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Is this really the solution to our housing problem?

28 February 2013 4 comments

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Illustration by Tim Denee – www.timdenee.com

Illustration by Tim Denee – http://www.timdenee.com

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Our housing problem is getting worse with each passing year and each successive government.

In 1991, 73.8% of  households in New Zealand lived in their own home. By 1996, this figure had dropped to 70.7%.

By 2001 home-ownership rate was 67.8%, and by 2006, this had dropped below the half-way mark to 44%

(see: Stats NZ – Owner-Occupied Households, Home-ownership falls dramatically)

As with so many other indicators, the “free market” reforms of the late 1980s and 1990s were creating a flow-on effect that very few had foreseen.

The drop in home ownership was perhaps worsened after the 1987 share-market crash when  investors – many of them ordinary folk – were burned and lost theire lidfe savings, and often their homes.

Part of the problem is that the housing stock is insufficient to meet demand of New Zealanders wanting to buy their own home. Far from being a Local body council or RMA problem, this blogger sheets home responsibility on successive governments who have failed to,

  1. Introduce a comprehensive capital gains tax to stifle speculation,
  2. Speculation drove up property prices as investors played an out-bidding war against each other,
  3. Uncontrolled capital flowing into the country allowed prices to rise as vendor’s expectations grew for higher and higher sale prices (much like in the 1970s and ’80s when wage spirals led to price-rise spirals)

During the  2011 Election, Labour campaigned to introduce a Capital Gains Tax (CGT).  A CGT, Labour (and others) maintained, would put a dampener on housing speculation by removing it’s near total  tax-free status. As well as driving up house prices, speculation of this sort took investment away from more productive industry.

Speculation also relies on using overseas borrowings, pushing up the amount we owe to offshore lenders,

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Treasury

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Predictably, the “genuises” at National – and especially John Key – trashed the idea immediatly,

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New property tax would send NZ 'screaming backwards' - Key

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Key’s criticism ranged from “complexity” (it is not more complex than other tax laws) to “when you put more taxes on the economy you slow things down” (the economy can’t be any slower than it is now).

A few days later, Key went one step further,

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Labour's capital gains tax aims misguided - Key

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According to Dear Dear, in one of his LSD-inspired moments of alternate-reality,

Labour are trying to put up, as a stalking horse if you like, a problem that existed when they were in government but doesn’t exist now.”

Source: IBID

That was Key being his usual mendacious self, of course. Despite his assertion that National had “solved the problem”, our housing crisis was worsening.

In fact, less than  two years later,  the headlines were screaming the problem from Bluff to Kaitaia,

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NZ housing 'seriously unaffordable'

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As per usual, National Ministers were pointing the finger at everyone except themselves (see:  Dear Leader Key blames everyone else for Solid Energy’s financial crisis) and English was quick to point the finger at the RMA ands local body councils.

Of course, the last time National interfered with home-building processes, they de-regulated the building industry; loosened the Building Act 1991; and gave New Zealand a legacy of thousands of rotting houses.

National’s most recent pronouncements are vapid and will do nothing except put  superficial band-aids over a deep cancer in our society and economy,

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House buyers may need bigger deposit

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Restrict high-loan-to-value ration lending in the housing sector”  translates to requiring first home owners – usually young couples – to have to save tens of thousands of dollars, whilst at the same time paying high rents and other out-goings.

Let’s be crystal clear what National is advocating here;

1. Without a capital gains tax, National is allowing the older generation (sometimes referred to as “Baby Boomers”) to;

  • keep their rental investments,
  • use the equity in their currents investments to buy more properties,
  • eventually ‘flick off’ their investmental properties for a tax-free profit

2. New home owners will have to;

  • build up a large savings deposit (returning us to a 1970s-style era),
  • create a demand for more expensive, second mortgages,
  • push up rents as more and more young people are forced to rent for longer,
  • compete with property investors who will continue to drive up prices,  to buy a home

In effect, young New Zealanders will find it harder and harder to get into their own home whilst Baby Boomers will continue  to make the most from increasing rents and a tax-free regime for property  (house) investments.

It will be young New Zealanders being penalised for high house prices – a situation not of their making.

And worse still – and this is truly salt in the wound for young New Zealanders – the money they will be forced, by National’s decree, to save, will be used by Banks to on-lend to housing speculators to buy more investment properties.

The sheer obscene unfairness of this scenario cannot be under-stated.

By what logic, or concept of justice, is it fair to make it harder for young New Zealanders to buy a home whilst older generations continue to enjoy their tax-free investments – which contributed to driving up house prices and our overseas borrowings in the first place???

If this country wants to send another 500,000 New Zealanders to Australia, I can think of no better policy with which  to achieve this enforced emigration. National is practically screaming at our kids to “bugger off !”.

Good on you, John Key, Bill English, Steven Joyce, et al. Another dumb idea.

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Previous related blogposts

A Capital Gains Tax?  (3 Aug 2011)

Blood from a stone? (27 Jan 2012)

Regret at dumping compulsory super – only 37 years too late (21 Jan 2013)

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Citizen A – 14 February 2013

15 February 2013 Leave a comment

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– Citizen A –

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– 14 February 2013 –

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– Matthew Hooton & Keith Locke –

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Issue 1: Richard Prosser – is he racist? What are the ramifications for NZ First and does this reflect poorly on MMP?

Issue 2: Salvation Army gives the Government a D for child poverty, housing and employment – what is the Government doing?

and Issue 3 tonight: John Key’s decision to take Australia’s refugees – what do we get?

Citizen A broadcasts on Auckland UHF and will start transmitting on Sky TV on their new public service broadcasting channel ‘FACE Television’ February 7th February 2013.

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

19 November 2012 3 comments

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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Guest Author: David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

– David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

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Speech: New Zealand – A new direction  |  Sunday, November 18, 2012

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Today I want to talk about two paths that lie before us as a country.

Each offers very different directions and different choices.

One path leads to disappointment, decline and constant struggle.

That’s our country’s current path, the one National is taking.

The other path is about change.

It’s about a new direction for Labour and a new direction for New Zealand.

A new direction where we fight back, create opportunity and build a world class New Zealand that we’re proud of.

A new direction that’s about what is best for the long term, not just the short term.

A new direction that’s about all New Zealanders daring to dream and having the opportunity to get there.

Not just accepting second best and managing decline.

We’ve always been a creative, innovative people with a ‘can do’ attitude.

Respected and admired across the globe.

Down to earth. Willing to give it a go.

We need that new direction now more than ever.

It’s about building a smart, new and powerful economy that delivers a fairer society.

That’s what I stand for.

That’s what we can achieve together.

For most of the last 20 years, I lived in parts of the world where life was bleak.

Every time I came home, I counted my blessings.

I counted my good fortune that I had grown up in a country like this.

But we are losing what we once held dear.

Kiwis just want the chance to succeed, to be the best they can be and to build a great life.

It’s not too much to ask.

I got my fair chance growing up in Papatoetoe. My father was a teacher. My mum worked at the local school.

They gave us the kind of Presbyterian upbringing where you saved for what you needed, and made the most of what you had.

I remember Dad wanted a boat to take us kids out sailing but he didn’t have the money to buy it.

So he rolled up his sleeves, went to night classes and learned how to build one.

Over 4 months, he and I built that boat together in the garage.

That was the way things worked. The State backed you so you could realise your dream.

I grew up in a time when there were plenty of part-time jobs for kids and – thanks to penal rates – some of them were quite well-paid.

I had a paper round that earned me the money to pay for my own bike. I pumped gas at the Puhinui petrol station and learned the value of a dollar.

That’s what it was like back then, growing up in New Zealand.

I know it wasn’t perfect for everyone but for most Kiwi families, life gave you a fair go.

And, free, to everyone, was an education that could match any in the world.

A nation flourishes when it gives every person a fair chance.

When it looks after its own.

And when it prizes fairness and humanity.

It was when I went out into world that I discovered just how much that means.

I also learnt something about myself.

That if you’ve grown up with the values this country gave me, you can’t turn away. You just can’t.

So my life has been about making a difference.

Lifting people up when they need it the most. Making their lives better.

Giving them the opportunity to take the next step.

This world can be hugely indifferent to suffering.

For me, that came into stark relief when I went to Somalia. War and famine was overtaking the country.

A small group of us working there realised that unless something changed, thousands would die from hunger.

With daily gun battles being fought in the streets, we were faced with a choice.

Take a risk and make a change. Or shrug our shoulders and say the job’s too big, let’s get out of here.

We stayed. We made a change.

I worked with a dedicated team of Somali doctors and others. We fought to keep supply lines open to bring in food.

We fed around 30,000 children who would have died otherwise.

We evacuated our staff three times. I lost a colleague on that operation.

But I was never in any doubt. Standing up for what was right – what would make a difference – that was the right decision.

Looking back I feel immense satisfaction.

But I can tell you it also makes it very clear to me where my priorities lie.

I am in politics to make lives better.

I’m not here to cross something off my bucket list. Or to indulge in some sense of celebrity.

I went out into the world to help improve people’s lives and I’ve chosen to enter politics for the same reason.

It’s why I want to lead this country and it’s why I need your support to get there.

Together we can make a difference. A big difference.

The values I bring with me are the ones that I was raised with.

They are the ones that I took with me out into the world.

They are Labour values. They’re our values: that everyone should have a fair chance and the opportunity to get ahead.

And if you agree people are not being given that fair chance right now then I’m asking you to join me in making the changes we need.

Change can make people uneasy.

But change has always been what has saved us in times of trouble, and it can save us again.

The first Labour government made the big changes that mattered:

affordable housing,

free schooling,

free health care,

a fair start for every child.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

Those big changes led New Zealand out of the Depression and it was this party that made them.

We are the party that is brave about change.

I think about Norman Kirk’s government establishing the Waitangi Tribunal that has helped reconcile Māori and Pakeha. And his commitment to New Zealand’s independent place in the world.

I think of David Lange standing up for our independence at the Oxford Union debate:  “hold your breath for just a moment – I can smell the uranium on it.”

It’s not just a great line, it’s about a great idea. Today we’re still nuclear free and I’m proud of that.

And the thousands of children lifted out of poverty under Helen Clark. The icons of Kiwisaver and KiwiBank were put in place.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

We made big changes and New Zealand flourished.

But where is our country today?

Where is the sense of possibility?

Where, I ask our Prime Minister, are the jobs?

It should never have come to this.

Imagine this scenario, for just a moment.

If we had kept Norman Kirk’s Superannuation Scheme – that Muldoon scrapped – it would be worth more than $240 billion today.

We would probably still own some of our banks and many other major companies.

Our entrepreneurs would be thriving because we’d have so much capital to invest in their ideas.

The Kirk Labour government could see the future. The National government saw political opportunism.

When our opponents say they want to grow our economy, I don’t doubt their sincerity.

But I doubt their method. I doubt it fundamentally.

How have they done in the last 4 years? Measure the results any way you want:

the cost of your groceries,

the money you’re earning,

the affordability of houses

1,000 Kiwis a week give up hope and go to Australia despite John Key promising he’d turn those numbers around.

That’s the population of Hamilton leaving since National was elected. It’s never been higher.

This government simply hasn’t delivered.

Our unemployment rate is 7.3%. Can you remember who was in power the last time it was this bad? Let me remind you it was the last National Government.

Right now there’s 175,000 people looking for work.

Māori and Pasifika unemployment is at 15%. One in four of our young people are unemployed.

And week after week, the losses just keep on coming.

Behind those numbers are real people, real families and real communities.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with miners who’ve lost their jobs at Spring Creek.

Darryl Sweetman is a miner. His future should be bright.

He has a lovely family, a partner, a daughter and a new-born son. But Darryl’s been laid off.

He’s worried he’ll lose the home they’ve been renovating and have to leave the town he’s lived in his entire life.

Paris Brady came back from Australia to raise his young family in Greymouth. He’s the kind of guy we need here.

Keen, motivated and used to hard graft. But just 10 weeks into his mining apprenticeship, he’s had the rug pulled out from under him and he’s out of work.

All over the country that’s the human face of losing jobs.

When this Government rests its entire hopes for future economic growth on the rebuild of Christchurch – our biggest natural disaster – you know it has no ideas.

What will it take for National to admit its hands-off policies aren’t working?

They know in their hearts that selling Mighty River Power will not make our power bills cheaper.

That selling Meridian won’t create a single job.

That selling Genesis won’t grow the economy.

Yet they knock us for being a party that can’t deliver growth.

Let me tell you. The evidence tells a different story.

If we compare all National and Labour Governments, back through history, the average GDP growth under National is 2.9%.

Under Labour, it’s 3.7%.

Who are the best economic managers?

But this government takes the prize. It has the worst economic performance in 50 years.

And we should remind ourselves of this:

In 2008, this National government inherited one of the world’s best government books after 9 budget surpluses.

And in 2 years’ time, no doubt, they’ll hand them back to us in bad shape.

The problem is that in order to pull us out of this hole they’re turning to the very ideas that put us there in the first place.

You know and I know: it’s not going to work.

And that’s why we need big change.

VISION

We need a different path.

We need to fight for the future we want.

One where we make a real difference to people’s lives.

We have always been the Party of new ideas.

When it mattered throughout our history, we’ve been willing to use the power of government to give the country what it needs to move ahead.

New Zealand needs to use that power once more. And under my leadership, we will.

Five years ago, that might have been seen as economic heresy in many places.

But not today.

Governments all around the world are intervening in their economies to dig themselves out of a vast Global Financial hole.

And they’ve got it right.

Hugh Fletcher is not what you’d call a radical.

But just a couple of weeks ago he was on the radio saying the laissez-faire status quo position is not acceptable.

He said our exporters were finding it hard to compete and we would have to come up with a new approach.

The Manufacturers and Exporters Association is saying the same thing.

So too is the EPMU.

And so are we.

There is a meeting of minds around a new direction.

The hands-off approach has failed and it’s left the world badly off balance.

Government has at its disposal levers that only it can pull.

Levers to change the settings that stimulate growth and opportunity.

As Prime Minister, I’ll use the power of government to change this country.

Let me be clear, it’s not about big government.

It’s about common sense.

It’s about using government intelligently, so it can transform the economy for everyone.

In a small country like New Zealand competing against the world’s economic giants, we need the government to pitch in together, not step back.

If you are willing to do your bit, the government should do its bit too.

It needs to be a player, not a spectator.

We need to get the country firing on all cylinders again.

I know we need to grow the economic pie – not just be expert in dividing it.

That means prudent financial management. It means balancing our budgets.

It means making the tough decisions to reduce our current account deficit.

This government hopes we can get there by cutting costs, selling assets and driving down the cost of labour.

It won’t work. It never has.

If you want to run the economy like they do, this is what you’ll get:

A few very wealthy people at the top,

No decent jobs in the middle

And a whole lot of low-skill, low wage families barely managing to hold on.

That’s a strategy that is as short sighted as it is heartless.

I have no interest in building an economy where only a few get rich, and everyone else gets left behind.

I lived in too many ruined countries where that happened to want to ever see it happen here.

My vision for New Zealand is fundamentally different from the one National is following.

New Zealand should be a place where people know they can get ahead, a place where the world wants to live and a place we can all be proud of.

A place that rewards talent and hard work, that puts a premium on innovation. Where our environment is a driver of our economic success and our economy keeps our environment clean.

A place which grows skilled, well-paid jobs and keeps our kids in New Zealand.

I want to lead that transformation.

I want a fair society where everyone gets a chance.

Where we look after those who need it, but where everyone has a responsibility to do their bit too.

Rights and responsibilities – a society based on that simple social contract.

I want to lead a country that is independent and confident in the world.

Where our values dictate what we say and do, not the persuasions of other nations.

That’s the kind of country we all want.

A few months ago, I spoke of that vision.

I received an email from Paul Callaghan thanking me. Because of course, his thinking had inspired me.

I phoned him back to thank him. For devoting his life to making New Zealand a better place.

He died 3 days later.

His inspiration is still with me.

He argued New Zealand cannot grow wealthy on agriculture alone. Valuable as it will always be, we must add to it and diversify our economy.

We must get behind our new smart, innovative businesses – that are growing faster than any other sector.

They are doing their bit. The Government should do its bit. Under Labour it will.

To realise that vision I promise that from the day we take office, you will see big change.

Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes.

We will replace a simplistic hands-off approach with a smart hands-on one.

Monetary policy will change.

So when the high dollar is killing our exporters we will give the Reserve Bank tools to act on the exchange rate.

Our manufacturers are our job generators.

If they’re doing their bit, we should do ours with intelligent government.

The R&D policy will change.

Most of what New Zealand exports today was known to the world before the industrial revolution.

This government treats Research & Development as ‘nice to have’.

We will treat it as absolutely vital to grow our smart businesses so they can take their products to the world.

We’ll change our tax system for the better.

We will bring in what this economy desperately needs:  a capital gains tax.

We want people to invest in houses because they need a place to live, not because they get a tax free investment.

To shift investment instead into productive businesses to grow jobs.

The savings policy will change.

We’ll enrol everyone into KiwiSaver. That will support our retirement, but also build an investment pool to power our best businesses.

That means companies like F&P Appliances can be owned here, not sold off-shore.

We’ll change the approach to productivity.

Kiwis work longer hours than just about anywhere else in the world. But you wouldn’t know it looking at our pay packets.

That’s because the hands-off approach says: “pay low wages, cut back on conditions and ramp up casualization”.

That has to end. We’ll be hands-on. The Minimum Wage will go up. A Living Wage must be our goal.

And Labour laws will be reformed to restore decency.

We are proud of our unions and our origins. We thank them for what they do in standing up for workers’ rights, but we need to be in government to back you up.

The procurement policy will change.

The government spends $30 billion a year on contracting goods and services.

The simplistic hands-off approach says “forget about Hillside Railway workshops, forget about local jobs. Go for the cheapest offshore price.”

The intelligent hands-on approach says: “we get much more from each government dollar by investing in a Kiwi company”.

So wherever it’s the smart thing to do, we’ll prioritise the local supplier.

The approach to education will change.

I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do.

And I know a gimmick when I see one.

Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing.

The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks:  what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?

Our teachers are demoralised. Yet we all know they are critical to equipping our kids for the modern world.

We know too that shutting schools in Christchurch destroys communities and causes heartache for already distressed families.

I went to a public meeting there after receiving a moving letter from Christchurch mum Sonya Boyd.  She’s devastated that her local school will close and is worried about the impact on her son Ben, his friends and in fact the whole community.

At that meeting a parent told me: Hekia Parata is doing what 10,000 earthquakes couldn’t do – destroying our school.

I say to the people of Christchurch: we are committed to helping you rebuild your city from the grassroots up – not the Beehive down.

You want, more than anything, to get your lives back, and on your own terms.

It’s time you had a government that stood alongside you.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

So those are the big changes we’ve already committed to.

To lift the economy. To grow jobs.

Today we add another important item: housing.

Owning your own home is a Kiwi ambition but for tens of thousands of New Zealanders it’s a dream that’s out of reach.

If there is one thing your newspaper tells you every day about life in New Zealand it’s this:

We have a housing problem. And it’s a deep seated problem.

If you’re a young person today, you look at the cost of houses and you despair.

For the first time, home ownership in Auckland has dropped below 60%.

It’s one of the reasons so many of our young people are giving up and going to Australia.

The National government’s answer fell woefully short of what is needed.

They don’t understand that the market has failed first-home buyers.

The simple fact is we need more affordable houses.

It’s time for Government to step up.

And we will.

Today I’m announcing that we will put 100,000 Kiwi families into their first home.

That’s the sort of big change we need to make a big difference to people’s lives.

We’ll oversee and invest in a large scale 10 year building programme of entry-level houses that Kiwis are crying out for.

Yes, it’s a big commitment and it’ll take a couple of years to ramp up, but we can do it.

I won’t stand by while the dream of home ownership slips away from future generations.

At the peak of last decade, about 30,000 new homes were built a year. Now it’s less than half that.

These are the missing rungs on the housing ladder. And it shows what an active and responsible government can do to help.

The start-up cost of the building programme will be financed through issuing government stock called Home Ownership Bonds.

The money we make from selling the houses will go back into the pot for building more.

The houses will be compact in size. Some will be stand-alone dwellings and others apartments. All of them will be good quality and energy efficient.

The homes will be sold to first home buyers who’ve saved their own deposit, like with KiwiSaver.

We estimate that the maximum needed to be raised for a kick-start will be $1.5 billion.

It will quickly become self-funding though. And because it’s a capital investment, it won’t affect our commitment to balance the books and return to surplus.

I can already hear our opponents complaining that this is too bold. That the problem’s too big and there’s nothing we can do.

I won’t accept that. I won’t give up on the Kiwi dream of an affordable home.

I have spoken to Auckland Mayor Len Brown to take up his offer of a partnership with Auckland council to make land available.

In addition, we will introduce a National Policy Statement under the RMA to ensure that planning rules and consenting decisions support affordable housing.

We want to make a difference.

Building 100,000 new houses will create training opportunities for apprenticeships, more jobs and give a $2 billion dollar a year boost to the economy.

This will make a big difference but alone, it’s not enough.

HEALTHY HOMES GUARANTEE

Too many Kiwi families are living in cold, damp and mouldy homes.

This affects their health and their quality of life.

Because of this, we’re seeing the sort of third world diseases that I was battling in Somalia in our own communities here. That’s not right.

Child poverty is a scourge that robs hundreds of thousands of kids of their future.

This cannot continue.

Let me be clear, we are not prepared to have families, particularly children, living in these conditions.

Eradicating poverty will be a top priority for the next Labour Government.

That’s why we’ll introduce a Healthy Homes Guarantee so landlords have to ensure every rental property is a healthy home that’s insulated and has efficient heating.

It’s time for poor quality houses to be brought up to scratch with minimum standards.

The crucial point is: this is about smart government pulling the levers to make New Zealand a better place.

We will take action where the market has failed for the benefit of thousands of Kiwis.

CONCLUSION

We have done the work we needed to do to change ourselves at this conference.

Now it’s time to lift our sights and to come together to change New Zealand.

Our Labour movement has always relied on the hard work of volunteers.

I thank you for everything that you do to support our cause and to support our country.

And now I ask you to join me.

Norman Kirk once famously said: New Zealanders don’t ask for much: someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.

As much I’d like to, I can’t provide everyone with someone to love.

But everyone should have a job, a home – and a country we can all have hope in.

But we won’t on National’s track. It’s full of disappointment and is taking us nowhere.

We need to change.

We need a new direction.

One that’s about using our Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude to create new wealth.

One that encourages Kiwis to dream of what can be.

One that offers opportunities to realise that dream.

One where everyone who plays their part shares the rewards.

And, one where the government gets stuck in too.

I promise you this: from the day we take office, we will turn over a new page for this country and continue Labour’s proud tradition of progressive government.

We won’t be taking office to tinker, we’ll be taking office to remake New Zealand.

So I am asking you.

To rise up.

To take a message of hope to New Zealanders.

To fight for our future.

To say loud and clear that there is a better way. There is a Labour way.

We can do it, standing strong together.

We can make the change.

And we’ll do that in 2014.

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Citizen A – 1 November 2012 – Online now!

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Citizen A

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– 1 November 2012 –

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– Claudette Hauiti & Chris Trotter –

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Issue 1: How do we get affordable housing in Auckland – is the Government on the right track and should the Super City open up more land?

Issue 2: Can the Maori Party convince Pakeha to vote for them?

Issue 3: What does the latest roy morgan poll mean for David Shearer at this months Labour Party conference in Auckland?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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The fuse is lit…

13 February 2012 2 comments

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The social bomb of poverty is lit

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One of the inescapable consequences of poverty;  over-crowding and damp housing; poor nutrition; and unaffordable healthcare,

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It is interesting that Dr Baker says,

“Maybe we should be using the same approach to deal with all infectious diseases in children.”

A basic thing would be a housing warrant of fitness that covers health, safety and sustainability issues, a bit like the five-star approach with appliances.” He believes that could be run by the Auckland Council.”

A “warrant of fitness” for rental housing is precisely what Jazmine Heka is calling for in one of her petitions. Good, decent, housing would go a long way to preventing the spread of some infectious disease. Bryan Bruce pointed this out to us last year, in his excellent documentary, last year.

Taxpayers and landlords of good housing might care to note that they are subsidising bad landlords with sub-standard accomodation. Bad landlords collect the rent – but we taxpayers foot the medical bill for their tenants who become sick.

If middle-class New Zealanders believe that this issue does not affect them -let me dis-abuse them of that delusion.

Disease bacteria and virii make no distinction between social classes.

Disease bacteria and virii do not care if you live in Epsom or South Auckland.

Disease bacteria and virii care not one jot what your income or bank balance is.

If Mr Smith from North Shore walks past Ms Jones from Otara; and one is carrying an infectious disease and coughs as you walk past each other – congratulations. You’ve just been infected.

Or, pushing a trolley through a supermarket. You’d be surprised at the grime and micro-organisms on supermarket trolley handles. So the previous handler sneezed, and gripped the trolley? Now you have the same trolley?

Congratulations. You’ve just been infected.

Your child goes to the same school as someone from an over-crowded house, where measles, rheumatic fever,  or meningitis is rampant? Congratulations – you and/or your children are  going to be sick.

Poverty related disease do not respect socio-economic divisions or suburban boundaries.

If the middle classes believe they are immune, simply because they live in a “nice street”; drive the latest model Holden; and have a very generous income – think again.

The time bomb fuse is lit. The first major outbreak of measles has already happened. The next disease may be lethal and result in many grieving families.

Unfortunately, that seems to be the way of our country. We wait for a few fatalities and rising death toll before we are spurred to action. Until then… *shrug*

This is simply not good enough.

If we aspire to be a developed, civilised society – a First World nation – then standing idly by while disease like rheumatic fever continue to spread through our community is simply unacceptable.  As a society, we are not doing enough to prevent these diseases from spreading – and we will pay dearly for our inaction.

For one thing, we need to take firm responsibility for ensuring the availability of good, decent housing,

  • Private rentals need to be maintained at a standard that is healthy for tenants. Having (some) private landlords pass-the-buck, and shove the cost of their inaction onto the public heathcare system (ie; the taxpayer) is unacceptable.
  • Government must build more State housing. Many low income families simply cannot afford private rents – the “market” has failed those at the bottom of the socio-economic heap. The State must step in and pay for new housing – or it will pay for increased health costs. One way or another, society will pay.
  • Government must implement a cross-Party action-plan to address this quietly, simmering crisis. Playing politics whilst Aotearoa burns (through rheumatic fever) is nothing less than criminal negligence. These people were elected to Parliament to work for the good of this country, and it’s time they sat down around a table and got down to some serious, constructive planning,

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John Key

David Shearer

Winston Peters

Metiria Turei – Russell Norman

Pita Sharples – Tariana Turia

Hone Harawira

John Banks

Peter Dunne

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John Key is paid $411,510 per annum. Cabinet Ministers are paid $257,800.  It’s time they started earning those very nice salaries, instead of  sitting on their hands and playing silly-buggers across the Debating Chamber.

I refuse to believe that we do not have the collective wit to address poverty in this country.

Because make no mistake; every time a child dies in New Zealand through preventable poverty-related disease, those who I hold  accountable are those who make grand pledges at  election time and promise all manner of good things to us, to win our votes.

I hold these people to account!!!

If, like me, you are feeling enough is enough, leave your thoughts on John Key’s Facebook page. (Don’t worry, the SIS won’t come after you.)

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