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The real cause of New Zealand’s failing housing system

Written By: - Date published: 3:16 pm, February 23rd, 2020 - 139 comments
Categories: housing, labour, Social issues, Steven Joyce, uncategorized - Tags:

Remember the 1960s and 1970s?  For those of us around at that time it was a time of pretty well full employment and a time when homelessness was rare and easily fixed.

My own personal experience is that my dad, who was a boilermaker and my mum who had to cope with five of us, but we had a modest but reasonable home to live in, plenty to eat.  I grew up in a real working class area, where families of all socio-economic statuses could set up a home for their kids.  Our education did not suffer from the effects of overcrowding or temporary residences.  And the cost of putting a roof over everyone’s head was not a major draw on incomes that increased every year.

Fast forward to today.  We now have a crisis, one that has been brewing for decades.  In the past decade we have seen the number of homeless people begging on our streets explode.  And we have had the emergence of families whose parents have jobs sleeping in cars with their kids because they cannot afford to buy or rent.

This recent article by Simon Wilson in the Herald dug into the reasons.  It is behind the paywall which is unfortunate because it needs to be read as widely as possible.

The answer to what caused the housing crisis is contained in this graph:

See what happened?  The state used to provide significant support to first home buyers and young families and used to pour capital into the construction of lower value housing. 

My family was one of those helped by a 3% loan and capitalisation of Child Support.  It had a profound beneficial effect on my life and that of my sisters.

It used to be part of the political consensus.  The Nash Labour Government instituted the scheme, the Holyoake National Government kept it going and the Kirk Labour Government put it on steroids.  Even the Muldoon National Government kept it going.

Please remember there is a lag of a couple of years between funding and expenditure given the delay in obtaining titles and construction.  

Under Rogernomics the scheme was cut to the bone.  There was no alternative they said.  Then Ruthenasia killed it off.

There was a small increase under the Clark Labour Government, mainly I presume through the shared equity scheme.  But then National cut even that provision.

You can see by the way the trends in the lower quartile construction lags the expenditure by a couple of years how profound the relationship between the two is.

It is clear that the market of itself will deliver us more of the same.  Which is why Kiwibuild and also the Government’s construction of more social housing is so important.  The former is going more slowly than we would like, the latter is going really well.

So are there any other reckons we should add to this most important of subjects?

How about former Minister of everything Steven Joyce whose fiscal analysis skills led him to believe there was an $11.5 billion hole in Labour’s draft budget figures, one that has not materalised.

He has the cheek to ask us not to get partisan on it.  If “partisan” means “thinking anything but a pure market solution to the problem” then he may be right otherwise he is being facetious.

He asks us to look at policy changes over the past decade when it is clear we have to look at the past 40 years.

He says that the problem was not enough houses being built from 2000 to 2010.  Reality would suggest he is out by a decade in his apportionment of blame.

He basically blames “red tape” and Auckland Council for trying to have a compact urban form for the problems.  He then claims that passing of the Unitary Plan in 2016 has led to a surge in construction occurring.  The figures would not bear that out.

He claims that the Global Financial Crisis contributed because it dried up the supply of available money.  It is good to see that he no longer blames Labour for the GFC inspired “decade of deficits”. 

His third proposition is weird.  He says:

The third, and arguably biggest lesson from the last decade is the now obvious role low interest rates play in driving high house prices, and indeed all asset prices. Every time interest rates have got ridiculously low, house prices have shot through the roof as people bid up prices to the limits of the mortgage they can now afford. This price inflation seems fine if you already own a house, but it perpetuates the wealth gap between those that own houses and those that don’t.

This ignores the fact that interest rates are currently at historically low levels yet through a number of Government initiatives, some started by National, house inflation is lower than wage inflation.

His conclusion suggests he may occupy an alternative reality to the rest of us.  He says:

There are lessons out of the rental housing and social housing markets. It is crazy to persist with a single monopoly state housing provider when it has never in its history managed to successfully meet the demand for social housing. It’s also not sensible to let one person have the same state house for life irrespective of changes in their family and personal circumstances. The rapidly growing social housing waiting lists compared to two years ago provide the evidence there.

Can I ask Steven to check out what happened in the 1960s, the 1970s and the early 1980s?  He is my age.  I presume he was aware of what was happening around him.

This is an important debate.  The future of hundreds of thousands of kiwis depend on getting it right.  I just hope that the debate occurs with an understanding of what has happened in the past and what has worked.  And that it is motivated by achieving what is best for our communities, not what will drive the biggest profits for land developers and land owners.

 

139 comments on “The real cause of New Zealand’s failing housing system”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Good post Mickey. I'd tick pretty much all the same boxes; with perhaps two more I would add.

    One is the legislation introduced by National in the early 90's that prevented Local Councils from 'cross-subsidising' their commercial activities. It looked an innocuous thing at the time, but I recall immediately understanding what it was about. 

    If you look at closely at the history many the older 'established' suburbs they were essentially developed as council projects, funded on the back of the future rates income they generated. Council staff typically planned and supervised contracts for much of the ground work, but critically retained financial control. They could borrow at low rates and extend the terms over decades.

    What National did was treat this as a 'cross-subsidisation' and instantly put all Councils out of the development game, handing it entirely over to their private developer mates. Now developing is a risky game and they have huge costs to manage, but crucially they have to load all of these costs and risks onto the first buyer of a section. This dramatically pushed up the price of developed sections. It's now common for the section to cost more than the house, a situation our grandparents would have thought ludicrous.

    The one thing that would really pull home prices back into line with incomes would be for Councils to get back into the development game and hold sections long-term, with leasehold title to the home owners. That was the cost of the section would be amortized over many generations and crucially the banks could not use the land as security … and this would immediately shut down speculators (as distinct from investors) gambling on land value capital gains.

     

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks RL.  You and Ad both make the same point and I agree that Councils should be allowed to be more proactive and they have been significant house creators in the past, particularly with older adult housing.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        I'm agnostic about whether Councils should be providing homes … HNZ does seem to be well set up to do that and I can't see why their function needs to be duplicated. But providing developed land is a whole other story.

        PS … what appalling grammar in my comment above. The folly of commenting before first morning coffee!

    • Gosman 1.2

      The reason behind land costing more than the actual house being built is indicative of a shortage of land being made available for building on rather than the costs involved in preparing it to be ready to build on (although that does play a part it is true).

      • RedLogix 1.2.1

        A very old and close friend of mine is very familiar with the land development game and I've looked at his numbers. Trust me the development costs are staggering and dominate. In his case the raw land was essentially free (having been in the family for generations) … but his breakeven price was barely different to anyone else's.

        But in another sense you are right, NZ does have limited land and unconstrained urban sprawl is undesirable anyway. The underlying problem is that we are not using what we do have to the best collective effect. In particular we need to get a lot better at high density housing that people want to live in.

        • Gosman 1.2.1.1

          I have no problem with higher density housing in NZ cities. However planning laws in this area are as restrictive, if not more so, to releasing new land for residential builds as it is a massive NIMBY issue. Again if you remove the ability of people to slow or stop intensification developments then you will resolve the biggest roadblock to affordable housing.

          • RedLogix 1.2.1.1.1

            True, I largely agree with you on the NIMBY issue. At least part of this issue is that intensification often results in a genuine loss of amenity for it's immediate neighbours. If we could develop reasonable ways to compensate or mitigate for this impact then a lot of the heat would be taken out.

            Just for example … if we wanted to intensify say the whole of Dominion Rd in Auckland, the Council offers compulsory acquisition and proper compensation to all the reasonably affected residents (say 300m either side of the road), and then long-term lease the land to private developers to build high rises on. The existing residents get the opportunity to move on with their lives, the Council gets a long term income from the land rental, and the developer's planning risk is hugely reduced. 

            • Gosman 1.2.1.1.1.1

              All of that seems both expensive and time consuming. Sometimes people should accept the fact that living in a city means that things will change rapidly and they can't expect to live on a quarter acre in a 3 bedroom bungalow in a Central suburb in Auckland without being surrounded by 3 or 4 story townhouses.

              • RedLogix

                Sometimes people should accept the fact that living in a city means that things will change rapidly

                That's easy to say when it doesn't affect you.  And if you stay in one place long enough it almost certainly will.

                • Gosman

                  Of course I am affected by this sort of stuff. I live by a main communter rail line which is being upgraded. This entails significant work overnight which is loud and disruptive. I am fine with this as I know it is the price I pay for living in a city.

                  • mpledger

                    But you get the benefit of the line when it's finished – even if it's just other commuters switching from car to train.  Building a 4 story apartment block over the fence hugely diminishes people's privacy and sun light, making houses cold and dark.

                    • Gosman

                      Yeah, you should move to the suburbs if you want sun light and land. Stopping others from encroaching on your inner city property because you want both the convenience of inner city life AND the benefit of large land protected from being overlooked/shaded is greedy to the extreme. Perhaps you should get a degree of compensation for some loss but then again your land value has increased so much that you will be well rewarded if you sell (hence why people are building more intensively).

          • woodart 1.2.1.1.2

            so, gosman, take away landowners rights?to have there say over developments that might very well downgrade others property values and living standards? dance on the pin head al you want but that is basically what you want…

            • Gosman 1.2.1.1.2.1

              Your property rights should not dictate what others can do with their property. Sure you should have recompense if people cause damage to your property but as I argued above increasing intensification means your property value is rising not falling so you are already being compensated to a degree if you sell.

              • woodart

                you have missed most of my point(no surprises there). doubling the population of any area does not increase estate values. many times it decreases values, and most often decreases living standards with traffic, noise, etc. but if you advocate taking land owners rights away, then say so.

                • Gosman

                  No, the land value increases with intensification as a small bit of land can be used to build more on. What does suffer is the capital value of property that is not being intensified. Hence a three bedroom bungalow will lose value if it is surrounded by 4 or 5 story apartment blocks. However the land itself has not reduced in value. 

            • mikesh 1.2.1.1.2.2

              Closeness to public transport, good roading, and other amenities is what pushes up property prices. Intensification is therefor desirable because it means that more people can benefit from those amenities.

        • Molly 1.2.1.2

          " In particular we need to get a lot better at high density housing that people want to live in. "

          I agree with you on this point.  I'd also add that we need to include the provision for well designed additional community spaces for gathering, activities and socialising that support those higher density development dwellers, else we are just solving one problem and creating others.

          • Gosman 1.2.1.2.1

            The link you have provided in the past to housing solutions in the Netherlands actually highlights a more laissez faire approach to house building. The people building houses have far more flexibility in deciding what they want to build and how they build it.

             

            • Molly 1.2.1.2.1.1

              But the local authority also including planning provisions for schools, retail and community spaces.

              … still waiting for your contributions Gosman…

              • Gosman

                Yes that is what I would expect ANY local authority to do. The key though is the people BUILDING the houses are not constrained much in what they choose to build and how they build it.

                • Molly

                  And the reason this was done in this case, was because of the social investment that the owner/builders were making in the resulting community.  That investment was indicative of build quality and care.

                  That assurance cannot be assumed from builders who are solely interested in financial returns, and who will not be residents in the community.

  2. Ad 2

    Fair enough to get annoyed at Stephen Joyce.

    But. 

    It's pretty hard to see a fresh government doing a different version of Kiwibuild. It's cost one senior cabinet minister his reputation, so it's pretty unlikely another one is going to  have a go at it.

    This government's efforts are towards strengthening the rights of those in rental housing, putting a lot more money into emergency accommodation. Also the've revived Housing New Zealand and let it loose to develop whole neighborhoods. 

    They  have worked with the third sector to get new multi-unit developments up around Auckland pretty well. 

    Councils long sold off most of their pensioner and other flats following government pressure. Government could allow Councils to have subsidized accommodation like they used to, but as it is there's no encouragement for Councils to get back in to build themselves at scale. 

    Even the Urban Development Agency requiring authority powers that are going through parliament at the moment may probably stall until after the election. 

    It would also help if NZTA actively worked more with HNZ to find new parcels of land through their own acquisition processes. And of course rail projects as well.

    The entire intervention machinery is dead in places, weak in others, and just getting back on its feet in others. That's after 3 years of trying, and bright spots like Point England and Cannon's Creek and Northcote now emerging. 

    If all metro councils, and HNZ, and new entities like HNZ were all given strong reasons to cohere, maybe there would be a proper cohesiveness to public sector intervention in housing. 

    But that's for another government.

    This one has gone as far as it's going to.

    • Antonina 2.1

      An accurate description Ad. Sad that this Government cannot  have a better view 

       

    • Gosman 2.2

      The State is on a hiding to nothing if it attempts to solve the housing supply issue on it's own. There is simply not enough funds to increase housing stock to the levels that would have an impact on supply without further driving up the cost of the land available for housing. The best you can hope for is replacing the private sector demand factor in the growth in the costs of housing with a state sector demand factor. The worst is you add to the private sector demand thus increasing house price growth even more.

      • mickysavage 2.2.1

        Why is that Gossie?  The Crown can borrow at 1.5% or so right now.  That can fund a whole lot of construction.

        • Herodotus 2.2.1.1

          The industry is currently near capacity. As you are someone who knows the system, it takes time for consenting, upsizing infrastructure (stormwater, utilities, water, gas), physical development etc. Funding is the least of the issues.

          We had a year ago Twyford informing us the Unitec was to take 10 YEARS to complete 3000 houses (even though the PR spin was for a greater amount ) and how is this development progressing ??? 

          https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/unitec-deal-marks-major-kiwibuild-milestone

        • Gosman 2.2.1.2

          Except if the government attempted to increase it's borrowing to actually make a significant dent in the housing supply soon it will be paying a lot more than 1.5%. There would be a massive increase in risk to the government accounts.

          Imagine spending billions of dollars buying land and then the price of land drops by 10 or 20 %. You would have the State on the hock for 100's of millions if not billions of dollars in losses.

      • mikesh 2.2.2

        As the social Creditors used to say: If something is physically possible then it should be financially possible.

  3. Muttonbird 3

    Simon Wilson's article was one I really wanted to read but couldn't because of user pays.

    The guts of it is that Government assistance in house building was abolished by Douglas and buried without trace by Richardson.

    I did read Steven Joyce's article which, despite asking for a bi-partisan approach, proceeded to run like a political advert for the National Party.

    It was a re-hash of the same tropes we have heard from National and Seymour for some years now. That being if you just open up wherever to build houses then competition among developers will reduce the cost.

    He cites Christchurch as an example for Auckland. But Christchurch is a near infinite flat plain with zero obstacles to transport infrastructure. One of the only obstacles to suburban growth there is water security.

    But Auckland is an isthmus, and the isthmus is full. It is a place where transport infrastructure has been neglected for decades and the catch up is painful.

    I'm going from Glen Eden to Eden Terrace the other day at 9:30am and four lanes are jammed/stopped leading up to the newly completed Waterview interchange. This is brand new and it's already full. It doesn't get better than this, probably ever, and Steven Joyce just wants to throw open the urban border for more and more people to inhabit more and more remote areas. How are you going to get them to work?

    Why can't those tasked with running the country see that in a space constrained by geography and historically poor planning, demand is the major problem.

    Slow down!

    • In Vino 3.1

      Muttonbird:  NEVER pay to read the trashy Herald. Do what I do – go to a café with good coffee and a cheap, healthy breakfast on offer, and read their copy of the Herald while enjoying good coffee.  You may need to be retired, of course…

      • Anne 3.1.1

        Or go to a cafe (please how do you get the little thingimy above the 'e'? – pad and pen ready) and have a not so healthy lunch and wonder why the grams(?) keep piling on. One of the joys of retirement.

    • Sacha 3.2

      Joyce, Brownlee and chums are planning for the past. Cities need sustainable shared transport as part of their planning and building – not single storey sprawl just because that's what builders and subdivision-mongers are used to getting away with, palming off the transport costs to buyers in long commutes and traffic jams or the public purse in ever-widening roads that can never solve the problem. Yesterday's men, even before climate change is taken into account.

      • Molly 3.2.1

        Cities need sustainable shared transport as part of their planning and building

        Agree entirely. 

        And TBH, although the post makes a couple of relevant points, there are several contributors to the housing crisis and all should be recognised if any effective solution is going to be designed.

        On top of taxation and regulatory policies that allow and encourage overseas investment in residential housing that results in rental and sale profits going overseas, and also encourage NZers to use housing speculation for financial security. There has been the erosion of state housing, wage stagnation, landbanking, ghost houses, and the effects of increased need with immigration policies that have not addressed the added pressure on supply.  Most importantly now, an ever increasing cohort of well-housed and financially rewarded voters across the great divide have found that they have benefitted quite considerably from the rise in housing costs over the last couple of decades and any mention of putting the brakes on – or god forbid – reducing the value, of their financial windfall is treated as blasphemy.

         

        • mikesh 3.2.1.1

          One wonders whether the boomer generation reaching adulthood, from the seventies on, and needing housing of their own, may also have been a factor which would have increased demand.

          • Molly 3.2.1.1.1

            With a growing population, there will also be increased demand, but the spike in demand that we cannot fulfil is unlikely to be due solely to that natural increase in NZ's population.   I have no issue with immigration – many NZers at some point in their lives enjoy the benefit of moving and working overseas, and that access should be offered as well as we take advantage of it.

            However, immigration policies that only look at the benefits of immigration, and don't have in place robust systems that provide appropriate infrastructure, housing, employment and worker protection, education and healthcare fail both established and recent New Zealanders.

            • Rae 3.2.1.1.1.1

              Immigration of itself is not an issue, however the rate of it is very much so. It is far too high for us to cope with. We are now living in a world that requires us to do something about our overpopulation of it, or we are going to end up with just about zero wild places, forests and clean oceans left. Those things are essential for the planet, the planet is essential for us. 

              I make no apologies, I believe population reduction via a lower birth rate, via women having control of their own lives, finances and reproduction, is something the left very much stands for, and almost automatically leads to lower birth rates. 

              • Molly

                Agree, on both topics. Immigration limitations, and infrastructure and social support needs to be a considered national discussion, which will make it less susceptible to dog-whistle politics and racism.

                Also, there are many studies to support your premise, regarding women and fertility choices.

                • Rae

                  You only have to look at Japan, and just about any advanced society where women do have such controls, birth rates are well down.

              • Gosman

                NZ does not have an overpopulation problem and our birthrate is around replacement level (or even below). In short you are worried about a problem that we don't really have.

                • Rae

                  That's funny, I could have sworn New Zealand was part of the world. Gee, you learn something every day, don't you?

    • Gosman 3.3

      This government assistance in house building wasn't actually in building houses. It was in purchasing houses.That is a HUGE difference.

    • mickysavage 3.4

      Thanks Muttonbird.  This clip neatly summarises the problem with building motorways, aka induced demand.

      https://twitter.com/brenttoderian/status/1192568535009988608

      I avoid driving to town unless there is no alternative.  The train from Glen Eden is about as fast, much more relaxing and there are no parking hassles.

  4. greywarshark 4

    <i>This ignores the fact that interest rates are currently at historically low levels yet through a number of Government initiatives, some started by National, house inflation is lower than wage inflation.</i> 

    I don't get this.  Could you expand?

    • In Vino 4.1

      Agree,  Hamilton house prices just went up by 8%, but my semi-retired wages somehow failed to do anything like that.

    • mickysavage 4.2

      From October last year (https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/rising-wages-and-low-inflation-supporting-kiwis)

      • greywarshark 4.2.1

        How well is the data gathered for these percentages that make them relate to ordinary people's experience?

        Something from the ODT on how our CPI inflation level is measured.

        https://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/real-cost &nbsp; (Thanks savenz on TDB)

        • Phil 4.2.1.1

          There is an awful lot wrong with that article. Once Munro starts adding in 'the Austrians' his misunderstanding and conflating of a few different things makes the entire thrust of the article meaningless. 

      • Ross 4.2.2

        Average house prices increased by nearly 12% in the last 12 months. I doubt wages have increased at that rate!

        https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/money/2020/02/reinz-reports-multiple-regions-with-median-house-price-over-600-000.html

        • McFlock 4.2.2.1

          Gotta love the fact that the new houses are more affordable then, eh.

          • Rae 4.2.2.1.1

            When you have to sidle with your stomach well drawn in, along the space between house and boundary as the section is so miniscule then you understand why. Goodbye the home vege garden, goodbye the home fruit trees, goodbye backyard cricket.

            • McFlock 4.2.2.1.1.1

              Yeah, and the lifestyle block I grew up on is now worth in excess of a million, when it was an affordable build for an electrician 40 years ago.

              That was then, this is now. I'd rather live in a hovel I owned rather than the hovel I rent.

            • Molly 4.2.2.1.1.2

              Single, story house builds on sections are a nostalgic view on what housing can be.

              While housing remains firstly a financial vehicle and investment, our view of acceptable or quality housing design is limited to what provides good returns.  There are instances in housing discussions, where neighbours with limited land have provided their families with a privately-shared larger common area by knocking down fences between properties and utilising the benefit of all the space. 

              In the climate of financial perspective of housing this solution to smaller lots would be unthinkable.

              We do have to mature in terms of how we build houses and communities in New Zealand, and part of that conversation involves ensuring that all demographics have access to well-designed common spaces.

              • Gosman

                What people get in return from investing in housing is what other people are willing to pay and therefore reflects their desires. If there is a strong desire for 5 bedroom, 2 car garage single story houses then people will pay a premium for them. What you need to do is convince people they should live in a much smaller property closer to others. Then there will be a greater demand for those houses creating a premium for them and encouraging more development of that style.

                • Molly

                  … oh, if housing was only about financial returns…

                • Blazer

                  your first  sentence is complete nonsense.

                  If it was valid there would be no need for the Govt to shell out over $2.5 billion in supplements to landlords.

      • Herodotus 4.2.3

        MS perhaps taking a more extended look at data, paints a different picture to your. See how housing and income diverged under the Helen Clark years, and has maintained this gap between capital grown and income growth. No wonder we cannot move to correct this when it was always "when the other party was in power". Admit it, both Labour and National have and are still %$#^ing this up.

        https://www.thehousesite.com/thehomesite-master/the-state-of-nz-housing

  5. Blazer 5

    The GFC is the core reason for rampant property inflation around the world.

     

    The huge increase in 'money' supply, instigated to bail out the financial failures that were Wall St and The 'City'…i.e Q.E lead to a race to invest' a huge portion of this free money in …land…'they aren't making anymore of it'!

     

    To maintain this charade ,interest rates had to be dialled…down.

    Marry this up with some western countries  promoting an 'open' economy and foreign money arrived in billions to park up in …property.

    We were told by the Natz that foreign buyers were a mere 3%,that they didn't have the data,and now Bridges wants to reverse the FB ban!!

    The FIRE economy has captured  the gutless politicians as the tradeable sector shrinks and inequality grows at a great rate of knots.

    A shortage of supply!No an abundance of cheap opportunistic capital.

    The Kiwi Dream has been destroyed.

     

  6. barry 6

    The other factor was market rentals and landlord subsidies, which have pushed up rents and consequently made affordable housing unaffordable to anybody but "mum and dad" investors.

    • Craig H 6.1

      Good point – building more state houses maintains supply and depresses rents a lot better than market rentals + accommodation supplement.

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        If there is not enough land supply available to build on (or alternatively to intensify building on) then it doesn't matter who owns the houses that are being let out.

        • Rae 6.1.1.1

          It matters greatly who the houses are owned by. If the public purse is having to top up rents for landlords then it is far, far preferable that such housing be owned by the public in the first place.

        • Craig H 6.1.1.2

          With 5 million people in 268000 square km, there is no shortage of land other than possibly in central Auckland and Wellington. 

  7. Observer Tokoroa 7

    The Banishment of Common Sense

    It is rather sad visiting Mickey Savages' account of the excellent post WWII Housing success, initiated and carried out by the sensible men and thinkers of the times.

    The existence of some of that housing is still there to be seen – and in use.

    The sadness was, that much of the valuable Housing was to be sold off complete with its Section. Sold off by National politicians. And the Wealthy became Wealthier.

    The era of the Landlord was marched in – is still being marched in. Money bags almost too heavy to be lifted. Excruciating Poverty is his deal. The only Deal. National is proud of it.

    In my opinion, it can be fixed. At some expense to the Wealthy who caused it.  Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher;  Greenfield; Ronald Reagan. Sir Roger Douglas. Mr screwy.

    It turns out Mickey, that "Aggressive Wealthiness" can be worse than any Communism.

    We rightly got rid of Communism. Lets be sensible and get rid of obsessive Wealthiness.

     

     

    • Gosman 7.1

      Private landlords have ALWAYS been the main provider of rental stock in NZ. The State sector was only ever a support for those who struggled to get private accommodation. 

      • Rae 7.1.1

        There was a time we had little need for many landlords. We need to aspire to that again

        • Gosman 7.1.1.1

          Except from a rental perspective the private sector has been essential in NZ for most of it's history since 1840.

          • McFlock 7.1.1.1.1

            Not really.

            It's just how we rolled.

             

            State houses can replace the entire private sector at any time. The private sector cannot replace all of state housing because without it the less profitable tenants go homeless.

  8. Policy Parrot 8

    In actuality, the problem boils down to one unavoidable truth, and can be unwound with one unavoidable measure:

    Residential Housing in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s was generally not a widespread vehicle for private investment. A few law changes and a general attitudinal change that rental income comes from magical fairy land; rather than from other, perhaps less well off/younger members of the same community, started the ball rolling on a hydra that no government is willing to tackle for fear of antagonising recent homeowners who have no to do with this problem except are paying through the teeth for their property.

    The solution: Limit residential real estate ownership to one property per person. Have a time allowance of one year from the realisation of estate to sell. Such a measure should be grandfathered in to lessen the impact, and to prevent a massive dumping of property onto the market all at the same time. Note: I said 1 person, this still allows for the typical fiddling, i.e. one for the wife, one for the three year old etc. But it will stop the 30 to 100 properties going to the guy so he can play World of Warcraft/Minecraft all day.

    Property prices and rentals will fall, the cost to the government of accommodation supplements will fall, and government can spend that money instead on expanding the state housing stock.

    • Sacha 8.1

      a widespread vehicle for private investment.

      Striking how many of the people we see opining about housing do not mention that reason at all, when some at least are smart enough to know about it.

    • Gosman 8.2

      What evidence do you have for your claim that "Residential Housing in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s was generally not a widespread vehicle for private investment"?

      • Policy Parrot 8.2.1

        A correction. Outside your own dwelling/property, investing in real estate was uncommon. 85 to 90 pc of houses were owner occupied. This number is now trending under 60 pc. 

        Hell, the government would be still better off if it offered disaffected former housing market investors access to a new investment fund withdrawable at any time at a guaranteed 7pc return run by along the lines of the NZ Super Fund.

        • Rae 8.2.1.1

          And what was owned as investment property usually consisted of a block of flats, suitable for people after they left home and before they got married, and that was about it, really. 

      • mickysavage 8.2.2

        Well home ownership rates were way higher than they are now.

        • Gosman 8.2.2.1

          So? That does not mean lots of people did not invest in housing prior to the 1990's.

          • mickysavage 8.2.2.1.1

            It does mean fewer families had to pay out of control rents to landlords to survive. And it also means that market forces driving up rental levels were much weaker.

            • Gosman 8.2.2.1.1.1

              There is a reason for that. Prior to the 1990's land was much easier to build houses on and our house build rates were higher per head of population. Do you know what happened to land use regulations during the 1990's?

              • Molly

                Enlighten us, Gosman. 

                I think your answer will be a good topic for those interested in the long-term effects of inefficient planning, and I suspect your answer will give us much to chew on.

                  • Molly

                    I'm not going anywhere. 

                    Why don't you explain how you think this has impacted on housing?

                    • Gosman

                      I already have. Look at the graph supplied by MS in the OP. Note that after 1991 New builds collapse after 1991

                    • Molly

                      Why do you think that is directly related to the RMA?  and why that impact has been sustained for almost 30 years?

                    • Gosman

                      Because the RMA made getting approval to use land for new (or for intensifying existing ) housing  much, much more difficult. The reason it has persisted for 30 years is because the RMA has largely stayed the same over this time in this particular area.

                    • Molly

                      The RMA has not stayed roughly the same over this time.  In fact, even as it was established the change of government diluted the "resource management" aspect of it before it was passed.

                      As you can see from this lecture by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the initial Act of 382 pages has inflated to over 796 by 2018.  Despite this, and other environmentally titled Acts our "resource management" practice since then has degraded our natural resources, and socialised those externalities to the point we are unable to rectify them in the current political climate.

                      As well as being incorrect about the "largely the same" you still haven't defined why this sole factor is responsible for the housing crisis. 

                      Particularly, why you ignore any other factors, such as decreased state housing, limited access to social housing, increasing building and labour costs, immigration pressures, substandard housing leading to health issues, communities divided and left less resilient by roading, stagnating wages, rising fundamental costs not reflected by CPI figures, short-term planning for both communities and transport that delay good solutions.

                      Quite importantly, and often missed in housing discussions, is the ongoing costs and quality of life experience by residents once they move into those homes.  Whether the planning has provided a place for individuals and communities to thrive and develop, or whether those that are unlucky enough to occupy them find they have to spend large amounts of money and time commuting to services, facilities and shops.

                       

                       

                    • Gosman

                      LOL! What you are trying to state here is that the RMA has become even more onerous since it's inception (you may well be correct) BUT you actually want it to become even MORE restrictive! That is fine if you are willing to accept by doing so you will make it even more likely house prices will be unaffordable and housing costs will remain high. Accept the responsibility for what you want.

                    • Molly

                      " LOL! What you are trying to state here is that the RMA has become even more onerous since it's inception (you may well be correct) BUT you actually want it to become even MORE restrictive! "

                      No.  What I am saying is that the RMA is not "largely the same", and despite its name, the Act itself, amendments and other Acts have been ineffective at protecting our resources.

                      I don't really know what you are saying other than – LOL.

                      Because of our relatively low population density, and fairly recent city building that has happened alongside the acquisition of private vehicles for most, historical planning and building in New Zealand has occurred without regard to the value of considered land-use, and long-term planning for transport and communities. 

                      It is the effects of these historical planning (or non-existent) designs that have exacerbated the effects of the housing crisis on our communities. 

                      If your solution, is to treat land availability as the only factor in the housing crisis, then your research into the topic is fairly shallow, and your solution will be ineffective.

                       

                    • Gosman

                      I'm not treating it as the ONLY factor. I'm stating it is the MAIN factor in the housing affordability stakes. None of the points you raise will help much at all in reducing housing costs and in some cases will actually lead to increased costs.  You want to increase resource protections and involve much more detailed planning provisions. These will increase both time and costs involved in developments and reduce the land available for housing.

                    • Molly

                      I disagree that your drumbeat on land availability is the main factor.

                      " None of the points you raise will help much at all in reducing housing costs and in some cases will actually lead to increased costs."

                      Not true, and since you can't be bothered explaining your cavalier dismissal…

                      " You want to increase resource protections and involve much more detailed planning provisions. These will increase both time and costs involved in developments and reduce the land available for housing. "

                      Actually, you are incorrect.  I would want an effective way of protecting our resources.  You make the assumption that that means more red tape.  I would prefer a simpler system that does not morph into a series of amendments, and exceptions that is not consistently applied throughout the country.  (And let's be clear, those burdensome changes and rewrites have come about through advocates for exploitation not protection of natural resources.)

                      Simpler elegant protections consistently applied may, of course, reduce profits for those so inclined, but they may also be easier to design for and improve them. 

                      What effective management of resources will do is:  healthily house our people without impacting adversely on the environment, and provide them with housing that promotes social wellbeing and community health as well. 

                      (Let's not forget that we need to build so as to transition people into lower energy lifestyles, and considered planning for both buildings and transport have a big role to play in the success of that transition.)

                       

                    • Gosman

                      " I would want an effective way of protecting our resources.  You make the assumption that that means more red tape.  I would prefer a simpler system that does not morph into a series of amendments, and exceptions that is not consistently applied throughout the country. "

                      Of course I make the assumption this is more red tape. That is what we have come to expect in NZ every time we set up a system to try and "protect" resources.

                      Can you give me an example of how your new system can lead to increased intensification of housing AND/or new land being made available for housing to be built upon without this red tape? None of this wishy washy, airy fairy stuff you are writing about. Actual hard policies. Give me an example.

                    • Molly

                      " Can you give me an example of how your new system can lead to increased intensification of housing AND/or new land being made available for housing to be built upon? None of this wishy washy, airy fairy stuff you are writing about. Actual hard policies. "

                      Well, Gosman.  As usual, you show yourself to be a taker – not a giver. 

                      I have in the past provided you with many examples of alternative housing approaches, and yet you continue to provide…. none to back up your bombastic assertions.

                      Go back through our histories of conversations and you will see real-world examples – that do not involve further disregard for the environment or welfare of people – of solutions to housing. 

                      I will spend my time more productively on the treadmill walking nowhere.

                    • Molly

                      Following that destination-free walk, I'm feeling more magnanimous… I'll pass you the conversation ball one last time, and we'll see how you do.

                      LAND AVAILABILITY

                      Effective resource use – including land – is required when making land available for housing, as we can see from the results building on the Eastern suburbs in Christchurch that overlooked historic restrictions on that same area because of land unsuitability, or on much of the Auckland residential area of Flatbush that allowed homes to be built on toxic landfill.  I'm sure many other contributors to TS will be able to think of other examples.  The current implementation of the existing RMA was not suitable to prevent these occurrences – and others.  Even you should be able to see that some form of resource management is required before allowing development of land.

                      1.  Housing is not just a development of buildings.  It requires physical infrastructure such as roading,  utility networks, waste disposal systems and ongoing support for all these from local government.  While local government budgets are constrained, it makes better fiscal sense to build higher density housing where these budget items can be reduced in both capital and ongoing   expenditure.  This also means that population figures for providing community facilities and parks are met in smaller areas, giving local government a better ongoing return for investment in those areas.  This requires good planning and regulatory control, not an absence of it.

                      2.  Housing is not just about the provision of a building to live in.  When discussing housing, we need to look at the ongoing elevated costs of living in areas without suitable support systems.

                      With that in mind, can you provide researched projections of the following?

                      The increased amount spent on transport for households in subdivisions built on land available that contributes to Auckland's sprawl – including not just the financial cost, but the social and health costs of being in a vehicle for an extended length of time to get to work, social engagements, services or activities.

                      How that reduced time for community and neighbourhood promotes the health of neighbourhood relationships, support systems and community resilience?

                      How increasing rises in combustion engines fuel, in areas that are poorly or not serviced by accessible or affordable public transport options are going to fare as effective climate change solutions are enacted?

                      I look forward to your detailed response.

                       

                    • Gosman

                      I'm all for intensification of inner city residential Molly. If you want to tear up the unitary play and allow people to build 3 or 4 story buildings in Grey Lynn and tower blocks in Ponsonby then go for it. Just be open that is what you are proposing and none of this wishy washy ideas that don't actually have anything meaningful behind them. 

                    • Molly

                      No consideration of the points made then.

                      Once again, only taking from conversations and not contributing, apart from…

                      "…none of this wishy washy ideas that don't actually have anything meaningful behind them…"

                      Every suggestion I have made in the past with you, have concrete, real-world examples to refer to.  But I understand that you have difficulty conceiving of housing being regarded as a place that supports other aspects of well-being separate to financial benefits enjoyed by a few.

                      “…If you want to tear up the unitary play and allow people to build 3 or 4 story buildings in Grey Lynn and tower blocks in Ponsonby then go for it… “
                      Oh. That’s what tearing up the Unitary Plan would allow, would it? Stop using emotive and irrelevant examples to make your point, unless you actually don’t have a point to make.

                    • Gosman

                      Molly, I'm trying to get you to commit to something actually tangible. If you want greater intensification of our urban environments that is great. But you should acknowledge that likely means lots of 4 or 5 story apartment buildings being built in inner city suburbs.

                    • Molly

                      OK, Mr Intangibility…

                      " If you want greater intensification of our urban environments that is great. But you should acknowledge that likely means lots of 4 or 5 story apartment buildings being built in inner city suburbs. "

                      I was involved with many workshops and submitted on Auckland's Unitary Plan, and never was so simplistic as to suggest an intensification definition was such as you have written.

                      I support well-designed higher density communities around well-designed accessible public transport links, with associated community spaces and facilities, whether they are urban Auckland or in the well established or new communities that have resulted from our historical sprawl.

                      What exactly do you support other than financial exploitation of the un or precariously housed?

  9. Blazer 9

    The shortage of housing in Auckland is estimated at around 40,000 dwellings.

    The number of unoccupied residencies in Auckland is estimated at around….40,000!

    • Gosman 9.1

      Your point?

    • BR 9.2

      Government policy has made renting out property almost untenable. For example, there are houses in Auckland worth about a mill that attract a rental return of about $650 pw. 650×52 = 33800pa. That represents 3.38% ROI. It barely compares with a long term savings account, and that doesn't count expenses like rates, property maintenance etc. This also assumes that there are ideal tenants occupying the property. One bad tenant can queer the deal very badly. The current tenancy laws (all allegedly contrived to "help out the little guy") make it very difficult to evict bad tenants. That is why many property owners would prefer to leave their properties empty than to risk taking a substantial financial hit for mere chump change.

      Successive governments and councils are 100% to blame for high priced housing in NZ. What has happened as a result of their incompetence and villainy was entirely predictable. They have done three things to create the housing shortage. Firstly, the odious RMA has led to the establishment of a large, powerful and profligate bureaucracy that must be paid for using expensive permit and consent fees as well as high rates, driving up the cost of building a house or extending an existing one (In places like India, if you want anything done you have to bribe an official. In NZ if you want anything done you have to bribe an official, the only difference is that it is illegal in India, in NZ it is required). Secondly the council refuses to release land for subdivision further restricting supply, and thirdly they are importing large numbers of people into the country, all with the approval of Mr anti-immigration himself, the right "honourable" Winston Peters.

      Bill.

      • Blazer 9.2.1

        wrong angle old chap…..CAPITAL GAIN is the name of the game in RE at that level….yield is chump change and too much work.

        • BR 9.2.1.1

          "wrong angle old chap…..CAPITAL GAIN is the name of the game in RE at that level….yield is chump change and too much work."

          Ca you translate that for me?

          Bill.

  10. Gosman 10

    The major cost in housing is the value of the land. Land value rising faster than the capital value of the buildings is indicative that not enough land is being released for housing supply growth. The supply of land for housing is largely artificially controlled by regulations.

    https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Publications/Analytical%20notes/2013/an2013-11.pdf

    “In its Inquiry into Housing Affordability, the Productivity Commission (2012) identified
    land scarcity, restrictive urban planning, and the time and costs associated with land
    development and construction as factors constraining the supply of new housing in
    New Zealand. Grimes & Aitken (2006) found that housing supply tends to be slow to
    respond to changes in demand, but particularly in Auckland. The same study found
    that housing supply responsiveness tends to be hampered by both land scarcity and
    increases in construction costs – and that land availability has been the more
    important of these factors since the 1990s. If land is scarce, due to either geographic
    or regulatory barriers, this can increase the cost of new building and significantly
    inhibit the responsiveness of new housing supply to future increases in demand.”

    • Blazer 10.1

      Plenty of land available in NZ.

      5 Million population,same land mass(apx)as Gt Britain=65million pop.

      • Gosman 10.1.1

        Except I stated land available for housing. There IS lots of land in NZ. Much of it isn't being designated for residential housing. 

    • Sacha 10.2

      Economists maintain a touching faith in yesterday's supply-side ideologies.

      • Gosman 10.2.1

        That's your answer is it??? No refutation of any actual point just an ideologically based rant about how you personally disagree with supply side economists.

        • Sacha 10.2.1.1

          Reality disagrees with the great neoliberal experiment. We know what it produces.

          • Gosman 10.2.1.1.1

            Do you mean the greatest increase in human wealth and technology and decrease in global poverty the World has ever seen?

            • Sacha 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Tell it to the people struggling to feed their children in this supposedly first-world country.

              • Gosman

                Mainly because of excessive land use regulation making housing costs much higher than they should be.

    • SPC 10.3

      If it was only a shortage of land why are share values going up as fast as land values?

      Joyce got it right – cheap debt rising asset values.   

      • lprent 10.3.1

        Which happens until enough boomers start running down their assets after they retire.

        I was figuring my way through this the other day because I was born in 1959, am 60 now, and I’m ‘saving’ about (all up) about 30% of my in-the-hand income into assets after you take out the mortgage interest and taxes.

        In about 10 years, I figure I’ll have to retire to start working at a less stressed pace (assuming I last that long). In which case we’ll probably cash up. My needs are few apart from the ever cheaper network access and the odd bit of hardware to support what I’d anticipate will be a lucrative open source ‘hobby’.

        But as I’m towards the end of the boomer age group (typically those born between 1946 and 1964), I’ll be doing this as the era of saved cheap capital starts diminishing. Implications are interesting strategically. I suspect that it means I’ll be looking at cashing up in a period where capital gets more expensive.

        • SPC 10.3.1.1

          Sure, there is that second factor of boomer saving (more oldies owning a rental and also having money in shares via Kiwi Saver) also increasing asset values. 

          No mortgage and DINK saving for retirement – those born 1955-1964 working to around 70 would indicate this phase will continue towards 2030. 

          Which might mean we face a centennial reality check around then (presuming the pandemic does not expose any banking sector fragility before then). 

          PS It's possible that cheap debt is the systems way of protecting the BB into safe retirement (too many people to afford in old age poverty if their savings collapsed).

  11. Jimmy 11

    Economist Cameron Bagrie has since changed his mind and stated that Steven Joyce was actually correct about the $11.8bn hole.

  12. Incognito 12

    Out of 63 comments, 20 are from Gosman and 12 are replies to Gosman. Just saying …

    • Gosman 12.1

      Do you have a specific problem with the discussions I am involved in? If so then point them out.

    • McFlock 12.2

      Shows mickey must be onto something then. A tory only gets their knickers really twisted over something if it has a good chance of making life better for poor people.

      • Gosman 12.2.1

        Yeah, ditching the RMA (or at least gutting it's more restrictive elements that affect housing developments) would indeed have an excellent chance of making life better for the poorer sections of society as housing would become much more affordable.

        • McFlock 12.2.1.1

          thanks for your concern.

        • woodart 12.2.1.2

          ditching housing laws is what got us the leaky homes. who cant remember prebble on parliament steps burning housing rules for a photo op?

        • Blazer 12.2.1.3

          is that what motivated the Key Govt in 2008 when they had the numbers to reform the RMA as promised…but couldn't be…arsed.

          • BR 12.2.1.3.1

            They didn't have the numbers. Peter Dunne, who has never achieved anything in his political life except to create another useless, wasteful and expensive government department, brought the hammer down on National's RMA reforms.

            Bill.

            • Blazer 12.2.1.3.1.1

               In 2008 they had the numbers…just had other priorities…like beringing back knighthoods and the high country pastoral lease legislation to enrich a handful.

    • tc 12.3

      Today's rostered on neo liberal apologist.
      Good post Mickey…Roger and Ruth led the dance nobody since has changed the tune just speed up the tempo.

  13. woodart 13

    two points that seemingly have been ignored are the latest court decision over tiny homes, and the large amount of beach houses that sit unused for 45 weeks a year but the owners refuse to rent out.

    • Gosman 13.1

      Would you want to live in a beach house where the owner can kick you out for 2 to 7 weeks every year some time over summer?

      • woodart 13.1.1

        yes. I live at a beach and there are many older folk here who would jump at the chance of renting a beach house for 40 or so weeks a year, then go cruising during the summer. there are a large number of older motorhome owners who want somewhere to winter over.

  14. Craig H 14

    With 5 million people in 268000 square km, there is no shortage of land other than possibly in central Auckland and Wellington. 

  15. millsy 15

    I didn't know that councils owned all the land in outlying urban areas. Which is good because that means we don't have to find some way of forcing those who own that land to build cheap houses for everyone.

  16. pat 16

    Surprisingly land values (sections) have increased below CPI since 1975…if you wish to find the cause of property inflation above CPI you need look no further than the Banks and their deregulation…increased book equals increased profit

  17. SPC 17

    Joyce was right on one thing – low interest rates result in a bidding up of land values (whether for existing houses or for land for new builds). All asset values go up when debt is cheap. 

    It results in the barrier to owning being lack of equity/deposit – basically those not owning finding it hard to get onto the property market ladder.

    Thus government assistance to buy (deposit) is more important to first home buyers than KiwiBuild (which should be an option for those already on the market instead – those couples in single bedroom flats and apartments seeking their first family home or retirees/soon to retire downsizing from housing on sections). 

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    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    5 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    5 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    6 days ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    7 days ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    7 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    7 days ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    1 week ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    1 week ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
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    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
    2 weeks ago
  • 68-51
    The Abortion Legislation Bill has just passed its third reading, 68-51. NZ First MPs bailed because their referendum amendment didn't pass, but there were plenty of MPs to provide a majority without them. The bill is a long way from perfect - most significantly, it subjects pregnant people who need ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The ‘herd immunity’ route to fighting coronavirus is unethical and potentially dangerous
    As most of the world tries to suppress the coronavirus spread, some countries are going it alone – trying to manage the pandemic through so-called “herd immunity”. Herd immunity means letting a large number of people catch a disease, and hence develop immunity to it, to stop the virus spreading. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers
    So, as I sit at home with a very, very slight headache (i.e. not at work when I would otherwise be so), the now familiar figure of Ashley Bloomfield reports eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19  including two in Waikato. A surprise, given that we had just twelve yesterday? No. ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • The WINZ Paradox versus the new COVID-19 Reality: Get real people, seriously…
    Many who advocated for, and voted for, the current Coalition – particularly those who voted Labour and the Green Party – expected to see a sea change in the reality of social services. A real, deep change of attitude, approach of process through which the system negotiates the difficult and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • The Air New Zealand bailout
    Stuff reports that the government is going to have to throw $2 - 3 billion at Air new Zealand to get it through the pandemic. Good. While international routes are basicly closed, Air New Zealand is a strategic asset which is vital to our tourism industry, not to mentioning airfreight. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why NZ’s tough coronavirus travel rules are crucial to protecting lives at home and across the Pac...
    New Zealand’s border restrictions will come with significant job and business losses in the tourism sector, both at home and in the Pacific. But the new travel rules are absolutely necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and people right across Pacific Islands, because New Zealand is a gateway ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The tiniest of teeth
    Back in early 2018, as a shoddy legal tactic to try and avoid the prisoner voting ban being formally declared inconsistent with the BORA by the Supreme Court, Justice Minister Andrew Little floated the idea of greater legal protection for human rights. When the Supreme Court case didn't go the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • One simple, common factor to success against COVID-19
    Professor Philip Hill and Associate Professor James Ussher Most infectious diseases have an Achilles heel, the secret is to find it. The question is if we don’t have a drug or a vaccine for COVID-19, is there something else we can do to beat it? Some people estimate that, without ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • National should isolate Simon Bridges
    The Coalition Governments $12.1 billion economic package to help combat the financial effects of COVID-19 was generally well received across the board, even amongst many business leaders who would normally be critical of a Labour led Government.However there was one glaringly obvious exception, Simon Bridges. The so-called leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How testing for Covid-19 works
    With confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand up to 12, many influential people are writing open letters and opinion pieces and doing press conferences asking why we aren’t pulling out all the stops and testing thousands of people a day like they are in South Korea. The thing is, ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    2 weeks ago
  • The COVID-19 package and the limits of capitalism
    by Daphna Whitmore The willingness to put human life before business shows that sometimes capitalism is capable of suspending its relentless drive for profit. For a short time it can behave differently. Flatten the curve is the public health message since COVID-19 suddenly overwhelmed the hospital system in northern Italy. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago

  • Week That Was: COVID-19 Alert Level 4
    The COVID-19 situation in New Zealand is moving fast - and to avoid what we've seen overseas - the Government's response must be to move fast too. We're committed to keeping New Zealanders safe and well-informed every step of the way. ...
    2 days ago
  • SPEECH: Green Party Co-leader James Shaw – Ministerial statement on State of National Emergency an...
    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  The scale of what we face right now is unlike anything we have ever seen before. Overcoming it is our common purpose. ...
    5 days ago
  • Winston Peters urging New Zealanders overseas to stay put
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters is encouraging New Zealanders overseas to stay where they are amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We are reaching a point where the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are.” "This includes following the instructions ...
    6 days ago
  • New Zealanders overseas encouraged to shelter in place
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister Winston Peters is encouraging the tens of thousands of New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider sheltering in place, in light of COVID-19.  “Since 18 March, we have been warning New Zealanders offshore that the window for flying ...
    6 days ago
  • Ground-breaking abortion law passes, giving NZers compassionate healthcare
    Ground-breaking law has passed that will decriminalise abortion and ensure women and pregnant people seeking abortions have compassionate healthcare. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Package supports Kiwis to put collective health first
    The Green Party says that the measures announced by the Government today will help families and businesses to prioritise our collective health and wellbeing in the response to COVID-19. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: COVID-19 rescue package ‘more significant’ than any worldwide
    As New Zealanders brace for a global downturn due to Covid-19, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says his Coalition Government’s rescue package "more significant" than any other he's seen around the world. The Coalition is to reveal a multi-billion-dollar stimulus plan on Tuesday afternoon designed to cushion the economic blow ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Our response to COVID-19
    We know some people are feeling anxious about COVID-19. While the situation is serious, New Zealand has a world-class health system and we’re well-prepared to keep New Zealanders safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Demerit Points System’ will address youth crime
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Law and Order A New Zealand First member’s bill drawn from the ballot today seeks to overhaul the youth justice system by instigating a system of demerit points for offences committed by young offenders. “The ‘Youth Justice Demerit Point System’ will put an end to ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Investment in kingfish farming
    Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $6 million in a land-based aquaculture pilot to see whether yellowtail kingfish can be commercially farmed in Northland, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. A recirculating land-based aquaculture system will be built and operated ...
    3 weeks ago
  • 1BT grants for Northland planting
    Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Forestry Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced two One Billion Trees programme grants of more than $1.18 million to help hapu and iwi in Northland restore whenua and moana. “Many communities around Aotearoa have benefited from One Billion Trees funding since the programme was launched ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand reaffirms support for Flight MH17 judicial process
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahead of the start of the criminal trial in the Netherlands on 9 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the need to establish truth, accountability and justice for the downing of Flight MH17 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF investment in green hydrogen
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister The Government is investing $19.9 million through the Provincial Growth Fund in a game-changing hydrogen energy facility in South Taranaki, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The development of alternative energy initiatives like this one is vital for the Taranaki region’s economy. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Coronavirus support for Pacific
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand is partnering with countries in the Pacific to ensure they are prepared for, and able to respond to the global threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19). “There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Green Party passes landmark law to ensure deaf and disabled voices heard equally in democracy
    Chlöe Swarbrick's Members Bill to support disabled general election candidates has passed into law. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
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