Another strong piece from Little

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, May 24th, 2016 - 36 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, housing, labour, leadership - Tags: , ,

Andrew Little had an excellent piece in The Herald yesterday:

Govt’s priorities to blame for housing crisis

Over the past week, New Zealanders have been horrified to learn the extent to which families are being forced to live in garages and cars because of National’s housing crisis.

The same crisis that is locking so many young people out of homeownership is locking our poorest families out of any home at all. That’s not the Kiwi way.

The images we have seen used to be the kind of thing we only saw in other countries. We used to take pride in saying New Zealand is better than that. National has taken that away from us, just as they have taken away the Kiwi dream of homeownership from the younger generation.

Paula Bennett wrote an opinion piece at the weekend, trying to justify the inexcusable reality we now face of new-born babies living in cars. Her excuse boiled down to ‘it’s too expensive’.

She claimed it costs $40,000 to house a family of five in Tamaki. That’s a trumped up example but let’s take it and see how many families a government with the right priorities could house:

• National spent $27m on a failed flag referendum. That could have housed 675 families
• $11.5m on a sheep farm in the Saudi desert could have housed 287 families
• $118m in dividends that National is taking out of Housing New Zealand could house 2,950 families

So, with just three different choices, John Key’s government could be housing nearly 20,000 more people. That’s enough to get on top of the homelessness problem, right there.

It’s always about choices, and National has made some terrible ones. They’ve let foreign speculators continue to buy our houses and use them as gambling chips. I don’t care if it’s 4,000 houses a year, as National says, or 16,000 as the official numbers indicate. One house that is owned by an offshore speculator rather than a Kiwi family is too many.

More good stuff on health and education here – go read it in The Herald.

Government is about choices, about priorities. The government I lead will focus on what matters:

• Building affordable homes for families to buy and live in.
• Making sure every rental is warm, dry, and healthy.
• Reversing National’s $1.7 billion of health cuts.
• Making education affordable for parents and removing fees on post-school education.
• Investing in growth so that there are well-paying jobs, and everyone gets their fair share of prosperity.

Is that an ambitious list? Sure. We need a government with vision. Is it doable and affordable? Absolutely. It is about making the choice: investing in the things that matter or borrowing for tax cuts.

As we see working people’s slice of the economic pie shrinking, as we see the public services we rely on crumble under funding cuts, and the heartbreaking images of the kids living in cars or crowded garages, the choice is simple.

Well spoken.

36 comments on “Another strong piece from Little”

  1. AB 1

    All good, worthy stuff. But why do things need to get so bad before messages like Litle’s get any traction with the public? And even now I’m not sure it is really resonating that much.
    Because even in 2008 at the start of National’s first term it was so easy to predict that this sort of stuff would happen.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1


      This sort of stuff was predicted to happen back in the 1980s when the failed neo-liberal policies were brought in and now they’re happening exactly as predicted but Labour’s failing to blame the failed economic system.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Labour are a pro free trade pro capitalism party. So they aren’t going to start criticising the current economic system as that is not allowed; but they will criticise elements of how the current economic system is being managed.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Yeah, I know but if there’s one thing that our full history tells us it’s that capitalism fails no matter how it’s managed.

        • Ian

          Exactly, CV! Notice also the appeal to the aspirational homeowner class. These people aren’t homeless because they can’t buy a home- they are homeless because they can’t even afford rental accommodation. Blink the 100,000 affordable homes for Kiwis to buy- we need that many affordable homes for renters with secure tenure – something only state housing can provide

    • AmaKiwi 1.2


      “But why do things need to get so bad” (before we decide to make changes)?

      It’s human nature.

      • AmaKiwi 1.2.1

        Andrew’s back of the envelope maths about housing is OUTSTANDING.

        Concrete, biting, succinct messages win elections.

  2. save nz 2

    Good article from Little. Labour is defiantly improving and that is showing up in the polls. But I do think that they need to look at overseas and what is REALLy scaring people and that is neoliberal globalisation – a concept that needs to be understood to actually win an election. All the Labour talk of ‘free trade’ while also taking up jobs goes nowhere, as free trade in the present form, is actually losing Kiwi jobs and by pretending it does not, just make left politicians look like out of touch liars to the middle class who have worked out that, their job is next. Labour saying they are against TPPA probably gave them the rise in polls.

    NZ now have faceless (secret with Keys offshore trust set up) global predators buying up companies and land, paying no or little taxes and this is being hailed as a successful economic strategy by National. (Even though transnational export profits is greater than milk powder and fishing so how is that working for the average Kiwi and our economy?) To fight National, Labour needs to break the illusion AND have an alternative for the middle class. I liked the UBI concept because it could work with globalism – but cultural identity is at great threat in this country and Labour and Greens just don’t seem to have it on the radar. UBI might be too radical to get across next election but at least Labour have some ideas for change.

    And politicians trying to fight property crisis by resident/non resident status does not work out if all it takes is a bunch fees and paperwork and voila, a NZ passport or residency at your fingertips and you can call yourself a Kiwi and have access to all the social benefits and start buying up property immediately. Politicians need to dry up the ease of NZ residency and citizenship to make a difference.

    While I don’t believe there is no going back like the person in this article – I think that globalism and neoliberalism is THE big topic now of the left in any election and is also being successfully used by Trump for the right. Key has already met with Trump, so I guess his sophisticated pollsters and US contacts have already called the election and he is brown nosing early.

    “Donald Trump is going to win: This is why Hillary Clinton can’t defeat what Trump represents
    People are rising up against neoliberal globalization. Trump represents capital, but also understands this reality”

    And from the UK
    “If we are in any way serious about taking on anti-politics and reclaiming the cultural affinity of the working class then unnecessary metropolitan squeamishness is simply unacceptable – nurturing a civic English patriotism is now absolutely essential,” he says.

    Cruddas, who was responsible for drafting Labour’s manifesto, says Labour concentrated too much on “instrumentalised economics”, using phrases such as the “cost of living crisis”, instead of appealing to cultural or regional identities. He calls for “a Labour politics of recognition that there is a space for an English Labour party to represent the interests of the English people”.

    In short, Nationalism without Racism could be a winning strategy. And Labour and Greens need to reconnect with the 69% middle class voter. And warm dry homes campaign as valid as it may be, is not winning any middle class votes and probably losing as many as they gain like the energy efficient light bulbs. In short Kiwis hate being told what to do in their own homes.

    To help Maori in my view the best thing they can get National out , AND make sure Hone Hawawira is in parliament. He will do more for Maori and poverty, than Labour can. Labour need to ditch the broad church. There are better advocates for both Maori and poverty and they are better to support those partners than try to target the absolute poor while wooing middle NZ. And Labour seem to be leaving the super rich out completely as one to target for more scrutiny. There needs to be more talk about identity – fairness, nuclear free, no GMO, cracking down on corruption, asset sales, buy NZ made etc

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      In short Kiwis hate being told what to do in their own homes.

      So, you think that they much prefer it if it costs them more in both money and lives?

      Properly insulated homes cost less to run, help people live longer lives and doesn’t kill children. Personally I want them to declare that they’re going to make the Passive House standards mandatory for all new housing with a minimum of 1KW of solar panelling and solar water heating.

      • save nz 2.1.1

        I agree with you Draco I am 100% for passive houses. I’m just disagreeing that it is a vote winner for Labour and Greens and while they are talking about this all the time and emailing supporters about it, they are not talking about other issues that might ignite more support and passion in voters like TPPA for example.

  3. TC 3

    Good to see AL hanging the albatrosses they chose around nacts neck.

    All opposition MP’s need to keep these at the forefront and build a narrative around ‘choices’ with more coming on thursday from shonky central.

    • Olwyn 3.1

      +1. I thought this was a smart article – better than the pre-budget speech. The emphasis on choices, accompanied by evidence of choices made, gives Little the space to suggest an alternative with a ready answer to the “tax and spend” bleat.

      • AmaKiwi 3.1.1

        Andrew Little can crank out the rhetoric needed to win an election. Rhetoric and memorable phrases are the path to victory, as Trump has indisputably demonstrated.

        Robertson’s speech yesterday was a fiasco. It’s single memorable message was poison: “Labour wants to tax and spend.”

        For finishing second in the leadership contest Robertson got the finance portfolio.
        He has done enough damage. Andrew, ease Grant aside and get a competent finance spokesperson now.

  4. Observer (Tokoroa) 4

    . Cometh the time – cometh the Man

    . The honesty of Andrew Little will be the pivot point of the next election.

    The lazy incompetent Tories will have no mana against the standout honesty of Mr Andrew Little.

    There will be a barrage of abuse thrown at Little by the hopelessly incapable Tory rabble. They have already set an 89 yr old Tory beneficiary to protest like a stuck pig, on a trumped up charge.

    The Herald, The Dom Post, The Otago Daily are slowly but surely recognising that another two years of this woefully incompetent Tory outfit, will put New Zealand into full 30 years of unnecessary poverty and filth. Unaffordable Housing; Unaffordable Rent; Struggling schools; struggling Health; explosion of vicious crime.

    The Press and The Television pretties, must try and catch the spirit of Andrew Little’s honesty. Because they all know that the Tories are only good at degrading our Nation.They have spent 8 years of demonstrating their stupidity.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    National has taken that away from us, just as they have taken away the Kiwi dream of homeownership from the younger generation.

    You know, I think that Little and Labour would get better traction if they said the economic policies of the last thirty years had taken that away from us. It’s actually true, admits their own culpability in it and tells us that a new Labour led government is going to do something about it.

    One house that is owned by an offshore speculator rather than a Kiwi family is too many.

    Now that’s a good line but is he going to back it up with a ban on offshore ownership?

    Investing in growth so that there are well-paying jobs, and everyone gets their fair share of prosperity.

    this is a major language issue. We have to get away from using the word growth in this context and replace it with the word development. The word growth in common understanding just means to make something bigger and that leads us, when it’s applied to the economy, in just doing more of the same. We need to stop doing that.

    What we need is development. We do this by doing something until we have enough of it and productivity and resource availability allows us to shift people into doing something else that the local community wants. So farming is done until we can feed ourselves and then the extra hundred thousand people are shifted into being doctors or nurses or programmers or scientists or etc, etc.

    Look to developing our economy and not just making it bigger.

    Her excuse boiled down to ‘it’s too expensive’.

    If we can’t afford to have everyone living at a reasonable living standard then there is something categorically wrong with the socio-economic system as it’s not providing what it’s supposed to which is actually a good living standard for everyone.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      “One house that is owned by an offshore speculator rather than a Kiwi family is too many.”

      Now that’s a good line but is he going to back it up with a ban on offshore ownership?

      Exactly. Is Little serious about this or is he merely paying lip service?

      If he is serious about the “is one house too many” thing not only will he have to ban offshore ownership, but he is going to have to force gradual divestment by foreign owners.

      In other words, those foreign investment holiday homes in Queenstown and Wanaka and elsewhere must be sold back to Kiwis.

      I am not sure Labour will ever do anything to intervene in the markets like this.

      • AmaKiwi 5.1.1

        Colonial Viper at 5.1

        “Now that’s a good line but is he going to back it up?”

        Who cares. Winning the election is everything. Hasn’t Key demonstrated that?

    • Kenya 5.2

      Little has stated repeatedly that he would ban offshore speculators from buying NZ housing.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1

        And how can he, or anyone, tell the fucken difference?

        That’s why it needs to be a complete ban on offshore ownership.

        • Kenya

          Any mechanism to identify offshore owners to ban new purchases or force divestment of existing ones would be the same. Either way, the outcome over time would be the same as offshore speculators will sell out of the market but won’t be able to get back in.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Any mechanism to identify offshore owners to ban new purchases or force divestment of existing ones would be the same.

            No it wouldn’t as local records are easily checked. In other words, easy to check if onshore or offshore.

            Either way, the outcome over time would be the same as offshore speculators will sell out of the market but won’t be able to get back in.

            But how do you know if they’re speculators or not?

  6. Sabine 6

    yes. that is something quite a few of us have been saying.

    It’s the choices they make by which we shall define them.

    All these bad bad choices in how they spend our money, but then nothing says spendthrift power hungry useless and corrupt government better then National Party.

  7. Siobhan 7

    You can build as many houses as you want.
    You can build as many State Houses as is possible.
    BUT as long as houses are such a marketable commodity, and as long as buying and selling the so called Family Home is the only way for Middle NZ to maintain the illusion that they are well off..then nothing will change.
    We have a class system, Home Owners vs Renters, two groups of people who are not moving forward side by side, but rather two groups of people occupying increasingly different worlds.
    The Labour Party are hedging their bets.
    They are making sure to not offend any Baby boomers by doing anything that might hurt the glorious Housing Market, and at the same time letting those same voters feel “okay” by promising to get the poor folk off the street.
    Bernie Sanders in the US is making inroads with younger voters…I would be interested to know how many younger people are feeling like engaging politically on the back of Labours policies.

    • AmaKiwi 7.1

      @ Silbhan

      “How many younger people are feeling like engaging politically on the back of Labours policies?”

      Bingo! You just asked the million dollar question.

    • Olwyn 7.2

      A few things have to come together to make a movement like the one supporting Sanders, and that hasn’t so far happened in NZ. A successful movement doesn’t need to involve a majority, but it has to be something of a tour de force. Given this lack, I think that Little is good Labour leader as things stand. He is thoughtful, and good at making effective moves, as in chess, which under current circumstances may be more useful than acting as if there was a movement, and putting himself under severe enemy fire without a reliable following.

      • Adrian 7.2.1

        Re “I think that Little is good Labour leader as things stand”
        I see your reasoning, but I disagree.
        Little has to show the courage of his convictions, he needs to forcefully engage and embarrass the right, wrestling back the moral high ground, which is the traditional lefts fighting vantage point.
        He can’t however do this while he shows his and Labour’s absolute fear of the almighty housing market and this mythical middle New Zealand.
        He might well alienate some voters in taking, what in this climate of greed, could be considered radical stands, but with his polls at the moment, that isn’t really to much of a concern.
        In the long view, a leader who can show the country they have a deep seated moral and ethical fiber, and are steadfast in their views, with a real plan for the future of the country, and ALL it’s people…will prevail.
        Whether that is Andrew Little?

        • Olwyn

          And maybe he will ultimately go that way, but this will probably involve first maneouvering himself into a position where he can make it hit home.

  8. save nz 8

    Disagree with opening up more land as we do not have the transport in place. When you look at other developed countries with high speed rail in place like the UK, Japan etc etc. We are a disgrace!! Imagine if we had trains every 20 mins from Hamilton and Helensville for example. I’m taking about ones that don’t break down, are cheap to use and don’t take hours to arrive that seem to be the NZ experience of rail. This would be a lot better than National’s insane road building strategy.

    The council has warned that they do not have the infrastructure in place for Labours new zoning strategy. Who pays, Auckland ratepayers! For the most part to deal with an insane immigration strategy that is pricing up houses. People have enough on their plate paying rates and rents without more rises in rates to put in transport and infrastructure of people to live 1 hours away. I think it is a good long term plan (rail) but not in the short term to solve the crisis.

    There are other quick ways to relieve the housing crisis.

    How One Colorado City Instantly Created Affordable Housing
    Relaxing rules on “Accessory Dwelling Units” drastically increased affordable housing stock in the small city of Durango.

    • AmaKiwi 8.1

      @ save nz

      A very, very interesting link. It could be an excellent policy initiative for the Left.

      • save nz 8.1.1

        Not only that it could create some jobs. You could get architects to design it like State houses of old and have 5 plans approved by different architects that can be built by anyone, but off the grid so does not even connect to most infrastructure and it could be built quickly and craned in. Maybe get the unemployed involved building them under professional supervision. Tiny houses is a massive movement worldwide.

  9. Reddelusion 9

    Think of how many houses we could have built with the wasted billions on free student loans and labours buy back of , and pay well over the top for kiwi rail

    • Sabine 9.1

      just really sad that the National Party does not have a history of building anything then?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.2


      Right wing troll who would never lift a finger to help anyone pretends concern.

    • save nz 9.3

      Yep Sky City was such a good investment for tax payers, like the flag referendum and Saudi Sheep bribes.

      Way better to give corporate welfare to gamblers and human rights breachers under National than spend it on the next generation’s doctors and teachers and a public transport system that leaves the roads freed up. sarc.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.4

      The only wasted billions are the billions that the rich are squirrelling away. They’re the ones causing the poverty and the apparent inability for us to maintain everyone at a reasonable living standard.

  10. Little comes out with a few light weight policy statements (with no detail), so what! What people really want to see is the indignation and the outrage from Little and the rest of the Labour Party at Nationals wholesale destruction and dismantling of a fair and mainly equal NZ society, which is, if you haven’t noticed, been ripped asunder before our eyes.
    We need to see a leader who we know is going to change, in a real way the direction of this country since the ’84 Labour Government.
    No more centrist Lange’s no more centrist Clark’s, we need a real Labour socialist party, with a real leader with a real vision for the countries future.
    If Little is going to be just another center left shill, then we are better off with another term of Key, so at least the disenfranchised, the poor, working poor and working class can get even more angry and maybe bring in some real change.
    At the moment. voting Labour is like changing seats on the Titanic.

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