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NRT: Fixing Christchurch

Written By: - Date published: 10:53 am, June 28th, 2014 - 5 comments
Categories: christchurch earthquake, Economy, housing, im/migration, labour - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn.

Labour has announced another part of its package to fix Christchurch: an immediate crash home-building plan:

A Labour government would build 100 “high-quality modular” houses for Christchurch in its first four months and have a further 300 of its Kiwibuild homes ready within six months.

The commitment is part of a plan to build 10,000 affordable homes in Canterbury, addressing what Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford calls the broken free-market “tweaking” of planning laws in National’s rebuild.


Fewer than 1000 of the 12,000 to 15,000 houses needed in Canterbury had been built after three and half years, he said.

Only 25 per cent of the state house repairs has been done, and of the 700 state house rebuild that had been promised a year ago, only 29 had been completed.

The market has failed, so the government has to step in. Its that simple. As for why the market has failed, there’s the ongoing insurance problems of course, but perhaps this also has something to do with it: wages for builders, plumbers, and the other workers required to rebuild Christchurch haven’t kept pace with the living costs there. Or, to put it another way, the construction industry is simply pocketing increased rebuild costs.

In this context, Labour saying they’ll bring workers in from overseas if necessary looks like a betrayal. There are workers here. They’re just not paid enough to work in Christchurch. Importing people with lower living standards expectations isn’t a solution to that problem – it just creates more exploited, desperate people. And that doesn’t sound like a very labour-oriented policy to me.



lprent: On the latter point, later Labour announced today on immigration matters

Under a Labour government, Kiwi business must exhaust the options for hiring local workers before bringing in overseas migrants.

The party also wants to target the exploitation of migrant workers. Businesses will have to pay at least the living wage, after accommodation deductions. Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) will be paid at least the minimum wage plus $1.25 an hour, with accommodation provided in addition to wages.

“We are also concerned that a significant number of workers are being brought into New Zealand for relatively low-skilled jobs on low rates of pay. This not only leads to exploitation of these workers but undercuts the local labour market, pushing wages down for Kiwis,” he said.

“To address that Labour will require employers bringing in overseas workers to pay a living wage (after accommodation deductions) where the job offer forms part of the reason the application is accepted. This does not apply for the Pacific quota migrants.”

I guess that they thought about that. The problem is of course that most of these policies are integrated and fit together. However they have to be released as separate bits to fit the news media.


5 comments on “NRT: Fixing Christchurch”

  1. blue leopard 1

    The two posts combined here (NRT’s and lprent’s) sound promising. It sounds like Labour are really engaging in the issues that are arising in Christchurch that are causing increasing problems and slowness and accordingly are coming up with approaches that will fix the problems and slow responses.

    Good work Labour.

  2. Get It Right 2

    Canterbury local authorities have been averaging 510 new dwelling building consents a month since April 2013, that’s over 6000 new dwellings a year – and around 300 new dwelling consents a month before that (over 3500 a year). Fewer than 1000 completed in 3 and a half years? Have Statistics New Zealand got their numbers completely wrong?

    [lprent: I suspect that if you had thought about it for even a second (clearly thinking is not your strength), that consents are not new buildings. You need a building consent for adding a deck, adding a garage, and even for many building repairs. Buildings don’t get built when a consent is made

    It is hard to know why you are wrong because you haven’t linked to something showing where your assertion has arisen from. In all probability you have simply read it incorrectly either by accident or deliberately. If it was that latter, as I suspect, then the reason for not linking is obvious.

    But Statistics NZ will be correct since they measure completed new dwelling places that are designed for the purpose and do so directly from builders.

    BTW: Adding you to autospam as this appears to be a rather bad astroturf and you appear to be too stupid to comment here effectively. Consider this to be for your own good. I had cleaning up the volumes of derision this kind of comment will trigger.

    But I suspect that I have it correct in describing you as a moran. Like this guy… ]

  3. Mike 3

    [lprent: Sadly this fool didn’t read the post or Labour’s policy.

    And here I was thinking that the main feature of the policy was to ensure that overseas workers were required to be paid the new minimum wage rates after living accommodation is deducted.

    As the post points out, the reason that kiwi workers aren’t taking the jobs is because the wages are less than the cost of living.

    Now watch this spinner avoid that issue. ]

    Sadly the Labour party are pressing dog-whistle politics still with their immigration policy.

    “Under a Labour government, Kiwi business must exhaust the options for hiring local workers before bringing in overseas migrants.”

    There are two things about this which are annoying:

    1) It has been a mandatory requirement since 2009 that Kiwi businesses must prove they have exhausted options for hiring (or training) local workers before employing overseas migrants.

    Not including this evidence is one of the main reasons that applications for work visas are declined. Additionally for most jobs (except the most skilled) government staff must conduct a labour market test (i.e. a check for NZ workers) and if they believe there are any available the employer’s evidence is ignored. In Christchurch a whole separate Hub (www.opportunitycanterbury.org.nz) was set up in January 2013 to do these mandatory checks.

    So firstly this is annoying because it misleads the public about the current system where proof is already required.

    2) Most migrants are not “brought in from overseas”. Over three quarters of applications for work visas are from people already here. Often they are in a job and have to renew their visa.

    This test is important because every time they renew their visa there has to be another labour market test to check to see if there are any New Zealand workers available. If there are the migrant worker loses the job, plain and simple.

    So secondly this is annoying as it incorrectly gives the impression hordes of people are being brought from overseas which is again misleading the public to be anti-migrant.

    I am disappointed by Labour’s policy which offers nothing useful or new and is confused. For example trying to apply a points system (which relates to residence applications) to work visas. Mind you, it is better than the United Future policy which is going to bring in even more things which are already happening.

    [lprent: If you want to astroturf, then do it elsewhere. I am intolerant of fuckwits who don’t address what is actually in the post. Or even what was in the policy. Labour didn’t say that they were putting in a new policy about documentation showing that a search for local workers had failed. What they said was that they were going to stop the exploitation on migrant workers and that they would be putting in policies to ensure that they got paid an adequate wage. ]

  4. DH 4

    I’ve always stayed out of the ChCh discussions, not really any of my business, but maybe an outside view is worth considering….

    To my mind ChCh is an illustration of what’s gone wrong with politics over the last 20-30yrs, neither National nor Labour have really got the message here. In a civic disaster the duty of Govt is to provide, and from what I’ve heard they haven’t.

    The provision of labour & housing are two glaring failures. Its not true that ChCh needs only skilled tradesmen. The construction industry is highly adaptable, when skilled labour is in short supply for large projects they change their methods. Dubai has been built by (mostly) unskilled and semi-skilled third world labour, you won’t find many genuine tradespeople doing the donkey work there.

    In a situation like ChCh you turn tradespeople into supervisors and hire semi-skilled labour. The likes of Fletcher might want only skilled tradespeople but they don’t need them. Tradies don’t like bossing around semi-skilled trogs but they’ll do it in exchange for more pay. The quality of work doesn’t suffer if it’s done right.

    NZ has all the labour ChCh needs, it’s just not been prepared. You can’t make a tradesperson in 12 months but you certainly can train an unemployed person enough to hold their own on a construction site. The Govt had all the time in the world to provide the labour ChCh needs and they’ve utterly failed to do so.

    Housing…. well little needs to be said on that. Transient workers are competing with the locals for accommodation, pushing the cost up for everyone. The last sites to be built on should be full of temporary worker accommodation, and I very much doubt they are. There’s no shortage of options, the UK are doing temp housing like this for some $NZ40k and it would cost less here;


    Dead easy to set up sites with those stacked up and you could run plumbing & power to them very cheaply. Transient workers want cheap accommodation, they’re there to earn some cash and they do not want to pay a fortune for room & board.

    IMO what was required was planning and mobilisation by the state. The Govt needed to set up special industry training courses nationwide and then provide inexpensive housing for the labour as it arrived in. Instead they look to have just handed out cash by the bucketload, continually passing the buck onto the private sector.

    It’s still not too late, this is a not to be repeated opportunity to get large numbers of our unemployed into productive work where they can build a stake and also learn a trade that will endure well past the rebuild.

    I’m half surprised Labour haven’t seen the opportunity here. Mobilising the resources of the state to get the unemployed into work is something I thought would resonate very strongly with the middle class voters they’re trying to win.

    • felix 4.1

      Agree 100%

      Chch is THE most urgent issue in NZ and has been for four. fucking. years. while the govt has done fuck all about it.

      It is also a massive opportunity to soak up unemployment – and not with meaningless make-work schemes but with doing the most important and necessary work in the country.

      The election is right there.

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