National’s innumeracy and Auckland’s Housing crisis

Written By: - Date published: 10:19 am, May 11th, 2015 - 23 comments
Categories: Media, national, national/act government, Politics, radio, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , ,

The Auckland housing crisis, and that is exactly what it is, poses major political threats to the Government.  All Auckland landowners are having a great time, totalling up increases in land prices which seem to be increasing daily.  Everyone, apart from the young and renters, is having a party.

But it is becoming more and more likely that there will be a significant correction, and the effects could be disastrous.  And besides any city that makes it so difficult for young people to own their own home is going to have problems.

The Government is facing a politically difficult choice.  Clearly it does not want to rain on everyone’s parade but it realises that it has to do something.

It has hitched on a tactic, blame Auckland Council for everything.  If things go pear shaped it is someone else’s fault.  The added benefit is that it can claim that the Council is Labour aligned and therefore it is all Labour’s fault.  The facts that Len Brown was not endorsed by Labour, that only two of the twenty councillors were elected on Labour tickets and only another two were elected on a Labour endorsed ticket are irrelevant technicalities.

Over the past week this tactic has reached absurd heights basically because National ministers have been pulling figures out of their arses in trying to blame the Council for the current situation and also for associated growing transport problems.

As reported by Radio New Zealand’s Todd Niall (in more careful terms than I would use):

Transport Minister Simon Bridges has used two council figures he said showed the local body had reduced its previously planned spending on transport.

Earlier in the week, Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith inflated 33-fold the number of new sections that would be delayed, after the council deferred three Special Housing Areas.

In both debates over the past week, the underlying message from the ministers has been it is the council which is getting in the way of solving the region’s two biggest problems – both require the council and Government to work collaboratively.

Firstly Bridges claimed on the Nation that Auckland Council had shaved $600 million dollars off its transport spend for the next three years and that the figure was going from $2.5 billion to $1.9 billion.  He even claimed that the reduced spend included the recently passed transport levy, even though this is clearly not the case..

With careful language Todd Niall describes the situation in this way:

Let’s keep this simple. The minister’s base figure came from the council’s ten year budget as it was written in 2012. In those more optimistic times, the budget counted on early Government backing for the downtown rail tunnel, or City Rail Link.

So, according to the council, for the years 2015 to 2018 it listed $1.4 billion for major works (including the Government’s share). In the latest ten year budget, or Long Term Plan, that has now been pushed further out in the decade, after the Government insisted it would not back major works before 2020.

Instead it has been replaced by a council-funded programme of $400 million on early stages of the project.

The council in a statement said, “The council in its 2015-25 Long Term Plan is budgeting for $2 billion of transport capital investment over the first three years of the plan. Adjusting for the significant change to CRL budgets, this is a very similar level of investment in transport as was planned for in council’s last LTP.”

Get that?  The reduction is because the Government has delayed funding for the City Rail Link.  Bridges is criticising the Council for spending less money even thought the Government is clearly to blame.

The second case of innumeracy is by Nick Smith and involves his claim that Auckland Council had deferred the creation of two to three thousand sections in Huapai.

Transport and housing merged several days earlier, when Radio New Zealand reported that the council had deferred approving three rural Special Housing Areas in the north-west, until the Government was prepared to discuss additional transport spending along State Highway 16 which serves the area.

The council had decided to draw a political line in the sand, to ensure that new rural housing subdivisions created under the Government-driven Housing Accord would be backed by adequate government investment in projects such as the proposed northwestern busway.

When asked on Morning Report how many sections were involved, Dr Smith ventured “two to three thousand”. The correct answer, according to the council which made the decision, was 40 to 90.

Get that?  Smith was out by a factor of up to 75.

The least this Government could do is get its facts straight before attacking Auckland Council.  And if it wants to actually do something about Auckland’s problems it should sit down and work out a cooperative approach to resolution of these issues.

23 comments on “National’s innumeracy and Auckland’s Housing crisis”

  1. jenny kirk 1

    Brilliant expose of such a dim-witted government !

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      They’re not dim-witted. They know exactly what they’re doing and the lies that they’re telling.

    • Sabine 1.2

      can we please stop referring to the national party and their government as dim witted.
      they are not, they are cold, calculating business men, and their time in government must be spend at all cost to advance their financial and professional well being. This land speculation crisis, this housing crisis, this affordable housing/rental crisis, is by default, qui bono – who profits, and the answer to that question shows that what is happening is engineered, made and it is by decree.

      The crash will come eventually, it always does, but the rich, the very rich and the technocrats really do believe that by then they will have insulated themselves enough to weather the storm – and for the rest, the last seven years should have shown us that the National Party, its supporters, their donors and their enablers do not care about the rest.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.2.1


      • Molly 1.2.2

        Dim-hearted, or dim-ethical perhaps. Although I also tend not to think of them as sharp wits, more like dullards.

      • Mike S 1.2.3

        “This land speculation crisis, this housing crisis, this affordable housing/rental crisis, is by default, qui bono – who profits, and the answer to that question shows that what is happening is engineered, made and it is by decree. ”

        Yep, and you can add the high New Zealand dollar to that list.

  2. Interesting observations. It doesn’t address, of course, the fact that the Chinese elite are trying to get all their ill gotten gains out of he country, together with their families, and in doing so are driving real estate prices up around the globe to unsustainable levels, after they had to more or less stop building empty cities in China itself because that became to obvious a scam.

    It also doesn’t address the fact that the international financial elite is printing money out of thin air in order to buy up everything they can get their hands on because, let’s face it, there are no more factories other than in China and some up and coming economies so who needs all those useless eaters. Especially since they don’t need the tax revenue to finance their ridiculously expensive (and evermore expensive due to the fact that you are just printing funny money) lifestyle.

    But who cares about the bigger picture? Let’s keep this all about small town, back water politics eh?

  3. dukeofurl 3

    Smith a bare faced liar !

    Bridges a total tool ?

    And Key hasnt even got revved up yet, but will add to the confusion marketing

  4. adam 4

    Can I suggest a slight change in the title of this blog.

    “National’s innumeracy, and Auckland’s Deepening Housing crisis.”

    Great piece Mickey.

  5. Colonial Rawshark 5

    the problem of rapidly increasing housing costs has been going on for YEARS…given that fact, where are Labour’s comprehensive proposals and plans to halt rapidly increasing Auckland (+Christchurch) rents and property prices?

  6. Peter Watt 6

    For at least two years Nick Smith has worn accurately the title of Housing Inaction Minister. Hundreds of affordable homes to be completed before the election in September amounted to no more than a dozen ready for occupancy, as evidenced by Duncan Garner. Further promises made at Hobsonville have been broken, and now the development at Ardmore won’t help relieve the crisis. Meanwhile wizard Key continues to be in denial – “there is no housing crisis”.

    • Tracey 6.1

      Housing Developers Minister

      The number of affordable homes built in Hobsonville was less than 10% of total homes built BUT the whole project is “sold” to the public and the land “freed” up and the consent process streamlined on the basis of providing affordable homes…

      I would also like to see a Council/Govt edict that ALL new subdivisions must pant trees alongside the footpaths/roadside.

      Flat bush is creating a ne whome jungle with no (or limited) greenery or connection to the environment. Tree lined streets are a must for community pride and connection to environment by residents. IMO.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Meanwhile wizard Key continues to be in denial – “there is no housing crisis”.

      He’s not in denial at all – He knows that there’s a housing crisis. He’s just denying that there is one. This is called lying.

  7. Tracey 7

    BUT unless you listen to RNZ you will only be in possession of the false figures presented widely across TV News and MSM newspaper/online outlets…

    The lie becomes the truth.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    The least this Government could do is get its facts straight before attacking Auckland Council.

    Getting the facts straight would be the last thing this government would do as that would show that it’s them that’s causing the problem. They lie so that they can dodge accepting their responsibility.

  9. Colonial Rawshark 9

    Any housing answer that does not include significantly reducing the rate of population growth of Auckland is no answer at all. But reducing Auckland’s population growth is tantamount to reducing Auckland’s economic growth.

    Yet another reason why no political party will touch this issue in a serious way.

  10. Richard@Down South 10

    And he was Minister of Education… no wonder the Education system is in a mess

  11. BLiP 11

    Nick Smith is a hopeless case. He’s been lying about figures his entire Parliamentary career. Just consider the battery of lies he told about ACC back when the levies were hoisted. Simon Bridges, on the other hand, has only recently got into full stride when it comes to lying. He’s obviously been learning at the knee of his master, John Ponytail Key. Its great to see at least some in the MSM pull these liars up. Julie Anne Genter of the Greens also did a great job last week detailing Bridges lies about the Auckland transport issue —>

    • mickysavage 11.1

      Thanks BLiP. I must say that I am very impressed by Genter. Her comments are always spot on and she is able to present the case for PT and a change in transport spending very well.

  12. Brendon Harre 12

    Rob Salmond at Polity gives a good account of the strategic error National is making with the housing crisis.

    • Sable 12.1

      Th reality is NZ politics is typically short term focused and has no long term plan. National are behaving much like any NZ government in this respect. They will exit office and then blame the incumbent for the problems they created. One advantage for them is the MSM will be quick to back them up and after a few years in opposition they will use their own fuck up’s which by this time will be someone else’s as a justification to slither back into power. The cycle then begins anew….

  13. Sable 13

    Just another weak attempt to shift blame.

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