Government abandons what it was elected to do

Wed, 04 Sep, 2019

"More than anything else, Jacinda Ardern's Government was elected to fix housing, and it has now abandoned any serious attempt at solving the housing crisis", ACT Leader David Seymour says.

“The 2017 election was about a shortage of housing. The issues of immigration, foreign investment, inequality, and homelessness were all ultimately about too many people chasing too few houses. This Government was elected to fix it. They had one job.

“KiwiBuild was always flawed, but without KiwiBuild the Government doesn’t really have a housing policy at all. What’s left amounts to a vague plan to fix the RMA one day, a patchwork of Urban Development Authorities, a promise the Government will build ‘as many houses as possible,’ and middle-class welfare to help some people into homes.

“If anything, freed up KiwiSaver and more taxpayer subsidies will mean first home buyers bid more for scarce housing supply. Prices will be higher than they would otherwise have been, leaving buyers no better off in net terms. It amounts to further subsidising existing homeowners with taxpayers’ money.

“While it’s sad that another Government has effectively abandoned the task of making the housing market work, there are a set of solutions that could work. In short, the next Government must:

1. Replace the RMA in urban centres with infrastructure-led planning rules, as laid out in the Productivity Commission's Better Urban Planning report;

2. Fund infrastructure properly by sharing GST on construction with the council that gave it resource consent, and allowing targeted rates to pay for new development;

3. Get councils out of doing quality assurance for new builds, replacing their oversight with a requirement to new builds to have private warranties.

"Housing as a problem will not go away. The next government must have a plan to deal with it. ACT has consistently advocated policies that get to the heart of the problem."