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NZ election 2020: Labour win is a watershed moment in the country’s history

Written By: - Date published: 12:27 am, October 20th, 2020 - 47 comments
Categories: act, capital gains, capitalism, Christchurch Attack, democratic participation, education, election 2020, elections, electoral systems, employment, greens, housing, jacinda ardern, labour, Maori Issues, MMP, national, nz first, Parliament, tax, terrorism, tertiary education, transport, workers' rights - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally published on Nick Kelly’s blog

When I posted back in August about the New Zealand Labour Government, I was fairly confident that they would win this year’s election. I did not however think they would win by as much as they did.

On Saturday, the New Zealand Labour Party had its best election result in terms of percentage of the vote since the 1940s. On preliminary results Labour will have the numbers to govern alone and not need to form a coalition – something that has not happened since New Zealand changed to the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system in 1996.

The results are still provisional as special votes, including votes from overseas such as mine, will be counted ten days after the election so will not be expected until next week. Traditionally special votes favour the centre-left and in 2017 both Labour and the Green Party gained an extra MP each once special votes were added.

The 2020 election was more than just a victory for Labour and more than a crushing defeat for the National Party (New Zealand’s main centre-right political party). This result marks a significant watershed in New Zealand politics which will likely have implications long after this parliamentary term. The closest comparison would be the first New Zealand Labour Government. It was elected in 1935, then returned in 1938 with a significantly increased majority widely seen by historians as an endorsement of its progressive social democratic policies which included the creation of the Welfare State through the Social Security Act and building state housing to providing low to middle-income earners affordable housing. The first Labour Government remained in power until 1949 and remains one of the most influential governments in New Zealand history shaping the country’s domestic and foreign policy for decades.

NZ election 2020: Five experts on the final debate and the campaign's winners and losers ahead of the big decision | Stuff.co.nz
Above, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins in the leader’s debate during the 2020 General Election.

Back in January this year I wrote a series of posts about why the UK Labour Party lost in 2019. Part of this analysis was that Britain was historically a conservative electorate where the Conservatives win more elections than they lose. Throughout the 20th century, New Zealand had very similar voting patterns. After losing power in 1949 Labour won only five of the following seventeen elections. The move to Proportional Representation has improved things for NZ Labour and the left, as Labour has managed to form a coalition government in four of the first seven MMP elections held since 1996. In the case of the 2017 election, it did so despite winning fewer votes than the National Party and relied on both The Green Party and the socially conservative NZ First Party. The latter party being blamed as a hand brake on Labour being able to deliver on its 2017 manifesto promises.

In politics, a crisis can present an opportunity. There can be no doubt that the New Zealand Labour Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped deliver this strong result. As too will have Jacinda’s strong response to the Christchurch terror attack. The reason countries like the UK and New Zealand tend to have right-leaning conservative governments, is largely due to people forming voting habits. People become used to the right being in power and so feel more comfortable voting that way. It is a mistake to assume most voters are deeply committed to an ideological viewpoint, more they form a habit of voting a particular way as it is more familiar or comfortable. For this to change, something dramatic needs to happen.

Normally the factors that influence an election are turn out and swing. High turnout historically favours the left, and in particular turnout from voters in lower socio-economic communities helps Labour. The other factor is swing voters who switch their votes regularly. The second group have historically been middle class and deemed ‘centrist’, though this characterisation of swing voters and the use of the term centrist should be used very cautiously. What we can say with certainty is that each party has a certain base level of support, and in most English-speaking democracies the main centre-right party tends to have a stronger core vote to rely upon.

Saturday’s result was a disaster for the National Party, and more generally for the right in New Zealand. National was polling near 40% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and had for the previous 15 years enjoyed support at around that mark or higher. On Saturday they won only 26.8% of the vote, the Party’s second-worst result in 20 years (their worst being in 2002, but soon recovered a few years later). The rise in support for the soft libertarian Association for Consumers and Taxpayers’ Party (ACT) to 8% will give some comfort to the right. But with the Green Party also winning 7.6% of the vote this means with Labour’s 49% the NZ centre-left won 56% of the vote, where the combined National and ACT vote comes to only 34.8%. In terms of a swing from right to left 2020 has been both dramatic and unprecedented. This in part has been due to the petty, dishonest and frankly immature response by National to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it also reflects the fact that the style of politics and types of policies they support do not appeal to the New Zealand electorate any longer.

Until the final results are in one should be careful of going into too much detailed analysis of the numbers. But we can see a number of so-called safe National Party seats such as Ilam, Wairarapa, East Coast, Northcote and Whanganui where Labour won quite comfortably this year. Under MMP it is the party vote nationally rather than local electorate seats which determine who will win the election, but these local results do show a collapse in support for the right and conversely a strengthening in support for Labour. It is also clear that an on the ground campaign really made a difference and had built up Labour/left networks and infrastructure throughout the country at a time when the National Party machine was very openly crumbling.

Many lifelong National voters switched to Labour in 2020. Whether these voters return back to National in 2023 when the next election is due will be interesting. While old habits die hard when voters finally make the break it may be permanent. Or it may mean the size of New Zealand’s potential swing vote is about to grow considerably meaning there could be very large dramatic swings in future NZ elections.

The coming term will not be an easy one for Labour, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rumble on and the world plunges into the worst financial crisis in decades. On Saturday Labour were rewarded for their handling of the crisis so far, but the hard part is yet to come. On the one hand, they need to rebuild the NZ economy at a time when international tourism is dead and export markets are volatile. But even prior to this the New Zealand economy was unbalanced and in a precarious state. It is over-reliance on dairy exports has made it vulnerable if anything happens to this market and resulted in over intensive dairy farming which has harmed the environment – not a good look for a country that brands itself as clean and green. It also faces growing inequality with significant growth in homelessness and poverty in recent years.

Labour was elected in 2017 on the promise of moving away from Neo-Liberal economics. Whilst much of the policy offer was fairly moderate, in particular their commitment to stick to fiscal responsibility rules, the rhetoric from Jacinda was radical as the quote below illustrates:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 122036855_3649734538393735_2571762267452246936_n.png

Yet for this and various other noises about making the system fairer, Labour has not made radical changes. The 2019 year of delivery promised by the Prime Minister did not see election promises such as Kiwibuild meet the targets for building new homes promised in the 2017 election. In policy areas such as employment legislation, Labour blamed NZ First for being a hand break. Many Labour supporters were disappointed to hear Jacinda rule out the introduction of a capital gains tax in 2019, and despite public support for tax increases for high-income earners, Labour’s progressive tax policy is still very modest and many of its supporters would have liked it to go further. Scaremongering by National about the Greens wealth tax policy seems not to have resonated. Some commentators claim moderate Tory voters switched to Labour to give them the numbers so they would not need to form a coalition with the Greens. Whilst this sort of strategic voting may have been at play, the significance of this is being overstated by the commentariat. Further, polling suggests that Labour could have taken a stronger position on taxation and increasing public spending and still won the election with a commanding majority. That instead it has jettisoned policies such as extending free tertiary education to second and third year students shows the fiscally conservative nature of this government. The economic crisis of course forced the government to make tough choices, but NZ Labour seems to have chosen the status quo when other progressive and electable alternatives were possible.

Over the next three years, Labour will have a strong majority. Labour will no longer have the excuse of NZ First holding them back. It is unclear whether Labour will continue in coalition with The Greens but given the result, Labour will have the numbers to push its policies through without needing to form a coalition. Labour has been given a strong mandate and they need to use it to deliver. In policy areas like housing, transport and reducing poverty this term needs to be about delivering. In opposition, these were key policy areas Labour criticised the previous government for, this term is their opportunity to really make significant changes in these areas.

Labour in New Zealand now has a strong mandate to deliver on its manifesto. If it can deliver on longstanding domestic policy issues whilst continuing to lead the world in the fight against COVID-19, Labour could remain in power for many years to come.

The final point about the election based on the provisional results is that of diversity and representation. Based on current numbers 55% of Labour MP’s are women, 70% of Green MP’s are women and the overall makeup of parliament is 48% women. In addition, there are many elected from the LGBTI community, there are 16 Maori MP’s and also Pasifika and ethnic Asian MP’s. NZ has elected its first African MP, a Sri Lankan and a Latin American MP. The point of representative democracy is that members of Parliament truly represent the population of the country. This parliament will in terms of gender, sexual identity and ethnicity be the most representative of the New Zealand population of any NZ parliament in history. This is a wonderful achievement and represents an important and fundamental shift in the country’s democracy.

47 comments on “NZ election 2020: Labour win is a watershed moment in the country’s history ”

  1. UncookedSelachimorpha 1

    I don't see the result as a swing from the right to the left, hardly at all. It is a swing from National to Labour and towards Jacinda Ardern, certainly.

    Labour has effectively promised not to address poverty or inequality, so Labour voters have not made a significant move towards progessive policies.

    Hopefully it does represent a small move in a progressive direction – and at least a desire to not go even harder neoliberal / river polluting etc.

    The idea in this post that people vote from habit and that habits have been broken this election is a good one, and could lead to better things in future!

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 1.1

      "The idea in this post that people vote from habit and that habits have been broken this election is a good one, and could lead to better things in future! "

      Aye…and it certainly got the attention of the kicked out nat MP's….albeit late. Ah well, Good Times.

    • Enough is Enough 1.2

      The right wing media is suggesting that Labour can't move to the left because the people who have given them their mandate are centrist voters.

      I will be extremely disappointed if Labour adopts that line of thinking.

      Now is the time. This is an historic win and it may be the only time in 50 years that Labour has an absolute majority. Will they waste that opportunity by having a business as usual Key/English approach to government. Or will they kill Rogernomics, inequality, and individual greed.

      Do it Labour

      • I Feel Love 1.2.1

        I do hope so Enough, they may never get this chance again, to show how good a left leaning parliament could be.

  2. froggleblocks 2

    Nick Smith and Gerry Brownlee both survived the 2002 20.9% drubbing.

    The fact that National lost so many electorates really should not be overlooked. This time it really is different, and the only question is whether Labour can capitalise on this and cement their gains in place. This win sets them up handily for 4 terms.

    I'm not sure the Greens are going to get any ministerial positions at all, much to Marama Davidson's chagrin I'm sure.

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      You're not sure they are? You're not sure they aren't, either, froggleblocks.
      Edit: “But Labour still may want the Greens involved in some way, shape or form; if not because they require their support now, then because demonstrating that such a governing arrangement can work effectively may be important come the 2023 election campaign.”

      https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/what-sort-of-relationship-might-labour-and-the-greens-agree-on

      • froggleblocks 2.1.1

        There's more evidence suggesting they aren't than that they are, to be frank. Words from pundits are frankly irrelevant compared to words from Jacinda’s mouth.

        Jacinda openly talked about a "consultation agreement", after she'd mentioned confidence and supply agreements.

        I guess the spectrum is:

        Coalition (in cabinet) – Confidence and Supply (outside cabinet) – Consultation agreement – Memorandum of understanding – Nothing.

        On election night Marama said she wanted to be a minster inside cabinet.

        • Robert Guyton 2.1.1.1

          Whatever the final arrangement, The Greens win big, imo. Looking to 2023 is a wise thing to be doing right now. Between now and then, The Greens can shape the Government's behaviour through various actions; it's going to be very interesting to watch their progress over the next term.

        • gsays 2.1.1.2

          "On election night Marama said she wanted to be a minster inside cabinet."

          Can you please point to where Marama Davidson made that claim?

          • froggleblocks 2.1.1.2.1

            https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/107594/hayden-wilson-and-linda-clark-dentons-kensington-swan-assess-what-weekends-election

            Thanks to those ‘new’ voters, Labour’s dominance means that the Greens, despite their own strong turn-out, may find themselves excluded from any meaningful power. On election night Greens coleader Marama Davidson was talking up her own preference to serve as a Cabinet Minister in an Ardern-led Government. But Davidson is getting ahead of herself.

            On election night I watched the RNZ stream solely, no channel flipping, and I recall her saying this in an interview. I think it was about 15 minutes after her speech in which she rudely denied James Shaw a chance to speak, during which an audience member was hysterically screaming like a lunatic making it hard to hear what Marama was saying.

            Unfortunately despite being streamed on Youtube at the time, RNZ seem not to have archived the stream, so I can't give you a video link to Marama saying this.

            • gsays 2.1.1.2.1.1

              Ok, thanks. So that is someone else's reckons on what Marama Davidson said.

              I am just a bit suspicious when I read your comments, Davidson "rudely" denying, "Davidson's chagrin"…

              Fwiw, I thought Marama Davidson had a great campaign and her comments on the night were measured considering the delirium around her.

              Just opinions.

              • froggleblocks

                Ok, thanks. So that is someone else's reckons on what Marama Davidson said.

                No, its reporting of what Marama Davidson said. I heard her say it also.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  What did Davidson actually say? Quotes are preferable to recollections and reckons. Here it seems that Davidson is saying the Greens (collectively) want at least a continuation of "some ministerial responsibility" – doesn't mean they get that, but here's hoping.

                  From 18 October 2020:
                  "We would want to see roles that would progress [our work] programme, and yes, it would involve some ministerial responsibility at that level," she says.

                  "Across all of our MPs, we will be looking at aligning potential roles with the work programme, as a whole not just down to one person."
                  https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/green-party-ambitious-executive-roles-in-next-government

                  From 2017:
                  The Green Party has announced the four people who will get government roles in the new administration.

                  They are its leader James Shaw, transport spokesperson Julie-Anne Genter, environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage and social development spokesperson Jan Logie.

                  Three will be ministers outside cabinet and one will be a parliamentary under-secretary.
                  https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/342074/green-party-announces-ministers

                  • froggleblocks

                    We're talking about what specific words she said on election night.

                    What she said on October 18 or 2017 is not relevant.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      To summarise:

                      froggleblocks – "On election night Marama said she WANTED to be a minster inside cabinet."

                      Wilson & Clark – "On election night Greens coleader Marama Davidson was talking up her own PREFERENCE to serve as a Cabinet Minister in an Ardern-led Government."

                      Philip ure – "marama said her years as an mp meant she was READY to be a minister…"

                      I can accept it all, but I'd also really like to know what Davidson actually said, in her own words, so that I can make up my own mind. For example, did she refer specifically to a cabinet role, which would be a step up from how Green MPs served during the previous term.

                      Apologies; just being pernickety.

          • Phillip ure 2.1.1.2.2

            I saw/heard it on the feed from rnz….it was in the victory speech (at the beginning) where marama said her years as an mp meant she was ready to be a minister…(I thought it a tad ill-spoken..if only as a pre-negotiation tactic)…she then went on to give a ripper of a speech….and her appearance on rnz the following morning was also solid…if rnz have saved their feed..it will be found there..

  3. Anker 3
    • People seem to think the only way to tackle poverty is the Greens policy, eg the wealth tax and a capital gains tax. We already have a capital gains tax and that did nothing re house prices.
      I have already read that employers may look to find ways to get around labour’s new upper paye tax, and guess what, I believe it.
    • i also read an article about a young couple in the Hawkes bay who managed to buy their first home. They earn near the minimum wage, no help from parents, but used KiwiSaver and a grant from one of the new schemes to do it…green shots
    • labour will be in a great position to hit the ground running having learned from mistakes last term. I really hope they keep going with kiwi build as well as building more state houses.
      btw I read up on Dirty Politics last night. Six years since published so some details hazy in my mind. What a filthy bunch the Nats are. Collins needs to go, in fact a total reboot. Think they are dirty to the core
    • Riff.s 3.1

      Fully agree. Tax and pay benefits is one way to improve inequalty but it risks blow back from the workers who are also struggling and the extra money will mostly drive up rents.

      Another is to get rents down through mass building. State housing + kiwibuild intensification + rolling out new suburbs for spec builders. Build an oversupply of housing and the market will adapt.

      A third way is provision of quality and truly free health, education, and public transport so being poor is not such a big disadvantage. There is less risk of blow back from this approach because quality state services benefit everyone except the upper 10% who can afford private.

      • anker 3.1.1

        Thanks Riff. Like your ideas.

        Oversupply of housing is the way to drive prices down. We have a long way to go!

        Get building boys and girls

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 3.1.2

        " A third way is provision of quality and truly free health, education, and public transport so being poor is not such a big disadvantage. "

        Not sure how that works without looking at the revenue side of the equation…? And inequality leads to a small but powerful minority who actively fight the things you list. Tackling inequality isn't easy, but I don't think you can get that far by just looking the other way.

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    Diverse and representative are not synonymous, though that might appear the least of Labour's problems, it was failure to deliver to their core constituency that cost Labour power in 2008.

    We've seen posters pushing a comparison with Savage, but it is not just a matter of majorities. Savage was personally well to the right of his constituency, but he did deliver on housing. Delivering on housing would be a sound place to start for this government too, though it will require eschewing the failed market model that prevented Twyford getting anywhere with kiwibuild.

    Under neoliberalism NZ has become two countries – the wanker class, who got all the gains, and the workers, who lost ground with flat wages, crippling rents and house prices, and reduced and expensive services. NZ does better as one country.

  5. Ad 5

    This is s total misreading of this government over the last three years, and also a total misreading of the government in the next three years.

    The government has acted in a most radical manner over the last 9 months.

    We've not seen a government act with this scale and speed since 1985.

    We've also not seen a government spend with this scale and speed since 1939.

    You just don't notice the scale of the government action because Australia and China have sustained our export economy enough, and because you haven't compared us to any other developed country in the world to consider any counterfactual.

    We are a tiny, remote, narrow-based, indebted, vulnerable economy – who despite the chaos and anomie that 2021 and 2022 will bring – happens to be remarkably well managed.

    The very last thing we need right now is change on a scale that disrupts the benefits that have been gained by this government dropping $40+ billion of immediate response, and a further $20+ billion on infrastructure announced in February.

    So my message to Ardern is simple:

    Don't fuck it up.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 5.1

      Ad (to PM Ardern): "Don't fuck it up." So ‘kind‘ – that's telling her. Good on ya mate.

      She's a hArd road finding the perfect PM, boy.

    • Stuart Munro 5.2

      happens to be remarkably well managed

      Laughable. A well-managed country doesn't allow the creation of a housing crisis by property speculation and mass unskilled migration.

      There are decades of gross mistakes to undo before NZ could even dream of claiming to be well-governed.

      • Ad 5.2.1

        Only if you compare us to Denmark or Singapore. Denmark has 500 years of prosperity and Singapore is a class and ethnicity divided state with limited democracy and near-slavery.

        No developed nation bar Australia has gone through this year better. That's down to good government.

        • Stuart Munro 5.2.1.1

          That's down to good leadership – and you wrote her off as 'Sparkle Pony'.

          When we look at governance it is more a matter of the business as usual than firefighting crisies, and outside the crisisies New Zealand's long term management of numerous issues leaves plenty to be desired.

          Record suicide. Record inequality growth. Record decline in home ownership. Static poverty and child poverty. Corruption is so rife and poorly controlled that Brownlee's gross betrayal of the people of Christchurch goes unpunished – and there is no shortage of comparable rorts.

          If you mean to grapple with real issues you must face them squarely, not pretend that things like generational inaction on rivers is Green.

          • Ad 5.2.1.1.1

            Good government and good political leadership go hand in hand.

            There's plenty who say this government should have been able to turn around intergenerational poverty and break and remake real estate capitalism. They are simply wrong. What's more, even though it is going to get worse in a year, it would have been catastrophic in 2021 if they had not intervened at the scale they did in 2020.

            What you are doing is just relitigating the election, where Ardern was pretty clear in her responses to all your listed issues. Your questions are the same as those from Collins, and were answered. The results of all those debates are clear.

            No one – certainly not this government – is "pretending".

            • Stuart Munro 5.2.1.1.1.1

              There's plenty who say this government should have been able to turn around intergenerational poverty and break and remake real estate capitalism. They are simply wrong.

              Failed perfectionism "We couldn't do it so we gave up" – indistinguishable from "We couldn't do it because we gave up".

              We have heard these excuses all our lives – but these declarations of impossibility never seem to be mustered against fatuous schemes from the right of the political spectrum.

              Nor need they remake real estate capitalism – they need merely contain it, instead of rolling over every time the speculators cough. Let us see a few more credible attempts at regulation like a CGT and we might humour a few more excuses.

        • Stuart Munro 5.2.1.2

          This is the sort of thing that constitutes poor governance – a power price saving engineered by government being glommed by the powercos instead of reaching the consumer. It takes a great deal of work to regulate markets so that they operate in the public interest – even when the Crown has significant power in that particular market.

          • Ad 5.2.1.2.1

            This new government doesn't have electricity regulation as a priority.

            The 2017 government tried it, and clearly it didn't work.

            https://www.russellmcveagh.com/insights/november-2017/labour-nz-first-coalition-agreement-includes-full-

            They also tried it last term with petrol prices: no effect.

            In this term they will also review grocery and construction materials prices.

            None of them will work, the reports will be shelved, and they will move on to something they have control over.

            • Stuart Munro 5.2.1.2.1.1

              It doesn't work because they choose not to regulate.

              If the market doesn't work for the public good, it should expect to be regulated.

              • Phillip ure

                'they choose not to regulate'……the most glaring example of this is the handwringing around obesity…whereas the solution is simple…just regulate the maximum amount of sugar/salt/fat permitted in anything peddled as food/drink..as it is now any clown can order a mountain of sugar..add water and flavouring…and this poisonous crap is allowed to be sold in food retailers…this must stop…not doing this makes any other 'education/awareness/taxation solutions a total nonsense…how can it not…?

    • anker 5.3

      Don't believe Ardern and her team of competent people, Robertson, Hipkins, Wood, Parker and now Asha Vernall (sorry if I got her name wrong, epidemiologist) plus many other new and existing MPs…..

      If Covid was a job application we would give them the position and pay them the maximum amount possible to get them to take the job

  6. Patricia Bremner 6

    Jacinda has also promised stable Government. In times of chaos stability is gold.

    The foundations of change starts with changing hearts and minds and gaining permission.

    The building of more houses is alone not sufficient. As Jacinda said "we need to build back better." Warmer drier using tech and design to create useful spaces for living in, not as a wealth chip. Our difficulty now will be returning Kiwis bringing wealth and different expectations possibly distorting the market even more.

    Planning for climate change in electricity and sea rise. Problems are looming.

    Distributing resources so life is good for all, not just a few. Agreeing the mechanisms.

    Recognition of the changes required to meet Maori aspirations. The need for graciousness and generosity.

    Improving and conserving the environment. That alone would be hard enough but…..we are still defeating the pandemic, and awaiting a vaccine!! Keep moving Labour.

  7. dv 7

    I don't really understand why Savage could sort out the housing problem ion the 30s. And we can't now.

    • Ad 7.1

      Needs its own post.

      I'll see if I have a day to draft it.

      • dv 7.1.1

        Thanks AD
        Look forward to it.

        • Patricia Bremner 7.1.1.1

          Me too!! Looking forward to reading it Ad. By the way, I sent another thank you to Andrew Little. He and Winston changed things completely.

      • gsays 7.1.2

        I don't have any stats, but landlording may be part of the problem.

        The idea that you can rent a house as a business, demonstrate losses, thereby lowering your tax obligations.

    • mikesh 7.2

      It was John A Lee rather than Savage. He used Reserve Bank credit to finance the program, and, as he said in his book Simple on a Soapbox, there were at the time a lot of unemployed carpenters around that he could put to work.

    • PaddyOT 7.3

      This article I posted the other day might assist as it explores the history of NZ housing and

      "why Savage could sort out the housing problem in the 30s. And we can't now."
      At the end of this Policy Forum article are specific links to elaborate.

      Early history

      " Land in the colony was ‘commodified’ or considered an object whose paramount value was financial. Land and housing in the new settler society were objects for trade, and profit making rather than a collective resource to be shared for the security and wellbeing of all in the settler towns."

      Enter the state ( 1930s)

      "History also contains moments where the social value of housing has been prioritised and where the state has taken responsibility for increasing housing availability, quality, and affordability. "

      Mass ownership ( post WW11 )

      " Direct government supply of housing would, however, become a ‘residualised’ or less preferred form of housing tenure over time. Increasing living standards and canny political reframing saw private homeownership framed as the ‘norm’ in a time of post-war economic boom.[14] Over time, private homeownership took on a powerful ideological association with ‘freedom’ and ‘security’. Homeownership developed into a key tenet of the ‘Kiwi dream’.[15] Public policy and state finance were directed to support the expansion of private homeownership, including government supply of low-rate mortgage finance through the Housing Corporation and the ability to capitalise the family benefit towards a home deposit. State housing was recast as an option primarily for those who were not able to secure homeownership.[16] By the mid-1980s, homeownership rates reached as high as 74 percent while state rentals constituted only five percent of total housing stock; by 1991, the Housing Corporation (later Housing New Zealand and now Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities), which administered state housing, held 70,000 houses across New Zealand."

      Both National and Labour governments with successive policies then progressively aided the neoliberal housing markets to reign.

      "The rise of the unbridled market" ( 1980s)

      Today's housing market is engineered to now prioritise first the financial value of land and housing, a market good to capitalise on, while the social value of land and housing such as in earlier decades ( as a social good ) has not become a government's priorities.

      Perhaps now, whereby inequality and poverty are exposed as being largely underpinned by lack of housing, piecemeal efforts will be made but IMO, in a runaway housing grab, capitalism will remain.

      https://www.policycommons.ac.nz/2020/10/06/transformative-housing-policy-for-aotearoa-new-zealand/

  8. Brendan 8

    Nat voter here.

    Make changes so good that the other side are not going to make major changes. Otherwise they are low hanging fruit for the other side to take when the winds of politics change. And then you end up with legislative tag every time the govt changes, the law changes to suit their tastes.

    The Welfare state, and interest free student loans are examples of policy which were able to survive a change in govt. Muldoon's axing of the third Labour* govt's super was an example where it was not able to survive.

    * Kiwisaver was one of the best policies of the Clark years.

    • Stuart Munro 8.1

      Given the current state of the National party, using them as a yardstick for policy would be, at best ill-advised. And you might consider the counter position – how often in recent years were National's ill-considered excesses rammed through regardless of consequences?

      Little matters like appointing Brownlee as Czar of Christchurch, and sacking ECan show that, far from aiming for a golden mean, National consistently acted immoderately, often stupidly, and relied on lying their way out of the consequences. This makes their views singularly unfit for consideration by the government the electorate resoundingly rejected National for, even supposing the current shambles could muster a coherent opinion any time soon.

  9. left for dead 9

    Interesting post Nick,hope all is well over there for you,regards Alex Mac

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