Kate Hawkesby: The housing announcement will not help renters

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Mar 2021, 9:50AM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Kate Hawkesby: The housing announcement will not help renters

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Mar 2021, 9:50AM

The housing announcement yesterday, apart from being a total broken promise from the government in terms of the bright line test, is essentially penalising mum and dad investors. And those are the investors running the rental homes providing tenants with much needed accommodation.

And the concern here is that the costs go up for those tenants, and that due to the government pinging them if they sell within 10 years, that landlords will hold onto rental properties for longer. And when they do that, you don’t get a cooler housing market, you get fewer houses up for grabs. What’s galling here is the brazenness with which this government has back tracked.

The Prime Minister campaigned on not introducing a Capital Gains Tax.. she was adamant, it was one of her biggest election promises. Not on her watch, she said. Grant Robertson is on the record ruling it out, saying it would never come to pass. And yet, here it is. A Capital Gains Tax in all but name.

When confronted with this hypocrisy yesterday, Grant Robertson defended it by saying he was “too definitive” in his comments at the time. Too definitive? That’s a new one. Does being ‘too definitive’ now excuse you from all lies? I can’t help thinking if the shoe was on the other foot and National rolled out an excuse like that, Labour would fall off their chairs laughing.

That wasn’t the most unusual part of yesterday’s press conference though.. the PM also rolled out her new rebuttal to all questions form journalists.. “it’s complex.” That seems her latest go-to in terms of shutting people down. Reminding us little minions of minimal IQ that it’s all just a bit tricky and complex for us to understand. If she’s being asked the question, it means the journalist wants an actual answer, not to be condescendingly told that “it’s complex”. And actually, it’s not at all complex.

Smoke and mirrors won’t prevent the facts emerging and revealing themselves. Telling us that you’re extending the bright line test, again, doesn’t make it suddenly not look like a CGT. The PM also told us yesterday that homeowners feel trapped. That’s a new one. Maybe I don’t understand that one because it’s too complex.

National’s not having a bar of it, Judith Collins said none of this will lower house prices or fix the housing market, it'll only increase rents, and she went as far as to call them liars for breaking an election promise.

Will any of this matter to the electorate though? Not at this point of the election cycle. And latest polls do show people are still not that politically engaged. So a delayed trans tasman bubble, a sting for landlords and Mum and Dad property investors, a broken election promise, all in one week.

What I want to know is, does all this put off all those middle ground voters who leapt to Labour last election? The government will hope not - it'll be banking on it all being a distant memory by the time we vote again in 2023.