We already knew that voters prefer Labour’s policies to the Nats. Capital gains tax vs. asset sales. A focus on children and poverty vs. an abdication of responsibility. A real youth training program vs. ineffectual bootcamps. In short, policies that help us to Own Our Future.
Today Labour released another substantial policy, a plan for recovery in Christchurch. The summary is here, with a full pdf document here (hey Labour, how about featuring press releases a bit more prominently on the front page?). The summary is also up on Scoop:
Leadership needed to rebuild Canterbury
The next Labour Government will intervene to give Cantabrians affordable choices to help rebuild their homes, businesses and lives after the devastating earthquakes, says Labour Leader Phil Goff. … “Labour is not prepared to sit back and leave the recovery to market forces We will act decisively.”
* Acquire 1500 sections and on-sell them at cost to Red Zone residents
* Ring-fence a maximum of $100 million from the Canterbury Earthquake Fund to ensure home improvements to houses in the Red Zone are reimbursed up to a maximum of $50,000
* Resolve the insurance standoff and, as a last resort, be prepared to intervene in the insurance market on a short-term basis to get the market functioning again
* Establish an independent insurance commissioner to protect consumers and resolve disputes
* Immediately release all geotechnical information with a plain English guide
* Take action to fill critical skilled worker shortages, firstly from within Christchurch and New Zealand, and provide training – including converting dole payments to apprenticeship subsidies
“Recovery comes at a cost. Government spending is ballooning but progress has stalled. Canterbury is too important to let this happen. Our policy gives people affordable choices and ownership of their future, said Phil Goff.
“This isn’t about writing blank cheques. Our plan is realistic and necessary. We can’t fix every problem but we can improve the outcomes for Cantabrians because we’ll get involved and make things happen.” …
Labour is tackling the major flaw in the current government’s plan head on.
Access to affordable land is critical if displaced residents are to rebuild their lives. National’s RV deal only addresses one side of the problem. They have put an extra 6,000 new home buyers into the market but done nothing to ensure there are affordable options available. The resulting increases in property prices are leaving many buyers priced out of the market. In effect, the Government’s offer has left many people with no place to go. Labour will work to protect these displaced residents:
“Under Labour’s plan to acquire 1500 sections, the cost of buying and readying the land for rebuilding will be recovered when it is on-sold to Red Zone residents who have been paid out from the Canterbury Recovery Fund.
“We will do this at cost to keep the price low so as many residents as possible can make a fresh start without suffering extreme financial hardship.
“It is expected our plan will act as a signal to the market and help keep property prices reasonable in other areas.
“We will not rule out using the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act to purchase land in the face of any evidence of price gouging by developers if that is needed to ensure a fair price is sought and paid.”
In short, Labour will move to stop profiteering by developers. They will buy up land, get it ready for development, then sell it to red-zoners at cost. This introduces into the market a big supplier of sections at a fair price. Yet another Labour policy that works for ordinary people, and a helping hand for displaced red-zone residents – who are sorely in need of some good news for a change.