Archive

Archive for 19 November 2012

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

19 November 2012 3 comments

.

.

Prologue…

On 10 August 2010,  the resignation of  former Labour Pacific Island Affairs Minister, Winnie Laban,  triggered a by-election in the Mana electorate.

The by-election was contested by almost every  party on the New Zealand political spectrum; Alliance,  Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis,  ACT,    Labour, Libertarianz,  Green Party,   Matt McCarten  (Independent), and the National Party. Only NZ First and United Future did not stand candidates.

The by-election was bitterly fought between Labour and National and was seen by many as a de facto “vote of confidence” in the current National-led coalition government.

National stood Hekia Parata, a List MP, as their candidate.  (She had also previous stood in the Mana electorate in the 2008 general election.)

October 2010: Gateway Project ON!

As part of National’s campaign to win Mana from Labour, Housing Minister Phil Heatley announced a new housing programme called the “Gateway Housing Assistance“. According to their press release,

Housing Minister Phil Heatley has today launched a new programme which will make it easier for first-time buyers and those on lower incomes to build or purchase their own homes.

Gateway Housing Assistance allows purchasers to build or buy a property but defer payment on the land.

“It is important the Government provides opportunities for people to move into home ownership. Affordable homes schemes such as Gateway is another way we can assist more people into a home of their own,” says Mr Heatley.

“Under Gateway full and final payment for the land can be deferred for up to ten years. This ten year period allows people on lower incomes to concentrate on designing and building, or buying, their homes before they assume the additional burden of paying for the land,” says Mr Heatley.

[...]

“Gateway will be yet another tool in the affordable housing tool-box. The Government already supports housing affordability through a number of other measures including Kiwisaver First Home Deposit Subsidy and the First Home Withdrawal, Welcome Home Loans, the Housing Innovation Fund and the Tenant Home Ownership Programme.

“We have also cut unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape to streamline building processes, which reduces the cost of building for everyone,” says Mr Heatley. “

See: Gateway to improve housing affordability

It was an election stunt, of course. Much like National’s “sudden interest” in upgrading State housing in the Porirua area,

National Party by-election candidate and Mana-based List MP Hekia Parata has welcomed the Government’s commitment to better maintaining state houses.

“It was great to get Housing Minister Phil Heatley out to Cannons Creek to see how the Government’s commitment to catching up on maintenance is making a difference. But it’s also been a good opportunity to reinforce with him that there’s been a long period of neglect.”

She’s commenting after visiting the Cannons Creek renewal project in Hampshire and Flora Streets today, and accompanying the Minister to the Government’s new Gateway Housing initiative, which was also launched in Porirua.

“The Minister revealed that beginning today, a further 360 upgrades will be carried out on state houses in Porirua City during the 2010/2011 financial year. That’s on top of the 275 houses that have received upgrades in the 2009/10 year.”

See: State housing improved in Porirua

The by-election was won by  Kris Faafoi, three months later on  20 November.

May 2012: Gateway Project OFF!

Having lost the Mana by-election, and as National scrambled to cut  state services; close schools; and scrap any  projects it could get away with (avoiding any public backlash in the process)  the “Gateway Housing Assistance” programme became a casualty,

John Key has defended a decision to cancel sales of affordable housing in an Auckland development, saying low interest rates are making it easier for first-time buyers and people on low incomes to afford their own homes.

The Hobsonville Point development, started in 2009, allocated up to 100 of 3000 houses under the Gateway scheme, a helping hand for lower-income first-home buyers who could not afford to buy in Auckland.

[...]

The Prime Minister defended the decision not to include more of the Hobsonville development in the Gateway scheme.

“The Government has looked at that programme and decided that’s now not the most effective way of going forward”.”

Key added,

He said one of the positive stories at the moment was that mortgage rates had fallen.

“So we think the capacity for lower income New Zealanders to own their own home is greatly enhanced by the fact interest rates are lower.

“If you have a look at the average home owner in New Zealand, they are paying about $200 a week less in interest than they were under the previous Labour Government”.”

See: Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

It’s a shame that  Dear Leader spends so much time swanning around the golf courses on  Planet Key, that he obviously hasn’t heard of the critical housing shortages in Auckland and around the rest of the country; the astronomical prices for Auckland properties; nor the shortage of rentals.

On 19 November, Labour Leader David Shearer delivered a speech to  his Party conference, promising to implement a mass-construction project to build 100,000 homes for desperate families.

November 2012: Gateway Project ON (again)!

Having gotten ‘wind’ of Shearer’s plans for “Kiwi Build”, National scrambled to dust off it’s Gateway Project, three days before the Labour leader’s speech,

The Government has reinstated plans to allocate a percentage of the houses at Hobsonville Point in Auckland as affordable homes priced under $485,000.

In 2009, 100 of the 3000 homes at the development were tagged as affordable under the Gateway scheme, giving lower-income first-home buyers a helping hand.

Only 17 were sold, 14 for less that $400,000.”

See: Quota reintroduced for Hobsonville housing development

Heatley was keen to reassure the voting public that National would “do it’s bit” to help Kiwi “mums and dads” into their own homes – something that has become a distant dream during National’s term. Heatley stated,

This initiative will both add to Auckland’s housing supply, and demonstrate innovative commercial market-based solutions that could be replicated in the affordable housing market elsewhere in New Zealand.

Twenty per cent of the 2500-3000 new homes at Hobsonville Point will be priced at $485,000 or less. This means 500 to 600 more affordable homes will be built in this Auckland development alone.

The Hobsonville Land Company, a subsidiary of Housing New Zealand, will introduce a simple scheme to prioritise home-ownership access to some of the houses.”

All very plausible-sounding, though he was quick to allay any possible impression  of “nanny statism” or “socialist” interference in the Holy Grail of the Free Market by adding,

This initiative will both add to Auckland’s housing supply, and demonstrate innovative commercial market-based solutions that could be replicated in the affordable housing market elsewhere in New Zealand.

[...]

To protect taxpayers, the project’s lifespan will be determined by market conditions and the need to achieve a reasonable rate of return on the taxpayer’s investment.”

See: Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing

One aspect to Housing Minister Heatley’s press release (Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing) that is painfully evident is National’s luke-warm approach to the housing problem in this country.  Having read it, one cannot avoid the conclusion that their heart simply isn’t in it, and each word in their press release must have felt like pulling teeth.

Just by comparing the two releases of housing policies, one could easily gauge which Party was more enthusiatic;

National: a press release

Labour: a major policy speech,  given by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the Party annual conference, and released via television, internet, newspapers, etc.

National is not interested in assisting New Zealanders into their own homes. In this instance, National was more interested in trying to up-stage and undermine Labour’s release of  a major policy initiative.

It is apalling that National can play childish games with critical problems such as housing. This is naked politicking – at our expense.

Epilogue

National’s on-off-on-again approach to housing gives Flip-Flopping a whole new meaning.

Personally speaking, this blogger gives the Gateway Project another six to twelve months – and then it will be scrapped again.

It will then be resurrected during the 2014 (or earlier) election.

Are we having fun yet?

.

.

*

.

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

Frankly speaking on Budget 2012

David Shearer: New Zealand – A new direction

Other Sources

Scoop: Gateway to improve housing affordability (11 Oct 2010)

National Party: State housing improved in Porirua (11 Oct 2010)

TVNZ: Loans for housing on crown land (11 Oct 2010)

NZ Herald: Labour’s Kris Faafoi wins Mana by-election (20 November 2010)

NZ Herald: Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan (18 May 2012)

Scoop: Hobsonville Point a boost for Auckland housing (16 November 2012)

NZ Herald: Quota reintroduced for Hobsonville housing development (16 November 2012)

Additional

Wikipedia: Mana by-election, 2010

Other blogs

Red Alert: Housing response a sham

.

.

= fs =

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 798 other followers