Frances Cook: Voters refuse to be soothed by National's stock lines on housing

Author
Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Aug 2016, 6:21AM
PM John Key with Housing Minister Nick Smith (Photo / NZ Herald)
PM John Key with Housing Minister Nick Smith (Photo / NZ Herald)

Frances Cook: Voters refuse to be soothed by National's stock lines on housing

Author
Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 Aug 2016, 6:21AM

All quiet on the western front. Housing may be a challenge, but it's not a crisis. Prices aren't good, but more houses are being built, and that will sort the problem if people just wait long enough.

Those are the Government's stock lines on housing, and it's sticking to them. But no matter how much National talks up building rates, it seems voters refuse to be soothed.

Labour has been making political hay from the worsening housing situation, refusing to let up on pressuring the Government to do more. The latest polls show that strategy could be working, with a Labour-Greens alliance now within striking distance of National.

That's only emboldened the opposition further. Now they want Housing Minister Nick Smith to be fired. Labour says Smith has totally failed, and sacking him is the only way for the Government to show it means business.

A political move, for sure. But no matter how much National dismisses Labour's attacks, public sentiment seems to be turning.

It's easy to say that voters need to be patient for housing fixes to take effect. But people are hurting now. Homelessness is on the rise, as everyone is shunted backwards one peg on the accommodation ladder.

And while National may be adamant that they're working on it, their only solution is to build more houses. There is no doubt that supply needs to be fixed, but there are many other parts to the problem that are being wilfully ignored. High immigration bringing more people into a market that's already short on homes. Housing investors being encouraged by tax breaks, creating stiff competition for first home buyers. Minimal controls on foreign buyers, meaning our already tight housing market is open to the entire world.

By refusing to address all parts of the problem, and asking voters to be patient for the fixes it is bringing in, National leaves itself vulnerable on an issue that voters care about. Labour has made it clear, they intend to exploit that.

The Country

The Country

12PM - 1PM