John Armstrong is still out there, and he is not impressed:
Government’s handling of housing crisis lurches from chaotic to shambolic
National’s persistent and longstanding refusal to acknowledge that the Auckland housing crisis is a crisis has been a textbook example of the kind of self-inflicted muddles that bedevil long-running governments and which ultimately destroy them.
By this stage of a government’s life-cycle, long-serving ministers start believing in their own omnipotence regardless of the cold, hard fact that in National’s case an election is just around the corner. Ministers are always right. Everyone else is wrong. As the crisis worsens, ministers subscribe to short-term fixes and patch-work solutions in the hope those measures will do the trick.
They rarely do so. And never when the problem is as deep-seated, complex and intractable as the Auckland housing shortage. To admit there is a crisis is to admit to failure. To refuse to admit there is a crisis is to leave yourself open to ridicule. The upshot is that National’s handling of the shortage of affordable new homes in Auckland has run the whole gamut between the merely chaotic to the utterly shambolic.
The stumbling and bumbling has put National very much on the back foot on the no.1 issue in a metropolis where elections are won and lost.
It is also the one area of policy where Labour has come up with a clear and coherent package of interlocking policies, the intent of which are difficult to criticise.
Labour’s leader won deserved plaudits for flagging the removal of what amounts to a subsidy which not only fills the pockets of those in least need of receiving it, but which has also seen billions of dollars shunted into the property market at the huge expense of productive investment. Such tax write-offs are indefensible regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum.
Labour first promulgated its KiwiBuild scheme back in 2012. Its objective is the construction of 100,000 affordable houses nationwide over ten years for first-home buyers. At the time, National almost drowned in the sound of its own scoffing at Labour’s plan. Five years on, National is now copying it. And shamelessly so.
The urgent need to build more social housing to accommodate the poor also raises questions about Bill English’s mad-scientist experiment in creating a free market for state housing. The programme had the unstated intention of running down Housing New Zealand. If anything, the apparent boost to social housing cited in the Crown Building Project would seem to give the state housing agency an enhanced role.
If you are looking for ideological consistency from National four months out from a general election, however, you can forget it.
Go read the full piece for plenty more.