16 September 2019

Mon, 16 Sep, 2019

There may be bigger things happening in the country – let alone the world – currently, but as one who is consumed with a local body election campaign, it’s these smaller things closer to home that are catching my attention and are the topic of political discourse in my circles as we approach local elections.

LUUXURY I TELL YA

Auckland Council Libraries have a $23 million capital budget, and $50 million operating budget this financial year, their biggest budget line by several million, bar the operating budget of all other community facilities added together. Criticism of libraries’ performance or the areas of ‘business’ they are going into that could easily be provided for by the private sector, seems sacrosanct. In light of falling book withdrawals, they are moving more towards technology or knowledge hubs, providing free wi-fi access and workspace that any café or private office space-sharing business could. Check out this new facility at Westgate, described by one user:

“I run my own small consultancy from home. But I find that being alone does my head in a bit. For that reason, I’ve also looked to the opportunity of hot-desking and office sharing. But running at around $100 per week basic membership with restricted hours and use, I’ve tended just to put up with my home office.

“But now there is Te Manawa Library which is part of the NorthWest development and shopping complex – and with all the features you’d expect to find and pay for at hot-desks like Grid Auckland and Share Space New Lynn among others. 1 gig per day (OK not great for web designers, game developers). Coffee and hot drink making facilities and small lunchroom, desks of all shapes and sizes. Photocopier with free scanning and use your library card for printing at 20 cents a sheet. Meeting rooms and training facilities are available by booking at a modest charge as expected.”

Does anyone else see what’s wrong here? Meanwhile, in another part of the same city not far away, we’d just like some footpaths please. Councils just cannot seem to stick to core business!

TAX ON TAX RECALL

I’m not endorsing any mayoral candidates but the call for a return of GST on rates is one of the more sensible suggestions I’ve read, and not too far removed from ACT’s policy of returning a portion of GST on construction back to the issuing authority to fund infrastructure.

One thing that is for certain not only in Auckland but all over New Zealand, and I imagine overseas, is that rates revenue alone cannot fund infrastructure.

RED TAPE

We’ve been saying this for years, red tape is adding costs and delays to the building industry. All of it has to be added to the cost of housing, there is no escape. Apart from the issues raised by the Registered Master Builders Association in this article, Health and Safety regulations are also adding massive costs. I’m looking out my window right now at a house-build. The scaffolding, safety netting, and temporary fencing has been up for months. 

The construction sector wanted change to the RMA and there was tentative optimism at Government announcing its intentions to do that.

But they also wanted changes to the building consent process to give greater certainty and streamline the process. One suggested change was to consolidate the number of consenting authorities, get in greater expertise and focus on areas of more complexity.

So I’m reading all this and nodding to myself, ACT really does have the best housing policy!

ACT will:

  • Replace the Resource Management Act with a law that lets people build without restrictive zoning such as the Metropolitan Urban Limit. 

  • Let councils issue targeted rates to pay for infrastructure for new housing developments

  • Get councils out of the building consent and inspection business and introduce mandatory private insurance for new housing

  • Give half of the GST on construction in a council’s territory to the council, creating an incentive to consent more homes and the funds to provide vital infrastructure.

GOOD FOR FLIPPIN’ HIM!

Here’s one New Zealander that won’t be a drain on the taxpayer for probably the rest of his life. He’s very likely set himself, and his family too, up for the future.

If demand wasn’t outstripping supply, he wouldn’t be able to do this. But rather than attack the cause, the Herald casts aspersions on the investor. He’s not doing anything illegal, he’s seen an opportunity and taken considerable personal financial risk. Current tax laws means he’ll also be paying tax on his profits. So why say it like it’s a bad thing?

Have a great week, stay safe, and stay healthy!

Beth Houlbrooke

Deputy Leader / Vice President