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Is the Labour Housing policy even possible?

Written By: - Date published: 8:50 am, April 30th, 2017 - 128 comments
Categories: election 2017, housing, labour, Politics, poverty - Tags:

When in September 2017 the new Minister of Housing first opens their office door, where do they start? Heading into winter again, few dispute the housing crisis. But the musculature of state needed to shape the whole of New Zealand’s built form no longer exists.

Even if Labour were to start the Affordable Housing Authority from day one, it would be as a letterhead and not as the vast dealing, financing, constructing, and selling machine needed to get 100,000 dwellings built.

They need not look at MBIE. What used to be the Ministry of Economic Development, champion of the Growth and Innovation Framework, is now an over-full orchestra with too many soloist duties, no score, no conductor, and no reason to even perform.

Certainly no point turning to Housing New Zealand. The future progressive government will be shrunk back to a Department and simply coordinate its services with MSD. Its focus is solely to be social need.

No, the closest model is NZTA. This massive and largely self-funding behemoth is the result of multiple bureaucratic mergers. It has land acquisition powers. It has regulatory and prosecutorial powers. It has a Board with $500 million delegations for decisions before it needs to call up the Minister at all. It has developed a sophisticated common accountability and co-funding framework structure with every single local authority. It has billions and billions of assets under construction and management. Its 1,400 highly qualified staff are the centre of engineering practise in New Zealand. NZTA is the AHA model.

NZTA holds the New Zealand construction industry in a hard grip. They’re no mere Urban Development Agency: they are the largest state-directed monopoly in the country.

A wise Minister would prepare themselves for the necessary executive power by averting their gaze from mere developmental instances like Hobsonville, Christchurch, or even Melbourne.

Instead, they need to prepare a machine of such formidable scale and power that monopsony materials suppliers quake, construction companies fawn like teenagers at the Elvis Comeback Special, and the power of their housing developments shapes whole landscapes with the same bulldozing flex and grunt as the entire Roads of National Significance programme.

Only an Affordable Housing Authority that can match NZTA will be able to bend NZTA’s will away from its tarmac-focussed gaze. If you don’t believe me, it took about 2 years from Auckland Transport’s existence to make it clear to its putative Council owner that it did not give a damn and would follow the money – government money – above all else. AT, like NZTA, have become a major part of the housing problem and they answer to no one for it.

Only an entity of the scale and momentum of NZTA could make itself so indispensable that any future government would add it to the growing cross-parliamentary social compact alongside ACC and NZSuperannuation. It must endure.

Only this kind of beast would have a hope of staring down and co-opting what Jane Kelsey has observed as the unholy alliance between banks, insurance, and real estate that saturates and bedevils our society’s capital and attention. They will not give up without either a fight or generous deals, and they are bigger than our government.

I do not yet have confidence that the Opposition understand this spectacular executive and commercial deficit they face to enact their housing policy. If housing is ever again to be wrested from total market control, they must.

128 comments on “Is the Labour Housing policy even possible?”

  1. BM 1

    How are state houses built in NZ?

    What’s the process?

  2. Jenny Kirk 2

    Presumably Labour has gone into all of this thoroughly, Advantage – their housing policy uses the NZTA as an example of how things would be done.


    Labour intends to set up an Affordable Housing Authority along the lines that NZTA operates, and will hold all surplus Crown land, access planning via cutting red tape,
    partner with the private sector, councils and iwi in development companies to undertake major greenfields and revitalisation projects. This sort of partnership will enable the AHA to get going and re-build NZ’s state housing. Its set out in some detail in their housing policy.

    • BM 2.1

      partner with the private sector, councils and iwi in development companies to undertake major greenfields and revitalisation projects

      How does that differ to what’s going on now? I was under the impression that’s what National is currently doing?

      • Ad 2.1.1

        Differs in scale and coordination and therefore risk.

        Hobsonville one area, Tamaki another. Risk to government is circumscribed.

    • Ad 2.2

      I’m familiar with the content.

      I can’t see the machinery is possible, not even inside a term.

      They appear more familiar with Id’s in Australia than what it’s going to take.

      A full reversal of the policy-funder-provider split hadn’t occurred for 6 terms. 18 years.

      They need to show they have it all ready or this effort will crash and b u r n.

    • keepcalmcarryon 2.3

      Public private partnership:
      I’ll just sit here and light $100 bills.

    • PMC 2.4

      The main problem facing governments when it comes to affordable housing is assuming there’s a significant role for the private sector. The same goes for electricity, water, transport etc. In housing allowing property developers to clip their ticket stuffs everything up. Until we axe the parasitic there’s always going to be a problem.

  3. Antoine 3

    Do you have confidence that Labour’s front bench have the management capability to enact change on this magnitude? What previous experience do they have that would prepare them for something like this?

    • tc 3.1

      Nope they lack the bollocks to stare down the embedded corporate self interest nact have infected social housing, health, education etc with.

      Happy to be proven wrong and IMO their first term should be spent ripping open the dodgy deals across the entire spectrum and nailing them up for everyone to get their heads around.

      Second term gives you the mandate to tear it all up having served the first term as fair notice to all the ticket clipping troughers. Keys crew have poisoned many wells there’s no quick fix here or in health etc.

      • WILD KATIPO 3.1.1

        ‘Keys crew have poisoned many wells there’s no quick fix here or in health etc.’

        Along with many other ideologues in previous govts who preached small govt and market driven solutions. It will take a huge amount of effort to unpick that whole corrupt edifice and recreate a semblance of the sort of regulated rebuild of various govt dept’s capable of wielding the sort of muscle needed for properly housing our population.

        Yet the sooner it starts the better.

    • The decrypter 3.2

      Antoine. Use Smith and Bennetts expertise by offering them contracts to enact change.

    • Ad 3.3

      Twyford is leading it.
      He’s competent and knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

      But in his 5 terms he’s yet to show he has the necessary cojones for what will be needed.

      • Antoine 3.3.1

        So the risk, it seems to me, is that the programme is (a) unsuccessful and (b) very expensive nonetheless.


        • Ad

          The risk is a one-term government because they could not deliver their signature policy.

          And National rules again.

          • Antoine

            Can we just skip to the part where National gets back in, without going through the painful and expensive part in the middle?


          • Antoine

            Afterthought; what would happen to KiwiBuild once National was back at the helm? On past form, National would presumably take it over rather than canning it. Would they sell off 49% of it? Would Steven Joyce end up running the remainder?


      • Cinny 3.3.2

        Twyford is leading it.
        He’s competent and knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

        And Twyford cares, his heart is in it.

        A huge improvement from Smith with his defensive attitude and lack luster, totally over it, demeanor.

        Smith does things because he has to, but Twyford performs because he wants to.

        This election I’m voting for politicians that actually care about the people… I’m voting for a change in government

      • Antoine 3.3.3

        > Twyford is leading it.
        > He’s competent and knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
        > But in his 5 terms he’s yet to show he has the necessary cojones for what will be needed.

        Waitaminute. I just did some research and:

        1. He has 3 terms, not 5. He was first elected in 2008.
        2. Clearly therefore, he has never been a Minister let alone a Cabinet Minister.
        3. He has never worked in the public service.
        4. He has never worked in the infrastructure sector in any capacity.

        Sorry, cojones or no cojones, he is simply undergunned to do this work.


        P.S. Also, Stoner is his middle name.

        • Ad


          • Antoine

            Relatedly, I’ve been comparing the Labour Cabinet of 2005 with the current Labour caucus.

            1. Clark – GONE
            2. Cullen – GONE
            3. Anderton – GONE
            4. Maharey – GONE
            5. Goff – GONE
            6. King – GONE
            7. Mallard – PROBABLY GOING
            8. Hodgson – GONE
            9. Horomia – RIP (God bless)
            10. Burton – GONE
            11. Dyson – STILL HERE (Apparently)
            12. Carter – GONE
            13. Barker – GONE
            14. Benson-Pope – GONE
            15. Dalziel – GONE
            16. O’Connor – STILL HERE
            17. Cunliffe – GONE
            18. Parker – STILL HERE (And actually still in a senior role)
            19. Mahuta – STILL HERE (Apparently)
            20. Cosgrove – STILL HERE
            21. Sutton – GONE.

            It makes for sobering reading. The only remaining senior Labour MP with experience of actually getting stuff done in Government is David Parker.


            (PS Should this have been on eg Open Mike? Apologies if so)

            • weka

              The problem with that argument is that National have MPs with experience and they’ve managed to fuck up the whole thing so badly that they’ve basically said they don’t know how to fix it. I think Labour and the Greens will do fine, because they’re starting from a base of believing that governments should actually govern and do so competently.

              • Antoine

                Time will tell.


                • weka

                  Competency is only an issue of you ignore the ideological elephant in the living room.

                  • Antoine

                    I would rather say, ‘competency is only an issue if you want to do anything’.

                    Well-meaning and incompetent is not a winning formula in my book.


                    • Semantics.

                      How about a few ideas why things CAN be done instead of this constant relying on past failures such as ‘ letting the free market take care of the issue’ or nitpicking on why any new initiative ‘cannot be done’ …

                      You could look at it this way :

                      The longer the public see National being incompetent and ineffectual , the longer you can expect Labour to hold power after the September elections.

                      Up to you.

                • greg

                  national has had 9 years to deliver times up they to be delivering now not some time in the future now.

              • Tautoko Mangō Mata

                The current National bunch of MPs have had 8 years to prove that they have not got the competence or the will to fix the problems facing NZ. As far as I am concerned we need FRESH ideas, and the desire to be in parliament to make a real difference in society and this is what these fresh people will bring. These people are not bought and paid for by large, self interested donators.

              • Tamati Tautuhi

                Good point. Like

        • WILD KATIPO

          But you are forgetting one enormous and salient fact here :

          Current National party ‘ leave it up to market solutions’ attitudes are less than useless,… so why do you want to ” just skip to the part where National gets back in, without going through the painful and expensive part in the middle?”

          Do you enjoy lack of initiative and incompetence?

          In that case you would definitely be in the minority with most voters who use their brains over who they want running the country.

          • Antoine

            > why do you want to ” just skip to the part where National gets back in, without going through the painful and expensive part in the middle?”

            The question seems to answer itself? To avoid the pain and expense, obviously.


            • WILD KATIPO

              And have you considered the ‘ pain and expense ‘ of those homeless or living in substandard conditions such as cars?

              I think even you must agree at some stage to put aside merely fiscal or ideological concerns and start demanding responsible governance.

              Something that will never happen under this government and to which , in the long term , – will cause even more ‘ pain and expense ‘ to us all by retaining the current status quo.

            • Foreign waka

              Antoine -The painful part in the middle, and I gather it must feel painful, are elections. Neither National nor any other party has a ‘Right’ to govern. Unless I have missed the news that NZ has effectively become a totalitarian state.

      • Anne 3.3.4

        Beg to differ with you Ad @ 3.3. Twyford has the cojones alright. He’s been in Opposition since arriving in parliament so he’s not had a real chance to show it. I saw him in action back in the mid to late 2000s on the Shore and he was impressive. He also has the knack of bringing quite a wide and disparate bunch of people together to assist him.

        Btw. He’s been in parliament since 2008. That will be 3 terms come the election – not 5 terms.

        • Antoine

          He may or may not have cojones but he hasn’t got the experience in making stuff happen. Could be up to taking on a normal ministerial role, but unlikely to manage something on this scale.


          • lprent

            Have you ever read a history of the 1st Labour government?

            Your ideas are that of a managerial fool.

            For that matter, this current National government started with bugger all ministerial experience. English was about it.

            • Antoine

              > For that matter, this current National government started with bugger all ministerial experience.

              That’s right, and in consequence they buggered up a lot of stuff.

              Now they have considerable experience which is a good thing to have.

              I think it’ll be a shock to the system when Labour/Greens take power, to discover just how hard it is for them to get stuff done (especially initially).

              (Shades of Trump)


              • @ Antoine

                ‘ For that matter, this current National government started with bugger all ministerial experience

                Now they have considerable experience which is a good thing to have.’


                They certainly haven’t shown any competence so far for all their assumed ‘experience’ you tout them as having . In fact – quite the opposite , actually.

                All they are doing is displaying the same sort of scandalously gross incompetence now as they had when they first came to power.

                There’s a reason that under the Bill English led National party they suffered one of their worst electoral defeats in its history – and the housing crisis and Nationals sheer incompetence today is a glaring example of just why National lost so badly in 2002.

                • Enough is Enough

                  I disagree

                  National has been a raging success when compared against the reason they exist. They came into advance the interests of their core supporters, the rich and privileged.

                  Who can say the rich have not done extremely well out of this government.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Now they have considerable experience which is a good thing to have.

                Yes, they now have a great deal of experience in making the country worse off while enriching a few and show all the indications of continuing down that psychopathic path.

            • Pete George

              “For that matter, this current National government started with bugger all ministerial experience. English was about it.”

              Also Murray McCully, Nick Smith, David Carter, Maurice Williamson.

              A number of others had experience as Government MPs.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Again , Antoine ,… you miss yet another enormous and salient point :

            42,000 homeless and whole family’s sleeping in cars is hardly testament to either the success of ‘ market driven solutions ‘ or the National party’s track record so far in doing anything tangible or practical whatsoever.

            I think we can safely brush your pessimistic and biased opinions about Twyford aside and vote in Labour and start to see some action on this front.

            Otherwise, just consign ourselves to more of the same stagnating inaction and incompetence that will ensue under National.

            • Antoine

              > I think we can safely brush your pessimistic and biased opinions about Twyford aside and vote in Labour and start to see some action on this front.

              Feel free, but the results may not be what you hoped for.


              • And again , if you consider family’s living in cars because they cannot afford the rents OR – the ridiculous National govt policy of putting people up in expensive motels that the taxpayer foots because they lack any cognitive plan, …

                I’m sure most would far rather a Labour govt that actually put into motion initiatives that alleviated the ludicrous state of affairs that we now endure under the National party.

              • greywarshark

                You don’t know that what you have expressed will happen, but it could, and we should be prepared for a pain in the gut when we find problems and barriers to progress constantly arising.

                Nobody thinks it will be easy, but setting a goal a bit past the achievable is a spur don’t you think, as long as people are warned that it is a best-case scenario. But they should also take comfort from the promise that great efforts will be made, and we should know what those will be,
                and how practical they are to achieve.

                Perhaps people like yourself with doubts could form committees studying their own area and meet to discuss what are the types of housing to be put up, where, by whom etc. Get the action-orientated people thinking about the task for their location and work out a plan that has been thoroughly discussed and ready to implement with them as advisors and watchers, and the locals informed and ready. to help and to watch over the sites and make sure that materials aren’t stolen etc.
                Taking ownership of the help, not just pushed to the side as useless.

                Further, the groups of house-needy in each area could come forward and have some input into design. They might want fences to keep children and dogs in for instance. The houses could be built so there is a quick basic dwelling put up and so designed that other rooms could be built onto two or three sides. That would result in money and time being lessened on each dwelling but with more basic places. There could be provision for sleepouts with covered ways to get to the house so that adults, grannies, older children could be nearby and use the facilities.

                Stop raising doubts and problems and throwing cold water on everything. Nothing would get started if the old NZ knocking machine was allowed to rule. If you foresee a problem then suggest two different ways of handling it for a good outcome towards the goal.
                We all want to see action so concentrate on being practical and positive to forge ahead on the housing.

          • Peter

            ( but he hasn’t got the experience in making stuff happen )

            Oh you mean like Nick Smith does. LOL.

  4. Ethica 4

    Bring back the Ministry of Works and stop the endless contracting out whereby the workers are at the end of the economic line, poorly paid and insecure.

    • BM 4.1

      I wouldn’t probably go as far as bringing back the MOW but I do think that HNZ needs to have it’s own construction crews throughout the country.

      Waiting for private companies to build houses is a poor strategy, HNZ needs to be controlling the process all the way from plans to completion.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        I wouldn’t probably go as far as bringing back the MOW

        I would because it would allow far better coordination of all the construction that the government is undertaking both in purchasing materials and the construction itself.

      • Philj 4.1.2

        I agree with BM about something, I have must be cuckoo.These problems are huge and the market has failed. Stand back marketeers, and let a competent and ethical government get on with the task. The problem is getting a competent agovernment with integrity. Labour has too many right wingers who don’t know which way left is.

        • WILD KATIPO

          They can be spat out over time. So don’t worry.

          Neo liberal far right wingers in the Labour party and their ridiculous free market mantra have been given enough rope and now have hung themselves , … thus those that do remain have very little credibility left to be taken seriously on the big issues.

          Which makes it very easy for the last remaining party full of them to look equally as ridiculous as they do now over housing , – the National party.

      • greg 4.1.3

        no BM a modernization of the building industry is needed modular factory built homes the introduction of automated production lines like Europe introduction latter of 3d printed homes/building components we need to get away from this idea of nails and hammers the next gen of builders will be educated to build and use advanced production and manufacturing processes.also i be leave a rethink of what a home is will be necessary.i would like see the best architects and engineers working on what a 21 st century affordable home should be. a consolidation in construction industry will take place with the volume labours talking about will justify the investment in manufacturing facilities to make labours policy’s work.
        there up and running already

    • Ad 4.2

      Were you asleep for last 30 years or just living under a rock?

      • weka 4.2.1

        Implication being that it’s too late? Not possible? Why not?

      • millsy 4.2.2

        It would be quite easy to bring back the MOW, simply by purchasing the existing civil engineering and contruction firms currently in existence.

        • WILD KATIPO

          And it would be as simple as a change in legislation , which right wingers seem to think they are in the majority over so there cant be any change.

          The incoming Labour led govt would have every right to re-legislate for a MOW if they so decided.

          Its going to be a nasty shock for all the gravy trainers and troughers after September…

    • Rosemary McDonald 4.3

      “…stop the endless contracting out whereby the workers are at the end of the economic line, poorly paid and insecure.”

      And the whole process is entirely profit driven.

      We’d have to go back a wee while in our history to pinpoint at what stage it was considered acceptable, indeed desirable, that the provision of taxpayer funded services such as health, disability supports, state housing and basic infrastructure had to be run on a business, profitable model.

      What was that term recently deployed by a Former Prime Minister….?

      Morally bankrupt.

      And it needs to be acknowledged here, in a theoretically ‘left’ zone, that Labour wholeheartedly embraced this.

      And I see nothing that indicates that they have now wholeheartedly rejected this ideology.

      “Instead, they need to prepare a machine of such formidable scale and power that monopsony materials suppliers quake, construction companies fawn like teenagers at the Elvis Comeback Special, and the power of their housing developments shapes whole landscapes with the same bulldozing flex and grunt as the entire Roads of National Significance programme.”

      Yes, please.

  5. Cricklewood 5

    It will be a struggle construction costs are rising at 10% year on year in Auckland. Forward work needs more qualified staff and labour than available and given Aucklands accomodaton costs getting more people into Auckland isnt particularly simple.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Forward work needs more qualified staff and labour than available and given Aucklands accomodaton costs getting more people into Auckland isnt particularly simple.

      They don’t need more people – they need more productivity. In other words, the government initially needs to be buying 3D printing machines that will produce houses rapidly to get them into production. After that they need to be putting millions per year into the research and development of better 3D printing machines to produce better buildings and other stuff.

      • BM 5.1.1

        Better to kit set homes, 3d printing homes is still quite a fair way off.

        There’s no reason why you couldn’t get the Germans to build a pile of them and ship them across to NZ.

        • KJT

          We are capable of doing that ourselves. Including the fact we produce more building timber than Germany.

          • BM

            Of course, we are.

            But it would take quite a while to set up, you could start by buying directly from Europe.

            • Antoine

              Given that the goal is 100,000 houses in 10 years.

            • WILD KATIPO

              But would still be far better than putting up people in motels or having family’s living in cars.

              As for relying on overseas input, – why? – just so yet more opportunists can make a buck out of the whole thing and raise the costs of production so we are back to square one?

              And seriously – if the issue is bringing in these 3 D machines – how long would it take to ship the damn things in ourselves?

              Do we really need a repeat of the Christchurch scenario where foreign company’s were brought in with their own workers – to the exclusion of employing New Zealanders?

          • Foreign waka

            Sorry I do not agree with you on this one despite having read many of your comment and sharing your point of view quite often.
            I belief it is now some 7 or more years ago that kit houses build in NZ were mentioned and discussed, on local and national government level. Nothing has happened. Nothing. Why?
            Perhaps it would be good to have a group of Germans coming to NZ training NZlanders and produce with NZ timber whilst maybe – here is another misnomer with the Nat government – the staff get some NZQA qualification. The KIt sets maybe under license but given that the quality that Germans produce is so much higher, it is most likely a great plus to have some proper houses for the ones who are in desperate need available.
            I also want to mention that Germans are very efficient and any project would not linger like the Christchurch rebuild affair (another story and a very shameful one at that).

        • Draco T Bastard

          Better to kit set homes, 3d printing homes is still quite a fair way off.

          There’s already several such 3D printers available.

          There’s no reason why you couldn’t get the Germans to build a pile of them and ship them across to NZ.

          Why would you want to do that when it’s cheaper in real terms to produce them here?
          And why would you want to actively prevent the development of NZs economy by buying offshore that which we can easily produce here from our own skills and resources?

          • BM

            I’ve seen them, but average to be honest.

            • Antoine

              It’s kinda missing the point to fixate on the house building process.

              We don’t just need houses. We need roads, power lines, water, sewage, gas, land, consents, houses, soft furnishings, plumbing, electrics, fences, lawns, I could go on.


              • Which is kinda the whole point of this thread right back at the beginning , isn’t it ,… that of having a govt dept with the same sort of muscle that the NZLT does…

            • Draco T Bastard

              They’re a start and they really do massively increase productivity even now.

              One builds a house in one day. That’s say 200 a year taking time out for maintenance and transport. Buy ten and that’s 2000 per year. Buy 100 and we have 20,000 per year and we could, hypothetically, finish off Labour’s 100,000 houses in five years.

              I wouldn’t buy 100 though – I’d buy ten. Then I’d set up massive R&D to produce better versions of them to be produced in NZ from NZ materials and using NZ workers. Need to have that capability fairly quick so as to replace the ten we bought.

              Then there’s the problem of ensuring that we have enough resources available for them to build those houses. thankfully they’re concrete houses and there’s plenty of stone. Probably have to look into using Roman Concrete though as I suspect that we have a better supply of volcanic ash than we do limestone although doing so would improve the durability of those structures.

              • greywarshark

                Roman concrete
                Never heard about that wonderful idea. Old Firth was bankrupted by the Bank of New Zealand, after building with partners a modern flour mill in colonial days, which I guess was the result of capitalism as it was then if you couldn’t balance your books and credit was tight. He went on with what he had left after an inconvenient recession, to explore the use of volcanic rock I think as insulation, and because it resulted in a lighter but strong material. He must have known about that Roman concrete developed in BC times.

              • BM

                I don’t think 3D printing is the right tool for house building, there are far better and cheaper options.

                You could achieve that same concrete house with formwork and fast set mixes.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  I don’t think 3D printing is the right tool for house building, there are far better and cheaper options.

                  We’re not seeing that and then there’s the difference between a house built in one day (3D printed) and over several days or weeks by any other method.

                  We’re talking a serious productivity increase here.

                  You could achieve that same concrete house with formwork and fast set mixes.

                  In the same time frame?

                  • BM

                    People don’t want to live in a water tank.

                    Also, the only thing getting printed is the walls, what about doors, windows the foundations, electricity, plumbing, the roof?

                    I think 3D printing is brilliant with many uses but house building isn’t one of them, it’s going to be the ruin of many a person.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      People don’t want to live in a water tank.

                      They’re living in shipping containers which, IMO, look a hell of a lot worse and probably have worse space setups. Oh, and here’s an example of a water tank house.

                      Also, the only thing getting printed is the walls, what about doors, windows the foundations, electricity, plumbing, the roof?

                      Those other things, except the foundations which could also be made by 3D printing on site with the same machine, suit being made elsewhere – for now.

                      it’s going to be the ruin of many a person.

        • greg

          no there not a plant is already running in Christchurch

  6. Cinny 6

    How much does it cost to train to be a builder?

    Where do our building supplies come from? Are we exporting raw materials only to import them again massively marked up as finished product? After all we grow trees

    • Ad 6.1

      Our building supplies come from 2 companies.

      “We” don’t own sawmills, processors, and own v few forests.

      So, no.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        “We” don’t own sawmills, processors, and own v few forests.

        But we should own all of those things. Far better for society to do so than leaving it to the aristocrats as we found out over centuries of capitalistic governance.

        • Ad

          No party in parliament is proposing that so it will never happen.

          The post is about practicalities of achieving stated Labour policy.

          • Draco T Bastard

            No party in parliament is proposing that so it will never happen.

            Well, it won’t happen with that attitude but it will happen if we demand it of our government.

            • Ad

              Not in any party.

              • Draco T Bastard

                We shouldn’t be relying upon parties who are driven by the ideology of those who are happy with the status quo which is killing us but what the actual people want. That’s called democracy.

      • WILD KATIPO 6.1.2

        Yes well , … yet again we can blame the privatisation and selling off of our SOE’s during the 1980’s and 1990’s for that cant we , Ad…

      • Cinny 6.1.3

        Housing is expensive yet our building supplies come from two companies who are no doubt working together to maintain their market share and resulting profits. Yet we live in a country which grows raw product for building materials.

        We live in a country that needs more builders yet ask people for thousands of dollars if they want to learn such an important trade. Free education would help with that.

        Will Labours housing plan work? Yes, but there are many aspects to it.

        Would free or reduced cost tertiary education help? Yes it would, Labour as well as the Greens and NZF already have policies in this area.

        Would freeing up the market monopoly re building supplies help? Yes and Labour has drawn attention to this.

    • Cricklewood 6.2

      Except they havent and they wont so we’ll continue as we are.

      I do like those kitset houses they put together in Europe and it is a way forward.

    • Cricklewood 6.3

      Its not so much the cost as the barrier its that so many of our builders are now subcontractors or essentially 1 man business’s that simply struggle to have either the time or desire to risk employing someone.
      The subcontractor model is a large part of the problem in our construction industry in both lack of skills and costs.

  7. David Mac 7

    Bloody oath we can do it. Our motivation to do so requires a fundamental paradigm shift. When a country goes to war the stay-at-home population’s ability to produce quadruples. There is no greater motivator for a Mum to do a double shift at the munitions plant than hugging her boy goodbye on the dock.

    It’s about people, us. When it’s about us, we can move mountains.

    In the current climate when I see the word ‘House’ my immediate next thought is: ‘Money’. We need to slide that paradigm. When we see the word ‘House’ we need to think of people.

    Then….the kid struggling with the books to become a certified electrician is struggling to get his Aunty and her family into their own place, not to line the pockets of a faceless international investor hogging on our Rohe.

    Get the motivation right and bloody oath Labour’s housing plan is possible, barely a challenge.

    • Of course it is.

      So many of these naysayers and nitpickers are not even concerned with the issue in this thread or in alleviating the housing crisis.

      Their real concern is the outgoing National party bringing an end to their personal gravy train.

      And so far all we get from them is this constant torrent of negative ” it cant be done” … nothing really constructive , just a whole bunch of defeatist ‘what ifs’..

      The people who built this country from the ground up originally must be turning in their graves with all these duplicitous right wing doom and gloom non hackers .

  8. RightWingAndProud 8

    So basically a government “department” that will use economies of scale to crush private builders and create a monopoly.

    Then again, the only way Labour will be able to fulfil their housing promise is to have something like a Department of Housing building houses on the cheap with all the same look and feel.

    • Ad 8.1

      Hobsonville Land Co uses multiple architects and developers in partnership.

      It’s the private ones like Fletcher Stonefields that were squirted out of the Lego-Monsters’ bum.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      So basically a government “department” that will use economies of scale to crush private builders and create a monopoly.

      Well, if the private sector can’t compete then they fail in accordance with the market philosophy.

      • RightWingAndProud 8.2.1

        It’s a bit hard to compete when you have to make money but your competition doesn’t.

        • SpaceMonkey

          Then they will just need to find the niche where they can compete. There will always be some demand for upper end boutique homes and this won’t be a sector of housing the Government will have any interest in playing in.

          That said, housing shouldn’t be a “market” anyway… it’s a basic human right.

          • WILD KATIPO


            Something these neo libs always try to avoid thinking about. For them a cave is sufficient if you cant afford the rent or the waiting lists are endless…

        • Draco T Bastard

          The ability to make a profit isn’t my concern and it shouldn’t be a concern of the government either. The governments sole concern should be the welfare of our people including ensuring that we’re all housed, well fed, and clothed.

          The last 5000 years have proved that capitalism and the market can’t actually do that.

    • KJT 8.3

      Fletchers and GJ Gardner are doing that rather well at the moment.

      Partly because, unlike individual builders they can import cheaper NZ made building materials, including NZ grown pine, in bulk from Australia.

      • RightWingAndProud 8.3.1

        Fletchers is still a private company but yes, they do have advantages over small and individual builders. My point though is that the government getting involved as a major builder will seriously affect the livelihood of these small and individual builders. And if it is bad enough that small and individual builders have to complete with the likes of Fletchers, why add the government into the mix?

        The best solution and only solution if Labour wants to keep it’s promise is to build cheap specialised housing for those disenfranchised by the housing market. That way they won’t be stepping on anyone else’s turf while supplying a basic human right – shelter – to those in need. Small and individual builders will still be able to sell their labour to those able to pay.

        • Ad

          Labour worked with Fletchers from mid 1930s on housing.

          It’s how Fletchers first grew.

        • WILD KATIPO

          Then having a dept big enough and with enough muscle would then be an easy thing to coordinate small building businesses on a nationwide basis if those businesses chose to be part of it. For many it just might be the ticket for their survival.

          There’s no reason at all why smaller businesses shouldn’t get a look in and a large slice of the pie while larger concerns get to take only part of the contracts.

        • Draco T Bastard

          My point though is that the government getting involved as a major builder will seriously affect the livelihood of these small and individual builders.

          Yes, they’ll probably have a decent wage, consistent and rational work hours, and far less stress.

          Really, who’d you think the government would be hiring? Elves from the bottom of the garden?

    • Either that or complain about how the interior of vans have ” all the same look and feel.”

    • Foreign waka 8.5

      Well, belief you me it is better to have a house that “looks” the same than have none at all. Which is right now the option that so many are facing when looking out their panorama window of the – car.

      • WILD KATIPO 8.5.1

        Exactly .

        Its a ridiculous argument to even post here about worrying if they all ‘ look the same”…

        Do you think the mother of a low income family gives a bloody flying rats arse about that when the alternative is spending a cold , insecure night in a van in some dimly lit parking lot when one of the kids needs to have a shit at 3.00 AM in the bloody morning?!!?

        FFS !!!!

        That just smacks of concern this whole building program could affect someones bloody housing portfolio…

      • RightWingAndProud 8.5.2

        I’d be more concerned if state houses didn’t all look the same as it’s much cheaper to develop from a template than to to build individualised housing. And I’ve lived in at least two state houses. Absolutely nothing wrong with them.

        If a government decides to get involved in housing then it should be done in a way that doesn’t affect the private sector and provides suitable housing for those who have been shut out.

        Take television as an analogy. I am totally opposed to the way state television has been commercialised with a mandate to “make a profit”. State television should be either privatised or changed so that it provides the sort of programming that is not provided by commercial television – e.g. minority interest programming, ad-free documentaries etc.

        • WILD KATIPO

          Fair enough but having a govt dept with the same sort of muscle as NZLT and one that would contract local civic planners / architects and small building businesses can surely be achieved to create variety – it doesn’t all have to look like soviet era concrete block apartments ,…

          Thus providing employment for local builders and contractors and providing much needed housing.

  9. David Mac 9

    It doesn’t matter what is in Labour’s Housing policy. The right will present on 2 fronts.

    They will cover their severed limb stump and declare ‘It’s just a flesh wound.’

    They will crawl all over anything Labour release about their housing plans and hammer chisels into the tiniest of flaws.

    I feel that Labour’s task is to convince voters that their plan is all about people, not cash, simple as that. The best way to do that is to firstly prove that their projected build rate is possible.

    How to do that in this plastic, cash is lord society we’ve created for ourselves? With a reality TV Show. 3 way shoot out. Pit 3 major building companies against each other. A street each. Play the urban planners from 3 centres off against each other. The possibilities for intrigue are endless. The ultimate message being: When kiwis are in behind it, bloody oath we can do it. The sale of the properties and TV rights could fund an election campaign.

    • greywarshark 9.1

      David Mac
      Think you have go a good idea there. Not The Block., The Island. Then have some from the North and the South, and then visit the smaller islands around and see what amazing houses they come up with. As you say the possibilities for intrigue are endless and no-one would want to miss the programme.

      Raise a special Lotto prize with a house that has to belong to a NZ, so would have to be sold by a foreign winner, and have most of the winnings in small vouchers that have to be used in a hardware store. Get people obssessed with housing for a few years instead of the All Blacks.

  10. Antoine 10

    By the way, Advantage, what motivated you to write this post, and what do you think should (and can practically) be done to improve matters?


  11. David Mac 11

    In a job the size Twyford is about to take on the guy at the top is responsible for maintaining the spirit of the mission in hand. Front the News items that capture him lugging a bassinet into a new house.

    The failure or success of Kiwibuild will hinge on the key people he appoints and the dozen people each of them appoint. A smart leader appoints people that know more about their specialist areas than they ever will.

  12. I am not convinced that Labour’s policy will work any more than I am that National’s will work. A lot of the demand is the result of lax policies and an unsustainable rate of immigration. If the immigration were say 20,000 per annum, it would be possible to keep peace with demand. But every nation puts the needs of its own people first as they pay taxes and live there day in day and abide by its laws and vote in its elections. New Zealand is not and should be an exception. Put New Zealand and New Zealanders first by not permitting people who are not residents or citizens to own properties and see how much easier it becomes to own one.

    And if this sounds it is coming from a New Zealand First supporter, that is because it is.

    • Peter 12.1

      ( Put New Zealand and New Zealanders first by not permitting people who are not residents or citizens to own properties and see how much easier it becomes to own one.)

      I hate to say this, but I think I agree with him.

  13. greywarshark 13

    Just noticed what the woman in the back of the picture is doing – mowing the lawn with a handmower. Perfect, just what we all want to return to in these days of lessening fuel and needing to keep fit.

  14. Neil 15

    A good start would be to start training some of the unemployed to be builders AKA apprentiships

  15. Tarquin 16

    Several commenters have mentioned the M.O.W idea. Back in the old days, if you were a government department building a school, police station or even housing for your staff like they did on the think big projects, you just built to your plan and had the MOW sign it off as being to standard. This was called a courtesy permit and the councils had to accept it. I have lived in such a house built like a brick pagoda by NZED. Imagine virtually no compliance costs! Take out the council charges and the ticket clippers and housing could be a lot cheaper. I know it’s not the silver bullet, but in some areas it could work well.

  16. Michael 17

    Of course it isn’t possible, not without spending serious money from the first year of a Labour government. And we all know that the Budget Responsibility Rules are designed to allow such a government to say: “we’d love to help you, and get you out of living in that car/garage/cardboard box in t’middle of road, but we can’t because the BRR says we have to run budget surpluses and pay off foreign fatcats instead. But keep voting for us and keep an eye out for our long term policies. Now I’m just about to call up my chauffeur of my crown limo to take me to my taxpayer-funded Ministerial mansion. Toodle pip and keep the Red Flag flying.”

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  • Driving prompt payments to small businesses
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  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
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  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
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