taxable, but keeps refusing to say whether they will widen tax to capital gains on businesses.

Despite Roberton’s assertions that Labour is being transparent and won’t shy away from ‘the hard issues they are very shy about saying what sort of capital gains tax they want to introduce next term if they are in government.

I expect this to keep coming up through the campaign. Jacinda Ardern will need to be well prepared on this or Bill English will hammer her and Labour on CGT.

 

‘Homelessness’ and inadequate housing

‘Homelessness’ has been a hot topic over the last few months, but a lot of political rhetoric gets in the way of an accurate picture. There is a significant difference between homelessness and inadequate housing, but the two are often combined as one problem.

Stuff:  Government ‘failing in most basic duty’ as 24,000 Aucklanders homeless, Labour claims

Labour has hit out at National over rates of homelessness, claiming it is failing in the basic duty of a government.

The allegations come after Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project estimated 24,000 people in the region did not have adequate housing.

Phil Twyford, Labour’s housing spokesman, said the level of homelessness seen in parts of the country used to be something only seen in the United States or Europe.

“After nine years, National’s failure to address the housing crisis means we can no longer we pride ourselves on not leaving Kiwis on the streets.”

This appears disingenuous of Twyford.

Auckland Council’s Homelessness Policy Project, released on Wednesday, showed there were 20,296 people without a house in Auckland in 2013, according to census data.

SO the report is based on four year old data. They problem may well be worse by now, but the report can only guess at that.

Of those, 16,350 were sharing and couch surfing with others temporarily, 3175 were in temporary accommodation such as emergency housing, refugee camps and boarding houses, and 771 were sleeping rough.

Of the “20,296 people without a house” most of them, about three quarters of them, were living in something like a house.

Another 3175 were also accommodated, albeit temporarily. For many that will be inadequate, but they are still ‘housed’.

771 sleeping rough – actually homeless – is a lot, but it is nowhere near 20,000.

Some people choose to sleep rough. I have at times. It didn’t bother me, it was always temporary and I had other options – including staying temporarily with others – but technically I was ‘homeless’ at times.

For some people couch surfing is by choice, especially when travelling. A proportion of couch surfers will be tourists or temporary visitors, as will be some of those house sharing. Technically I’m house sharing with a family at the moment, and have been for over a year, but it’s not inadequate housing, we have the space for it.

But this may be just quibbling over some of the numbers. Except that it’s a pretty big quibble when Twyford refers to those in the ‘inadequate housing’ category as homeless. He is blatantly exaggerating.

There are real problems with housing that are a major concern.

Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said homeless people had a life expectancy that was about 20 years lower than the average life expectancy.

“One person dying on our streets or as a result of homelessness is one too many.”

Farrelly said the deaths of rough sleepers were due to myriad issues such as health problems, poor nutrition and continued exposure to the elements.

“We’ve had some very wet, cold nights in the winter so far and it is heartbreaking to think of people sleeping outside in these conditions.”

Another Labour MP trying to address housing problems – MP camps out to protest pair’s plight

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has accused the Ministry of Social Development of the ”character assassination” of two homeless Dunedin women, one of whom is pregnant.

Ms Curran is advocating for Kylie Taggart (30) and Amy Stuart (25), who are receiving emergency accommodation in motels.

Ms Curran slept in the Octagon last night in a tent to protest the women’s situation. She said she would sleep there every night until the women had a place to live.

Ms Curran said a lack of state housing and suitable short-term accommodation in Dunedin meant the ministry was relying on motels.

Each week, Miss Taggart and Miss Stuart must reapply for emergency accommodation.

Miss Taggart said she went into early labour last week and was admitted to hospital to be stabilised. She believes the stress of her situation was the cause. She is 26 weeks pregnant and has two other children in her care, while Miss Stuart has a 3-year-old daughter.

Both say they are trying hard to comply with the rules but feel harassed and belittled by Work and Income.

They were doing their best to provide a stable environment for their children in difficult circumstances.

But as is often the case this isn’t a simple story.

The Ministry of Social Development issued a statement on Friday that appeared to blame the women.

”We have been supporting both these mums with emergency housing special needs grants to ensure that they are not forced to sleep rough.

”They didn’t need to pay this money back; the priority was responding to an emergency need.

”One of the challenges we face is when clients repeatedly exhibit behaviour that makes them unattractive to landlords and many motel owners.

”What is really unfortunate is when the behaviour of some people not only affects them, but everyone in need. ‘In this case there is now two motels in Dunedin that are not willing to take any client referred by Work and Income.

”As a result the support now provided to both these women will need to be repaid,” the statement says.

Ms Curran said the women deny claims of antisocial behaviour.

But from a report on RNZ: Dunedin MP camps out in Octagon to highlight homelessness

Documents obtained by Checkpoint show landlords have taken the two women to the tenancy tribunal six times for not paying rent and damaging property.

The Social Development Ministry said it had not given up on the women, and that they had a high priority rating, but were difficult to house.

Ms Curran said the two women were forced into emergency accommodation because they have spent time in women’s refuges.

So it sounds like partners have been a part of the problem.

But it also sounds like the women have not been model tenants either.

RNZ: In a statement a short time ago the Ministry of Social Development says the two women have a high priority rating, but because they’ve repeatedly exhibited unattractive antisocial behaviour to both landlords and hotel owners, it’s been difficult to find them permanent accommodation in Dunedin.

And the Ministry’s Southern Regional Commissioner says “Following events overnight yet another motel is not willing to house one of the women, and only late today a short term alternative was found.”

“The people we work with often have a number of hurdles to overcome, and many lead chaotic lives.”

Money is obviously a major issue, but some people been put in bad situations, or have put themselves in bad situations, making accommodation difficult.

Difficult situations for some people for sure, but finding long term solutions can also be difficult.

Politicians overstating statistics doesn’t help, although I think credit is due to Curran for what she is trying to do.

Labour versus “slum boarding houses”

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says that Labour will get tough on slum boarding houses but is vague on details.

The next Labour-led Government will legislate a Warrant of Fitness based on tough minimum standards to clean out slum boarding houses, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“It’s not acceptable for New Zealanders in the 21st Century to be living in the kind of rat-infested dumps that have been exposed in recent media reports.

“National has had nine years to fix these problems and they’re still denying there’s a housing crisis.

“Too many of our most vulnerable people are being exploited by slum boarding house operators, in dangerous and unsanitary conditions.

“The country’s had enough of Nick Smith’s tinkering and excuses.

“Labour will legislate tough minimum standards and a licensing regime that will weed out rogue operators. We’ll also mandate local government’s enforcement role, to be funded by the licensing system.

“Labour will take the first crucial steps to fix the housing crisis. But, cleaning up slum boarding houses is long overdue and will be an immediate priority,” says Phil Twyford.

This sounds like it may be jumping on a bandwagon from an item on The Nation yesterday – Boarding house horrors:

A housing shortage means more people are turning to boarding houses for accommodation, but as Caitlin McGee discovers, experts say rogue landlords are using the desperation of tenants and a lack of regulation to exploit vulnerable people.

Twyford gave no link to Labour policies on this and there is no mention in Our plan to start fixing the housing crisis.

Twyford is short on some key details, like what will happen to landlords who don’t meet ‘warrant of fitness’ requirements, and what will happen to residents who have to find somewhere else to live.

I have found a press release from Andrew Little:  Healthy homes for all

Next week on May 4, National MPs will get the chance to ensure every rental home in New Zealand is warm and dry – by supporting my Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2).

It is aimed at preventing any more cases like Emma-Lita’s, setting strict guidelines around insulation and heating which all landlords must comply with before they can legally rent out their properties.

It’s about doing what an increasingly callous government has failed to do with its continued protection of slum landlords rather than looking after those in need. And it’s not just our most vulnerable – more middle New Zealand families are renting, locked out of the housing market by soaring prices.

A previous Labour Bill that would have ensured every rental home was warm and dry was rejected by the Government last year. Housing Minister Nick Smith argues he’s doing all that’s needed to improve the “deplorable” state of rentals.

Not so. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill requires rental homes to be retrofitted with ceiling and underfloor insulation.  It comes into effect in July for state houses, but not until 2019 for other rental – read private – housing.

Nick Smith believes his Bill is a pragmatic and efficient option to the problem, and that alternatives are too expensive and will not prove to be beneficial.

But hang on. There is nothing in it about minimum standards of heating. A 2014 Household Income Report shows the majority of kids living in poverty live in private rentals. Those are the families who can least afford to heat their homes.

National has accepted the need to regulate private rental properties by requiring insulation. When temperatures plummet insulation only isn’t going to keep you warm. Why not finish the job and require efficient heating too?

No child, no pensioner, no struggling uni student, no New Zealander, should be living in a hovel. Sadly, some are.

It’s inexcusable in this day and age to be renting out something that is so poorly maintained that it becomes a health hazard.

The Government has the opportunity to do something about that come May 4, by supporting my Bill.

I presume this Member’s bill failed. I also presume this is something like what Twyford was referring to.

 

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

 

BSA reject Labour complaint

Last November after Labour released a youth work scheme policy 1 News journalist Andrea Vance questioned their costings. Labour conceded that they had not mentioned an assumption that a 6 month subsidy was costed for 4 months as they though that would be the average.

Despite their omission Phil Twyford attacked Vance on Twitter quite severely, and then Labour laid a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

See Labour lay complaint over coverage of policy costings.

The BSA has released it’s finding in which they rejected Labour’s complaint: Jaspers and Television New Zealand Ltd – 2016-095 (19 April 2017)

Summary

An item on 1 News reported on the Labour Party’s ‘Ready for Work’ policy, which offered unemployed young people employment on the minimum wage in environmental and community projects for six months.

The item reported that, according to Labour, the scheme would cost $60 million per year for 10,000 participants. However, the $60-million sum was actually ‘based on participants taking up the scheme for just four months, not the promised six’.

The Authority did not uphold a complaint that the item was based on inaccurate and unsubstantiated conclusions made by the reporter featured in the item, which was misleading and damaged the credibility of the Labour Party.

The reporter’s comments, while critical, were not inaccurate or misleading, and it is an important function of the media to comment critically on political party policy in the lead up to an election period.

Labour was given sufficient opportunity to consider the reporter’s comments and to put forward its views, both during the 1 News item and in considerable coverage in other media at the time.

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Fairness, Balance

So Vance was doing her job as a political journalist, Twyford blew a fuse on Twitter, and Labour took the rare step of complaining to the BSA.

Vance was exonerated.

Labour had egg on their face when their policy was examined, Twyford threw eggs at Vance, Labour complained about the eggs to the BSA, and Labour’s reputation has ended up scrambled.

Labour promises immigration cuts, sort of

Labour say they would definitely cut immigration, but are still working on their policy so can’t say what they actually propose.

NZ Herald: Labour Party promises to cut immigration

Labour is promising to cut immigration in a bid to curb Auckland’s rampant growth and creaking infrastructure.

Labour’s election campaign manager and Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, said the party was still working on the policy, which was not about slashing immigration but would probably have a number on it to find a better balance.

He said Labour was still working on the policy and it was too soon to say what cap Labour might put on immigration.

“The current levels of immigration without proper investment in infrastructure is totally irresponsible,” Twyford said.

This seems little more than Government bad, vague suggestions of doing something different, which has pretty much been how Labour has campaigned so far in election year.

Deputy Labour leader and Mt Albert MP Jacinda Ardern said no-one could deny the role immigration has played for New Zealand’s economy and diversity, but it was time for a discussion about whether Auckland could offer the “kiwi life” to new migrants.

“I want people who choose to make Auckland their home to have their best shot to live in an affordable home, move across the city with ease and swim in a healthy environment,” Ardern said.

That’s even more vague. All Ardern has done is tie Labour’s kiwi dream slogan to the three issues that every candidate has dutifully repeated.

Twyford seem to have just poked some campaign palaver to media, there is no recent press release on this.

Twyford is Labour’s Auckland campaign manager. Neither him nor Ardern are the Labour spokesperson for immigration. That is Ian Lees-Galloway, who last put out a press release on immigration in February:

National still has no plan on immigration

Today’s release of latest immigration statistics is further proof the Government has absolutely no plan for immigration and its impact on New Zealand, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

It’s ironic blasting National for having “no plan on immigration” when Twyford has just said that “Labour was still working on the policy and it was too soon to say”.

“It’s clear Bill English has no plan for immigration and National can’t cope with the impacts on housing prices, infrastructure and the labour force. A major reason why so many migrants flock to Auckland is because the Government has no plan for regional economic development.

“Labour will create opportunities in the regions that will be attractive to high skilled migrants…

Twyford wants to cut numbers, Ardern wants “kiwi life” to be hunky dory, and Lees-Galloway wants immigrants to go to the regions.

Labour wants to “probably have a number on it to find a better balance”, sometime, maybe.

And Andrew little puts such an importance on addressing immigration didn’t mention it at all in his Speech at State of the Nation 2017.