National puts up its solution to housing shortage woes

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Apr 2021, 9:24AM
National Party leader Judith Collins with housing spokeswoman Nicola Wills, left, and Infrastructure spokesman Andrew Bayly. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Judith Collins with housing spokeswoman Nicola Wills, left, and Infrastructure spokesman Andrew Bayly. Photo / Mark Mitchell

National puts up its solution to housing shortage woes

Author
Claire Trevett, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 14 Apr 2021, 9:24AM

The National Party has released its counter to the Government's housing steps - a bill to use emergency powers to "short circuit" the consenting process and build houses quickly and to require councils to zone more land for housing.

National Party leader Judith Collins has put the steps into a member's bill which she will try to get before Parliament.

It would put in place an emergency process, similar to that used after the Christchurch earthquakes, to open up land and build housing quickly. It would temporarily limit the Resource Management Act (RMA) appeals process so councils could complete plans quickly.

And it would require all urban councils to immediately zone more land for housing, enough for at least 30 years of growth.

It also proposes a $50,000 infrastructure grant for all local councils for each new house consented above the council's five-year average: the funds for which would come out of the Government's new $3.8 billion infrastructure fund.

Collins said National's solution would be more effective than Labour's.

"National doesn't share Labour's view that you can tax your way out of a housing shortage. The time has come for an extraordinary solution to this unfolding emergency. We need to short-circuit the [Resource Management Act] to get more houses built."

The Government has come under pressure on the issue of housing after property prices rocketed up over the past year.

The bill is National's response to the Government's moves last month to try to slow the housing market by moves such as scrapping the ability to deduct interest from rental income on residential properties, and increasing the bright-line test from five to 10 years.

It has also moved to try to boost housing supply through a Kainga Ora house building scheme, and a $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund for councils to build infrastructure needed for housing developments.

Further measures are expected in the Budget next month.

However, National has criticised some of the measures, saying they will only push rents higher, and do not do enough to boost supply quickly.

Collins' bill will go in the ballot for member's bills this week, and Collins will also try to secure the support of enough MPs for it go straight onto the order paper. That is unlikely – and the Government could veto the bill on financial grounds if it did get pulled from the ballot and made it past a vote.

National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis said the current consenting and land use rules made new developments complex, expensive, and slow. Measures were needed to encourage councils to free up that process.

"There is clear evidence that freeing up land and bypassing restrictive government red tape can result in immediate house price relief."

Robertson has defended the Government's decision to use changes to the 'bright line test' – a form of capital gains tax - to try to dampen the market, saying the goal was to tilt the playing field in the favour of first home buyers rather than speculators.