Twyford undermines property rights with Urban Development Bill

Tue, 10 Dec, 2019

“Phil Twyford’s plan to allow the government to forcibly take private land for development instead of changing our urban planning rules for all New Zealanders will undermine property rights”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Urban Development Bill allows Kāinga Ora to compulsorily acquire private land for housing developments and other projects. Twyford’s officials have told him:

• ‘There is a risk that giving the UDA [Urban Development Authority, Kāinga Ora] access to compulsory acquisition will increase the frequency with which these powers are used. This could potentially reduce public confidence in property rights.’

• ‘… giving the UDA access to compulsory acquisition could have a detrimental impact on private property rights.’

“There are normally between 40 and 60 compulsory acquisitions in any given year and this legislation could see that number increase.

“Secure property rights are fundamental to a well-functioning economy. New Zealanders need to have confidence that their property will be secure from arbitrary seizure if they’re to use it productively. Why would people bother developing land if there’s a chance the government could barge in and demand it?

“The Urban Development Bill is premised on the idea that the current law has prevented new housing from being built, so it also gives new powers to Kāinga Ora to override or suspend parts of the Resource Management Act, noting that the RMA is a barrier to development.

“We know Phil Twyford accepts the RMA has failed to provide adequate housing for New Zealanders. This legislation sends the message that the RMA must be ignored in order to get more houses build. Why, then, doesn't Twyford change the RMA for all New Zealanders, rather than just the government?

“It is far too difficult to build housing in New Zealand, meaning house prices and rents continue to increase as supply fails to keep up. In the 1970s, 13 new homes were consented for every 1,000 New Zealanders compared with just 7 last year. While inflation increased by 68 percent between 1993 and 2018, the median price of an Auckland section increased by 903 percent.

“ACT has consistently said we need to tackle the housing crisis by:

• Replacing the RMA with a law that lets people build without restrictive zoning such as the Metropolitan Urban Limit;

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

• Getting councils out of the building consent and inspection business and introducing mandatory private insurance for new housing; and,

• Giving 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.

“Instead of giving itself broad new powers to take private property, the Government should be changing our planning rules so all New Zealanders can get on and build houses.”