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The housing question

Written By: - Date published: 11:15 am, December 1st, 2008 - 54 comments
Categories: health, housing, national/act government - Tags:

Good housing is a foundation of a healthy society, and it is something that New Zealand has long lacked. Despite leading the world with our state housing in the 1930s, we have fallen behind. Housing in most other first world countries is much warmer and drier than here.

That has important consequences; a study by the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development shows our one million under-insulated homes (two-thirds of the housing stock) leads to 50 admissions a day for respiratory illnesses, costing $54 million a year, 180,000 work days lost to sickness a year, and an annual national power bill half a billion dollars more than it needs to be. Poor housing leads to diseases of poverty, like glue-ear; to save on construction costs, we have paid an insidious, often invisible price in quality of life.

So, what’s to be done about it?

Labour made a good, if typically timid, start by insulating State houses and improved insulation standards for new buildings that are now coming into force. The Greens-Labour deal for a billion dollar insulation package would address under-insulation in older, non-State houses but it seems National is intent on scrapping that package for no apparent reason.

The NZBCSD points to the successful use of a mandatory house rating system in Seattle as another option. Home buyers don’t value insulation at present because they are often unaware of the insulation a particular house has or lacks, and they aren’t aware of the costs of under-insulation, both in health and money. A housing rating system informs buyers – increasing prices for better-insulated homes relative to under-insulated ones – and that encourages people to invest in insulation. 

I think that’s a good idea but it’s never going to make a difference for the people who face the worse effects of bad housing – poor families renting from private landlords. Out to squeeze what money they can from the country’s worst and cheapest housing, the last thing on these landlords’ minds is investing in insulation from which they stand to see no direct monetary return.

So, a housing rating system is not solution in itself. To build a healthier housing stock, we need more government investment – more State housing, more subsidisation of insulation in private homes – and higher standards for existing as well as new buildings.

National/ACT has talked a big game about more efficient, productive government spending. Well, housing is a perfect area to walk the talk. Every dollar spent on insulation in under-insulated homes (according to a government study in the 1990s) saves two dollars in health costs alone. Add to that, lower power costs, higher productivity, more employment (perfect for a recession) and better education outcomes for healthier kids, and we’re talking great value for the taxpayer’s dollar.

So, will we see a bold series of housing initiatives from the new government? Now, that really would be a brighter future.

54 comments on “The housing question”

  1. Tim Ellis 1

    SP said:

    The Greens-Labour deal for a billion dollar insulation package would address under-insulation in older, non-State houses but it seems National is intent on scrapping that package for no apparent reason.

    No apparent reason? How about $30 billion of deficits projected, over the next ten years? That sounds like a pretty compelling reason to trim back unaffordable expenditure and ensure that the economy is as strong as possible to pull us through the economic crisis. It’s nice to have big pipe-dreams–six hundred million to MFAT, a billion for insulating private homes (and therefore adding to the values of those privately-owned homes and the private investors), etc etc.

    Nice ideas, but just not affordable, and I don’t think should be the biggest priority.

  2. insider 2

    Actually this so called study shows nothing of the sort (in terms of lost sick days etc). It recycles data from other sources then combines it with an opinion survey that it conducts regularly – ie the monthly Shape survey and tries to build a case for policy change. If you don’t know what shape is, it’s a self selecting email survey which asks a number of often highly unbalanced questions (IMO) and allows you to invite a friend to take part.

    I don;t know a lot about survey methodology but that to me is highly dubious and I am suspicious of the validity of the results, especially when in one section it states

    “These metrics have been assessed using key research
    conducted by the University of Otago Medical School, Wellington.
    They are indicative only recognising the difficulty in extrapolating to
    a bigger community level of predicted benefits. We are supportive
    of further studies in this area with a larger population base to
    improve the data available for this form of assessment.”

    That tells me they don’t even trust their own numbers.

    It also seems to extrapolate that ‘x’ people said their house caused them to be sick into ‘y hundred thousand NZers are being made sick by their homes’, yet there is no evidential basis for it, just the opinion of the people being asked. A lot of people believe in astrology but does that make it true?

    I was also concerned by the lack of references to where the figures come from in the first place – none are actually sourced via footnotes though there is a list of references at the back. Why not say where the info comes from directly?

    The report itself is a big plea for taxpayers to subsidise the upgrading of other people’s homes and mandate the installation of some high cost but low performance systems favoured mostly by those who won’t be paying for them. For instance, it says that in a test home solar heating saved $275 a year. Sounds a lot until you realise that solar systems cost $5k to $10k to install. Not a great return on investment.

  3. Vanilla Eis 3

    Umm, Tim, didn’t Steve outline why the insulation would be a good thing to spend a billion dollars on?

    – Every dollar spent saves $2 on healthcare later down the track
    – Less days off sick = greater productivity
    – Installing the insulation = work for the building sector = people in jobs, paying tax

    Did I miss something? I know I’d be a lot happier with a billion dollars being spent on insulation instead of, for example, new roads. Or tax cuts.

  4. Tim. The deficit might be grounds to drop tax cuts for the already wealthy but cutting a program with myraid economic benefits? Weird economics there.

    And it’s a billion over 15 years, that’s pocket change in terms of the deficit and total government spending. 

  5. Tim Ellis 5

    If poor housing insulation is really a major problem, then I don’t see why the Government doesn’t just mandate housing insulation standards. Why spend a billion dollars of taxpayers’ money improving private housing stock?

  6. Kevin Welsh 6

    Gee Tim, more regulation? I can really see Rodney going for that one.

    Nanny State anyone?

  7. Tim Ellis 7

    Kevin, I don’t really care what Rodney goes for. I’ve never voted for him and don’t expect I ever will.

    Like I said, if dampness and cold houses really are an issue, creating a public health issue, then the government should regulate to ensure that all houses are fit for human purposes. I’d expect that study to be done on a scientific basis with a clear cost benefit study. You can call it what you like, but enforcing housing standards doesn’t seem like nanny state to me (not that I’ve ever used that expression).

    I very much doubt that there are many people who can afford to buy a house, who can’t afford to have it properly insulated. I’d much rather regulation being used as the tool to improve housing quality rather than taxpayer subsidy of private investments.

  8. vto 8

    This thread is a good illustration of the difference in approach between the left and right.

    If the left wish to ban uninsulated homes due to health effects then surely they should also ban cars from able to exceed 100kph (limiters) and ban cigarettes fullstop.

    Do you think individual people could possibly work this out for themselves and make their own minds up whether they would rather spend more on more insulation or spend that same money on something else like mayeb their kids education, or a big vegie patch? After all, there is only so much money. I would rather work it out myself than have Fitzsimmons do it for me. I mean – is she really that much smarter than everyone else?

    It is really is a classic case of the different approaches, which of course the public has just decided on.

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    Tim,

    “I very much doubt that there are many people who can afford to buy a house, who can’t afford to have it properly insulated.”

    How much do you think it would cost? Do you really think that there are only a few people out there that couldn’t afford to throw that cost on the mortgage at present?

    Given that it’s really about priorities, do you think this spending would really be less beneficial than Key’s broadband gimmick?

    This spending is in an area that the private sector isn’t doing anything, yet would benefit the economy as a whole, at a time when builders could use the work.

  10. bill brown 10

    What about the people who rent and who’s landlords are under no obligation to upgrade their properties.But I suppose those renters can “go down the road” after all “it’s a market”

  11. Tim Ellis 11

    PB, I haven’t seen any studies, but I suspect that if there are public health issues in uninsulated housing, they are more likely to be lower-income housing, and probably rental housing at that. I think it should be a landlord’s responsibility to provide safe, healthy homes. I’ve been to places where there is atrocious rising damp–rental properties that really should just be condemned. I don’t know how people get away with tenanting those properties. I certainly don’t see a need for the taxpayer to subsidise an upgrade.

    As for the cost, I don’t know. 3-4 grand maybe. About one percent of the property value in the city, and slightly more in other areas.

  12. bill brown 12

    Tim,  perhaps they get away with it because people are desperate for housing – after all the alternative is worse.

  13. Phil 13

    But I suppose those renters can “go down the road’ after all “it’s a market’

    Yes, that’s exactly what they should do – it’s exactly what I’ve done with my landlord.

    We have a huge problem with dampness/mould/mildew, and taking five minutes of my day to contact the landlord, explain the situation, and point out that it’s his house losing value if he doesn’t do anything about it, was enough to get a DVS system installed.

    There is a huge oversupply of rental accomodation in NZ (we can argue the root causes some other time 🙂 ) and now is the perfect time for tennants to be using their superior bargaining position.

  14. insider 14

    Vanilla

    One of the reasons this stuff is controversial is because the benefits are not always as clear cut as some would make out. In a Dunedin study- one of the Chapman ones – they spent $1800 improving insulation and it only saved 350kwh (about $70) of energy and had a very small improvement in room temperatures. I suspect that lack of clarity on benefits is the reason lobbyists try and push the taxpayer to spend the money.

  15. Tim, vto. It’s not about people who own their own homes, and Phil it’s not about people like you in a powerful market position (good income, oversuply of rentals in your market). Our concern should be targeted at families renting on lower incomes, who have to take the cheapest housing and whose lanlords don’t give a crap about things like insulation.Now, you righties are all about the handup not the handout. Surely you can see that insulation, a one-off cost that has longterm benefits to people’s lives is exactly that kind of handup. (maybe you’re not for hand ups either, maybe you’re just not for helping out those at the bottom of the pyrimad).Tim, there are mandatory insulation standards but they don’t apply to buildings in existance before the standards came into force.. I reckon they should be applied to rental properties even if they are pre-1979.

  16. vto 16

    SP, I understand your point and it makes sense. But only to a point. And that is the point – where is that point? My point was that this issue is a good illustration of the difference in approach between the two main factions of NZ politics. One that prefers to make decisions for people and one that prefers to trust in people to make their own decisions.

    Rather than forcing my neighbour to insulate their old home I would rather trust in my neighbour to make the right decision for themselves. Who am I to tell my neighbour what to do with their house? In fact, as I type I look at my neighbours mostly old places and think of the reception I would get if I went and knocked on their door and told them they had to what I told them with their house.

    It’s just that age old conundrum.

    Of course houses would be better if they were warmer. So would people if cigarettes were banned.

    And when it comes to where the point of that conundrum sits the people of NZ have just sent a very very clear message to Wgtn.. Ignore at your peril. Or perhaps a better way of describing that message is, in the words of Cullen, “we won you lost eat that”. (hee hee, that one had to come back didn’t it)

  17. George Darroch 17

    “Rather than forcing my neighbour to insulate their old home I would rather trust in my neighbour to make the right decision for themselves. ”

    I support low/zero interest loans, offered to everybody. They’ve recently introduced this in California, after seeing much success at the local level. It is a pity that the last Government was reluctant to push this policy, and we saw only limited access to this instrument available, in favour of low income home owners (almost an oxymoron). A universal coverage would not be all that costly, but is likely to be much more successful in terms of both outcomes and popularity.

    Of course, these loans should also be offered to landlords (carrot) with a mandatory requirement after a certain period of time (stick). Many landlords will take the offer if given voluntarily, but some will so no commercial advantage and choose not to if given the choice.

  18. Rather than forcing my neighbour to insulate their old home I would rather trust in my neighbour to make the right decision for themselves”

    what concerns me is not so much when they’re not making the decision for themselves, it’s they’re making the choice for their tenants.

  19. TimeWarp 19

    We’re going to end up like the Bedouin who live in tents with a Rolls Royce outside. Except we will live in poor housing with gold-plated broadband infrastructure. And it won’t be paid for by oil, but by debt.

  20. Janet 20

    Mary on Checkpoint is trying to hold Phil Heatley to account on the new policy of capping state house numbers, quoting his words from September back to him which never mentioned a cap and instead talked about increasing the stock in the medium term. But of course they now mean something else – and he deals with this by just talking over her. This is what happens when election policies were mere bullet points – they can mean something quite different once in power.
    How often will we see this tactic?

  21. George Darroch 21

    “How often will we see this tactic?”

    As often as we see it needed. Expect it as the default setting from NACT.

  22. TimeWarp 22

    “No apparent reason? How about $30 billion of deficits projected, over the next ten years? That sounds like a pretty compelling reason to trim back unaffordable expenditure and ensure that the economy is as strong as possible to pull us through the economic crisis. It’s nice to have big pipe-dreamssix hundred million to MFAT, a billion for insulating private homes (and therefore adding to the values of those privately-owned homes and the private investors), etc etc.”

    Unless Key wants to “invest” in “infrastructure” – then it’s all good Tim?

    Are you going to come out and say his broadband plan and other expenditure is a crock of proverbial, or are you just playing this along party lines?

  23. RedLogix 23

    What about the people who rent and who’s landlords are under no obligation to upgrade their properties

    Bill hits on a very good point. Around 40% of us live in rental accomodation, and this number is growing at around 0.5% pa. And I would hazard a guess that a dominant portion of the very bad houses are in this category.

    The big problem from the landlords point of view is that there is absolutely zero incentive to do anything about it. In the current market rental returns are pretty much fixed by location and number of bedrooms. Age and condition of the property perhaps affects the occupancy rate somewhat, rather more than the actual $ per week value. Energy costs are fully paid by the tenant, so any investment by the owner shows zero return.

    Until recently tenants have placed absolutely zero value on things like warmth, efficiency or ventilation. Many of them have no idea how to maintain a house, they’ll close all the windows, pull all the curtains, run an unflued gas heater and then wonder why the windows have puddles streaming onto the floor. In this kind of scenario the landlord has very little motivation to be doing much to improve the property. All up it is not a pretty picture and there are whole swathes of the rental sector that are very sick indeed.

    Having said all that, the recent “Toxic Homes” TV series seems to have made a real impact. All of a sudden new tenants are asking questions about the health of the home, if it is insulated or not, and what the power bills are. Some are checking to see if the property was used as a P-lab and are looking more closely in bathrooms and toilets for signs of dampness and black mould. Overall my impression is that this program has reached a lot of people and opened their eyes to this very major issue.

    Right now I’m looking at a quote of around $9000 to fully insulate three 100m2 houses using Greenstuff (R3.3) in the ceilings, Airfoam (R2.8) in the walls and either recycled polystyrene (R2.8) or a foil (R2.5) under the floors. All three will get a 6kw heat pump and some form of ventilation system. (One good trick is to vent the warm air into the bathroom, this pushes any moist air quickly out of the house and definitely eliminates the usual tendency for this room to grow mould.)

    The problem is that all up this represents about a $20k plus investment, that on paper, the only way I can justify is that it will likely improve the occupancy rate and marginally improve the rental. I don’t even want to calculate the ROI. Any sane man would tell me that I’m just soft in the head.

    I have to conclude that the only way forward for the rental sector is a combination of education (like Toxic Homes), rating systems and a gradual introduction over time of improved mandatory standards.

  24. mike 24

    As landlord renting to the bottom end of the market I cannot see the point of spending big $$ on insulating a dunger only to up the rent in order to pay for it.
    Forget about the grant – they estimate 22K to do a thorough job and how do you properly insulate a 1914 lath & plaster villa without relining the whole thing

    Someone has to offer cheap housing and that’s certainly not the govt.

  25. rave 25

    But seriously why don’t you landlords here stop trying to get rich off the housing needs of others? Why do you think state houses originated? To get slumlords off the backs of the workers. Why is Heatley putting a cap on state houses? Because the real National policy is to sell the prime sites to their developer mates and infill the gullies with matchboxes.

    A capital gains tax would sort you lot out, drive down the cost of housing and then no interest loans would give home owners some incentive to put sweat equity into their homes including basic retro insulation.

    It doesnt take much to reline a home if you live in a real community and have plenty of voluntary help.

    In fact housing needs can be met by collective labour. I have seen slum developments in Sao Paulo where the community gets a land grant from the local body and builds everything from roads, drainage up. The thing is that the land is community owned an nobody is trying to get rich from rack renting their brothers and sisters.

  26. RedLogix 26

    rave,

    Up until about `15 years ago, the traditional rental return was around 10%, ie if the house was worth $100k, then the rent was about $200 pw or $10k pa. This formula had been pretty much the norm for many, many decades.

    In recent times as values rose dramatically, rents did not and returns have dropped to around 3-6%. Very few landlords see anything like the old 10% return. In fact the average tenant is paying about 40% of the cash to live in a house, than if they had purchased that home themselves with a 20% deposit mortgage.

    Rentals have never been cheaper. I think your ‘rack renting’ rhetoric can be safely put to bed.

    In fact many, if not most tenants are actually not yet in a position to own a home. Either they do not have the equity, or they are not at a stage of life when they either need or should own a home. Their lives are generally still rather transient. The median tenancy only lasts about 12 months, and then they move on, usually for very good reasons like new jobs, new relationships, or suprisingly often, they have purchased their own home.

    What landlords do is leverage their own equity to enable people who have none to access a home to live in. It is not money for jam. There is a considerable amount of work in it if you do it right, and there are not inconsiderable risks. The number of bastard tenants out there considerably outnumbers the bastard landlords.

    The notion of collective housing is a good one. I’m all for it, but very very kiwis have the balls to give it a go. I’m also quite active with Habitat for Humanity, another very interesting organisation with another very successful communal model.

  27. rave 27

    RedLogic

    I used to work in Tenants Protection so I know a bit about landlords.
    I have also had to look after family property that was rented out though I was personally opposed to acting as a landlord.

    Landords rent out to cover their mortgage costs and then make a capital gain when they sell because they can and that’s the way many people have increased their assets in NZ. Once you jump on that gravy train its easy to see tenants as bastards.
    I see private tenants as pretty powerless people who have little control over their lives and who do not respect property because it means nothing to them. Where local body or state housing exists in large blocks the situation is different.

    It is unfortunate that NZ did not stick with land taxes that punished land speculation. Of course it didnt because of the pork barrel driven politics of land farming. Once this system was established then land values soon got out of reach of the working class. That’s why state housing is absolutely necessary and the more of it the better.

    I was talking about how things can be different if land is nationalised or owned collectively so the incentive to gain from the ‘unearned increment’ does not exist. Collective housing on privately owned land is probably a nightmare. The example I cited in Sao Paulo allows families to sell the houses back to the collective for the value of their own sweat equity. This is fair and it develops values where the individual and collective coexists productively. The individual works for him or herself and for the collective and everybody wins.

  28. gingercrush 28

    Even a capital gains tax wouldn’t change things. You may get the smaller guys stop buying housing but for most people its very long term. Most people don’t expect to get rich from the actual rent coming in. That rent typically doesn’t even cover mortgage. Most people will buy a rental for that long-term capital gains and if they had to pay 33% they would still likely get a good profit. It may slow house prices rising but I don’t believe it’d do that much damage.

    If you really wanted to hurt landlords and people investing in housing your best way. Then remove the ability to do this:

    Negative gearing. The IRD also allows losses in investment properties to be claimed as deductions against income earned from an employer. This is termed “negative gearing”, the effect of which can turn what would normally be a pittance of a tax return into a substantial refund. Seek the advice of your accountant when determining what can and can’t be geared against your income.
    via stuff.co.nz

    —–

    Personally I think National was premature to get rid of the house efficiency policy and I believe while that may have been ideologically opposed to it that it was something people liked.

    In regards to rental housing. If you really want to push those to be properly insulted etc etc the smartest thing would be make it attractive via tax returns. So if you insulate your rental and/or make it more energy efficient you can get substantial tax returns. Its the smartest way to do it and will see far more results than grants or anything else.

  29. nobody seems to have got that the title of this is a reference to Engel’s work of the same name. boo?

  30. RedLogix 30

    Capital gain taxes usually do not have the desired effect. In fact land speculation and a monstrous property bubble has just happened over the last decade in every developed nation in the world, despite a huge range of various tax measures these nations have in place.

    Unrealised CGT’s are a nightmare. NZ I think had one in place sometime during the Muldoon era, but it only lasted a few years… the effects were so pernicous on all sorts of commercial operations. They positively invite avoidance and the administration gets hugely complex. Very few countries have ever persisted with this form of CGT for long.

    Realised CGT’s (ie tax paid on sale) are quite common, but the usual long-run effect of these is the exact opposite of what you intend… the land owners NEVER sell, rather the property is held onto for generation after generation. Over time more and more land is held by fewer and fewer people.

    I think the best method for preventing land speculation would be to eliminate freehold title and make all land leasehold. Rates would become land rents. Most importantly the banks would not be allowed to securitise the land portion of a property’s value, and that simple condition alone would almost completely eliminate the speculative mechanism drives land price bubbles.

    Incidentally property investors are NOT the ones who drive prices up. Most investors look to buy property that is undervalued for some reason, and seek to add some form of value to it. Over the last 3-4 years, until the bubble burst late last year, most investors had their cheque-books firmly shut, yet the bubble merrily continued inflating all the same.

  31. gingercrush 31

    We know there’s horrible landlords but there are also a number of tenants who are also horrible.

    My partner has two rentals. One was damaged by PI users. The other was abused by people that lack obvious common sense. These were people earning good incomes yet they still left windows closed, the curtains constantly closed and it caused damage. Another lot didn’t pay their rent for a month but my partner who is far too generous allowed them to get away with it. He is a good landlord who is always working to help the tenants in his property. He’s been generous in setting the bond, he has been generous in the damage caused by his tenants and he has been easy-going when people have not paid their rents.

    Most tenants are excellent, likewise the majority of landlords too are excellent. Its the few that tend to be assholes and they let both landlords and tenants down. But please do not make some poor/rich analogy that excuses tenancy behaviour.

  32. RedLogix 32

    GC,

    All that the removal of negative gearing would do is drive up rents, and in the long run achieve little else.

    If the rental company is loosing money (and most are at present), then if the loss is ‘ring-fenced’ into that company then it stays there. In the short term this forces the owner to put in shareholders funds (already tax paid from employment income) to cover the loss, OR to raise rents to cover the short fall.

    If the owner props up the company with his own funds, then when the business eventually turns a profit (and eventually after 10-20 years most do) all the losses are then unwound. All that has happened in effect is that you have created a monstrous cash flow problem without changing anything in the long run.

    Or more likely the vast majority of owners will not be able to cover the losses. Their uniform response will be to raise rents…all at once all across the country, by about 50-100%. Sure some landlords will not, but the tenants in their houses will stay put, (and you can only rent one house once)… the rest either pay or sleep in the streets.

    Then you can get to moan about rack renting.

    And the idea that landlords might be en mass forced to dump huge numbers of properties onto an already depressed market is a nightmare scenario that the other 60% of NZ’ers who are already worried about the declining value of the homes might also not appreciate.

  33. Pascal's bookie 33

    nobody seems to have got that the title of this is a reference to Engel’s work of the same name. boo?

    He was like one of Goons or sumfink, yeah? You should have called it ‘The International Christmas Pudding!’ everyone knows that one. Or perhaps you could of gone with one of the Marx brothers flicks, “A day at the races’ or ‘Duck soup’. But they wouldn’t have fitted the post I suppose. Oh well, serves you right for having a pack of heathens for readers I reckon.

  34. RedLogix 34

    GC,

    You make some excellent points.

    So if you insulate your rental and/or make it more energy efficient you can get substantial tax returns.

    At present insulating a house is counted as a capital improvement, so the cost is not even tax deductable. If you borrow to pay for it the interest portion of the loan is deductable, but the principle is not.

    Most tenants are excellent, likewise the majority of landlords too are excellent. Its the few that tend to be assholes and they let both landlords and tenants down. But please do not make some poor/rich analogy that excuses tenancy behaviour.

    Absolutely agree. Most in fact have looked after their homes better than we look after our own… it’s almost embarrassing. So far we’ve been very fortunate, but you can never quite put aside that niggling worry that one day, one of them is going to let you down big time, and when it happens there is not very you can do about effective redress. Frankly I would regard the Tenancy Tribunal as a forlorn last hope; I would do everything both proactive and possible, before I went down that path.

  35. gingercrush 35

    I don’t advocate doing so RedLogix just that if you want less people investing in property that is the way to do it. I think the current way works rather well. I don’t actually believe making money off housing hurts people. I do believe current prices are too high and the market knows that thus why we’re likely to see a long period where house prices either fall or stabilise without any rise in house prices. Most tenants do rather well in that even for those on lower incomes they can potentially rent in areas they could never afford to buy a house.

    There is an issue in that home ownership is falling. But I don’t believe you hurt those already invested in property. Its not just that house prices outweigh incomes or that we live in a more user-pays systems. The attitude in New Zealand too has changed and you really do need to make sacrifices to buy property. Most just aren’t willing to do so.

    And another point. Most people investing in property are pretty normal people and many of them are hurting just as much as other people. Many aren’t actually on super high incomes. Many investors in property make sacrifices to own second homes etc. Yes they can offshoot losses through tax returns on personal income. Yes eventually it should pay in that over the long-term they will make money. But many are really hurting now.

  36. RedLogix 36

    PB,

    Very droll.

    SP,

    Where do I hand in my membership card?

  37. Jum 37

    JanetDecember 1, 2008 at 5:38 pm
    said ‘Mary on Checkpoint is trying to hold Phil Heatley to account on the new policy of capping state house numbers, quoting his words from September back to him…’

    I heard that too – the behaviour of an arrogant, condescending little minister in an arrogant (small g) government. What I didn’t hear or see was any mention re state housing on the television news on any free to air channel (correct me if I’m wrong). News blackouts to protect government perhaps?

    I consider this latest change a far-reaching policy reversal by National, yet there was no targeted visual coverage to reach people who don’t read the papers, the very people who will be most affected by National’s do up and sell off of state housing stock.

    The million dollar homes will be handed over to the well off, the poorer state house tenants squatted into boxes and the divisive plans of Nact will progress, unhindered by New Zealanders who are still busy saying ‘give these guys a chance’.

    Anne Tolley refused to answer a question on education – arrogant disregard for the public, via media, enquiry. Is this the future? Remember the Douglas 80s? The sped up policy enactments, happening before NZers knew what was happening to them. We didn’t know better then. We have no excuse to let it happen a second time.

    Cutting Agenda which would have given future illumination on the current government’s actions and plans. TVNZ dumbing down still further…leaving just… Volkner .

  38. Jum 38

    The difference between Labour and National will always be:

    Labour works positively and is inclusive. The result over time means a better life for all.

    National works negatively and is divisive. The result over time means the good life for some and a cheap desperate labour pool for the rest to sink into.

  39. Tim Ellis 39

    SP said:

    Our concern should be targeted at families renting on lower incomes, who have to take the cheapest housing and whose lanlords don’t give a crap about things like insulation.

    Well I think they should give a crap about it, SP. I’ve seen some tenanted properties with rising damp and I’m just appalled that anybody would live there. Frankly I think that kind of housing is just unsafe. I don’t know how people live in them. That is obviously a different issue to proper insulation but I suspect real construction faults are as much a cause for illness and energy wastage than insulation issues. Should we subsidise landlords who want to treat rising damp as well?

    I don’t think so. I think it’s better for the state to identify housing safety issues and enforce them. I’m not comfortable with across the board, mandatory insulation rules because some parts of the country are warm enough all year round to not need it. In my home I’ve never used a heater (I don’t actually have one in the house).

    Tim, there are mandatory insulation standards but they don’t apply to buildings in existance before the standards came into force.. I reckon they should be applied to rental properties even if they are pre-1979.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, here. The state should be concerned about the poorest families living in sub-standard housing, and require those landlords to bring those properties up to scratch. I don’t think you need to spend a billion dollars to do it. Just a five-year phase-in period with severe penalties if they don’t comply.

  40. insider 40

    Steve

    No-one reads Engels anymore. another of those failed policies of the past 🙂

    Tim

    Why doesn;t the Govt contract standards with landlords? Guarantee a certain level of rent in return for specified standard of housing. That way the landlord has the certainty to invest and the stock of housing gradually improves, particularly at the bottom end.

  41. Phil 41

    Labour works positively and is inclusive… National works negatively and is divisive.

    Ah, so that explains all those successful coalition arrangements between the MP and Labour, and why National refuses to work with them – thanks for clearing that up!

  42. lprent 42

    Phil: we’ll have to wait and see with the MP. Making a coalition is trivial compared to keeping it.

    However look at NZF with National between 1996 and 1999 and the contortions that the Nats did to stay the course. Sure the Alliance fractured between 1999 and 2002, but that simply resulted in an early election.

    So far it looks like the Nats operate like spagetti, limp and extremely flexible when wet. However I think that their coalitions will fracture like dry spagetti when they get a bit of a load on them. Certainly how they operated with NZF in the 90’s

  43. Tim Ellis 43

    LP, I don’t think your position is credible, frankly. You point to one example of National managing under MMp–it’s only example. Bolger also brought together a coalition in 1995 with United and the Conservatives, which was reasonably successful. Bolger also managed coalition negotiations pretty successfully with NZ First. Things turned to custard at about the time Shipley took over, but I don’t think that the “contortions” that National put up with, vis-a-vis NZ First, were any more wild than what Labour put up with this year from NZ First.

    I think Helen Clark’s reputation as a master of MMP took some pretty heavy body-blows this year. She pu tup with far too much from Winston for the sake of holding together a government. If there is ever an example of wet spaghetti, then that was it.

    Helen Clark put together a stable government from 1999-2002. During this time the Alliance collapsed, but Clark’s government’s authority remained strong. I think that was a good example of sound political management from Clark.

    In 2002 she had the opportunity to build an agreement with the Greens, and refused. In 2005 she turned down the chance to work constructively with the Maori Party. I think in retrospect her policy of building the minimum agreement necessary went against her.

    Key has built on Clark’s habit of more flexible coalition arrangements, open to a range from full coalition on everything and cabinet positions (the position from 1996-1999), coalition with agreement to disagree on some things, and full cabinet (99-02), confidence and supply with ministers outside cabinet, confidence and supply with no ministers, and agreements to abstain. It’s hard to see where else arrangements might evolve, but Key’s advantage–and Clark can take a lot of credit for developing these things–is that support options aren’t limited.

    Where Key’s fresh approach is not to go for minimum cooperation, but to go for maximum support. Key isn’t happy with 62 votes out of 122, as Clark was. That’s why he’s gone wider. Time will tell if it will lead to a less fractious parliament, but I think your predictions of brittleness are about as credible as the cold water you poured on political opinion polling before the election.

  44. rave 44

    Insider:

    Yes people still do read Engels but don’t necessary draw the conclusions that SP does about more state intervention.

    However, right now, old Fred would probably support state housing for obvious reasons. They are a small step towards socialism.

    Red Logix refers to one aspect of it. Leasehold was a huge movement in the 19th century but it collapsed in the face of the great second Land Grab from Maori during the Liberal adminstration of the 1890s. Of course from that point on capital gains taxes were a big no no. In fact the reverse, for example high country land that has remained leasehold is now being converted to freehold.

    But housing is something that can be tackled right now. State housing keeps land out of private ownership and takes a step towards socialism. It also forces all those landlords who get tax breaks and need more tax incentives to upgrade substandard housing out of business. Good riddance. Except of course Heatley is the Minister and not Engels. To Engels Question Heatley answer is: cap!

    RedLogix:

    I don’t agree that investors didnt contribute towards the housing boom of recent years. That’s because I include all those proverbial ‘mums and dads’ who dabbled in second or third houses, or went into doups to augument their low wages. Or who simply traded up several times. But add to this already overheated market the subprime loans that started to blossom over the last few years (Aussie banks leading the way).

    Jum:

    I agree with you Nats are shaping up for a blitzkreig under the pretext of the financial crisis with 3 years for a new round of shock and horror.

    Back to Engels SP:

    The answer is not to pin ones hopes on state housing (as this is a reform incapable of meeting workers housing needs) but rather advocate workers occupations and expropriations of vacant public and private housing.

    “As it is not our task to create utopian systems for the arrangement of the future society, it would be more than idle to go into the question here. But one thing is certain: there are already in existence sufficient buildings for dwellings in the big towns to remedy immediately any real “housing shortage,’ given rational utilization of them. This can naturally only take place by the expropriation of the present owners and by quartering in their houses the homeless or those workers excessively overcrowded in their former houses. Immediately the proletariat has conquered political power such a measure dictated in the public interests will be just as easy to carry out as other expropriations and billetings are by the existing state.”

  45. lprent 45

    TE: The point I was making to Phil was that forming a coalition is the easy part. Keeping it together (as you’ve also pointed to examples where it hasn’t) is pretty damn hard.

    Balancing the expectations of the MP and Act, plus the internal policy divisions inside of the Nats is going to be hard

  46. George Darroch 46

    Back on topic – the sniping about who’s got a better coalition can happen in another thread.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, here. The state should be concerned about the poorest families living in sub-standard housing, and require those landlords to bring those properties up to scratch. I don’t think you need to spend a billion dollars to do it. Just a five-year phase-in period with severe penalties if they don’t comply.

    Indeed. It’s a policy intervention that needed to happen yesterday. The Fifth Labour Government may eventually have gathered the courage to do it, but it was down the list of priorities unfortunately.

    I do accept that taking on a large number of landlords, even with the support of a large part of the electorate, is something that no government would take on lightly, and could be difficult. For that reason I’m not averse to a sweetner such as low interest loans to accompany regulation. We shouldn’t be paying the full price in subsidies however.

    It might also be rolled out from the deep South upwards – Southland, Otago and West Coast in the first few years, then Canterbury, Marlborough, Nelson etc. It would also be good to see these loans tied to the property, so that someone selling does not lose the value of improvements – this is part of the ‘California model’ that seems worth adopting.

    (and as an aside, it seems that California is racing ahead of many places including NZ in many areas of policy. We’re not the ‘world leaders’ that Helen Clark constantly claimed.)

  47. Evidence-Based Practice 47

    Off topic again.
    3 pm RNZ news John Key says has no idea what to do about the stranded tourists in Thailand. Phil Goff has to tell him – ring the Ozzies – work with them.

    Did you ever see Helen Clark less than confident and decisive on any such issue?

  48. Evidence-Based Practice 48

    Off topic again
    Very sad news – long time staunch left activist Raewyn Good died this morning. A huge loss for the many circles she was active in.

  49. insider 49

    EBP

    Why should the Govt even consider stepping in to get people out of Thailand? Is there some danger in having your holiday extended? Did we race to get people out of the US after 9/11 or the UK after the tube bombings? There are other international airports operating in Thailand. This is nanny statism gone mad. Travel insurance should cover getting them out or their airline/travel agent.

    On topic, I found this interesting comment re home heating from a story a few months ago:

    “Christchurch Hospital respiratory physician Michael Epton said there was growing scientific evidence that people’s houses affected their respiratory conditions.

    “What was not clear was whether targeted intervention, such as insulating homes, cut hospital admissions for respiratory conditions. This work needed to be done, Epton said. ”

    SO if admissions don’t go down, the medical cost savings argument becomes a bit tenuous making the investment in insulation less attractive from a national benefit.

  50. George Darroch 50

    SO if admissions don’t go down, the medical cost savings argument becomes a bit tenuous making the investment in insulation less attractive from a national benefit.

    Highly publicised 2007 University of Otago research show that there are substantial health benefits. It also quantified the benefit, and found close to $2 benefit for every dollar invested.

    The Otago press release is worth reading.

  51. insider 51

    George

    I know that’s what the publicity said but when you look at the study the benefit was actually 1.73, which to me is quite a bit lower than 2. He uses a long and low discount rate – 30 years and 5% when Treasury says 6% and 20 years, while on the other side Chapman says he has not included some benefits which could improve the equation. Seems to me there may be a lot of scope for argument about the c/b conclusions.

    the health benefits looked ok on the surface but even the researchers said the change in hospital admissions was not statistically significant (which is one of the major benefits being claimed for insulation by the NZBCSD).

    Many of the other benefits were self reported reductions in days off and well being, which may have been artefacts of the study (something noted as having happened in other studies apparantly) ie people thinking they are warmer and drier even though the temperature changes were not that great IMO.

    One example was people said they had less mould yet the mould spore counts did not actually change, and GPs reported no significant change in visits despite a massive self reported change (which to me casts doubts on the other self reported improvements).

  52. George Darroch 52

    I agree with you that the study wasn’t perfect (and as most good research does) left a number of things unanswered.

    A later editorial acknowledges the shortcomings, but the results are clear enough. It is important to note that only 30% of those who saw improvements were given the full insulation package, and that even the full insulation package offered was far less than comprehensive. The actual effect seen in raised temperatures was not substantial – approx 0.6 degrees higher mean temperatures to 14.2 degrees. This is still well below the WHO recommended minimum of 18 degrees. To take an uninsulated NZ home up to European standards would take substantially more than the $2000 spent. This is why we need a policy intervention that enables more than simply minor roof insulation but instead proper whole house renovations where necessary.

    As you mention though, the benefits were quantifiable, and statistically significant in some areas – particularly respiratory symptoms and days off work and school . Not all areas of wellbeing saw such and improvement however, and the data on GP visits was unclear. Nevertheless, the BMJ and others think that the benefits of such an intervention is well justified.

    Over 12 months there were substantial (of the order of 50%) improvements in self-rated health, wheezing and reduced time off work and school in the intervention group, with fewer visits to GP and hospital. Visible mould was reduced by 50%. Again it is impossible to fully blind this study, but it was single blind and the size of the study and the size of improvements for a mix of hard and soft outcomes give it great weight.

    Similar results were found in another NZ study that looked at an intervention to provide heating, and effects on asthma. The effect was quite substantial (BMJ, subscription, PDF) in terms of days off school, sickness, and asthma. We’re a sick nation, needlessly.

    I’ve also just re-read the study and can’t find a figure that corresponds to 1.73. The article says “tangible health and energy benefits outweighed the costs by a factor approaching 2”. It might be there, I just couldn’t see it.

    And of course, that is just the tangible benefits. Warm, cosy people are happier, and more likely to care for others, new research suggests. More reason for the left to support an insulation policy 😉 Less likely to want to go to Queensland either…

  53. RedLogix 53

    This is why we need a policy intervention that enables more than simply minor roof insulation but instead proper whole house renovations where necessary.

    Apologies for the product placement here, but I’ve already done up one house with
    this product and I’m really impressed. Totally eliminates the need to reline walls and works much better than I expected.

  54. insider 54

    Thanks George.

    It’s completely intuitive to me that warmer homes are better for people. I know from experience with an asthmatic son. Though what really sets him off is getting a cold or sometimes Wellington’s cool strong northerly.

    The surprising thing to me is that, despite the trumpeting of proof, the evidence doesn’t necessarily back that up. My suspicion is warmth is an aggravating factor not necessarily the prime driver of some illness, so we need to be slightly cautious in deciding solutions and who should pay particularly when the savings (like hospitalisation) don’t appear to be occurring.

    Oh and the c/b analysis of 1.73 came from a separate but related paper by Ralph Chapman here http://www.otago.ac.nz/wsmhs/academic/dph/research/housing/publications/Insulation%20benefits%2031oct042.doc

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  • Zero Carbon: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law
    Two years into New Zealand’s Labour-led government, the long-delayed Zero Carbon Bill became law on 7 November. Passed essentially unanimously, the lengthy public debates and political manoeuvring faded away until the final passage was even anticlimactic: Flipping through the @nzstuff @DomPost I was starting to wonder if I’d dreamt ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: What happens next?
    Now the Zero Carbon Bill is law, what's next? Obviously, the ETS changes currently before select committee are going to be the next battleground. But we're also going to get a good idea of where we're going, and if the progress the Zero Carbon Act promises is good enough, during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate change will fuel bush fires
    Grant Pearce The effects of the current Australian bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland (and also again in California) are devastating and far-reaching. To date, the fires have resulted in several lives being lost and many homes and properties destroyed. Here in New Zealand, the impacts have been only ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Participation rates
    A passing comment in a post the other day about the labour force participation rates of older people prompted me to pull down the fuller data and see what we could see about various participation rates over the decades since the HLFS began in 1986.   As it happens, the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Reddell
    1 week ago
  • Not So Much “OK Boomer” As “OK Ruling Class”.
    Distract And Divert: The rise of what we have come to call “Identity Politics” represents the ideological manifestation of the ruling class’s objective need to destroy class politics, and of the middle-class’s subjective need to justify their participation in the process.THE RELIEF of the ruling class can only be imagined. ...
    1 week ago
  • Asking for it …
    "I saw a newspaper picture,From the political campaignA woman was kissing a child,Who was obviously in pain.She spills with compassion,As that young child'sFace in her hands she gripsCan you imagine all that greed and avariceComing down on that child's lips?" ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Poor Pandemic Preparedness According to the Global Health Security Index
    Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately, NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    2 weeks ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1000 of these now
    Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Cowboy clampers will be stymied
    Clayton Mitchell, Spokesperson for Consumer Affairs The ‘wheel clamping’ Bill that will cap clamper fees to $100 passed its third reading in Parliament today. New Zealand First welcomes The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill to combat predatory wheel clamping behaviour in what is currently a largely unregulated business. Cowboy clampers are: gouging ...
    1 day ago
  • Mental Health Commission back on track
    Jenny Marcroft, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its first reading in Parliament. “Today’s progress takes serious action on the mental health and addiction crisis the country is facing,” says New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft. “The re-establishment ...
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand’s key assets are not for sale: national interest test delivered
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries Today the Government announced the delivery of the promise to protect New Zealand interests by applying a new National Interest Test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. This further strengthening of the Overseas Investment Act will ...
    2 days ago
  • National interest test added to protect New Zealanders’ interests
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high-risk assets to overseas buyers. Under current Overseas Investment Act (OIA) rules, assets such as ports and airports, telecommunications infrastructure, electricity and ...
    2 days ago
  • Electoral law breach allegations
    Rt Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First Allegations raised this morning by Stuff Limited / Fairfax concern a party matter but I am confident that New Zealand First has operated within electoral laws, now and for the last 27 years. Declarable donations were declared to the Electoral Commission. Our ...
    2 days ago
  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    3 days ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    3 days ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    1 week ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    1 week ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago

  • New Zealand to attend G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters departs New Zealand today to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya at the invitation of this year’s G20 President, Japan. “This is the first time New Zealand will attend a G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and we are deeply honoured that it is at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    30 mins ago
  • Ambassador to the European Union announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of diplomat Carl Reaich as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to the European Union. “The Ambassador to the EU is one of the most important and senior roles in New Zealand’s foreign service, advocating for New Zealand’s interests with the EU institutions,” Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    47 mins ago
  • New inventions boost Predator Free 2050 effort
        Innovation and technology are behind five new tools to give nature a helping hand by helping eliminate predators, funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. “The new tools will be trialled in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • APEC 2021 Bill passes first reading
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the first reading of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation 2021 (APEC 2021) Bill in Parliament today. The temporary bill supports New Zealand’s security preparations for hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in 2021. “APEC is the leading economic and trade forum ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Making progress for our kids
    The Government is making progress on improving the wellbeing of the one million New Zealanders under the age of 18,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on World Children’s Day. The Government has today recommitted to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history – the United Nation’s Convention on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has released a new report celebrating the contribution of Māori women in business across Aotearoa New Zealand. “Māori women are leaders in our communities, they employ many people and support our economy and our communities,” Julie Anne Genter said. The report, Ngā wāhine kaipakihi: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Two schools on the way for Omokoroa
    Four parcels of land have been bought in Omokoroa, in the Western Bay of Plenty District, for an education facility that will accommodate both a primary and secondary school on a campus-like facility, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Two parcels were acquired from private land owners and two were ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
    1 million New Zealanders warmed by the Winter Energy Payment 36,000 families bank the Best Start Payment in first year 6,000 more families received the Family Tax Credit, 220,600 in total   They receive an increase too – from an average of $117 to $157 a week for Inland Revenue clients, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Clamp down on wheel clamping passes third reading
    New rules to clamp down on overzealous wheel clamping and extortionate fees charged in order to release a vehicle have passed their final stage in Parliament today. The Land Transport (Wheel Clamping) Amendment Bill has now passed its third reading. “These changes mean $100 will be the maximum wheel clamping ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill passes first hurdle
    An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.  The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
    We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to screen travellers for border and immigration risks off-shore before they travel to New Zealand. It was launched in August and became mandatory on 1 October 2019. More than 500,000 NZeTAs have been issued since ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
    A proposed national plan of action to reduce the number of seabirds caught in fisheries is being circulated for public feedback. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage say New Zealand is a global centre of seabird diversity with about 145 species in our waters. It has more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
    The Government is delivering on its promise to protect New Zealanders’ interests by applying a new national interest test to the sales of our most sensitive and high risk assets to overseas buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker said under current Overseas Investment Act rules, assets such as ports and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
    The Government is building special housing to accommodate one of Aotearoa’s greatest taonga- our kaumātua, says the Minister for Māori Development, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Speaking at a National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference in Rotorua today, the Minister reinforced the importance kaumātua play in maintaining and passing on mātauranga Māori, knowledge, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Forestry helps prisoners into jobs
    Eleven men from a pilot forestry training programme for prisoners in Northland now have full time jobs or job offers upon release, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis and Forestry Minister Shane Jones announced today. The ‘release to work’ programme was a collaboration between Te Uru Rākau and the Department of Corrections, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
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    3 days ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
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    3 days ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
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    3 days ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
      Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa Thank you to the Child Poverty Action Group for asking me to be here today to provide an update on some of the things that have been happening across my the social development portfolio.  Can I firstly acknowledge the vast ...
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    3 days ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
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    3 days ago
  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
    The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer and more secure, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced today. Both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
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    6 days ago
  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
    Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting 14 November 2019 Joint Statement 1. Defence Ministers Ron Mark and Dr Ng Eng Hen today conducted their third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore. 2. Building on the Enhanced Partnership signed between both countries in May this year, this annual meeting ...
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    7 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
    A Bill to improve the court system’s response to sexual violence has passed its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill will reduce the trauma sexual violence complainants experience in court, while maintaining defendants’ fundamental rights and making sure the trial process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
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    7 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
    A new report has found New Zealand’s space sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy in the last financial year and employs 12,000 people, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
    The Government has confirmed its third major mental health facility upgrade since the Budget, this time at Palmerston North Hospital. The Prime Minister and Health Minister today visited MidCentral DHB to announce that $30 million has been allocated to upgrade its acute mental health facility. It follows earlier announcements in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
    The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme has reached the halfway mark, with 10 out of 20 District Health Boards now part of the programme. MidCentral DHB, which covers Palmerston North, Manawatu and surrounding districts, this week became the latest to DHB to offer free bowel screening to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More vaccines for meningococcal disease
    The Government welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from 1 December this year. “Meningococcal disease is a serious threat which people at higher risk should be protected from,” says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter. “The combined pharmaceutical budget was increased by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
    Groups involved with innovative fisheries research projects are encouraged to apply for government support in the latest funding round from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures programme. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the SFF Futures funding is designed to be flexible enough to support small or large projects across a ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government fixes culturally arranged marriage visa issue
    The Government has fixed an issue affecting how Immigration New Zealand has processed visa applications for culturally arranged marriages, which will now see a consistent process applied which ensures people with legitimate arranged marriages can visit New Zealand while also preventing any rorting of the system. Earlier this year Immigration ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Extension for Royal Commission into Mosque attacks
    The Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques will report back on 30 April 2020 to give it more time to hear submissions and consider information, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. The Royal Commission was originally scheduled to report back to Government by 10 December 2019. “There has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Terrorism and Trade on agenda as Foreign Minister visits the United States
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington DC today to attend a ministerial meeting focused on defeating ISIS, and to continue pursuing New Zealand’s trade opportunities. Mr Peters will participate in a meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers from key countries contributing to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago