National to seize privately owned land

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, July 4th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: accountability, housing, human rights, law, national - Tags: , , , , ,

It’s great to see a party with the courage of their convictions:

Government look at hardline measure to seize property for development

Landbankers could have property seized by the Government if the land is within certain areas marked for housing development.

Wait – what?

Housing Minister Nick Smith said today that such a hardline measure to override private title for development in certain areas was a “big call”.

Probably the first true thing he’s said in years.

“If you look at many of the other governments in other parts of the world that have used those powers, they have worked effectively.

Citations needed.

“Yes, we are the National Party, but we have responded in a very pragmatic way to the challenges in Christchurch. And that has involved overcoming some of those pure views about property rights.

“We are pragmatic, and pragmatic answers are needed to the housing challenge that New Zealand has.”

I don’t often agree with the Nats, but I think there are (rare) circumstances where land bankers could be paid off, moved on, and the land put to use. But – the extinguishing of private property rights? Seizure of land? Just imagine if Labour had proposed it. There would have been an instant orgy of political and media outrage. Because it’s National though, there will be barely a whisper.

57 comments on “National to seize privately owned land”

  1. Greg 1

    The Council has 10-12 Golf courses its refusing to subdivide and charges golfers peppercorn fees to use land worth millions.
    How much land are SOEs banking.

    This is just basically Nationalization, and will be illegal under the TPPA,
    something that National has signed in good faith.
    So why doesnt the TOW protect land bankers assets if they aint Maori,
    how is this different from their land confiscation.

    National can not afford even a moderate voter support swing from cities.

    There is plenty of land already available, use it more efficiently.
    Why not ban cars from the CBD, and redevelop the parking lots.

  2. Incognito 2

    Talk the talk, walk the walk.

  3. Ad 3

    Central government had had those powers for housing purposes under the Public Works Act for decades.

    Twyford has to be bolder now, as he is being out flanked by Smith. Twyford couldn’t get Urban Development Authorities through his caucus.

    Each member of his caucus should go pick up a hammer and saw and do some activist pr projects. It’s their only effective wedge against this incredibly popular government.

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Not sure Ad. It was policy certainly in 2011.

      “Labour will legislate for Urban Development Authorities to master-plan for ambitious urban renewal projects around rail, medium density economically-sustainable town centres, public space, healthy and sustainable homes, and strong communities, ensuring that communities which have the most to gain from public transport are best served.”

      https://www.labourparty.org.nz/sites/default/files/2011%20Labour%20Party%20Manifesto_0.pdf

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Happy to see that.
        Stand corrected.
        The point about needing to be even bolder stands – once they steal your policy.

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          I dunno – that just makes Labour reactive, once again, to national’s actions.

          So sooner or later the nats steal policy that they reckon Labour jumps the shark on.

          On the flipside, stealing Labour policy a few years down the line firmly puts Labour at the top of the cliff, trying to head off problems, and National at the bottom of the cliff with a broken-down ambulance.

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            I dunno – that just makes Labour reactive, once again, to national’s actions.

            Knowing that this is a habit that National have got into. It means that Labour need to anticipate one or two steps ahead and have contingencies ready to roll.

            National are starting to get their campaigning wheels in motion. From now on they are going to be a faster moving target, and Labour needs to be able to respond in kind.

            • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1.1

              No, because nobody knows which policies national will steal, which it will ignore, and which it will pervert. Or when.

              So you end up putting together three contingencies for every policy you announce, and then national figure out a tweak that none of your presets actually anticipated. And then you get into the voter fatigue factor of Labour being protrayed as craving credit for national’s policies.

              So, national want to half-arse Labour’s policies? That’s nice. Put it in the hip pocket, it might be useful next year. But in the meantime, don’t waste too much energy whining, move on with something new. Because national only started looking at housing after Labour and the Greens placed the issue right in front of cabinet’s face. People who are open to it will already see that. Let them see it again, and again, with other issues.

            • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.1.2

              National are starting to get their campaigning wheels in motion. From now on they are going to be a faster moving target, and Labour needs to be able to respond in kind.

              QFT

              And it’s not just Labour either but every political party.

              Campaigning has begun. National are watching their support drop and so are ramping up the noise about how great they are and what they’ll do with another term.

              So I would be expecting the election date to be mid year and may even be earlier. A November election is out.

              • Hanswurst

                Really, though, that’s all losing sight of the underlying problem, which is that Labour are in a position of reacting to a National government at all. Ideally, they would be able and inclined to offer up a properly left-wing programme that National couldn’t even partially emulate without losing the confidence of their donors.

                As long as they are also subscribing to a broadly neoliberal paradigm, they will always have an uphill battle, because they have increasing difficulty in convincing their own natural electorates that it’s a good idea, and there already is a National party representing business.

    • Hanswurst 3.2

      On what planet is this government “incredibly popular”? They have been operating with a very thin majority for the last five years. John Key is fairly well liked (without having been “incredibly popular” for a long time now), but beyond that…

      • Ad 3.2.1

        Into a third term I can’t think of a government in the MMP environment as popular as this.

        Not saying I like it.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1

          Into a third term I can’t think of a government in the MMP environment as popular as this.

          This.

          Remember how Clark’s government was polling by the second half of 2007. In the mid/high 30’s.

        • Hanswurst 3.2.1.2

          I think we have quite different definitions of “incredibly popular”. Within a couple of percentage points of being out on their collective ear or having to form a different government seems to defy that definition, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not sure how “more popular than Helen Clark in 2007” is a criterion in this case.

          • Incognito 3.2.1.2.1

            I think you made a very good point and if we allow this framing to take hold and influence our mind-sets it’ll easily become self-defeating.

  4. Sabine 4

    Germany has ‘confiscated’ commercial empty properties that could be re-furbished as residential at ‘market rate’. However, more often then not, before the German Goverment ever gets to ‘confiscate’ it will offer incentives to owners and developers to come to their senses on their own with the help of some money. Namely, we have a shortage, you have a surplus, so re-furbish the offices to apartments and get money for it.

    It was done in the early nineties after the wall came down as you literally could not find a rental anywhere that was remotely affordable. Mind bond in Germany is three month, but again, rent is by month and fwiw I never paid more for any of my flats then 300 Euros max around 600 NZD. But then when it comes to screwing over their countrymen, their own children and even parents NZ are a special case. They become land’Lords’ and they lord the heck out of the cow until she falls dead.

    However, it takes guts to do so, and the one thing this National Party led Government has not is guts. They have a ‘fuck you’ attitude, they have a ‘ i got mine and yours’ attitude, they have a bully attitude, they have a ‘i can’t give not fucking shite cause I am rich and you are not attitude’ but they don’t have guts nor courage.
    And they will always try to weasel themselves out of a pickle by either ignoring it, or pretending to get tough………….and in two weeks time all is forgotten and they will sprout some new bull shit.

    We country is run by a bunch of people that could best be described as Turd Blossoms. They do well out of their own shit.

  5. Nck 5

    The fact is that whatever they say will be U turned if the politics dictates, this is the real problem…. Everything said is a lie, a distraction, a mirage….. Anyone disagree?

    You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people, all of the time…. Hopefully next election will be ‘all of the time’.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Citations needed.

    Just look at New Zealand history then.

    The Liberal Government.

    Minister of Lands McKenzie.

    • Graeme 6.1

      And really the whole development of New Zealand’s infrastructure up until the early 90s when we got this strange idea that the “market” provides the best solution. Then there was always the PWA sitting in the background, waiting to put it’s paw on anyone that got a bit bulshie. Now we have competing developers climbing over each other trying to stop the other guy getting ahead of them.

      A good example of this is the Frankton flats at Queenstown, where multiple developers, the airport, and residents have been squabbling for 30 years. The council is absolutely powerless to force an outcome and totally out gunned financially. So we have three competing “commercial centres” with the resulting duplication and loss of land for residential use, and a compromised airport.

      It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds within the National Party. The market ideology will be getting a work out. Gives some of the bizarre recycled, reheated and downright false announcements a wee bit of sense and context.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        So we have three competing “commercial centres” with the resulting duplication and loss of land for residential use, and a compromised airport.

        Yep. Competition costs and it costs a huge amount.

  7. Armchair Critic 7

    From the perspective of a land banker I suppose this could be ok if:
    – You were generally aligned ideologically with the government, and preferred them to other other lot. If the other lot were in government then it would make sense to make a fuss, to get them voted out.
    – You had a good network of contacts in the government and were fairly certain that you’d get a good, low risk return.
    On this basis I expect there to be little to no fuss on the confiscation aspects, because land bankers know which side their bread is buttered on.

  8. Morrissey 8

    “If you look at many of the other governments in other parts of the world that have used those powers, they have worked effectively.”

    Citations needed.

    Communist China, Israel, Sri Lanka, apartheid South Africa….

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      As I said, NZ provides the best example. Not just the Liberal Government, but plenty of examples from Muldoon’s time and more recently.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        Worth looking up the history of Hutt Valley.

        There was pretty substantial nationalization of its land, which the government developed whole suburbs out of, and from those proceeds partially funded the electric railway which went up the Hutt in the 1950s.

        There are other suburbs and towns that the government masterplanned from the beginning – not all of which have turned out great.
        But there’s Hobsonville, Penrose, Mt Roskill, big chunks of Mt Albert/Owairaka, Avondale, and Mt Wellington, lots of Dunedin and Porirua suburbs, industrial settlements like Kawerau and Tokoroa, camp settlements like Bennydale and Twizel, and many more.

        The vast history of state-directed housing development is at the core of capital formation in New Zealand. As well as at the heart of our social wellbeing.

        • The New Student 8.1.1.1

          +1

        • Sir David Henry 8.1.1.2

          I dont mean to be rude, however, the private company of New Zealand Forest Products was responsible for the construction of 2/3 of the housing stock (aprox 2100 houses) in Tokoroa. The private sector and the old Matamata County Council provided the rest. The NZ goverment made a conserted effort not to build state houses in Tokoroa, the argument from both National and Labour was that the company had created the housing shortage (through continued mill construction) so it was NZFPs problem to slove. The heavy lifting in both town planining and building was left to NZFP. Tokoroa is and I suspect will be for some time the largest example of private house construction and land development in NZ.

        • Graeme 8.1.1.3

          Can add Cromwell to that list, again for better or worse…

  9. Bill 9

    At face value…fucking brilliant. Now extend it to include properties that have been left empty for purposes of speculation.

  10. DH 10

    Lets be realistic here. They’re not going to ‘seize’ land, they’ll be making a compulsory purchase like they did with the old public works act. The landbankers will get market price for their land so they’re not going to be shortchanged on the deal.

    When you think about it this looks like a windfall for landbankers. They have to sell the land sooner or later and this would push up their land values considerably.

    • Graeme 10.1

      PWA was only made “market value” quite recently. When it did the heavy lifting you got a reasonable price on the first approach, the net price went down after that.

      To make what Smith is talking about work, the PWA will need it’s teeth back. At present it takes a very long time, and a lot of money, to get an outcome under it.

      • instrider 10.1.1

        Dunno what your definition of ‘recent’ is but market value has been in the act since 1981.

        It’s a pretty basic approach using recent sales of similar properties and ignores any positive or negative effect that designating the land as subject to purchase might have. It doesn’t compensate for lost opportunity.

    • Greg 10.2

      No they wont buy land for market value, they will buy for indicative market value.

      https://www.qv.co.nz/valuations/rating-valuation

      Its not a public works policy, because there is no crises.

      • Ad 10.2.1

        It’s pretty crazy what you discover when you do use it.

        In New Lynn when the big urban renewal was carried out there in 2006-2011, they had to get one commercial property out using the PWA. They argued tooth and nail; it was a restaurant with a pokies operation in it.

        After going through the court case, in which the owner carried on and wept on the stand as if his spleen was being removed with a kitchen knife, it was finally legally agreed.

        But then when the valuations came in for both the property and the business, after quite a bit of digging it was found that there was one set of books for auditing purposes, and another real set of books with all the “happy” payments. And that’s the value he wanted, of course.

        And on demolition, illegal connections were found for free electricity, free broadband, and free water.

        Urban renewal using the Public Works Act is hard, ugly, expensive work.

        But what was achieved was 100 apartments for under $400k, a three story car park, and a small hospital. All this to complement the $350m of transport upgrade to electric rail and bus integration. All the arrangements were put in place under a Labour government – but the Governor General and the Minister of Transport Joyce got to open it.

  11. NZJester 11

    All these so called new policies and new funds National has been talking about lately are stuff that already exist. They have just renamed them and put a pretty bow on to make it look like they are doing something, while in reality are doing nothing to tackle the real problems. Fixing the ghost home problem would help fix a lot of Auckland’s housing crisis more than building more ghost homes that no one can afford! Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage would also help solve a lot of this countries problems as well, by lowering crime, health problems, and child abuse.

  12. save nz 12

    Shocking. Just be like the Maori land grabs. The Natz will just use it for their own ends and profit.

    They are already selling our water, state houses and power for a song, what else can they steal?

    Less democracy.

    When are people going to wake up and realise the Natz have no intention on building affordable houses, they are just looking to make money and pretend the economy is moving, while selling every asset they can get them hands on. And if they can steal it cheap, legally, with their self given powers, why not!

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    National is positioning for election year. One of the biggest and hardest hitting accusations levelled at the Key Government is that it has not been taking the housing crisis seriously.

    My bet: they will have more major policies in housing and accommodation coming out over the next few months.

    Key will look into the cameras next year while debating Andrew Little, and say that it is Labour with no credible plans to deal with NZ’s housing crisis, that Labour in government left the Auckland housing situation in an unaffordable mess, and that National has billion dollar plans to set it right using the full muscle of the Crown.

    • save nz 13.1

      If the Natz feel this will appeal to middle NZ, think again. No matter how they frame it, they have been in power 8 years, had huge immigration levels and no growth per capita and increased debt. Sold State houses, new policy to steal land and tax roads in Auckland. (For the poor who live further out).

      I see NZ First getting vote out of this. Labour and Greens if they stick to facts (how many state houses sold, who to, what they were replaced with, how much they have stolen from Kiwisaver, how much they have impacted the environment, how much debt they have accrued, what assets they have sold, what corporate welfare projects they have donated tax payer money to).

      • Colonial Viper 13.1.1

        If the Natz feel this will appeal to middle NZ, think again.

        The NATs don’t simply “feel” that this will appeal, they have focus grouped it in detail. IMO.

        • Enough is Enough 13.1.1.1

          Exactly – The Nats know well in advance of releasing policy how it will be received.

          They have more resource than the rest of Parliament put together to focus group and manipulate every policy announcement. They don’t release anything without having a fairly clear of what ‘middle New Zealand’ will think of it.

          Of course most of it is spin, bluster and bullshit,

          • Colonial Viper 13.1.1.1.1

            I don’t understand why people keep insisting on underestimating Key and National.

            National may or may not be “desperate” about their decreased polling, but we now have clear evidence of the beginnings of their systematic response to that and their positioning for election year.

            LAB/GR need to show the electorate the fruits of their recent MOU very quickly, in terms of their own joint policy and joint positioning.

            • Graeme 13.1.1.1.1.1

              I was thinking that a core principle of the National Party was the sanctity of private property rights. Looking it up and, well not really…

              From https://national.org.nz/about
              “Loyalty to our country, its democratic principles, and our Sovereign as Head of State
              National and personal security
              Equal citizenship and equal opportunity
              Individual freedom and choice
              Personal Responsibility
              Competitive enterprise and reward for achievement
              Limited government
              Strong families and caring communities
              Sustainable development of our environment ”
              (interesting on the page above is this quote from Key, that I don’t think was there last night?? “I’m interested in results. I’m interested in what works and what makes a difference.”

              Te Ara sums them up better http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/national-party/page-4

              “Power principle

              National’s strongest principle is unstated: to exercise power. The party generally leans in the direction of its principles – but only so far as it is convinced that voters broadly accept. At the same time the party attends (usually) to the values and visions of its evolving voter and activist support base.”

              So with the nats it’s like, well, if you don’t like those principle we have others….

            • save nz 13.1.1.1.1.2

              I think National are hoping that Labour and Greens will start going on about new property taxes and then viola – they pop out their tax cuts.

              Since most of the poorer locals will not be living in Auckland anymore and been replaced with ‘better’ citizens who work long hours, love National’s tax cuts and think that the poor ‘just don’t make the most of their opportunities’, it is more that they are banking on, rather than voters loving their offerings.

              National had nothing last election and won by turning the left against itself and putting in unpopular and complex policies in a sort of left austerity package.

              They won by default.

  14. TC 14

    National sieze upon an opportunity to make their backers even more money out a crises.

    National policies have made this alot worse than if we had a cgt, foreign ownership rules, enough state houses, were not fixing up all the leaky buildings from their last time in power.

  15. save nz 15

    The markets ‘love’ crisis – they can make a killing out of chaos and bad luck.

    • Ad 15.1

      Governments love crisis as well – it gives them all the social license that they need to act.

  16. Richard McGrath 16

    NotPC noticed the threat to property rights:

    http://pc.blogspot.com.au/2016/07/nick-smiths-government-land-grab.html

    • Graeme 16.1

      The fallout from this will be entertaining. It’s classic nat behaviour, moving to the pragmatic left in true Muldoon style to try and gain at the ballot box.

      But will the party survive the knife fight?

    • Muttonbird 16.2

      I’d have expected Jamie Whyte and penguin to be howling bulbous-eyed and red of face at this news.

      Barely a whimper from either of them, and that is being generous.

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    The big lie here is National’s claim to be pragmatic. They are prepared to confiscate land but not to build houses – not much point in doing the first if you’re too lazy to do the second.

  18. infused 18

    sounds like a policy oab has been waiting for.

  19. d 19

    Probably its the right call though. I don’t expect it to actually happen…more likely someone with Auckland land they have held, perhaps appreciating at 10%+/year, gets a waring that they must develop or sell within a short timeframe, or govt compulsorily acquires at cv/outdated valuation + pathetic mark up. In chch there have been overseas absentee owners of large/derelict and important properties.

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