I noted in the lead-up to the New Zealand General Election, held on 23 September, that Labour had an excellent housing platform that addresses both supply and demand distortions via negative gearing reform, banning foreign buyers of existing homes, tighter capital gains taxes, removal of urban growth boundaries, plus bond financing for infrastructure. Its plan to reduce immigration by around a third is also sound, and would help to relieve chronic housing and infrastructure pressures, especially around Auckland.
After new housing minister, Phil Twyford, signaled over the weekend that the new Labour-led Government would pursue its housing and immigration reforms, yesterday’s ‘speech from the throne’ by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed it:
The programme I will outline today is ambitious. It draws on the priorities of the parties. In the first 100 days, this government will put in place the building blocks for this programme of work…
This government will take steps to improve our resource management system, with better spatial planning and better enforcement. An urban development agency will be introduced, and more emphasis placed on public transport and light rail.
This government will remove the Auckland urban growth boundary and free up density controls. New developments, both in Auckland and the rest of New Zealand, will be able to be funded through innovative new financing methods like infrastructure bonds. This government will also give Auckland Council the ability to implement a regional fuel tax.
To help ease pressures on our housing, infrastructure and public services, this government will make sure we get our immigration settings right. It will cut down on low quality international education courses and will ensure work visas issued reflect genuine skill shortages.
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.
A Housing Commission will work with the private sector, councils and iwi to cut through red tape, undertake major projects and ensure new, affordable homes are built rapidly.
This work will begin immediately, as part of this government’s 100 Day Plan. To boost the workforce, employers will be financially supported to train 4000 young people as apprentices, including on-the-job construction training.
High demand for housing will be dealt with by cracking down on speculators who are pushing prices out of reach of first home buyers. Foreign speculators will be banned from buying existing New Zealand homes. A comprehensive register of foreign-owned land and housing will be created, and the Overseas Investment Act will be strengthened.
The ‘bright line test’ will be extended, so income tax is paid on any gains from the sale of residential property bought and sold within five years. Speculators will also no longer be able to use tax losses on rental properties to offset tax on other income.
This government will make life better for renters. A ‘Rent to Own’ scheme will be developed. All rental properties will be required to meet standards for insulation, heating and drainage. Funding for home insulation in general will be boosted and a Winter Energy payment will be introduced for superannuitants and those receiving main benefits. This government aims to ensure that every New Zealander has access to a warm, dry, safe home.
Australia’s delinquent politicians on the fake left and right should take note.