Links 7 August 2018

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  1. New Zealand Government … Getting the reform agenda back on track …

    … Do not under-estimate PM Jacinda Ardern …

    The Prime Minister has again defended her Government in light of recent poor business confidence surveys, imploring firms to look at the ‘real economic indicators’ | interest.co.nz

    https://www.interest.co.nz/news/95176/prime-minister-has-again-defended-her-government-light-recent-poor-business-confidence

    … and Housing Minister Phil Twyford … giving it straight to the enviros recently …

    Reality check for Ministers (really some … just some … asleep enviros) at environment conference | Politik

    http://politik.co.nz/en/content/Environment/1400/Reality-check-for-Ministers-at-environment-conference-Environmental-Defence-Society-Gary-Taylor-Phil-Twyford-David-Parker-RMA.htm

    … extract …

    … Attendees probably left last night with more questions than when they arrived as Ministers, who in Opposition had seemed sympathetic to environmental issues were left qualifying and modifying their stance on major issues.

    This was starkly evident in an exchange between Urban Development Minister, Phil Twyford, and the EDS CEO, Gary Taylor over urban sprawl.

    Twyford had set out an impassioned description of the impact of high house prices in Auckland and advocated the linking together of transport and other infrastructure and new housing developments.

    But he also advocated the scrapping or urban-rural limits.

    “We believe that we have to manage growth on the fringes of the city,” he said.

    “If we do not allow new land to come into the supply we will never ever fix the problem of absurdly expensive urban land.

    “With good investment in infrastructure and transport, with more planning, not less to create the future urban environment that we want, setting aside areas of special value and open spaces, acquiring land for transport and other infrastructure, if we then allow the city to grow we will bring down urban land prices and it is absolutely critical that we do,” he said.

    Twyford had proposed this when he was in Opposition but, even so, any suggestion that more rural land was going to be absorbed for housing was going to be controversial at an environmental conference.

    And Taylor was quick to respond.

    “Everything makes sense except I worry about why you need to do away with rural-urban boundaries altogether,” said Taylor.

    He said that giving free reign to developers seemed inconsistent with Twyford’s overall objective of having a compact city.

    Twyford replied that it was a question of values.

    “This is for us, for Labour, for our coalition government, this is fundamentally a social justice issue.

    “Our objective is not to build a Copenhagen of the South Pacific.

    “We could build a beautiful city with a whole lot of the policies we have talked about.

    “We could build a Vancouver of the South Pacific; beautiful but utterly unaffordable.

    “I’m interested in us fixing this totally dysfunctional urban land economy.

    “If we don’t deal with affordability we will have completely wasted the opportunity that has been given to our generation.”

    Twyford said the only way to deal with the affordability issue was to deal with the land price issue and that meant dealing with the artificial scarcity of land caused by the planning system and the availability of finance for infrastructure.

    However he didn’t dispute that the Auckland region was going to become more heavily built up.

    “You know what,” he said. “In two or three generations this is going to become a tri-city conurbation between Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland whether we like it or not.” … read more via hyperlink above …

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