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Auckland’s housing crisis is just like Christchurch’s except …

Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, May 29th, 2016 - 38 comments
Categories: national, same old national, spin, Steven Joyce, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

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Can you believe this?  The Government is lurching from there is no housing crisis to it is all Auckland Council’s fault to it is like Christchurch’s housing crisis and the Government solved that one.

Between the there is no problem to the we will sell off lots of state houses to solve the problem of homeless to the we have set aside lots of money to buy new social housing beds which actually are existing beds my head is spinning.  The Government’s various responses to the homelessness crisis, which it created, just offers up free hits to left wing bloggers.

Like Stephanie Rodgers.  She nailed it in this comment:

But this week John Key has looked up and everyone’s staring at him saying “WTF, mate? People are living in cars? We’re putting them up in motels so their kids can sleep in a bed for once and we’re charging them for the privilege? What the hell is going on and why aren’t you doing anything about it?”

The latest attempt at blame shifting avoidance is this attempt by Steven Joyce to suggest that Auckland’s housing crisis is similar to Christchurch’s.  Except one was due to a couple of catastrophic earthquakes and a multitude of after shocks and the other was not.

John Palenthorpe at Shinbone Star sums up the stupidity of this comment well.

Did a Government minister just equate a housing crisis in Auckland to the aftermath of an earthquake in Christchurch, which the city is still recovering five years on? Yes. He did.

Except Auckland hasn’t been struck by a natural disaster. It’s disingenuous and absurd to even try and draw a parallel. Which didn’t stop Joyce.

An earthquake is unforeseeable, sudden and beyond control. That’s not the Auckland Housing crisis. A better analogy might be some sort of slow tidal inundation.

Except that’s not good enough either. Because the crisis in Auckland is a combination of economics, policy, government and the market. It’s not a force of nature, it’s a manufactured situation.

Trying to play it off as though it’s a natural disaster is cowardly. It is smart though. An earthquake is a natural disaster, it’s nobody’s fault. People accept that earthquakes are things that happen. But the Auckland housing crisis isn’t something that just happened, suddenly, in a shift of geology.

It’s a human failure. A failure of national government and local government to adequately recognise the problems and pressures of a housing market that was not so much heating up as bursting into flames.

It’s a failure to look beyond the GDP figures and consider the long term consequences of property speculation as economic driver.

It’s a failure of nerve to act when needed, and it’s a failure of integrity to accept that because the problem has been dismissed and ignored for so long, the only solutions which can have a meaningful impact are some of the most radical.

No doubt National will continue to try and blame Labour for the current crisis.  Because they were building houses back in 2008 but should have built more.  Or there was housing inflation.  Or something.

To be fair to Joyce he is claiming that red tape is the cause of the problem.  From the Herald article:

Auckland’s housing problems are a regulatory issue, primarily, and [the result of] a long period of under investment in housing which was caused by a strangling of red tape.”

Prior to the amalgamation of the Super City, local regional authorities were suing each other to a standstill, he said, causing a backlog of regulatory issues.

“Remember when we came in and put the Super City together, one of the key things was that the eight local regional authorities had been suing each other for years over the interpretation of the metropolitan urban limit,” he said.

“So we’re dealing with a backlog of regulatory issues, and we are still perhaps getting pretty frustrated with the Council, more generally, that actually that they have not yet got the bull by the horns in terms of supplying enough land.”

But the claims that inter council litigation over the MUL from over six years ago stopped everything is again bizarre.  There were some cases over aspects of the MUL involving the ARC but the growth strategy was in place and the general direction had been settled.  Claiming that it is all the fault of red tape is on a par with claiming that Auckland’s housing crisis is the same as Christchurch’s.

The claims are getting more absurd as time goes on.  After eight long years this Government should have done something.  The problem is because of its ideological blindfolds it thinks solving the housing problem can be achieved by paying its landlord mates greater subsidies, selling the very houses that could be used to address the problem and making it harder not easier for the poorest amongst us to access basic social welfare support.  These solutions are as intellectually bankrupt as saying that Auckland’s housing crisis is like Christchurch’s.

Of course this could all be a ploy to justify the introduction of commissioners

38 comments on “Auckland’s housing crisis is just like Christchurch’s except … ”

  1. weka 1

    Hey, I’m good with seeing 8 years of National’s crony capitalism and post democratic neoliberalism as a disaster of epic proportions akin to an earthquake. Just so long as we don’t call it a natural disaster and we understand what we need now is urgent civil defence measures and then recovery.

    • Ch-ch Chiquita 1.1

      You could call it a natural disaster, as it is derived from a human nature – greed.

      • weka 1.1.1

        I don’t think greed is human nature. I think it’s socialised and chosen.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          Yep. Greed isn’t natural and has to be taught.

        • Ch-ch Chiquita 1.1.1.2

          Not sure it is only a socialised nature. You can see how little kids want what others have even at a very young age and need to be taught they can’t have it all. So in my opinion, the socialisation part is to learn to control this urge.

          • weka 1.1.1.2.1

            Babies needing what they need isn’t greed though. Greed is taking what you don’t need or wanting what you don’t need at someone else’s expense.

            A dictionary definition says greed is an intense and selfish desire for something. I think you get some kids that are like that, but it’s not an innate trait.

  2. vto 2

    Stephen Joyce is probably the most dishonest of the lot.

    Nevertheless, to take his comparison….

    Christchurch’s disaster was sparked by 15,000 earthquakes

    What was Auckland’s disaster??????? ….. I will tell you what the natural disaster is that has befallen Auckland – neoliberalism, voters penchant for stupid rising house prices, and this government that the equivalent stupid voters in Auckland have voted in…

    the natural disaster in Auckland is entirely a human characteristic – a human characteristic brought to life entirely by the National Party ethos, its supporters, and their government

    • Bearded Git 2.1

      It’s not a “natural” disaster then is it vto?

      • vto 2.1.1

        only on the basis that stupid humans such as Joyce are “natural”.

        • Bearded Git 2.1.1.1

          I think savenz’s “neoliberal disaster” below is perfect.

          This government’s “hands-off, do nothing, tinker only” approach could only be got away with for so long. The housing disaster is impossible to turn around before the election and it is all their own making.

  3. Pat 3

    “Can you believe this? The Government is lurching from there is no housing crisis to it is all Auckland Council’s fault to it is like Christchurch’s housing crisis and the Government solved that one.”

    except they haven’t…..in fact if anything the government actions have exacerbated Christchurch’s housing issues….no surprise there.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/business/the-rebuild/80370464/helen-dawson-86-waiting-for-secondtime-foundation-fix-for-christchurch-home

    • Kiwiri 3.1

      The policy lurchings, denial and then apparent action, are very deja vu-ish, like the last days of Jenny Shipley. Except the Nats have a political hypnotist and better liar at the helm, and a far larger and stronger media battalion this time round. Unfortunately, on the other side of the House, the main party in opposition this time is weaker, poorer, less energised, with a caucus that has less talent and experience, as well as a shrinking and less engaged membership (“fewer is not better”: http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/2016/05/fewer-is-not-better.html). God save New Zealand, come GE2017.

      • Pat 3.1.1

        while it is true the current admin has had longer and a freer hand to pervert the purpose of everything they touch Abraham Lincoln’s old adage still applies…”you can fool all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”.

      • Mosa 3.1.2

        Yeah spot on Kiwiri.
        I think we have a least two more terms of these white collar criminals.
        Its all sewn up with the National Nasties dominating the MMP environment and with help from their corporate mouthpiece’s our MSM.

    • leftie 3.2

      Yep, very true Pat. National are such liars.

  4. save nz 4

    Steven Joyce might be onto something, Auckland’s neoliberal disaster could be a symptom of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

    But what ever it is, it is certainly manufactured by government policy to justify selling off states houses and public assets and removing democracy from Auckland and other cities to make it easier.

  5. Stuart Munro 5

    Both cities could have made substantial progress on housing if National party himbos hadn’t blown the money on convention centres no one needs or wants.

  6. save nz 6

    Budget 2016: If you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
    Blogpost by Russel Norman

    http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/en/blog/budget-2016-if-you-dont-laugh-youll-cry/blog/56560/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_term=link%20post&utm_campaign=Climate&__surl__=IgNPg&__ots__=1464475107842&__step__=1

    “Instead of tackling big issues like climate change, the Government’s 2016 budget seems to do exactly the opposite! New Zealanders will pay $2 billion over four years to INCREASE climate pollution.”

    And I saw a tweet from Carmel Sepuloni

    And I hear that they have budgeted 7 million to SELL state houses….

  7. Incognito 7

    How many houses in Auckland remain unoccupied?

    We already have rules (laws) in place that stipulate time limits (e.g. 180 days) on certain rights, e.g. to keep a Tax or Residency Status.

    So, I’d suggest a similar approach to properties that sit vacant for a long time. Occupancy can easily be cross-checked by water and power consumption; no need to hunt for ownership and/or people with unpronounceable or foreign-sounding surnames.

    Slap a progressive non-occupancy levy, with interest, on these properties so that they fulfil the (social) purpose for which they were intended and for which infrastructure was put into place and maintained: occupancy.

    In other words: non-user pays.

    Too far-fetched and politically impossible you say?

    Look at it this way: if you make a booking or reservation you often have to pay a fee to secure ‘your spot’ and prevent somebody else from ‘using’ it. This fee is often not (fully) refundable. Similarly, the full amount usually has to be paid by a certain date and generally is, again, not refundable (the infamous fine print), which is why the market invented “cancellation insurance”. The argument is, of course, that somebody took a ‘risk’ and incurred a ‘cost’.

    The whole idea of land & home (AKA “property”) “ownership” is antiquated IMO; you need permits for many things and it is associated with so many rules & regulations and obligations & duties (of care) that it’ll drive any sane person mad. I think a more realistic way of viewing the so-called property rights is as “right of use”. After all, land is a natural resource, just like water …

    An empty house is preventing somebody else from using it and there is a societal ‘cost’ incurred by this. QED

    • weka 7.1

      One of the new models of land ownership being developped in NZ (although it’s been used for a long time overseas) is Community Land Trusts. I think there the trust owns the land and the occupants get very long term leases, but those leases come with conditions eg you can’t go off and leave a house empty for a long period of time because that affects the whole communit.

      I think to get the kind of thing you are talkng about you have to frame it very strongly in the positive. Which is kind of what you are doing, except I can already see MiddleNZ* freaking out 😉 So as well as ultimately people being fined or charged for leaving a house empty, develop models whereby they are encourage to share their house with others.

      What sort of time period where you thinking of before charges kick in?

      We’d also have to deal with exemptions eg holiday homes, and how to do that fairly.

      “After all, land is a natural resource, just like water …”

      Well if we want to get really radical about it, river and land have rights of their own and we really shouldn’t be seeing them as things to be used. If you see water as a resource rather than the core of our ability to live as individuals or a species, then you end up in the ridiculous situation we are in now where National are arguing no-one owns water therefore we can charge what we want for it. Socialists will be a bit more thoughtful, but it’s still problematic in a world of climate change to treat water as a commodity/resource whose main function is human use.

      • Incognito 7.1.1

        Thank you.

        I wasn’t thinking of that exact model of setting up trusts, etc., as this would suggest transfer or restructuring of ownership. I was really trying to come up with ways to ‘encourage’ occupancy, which is after all the purpose of domestic dwellings. The consequences are the same though; leaving a house empty for a long time affects the neighbourhood, the local community, and, in the end, the whole of society.

        I don’t think my ideas are radical – I consider myself painfully and woefully moderate – and I see it as a different way of looking at the issue and of course framing it differently.

        Middle NZ has no reason to freak out as they have a lot to gain and nothing to lose from the proposed non-occupancy levy although the scare mongers might argue that land & house prices will nose-dive. I assume, of course, that Middle NZ does not own many properties that sit empty …

        I’d go for a 180-day allowable non-occupancy period and then start charging progressive levies.

        A house in the suburbs of Auckland won’t be classified as a “holiday home”; it comes down to zoning rules, ratings based on usage (e.g. domestic vs. commercial), etc. I don’t see the holiday home as a major issue. Interestingly, many holiday homes are being available to others (e.g. tourists) and are shared. Generally speaking though I am not hugely enthusiastic about exemptions & exceptions as they often tend to blur lines rather and thus create an administrative nightmare and loopholes, etc.

        It would take too long to debate here the (intended) meanings & interpretations of “use”, “right”, and “resource” when talking about water and land (and air!). Briefly, I am in close agreement with Dame Anne Salmond’s views on these issues.

        PS A similar levy should be charged on appropriately-zoned un-used (un-developed) land as a disincentive to land banking. In fact, a second or higher levy would be justified to ‘encourage’ the building of homes on that land. I’m becoming less moderate by the minute 😉

        • ropata 7.1.1.1

          Our natural environment and resources are irreplaceable taonga and it’s our responsibility to be kaitiaki for future generations, not for a few greedy buggers to profit from and pollute.

  8. Jenny 8

    New Zealand’s most populous city has suffered through a number of devastating “Class Quakes”, The first class quake, the Rogernomic Revolution privatised a lot of public wealth and which led to massive job cuts at Telecom, NZ Rail, the Power Boards and MOW which saw many, of these once secure permanent jobs, contracted out and casualised. Followed by National’s Employment contracts ACT which increased the casualisation and disempowerment of a lot of the working population in New Zealand’s biggest industrial centres, South Auckland, Penrose, West Auckland.

    These attacks on working people were coupled with attacks on the social wage, user pays and the Notorious benefit cuts under Ruthonomics. And now the final insult the privatisation of State Housing.

    The combined affects of these 3 devastating class quakes, plus the opening up of New Zealand’s economy to cheap imported manufactured goods, is that the working population and beneficiaries in New Zealands biggest and most prosperous centre have not been able to keep up with the cost of living, especially housing.

    • Jenny 8.1

      In the “classquake” analogy which has struck Auckland particularly hard, I had forgot to mention the imposition of the flat tax GST which put a greater amount of the tax burden on the less well off, that allowed the imposition of Income Tax cuts that have favoured the better off and made life harder for the rest.

      (It was the struggle over income tax cuts for the wealthy, between Roger Douglas and David Lange, that cost Lange his job. Douglas was returned to cabinet. Geoffery Palmer replaced David Lange as PM. Since then, GST rises and even more income tax cuts that favour the well off, have continued to eat into the social wage.)

      The aftershocks continue to roll on.

      Why should anyone be surprised that Auckland resembles a city that has gone through a major disaster?

      • Paul Campbell 8.1.1

        yes but there’s nothing special about Auckland here, we’ve all suffered from the same thing, here in Dunedin we’ve also lost our commuter trains, and our electric buses, and much of our local industry (to Auckland and overseas) – one can argue that the rest of NZ has suffered much more and Auckland is just suffering from its success.

        The Nat’s don’t seem to want to address the main problem that Auckland has – too many people …. trying to live on an isthmus …. frankly it’s a geographically stupid place to put a big city … a bit of planning that spreads people out within the country, that keeps jobs from moving to Auckland, that routes new migrants to other centres, that discourages people from moving to Auckland, will reduce the demand for housing in Auckland AND help solving many other Auckland problems (like traffic etc)

        • Jenny 8.1.1.1

          “a bit of planning that spreads people out within the country, that keeps jobs from moving to Auckland, that routes new migrants to other centres, that discourages people from moving to Auckland, will reduce the demand for housing in Auckland AND help solving many other Auckland problems (like traffic etc)”
          Paul Campbell

          With all its problems, “traffic etc” what could attract people out of Auckland?

          Decent wages would be something.

          ….The ending of compulsory union and employer negotiated legally binding industry wide wage awards, by the National government ensured that wages in the regions and smaller centres fell behind the big cities, making these parts of the country, unattractive to job seekers and those with marketable skills.

          No wonder people fled to Auckland.

          Even if you fall out of work in a big city you are probably better off than an unemployed person in the regions with less support agencies than you find in the cities.

          All the people Paula Bennet is trying to bribe to leave Auckland will inevitably return if they want to work for a half decent wage.

          If a National government could abolish National Wage Awards with a stroke of a pen, why can’t an incoming Labour Government reinstate them?

  9. Mosa 9

    Love the picture of Nixons face replaced by Joyce.
    The similarities are similar except unfortunately Joyce or Shonkey have not left yet and like Nixon won’t face impeachment.
    That statement about comparing Ch Ch too Auckland show’s how much Joyce is along with the rest of this administration is detached from reality.
    He would not have done that 5 year’s ago and it’s a clear sign that they are out of ideas for dealing with the Auckland problem that doesn’t involve hurting their support base.
    The National govt is totally inept and compromised when it comes to dealing with a problem that a responsible govt would have tried to alleviate some years ago,but National is handcuffed and backed into a corner over housing.
    The current tactic is to lash out and blame Labour as usual and the council and threaten too expel the left leaning Auckland government and appoint a commissioner to do its work before local elections.
    And foolishly allowing 67.000 people to enter the country mostly settling in Auckland that has as we know a chronic shortage of available homes driving up the values to ridiculous levels to enrich their supporters even more and creating a very dangerous situation for New Zealand’s economy.
    The outcome for the poor,working poor and the middle class is always the same when National applies its policies for the benefit of its donor’s and supporters, pain and inaction and no responsibility to the vulnerable.

  10. greywarshark 10

    Is that image showing Joyce arising as a fully grown avatar from his mechanical womb?

  11. Paul Campbell 11

    You know it doesn’t help that the government’s own housing corporation has been put in a position by this national government where it must make a profit and the only way it can is by selling off the very housing stock that used to house the poorest among us. Where did the Nat’s think the people who used to live in those houses would go? some are lucky enough to have cars to live in, but not all of them.

    This is the USA’s housing policy: we’re making money, screw the poor

    • greywarshark 11.1

      Paul Campbell
      The interesting theory is that the sell off and undersupply of state housing is deliberate.
      It is being carried out under Bill English orders, but overseen by Treasury which wants to establish what a market rate is when government is not involved to muddy the pure economic waters. In other words an economic experiment which they want to objectively carry out, so that they can organise the real world to match their elegant economic theories.

      Where did the Nat’s think the people who used to live in those houses would go? some are lucky enough to have cars to live in, but not all of them.
      That is the $64,000 question (not allowing for inflation) which the Treasury and Nats are interested to know. So they watch the debacle with objective interest.

      Some useful links for enquiring minds.
      https://armstrongonpolitics.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/home-is-where-the-heart-is/
      and
      Chris Trotter Bowalley Road
      http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/2016/05/homes-are-where-votes-are.html

  12. Steve 12

    Key,English,Smith and Joyce have all said they will solve Auckland’s housing crisis just like they solved Christchurch’s housing crisis and prices have stabilized because they built houses. We know that Christchurch’s housing crisis isn’t solved but what amazes me is not one Interviewer or Opposition MP (as far as i know) has stated the bleeding obvious in reply. Urban Christchurch is still 8100 down on the population from 2010. Auckland from 2010 has increased population by over 110,000. (as at Nov 2015)

  13. G C 13

    I’d hardly say the ‘housing crisis’ in ChCh is solved. We have people sleeping in cars here too. The rents in ChCh are comparable to Auckland.

  14. Philj 14

    It’s not a housing crisis if you’re a baby boomer with a house who wants to leave Auckland. You will sell up, buy 4 cheap houses to rent in the provinces and keep voting for the status quo.

  15. greywarshark 15

    PhilJ
    Do you think one way to contain all this is to ringence each house so that it must be treated as a separate entity maybe within a porftfolio? And introduce fees that ramp up the more houses that people own, or have interests in? Or the landlords must enter private/public partnerships with government, which carries out its own housing design and schemes, but has input from landlords towards the initial setting up costs, planning, sewerage, water, small transport to hubs at cheap prices?

    Investment returns feed back into thinking on the valuable human structures that are more reliable for asset portfolios than other things, and of practical and lasting use. Also some of the money could go into a Department of Housing and Building to produce model plans, think of suitable profiles for strength and resilience against storms, perhaps have a concrete core with extended verandahs on four sides, with the bedrooms, living etc. Prepare us for future climate change, and storm surges and weather events etc.

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