Government housing policy on the right track

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Last Sunday, I attended a regional party meeting in Palmerston North. I took the opportunity to point out to members that the Opposition has effectively endorsed the Government's work on housing challenges by announcing what amounts to fundamentally the same suite of measures:

Labour says it will "free up land": National has already introduced a National Policy Statement on land-use planning for councils, introduced RMA reforms and has long argued Auckland's arbitrary urban limits.

Labour says it will crack down on property speculation using a bright-line test for capital gains taxation: National has already introduced such a test.

Labour says it will commit to emergency temporary accommodation: National committed $40 million in the Budget for this.

Labour says it will develop skills: National policy means some 40,000 apprentices have been hired through schemes such as the Apprenticeship Reboot.

Where the policies differ are in the same big-spending, big-government approaches we have come to expect from the Opposition. Labour wants to spend $2 billion on state-built houses that would deliver only about 4000 houses, which would have to be recycled some 25 times to deliver the 100,000 houses the party promises.

It also wants to compulsorily acquire private property via a new housing authority.

To cap it off, Labour wants to stop immigration. The party doesn't seem to have considered just who would build all the houses it's promising -- given the timeframe it has set out. Mind you, that just about sums up Labour's approach to public policy-making.