The Speech from the Throne -fixing New Zealand’s housing crisis

Homelessness in a land of plenty, the premier symbol of inequality….. The easiest choice would have been to commit to a slightly modified status quo….. instead we chose the harder path of change….. Winston Peters reflecting on the election 2017

New Zealand’s Governor General — Dame Patsy Reddy

New Zealand has had a change in government. The new coalition government has the support of three political parties -the larger Labour Party and the smaller New Zealand First and Green Parties. The Prime Minister is Jacinda Ardern. The government’s agenda has been announced in a Speech from Throne read by Dame Patsy Reddy at the opening of Parliament -Wednesday 8th November, 2017. The following excerpt is the housing and urban development agenda.

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.