Watkin on the Nats’ housing blame game

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, May 30th, 2016 - 57 comments
Categories: accountability, housing, national, spin - Tags: , , ,

Excellent piece on Saturday from Tim Watkin at Pundit:

Housing game-changer: Spreading the blame

Housing remains the government’s biggest weakness and so National is redoubling its efforts. No, not to build houses, but to contain the political damage

I can’t give you a precise day or hour, but some time in the past fortnight, National has admitted defeat over Auckland’s housing crisis. You can see it in the calculated attacks on Auckland Council and the lack of action in the Budget; the government’s moved into ‘managing failure’ territory.

What’s become clear is that Auckland’s problem is no longer a land supply problem, it’s a house supply problem. The Special Housing Areas have opened up over 50,000 sections according to the government, but only 1000 houses have been built. Even Auckland Council estimates six and a half years worth of land is ready to build on. What’s missing is a will (or requirement) to build, tradie capacity and, arguably, a government commitment to a mass building programme.

Instead, what we’ve got from National seems to be an admission any fix on Auckland house prices is years away and what matters to them now is spreading the blame.

What’s clear is that National, as is their well worn tactic, will do its best to ensure the blame gets shared around. Bugger the relationship between Auckland and Wellington, they will blame the Auckland Council at every opportunity so that any voter anger directed at the government becomes ‘a plague on all their houses’.

Ultimately, National may have to accept the inevitability of a government building scheme, swallow that dead rat and promise that themselves.

But for now, National’s focus is on buying time and that means spreading the blame.

As usual the Nats are all about personal responsibility, as long as the person is someone else. Go read the full piece at Pundit for plenty more.

57 comments on “Watkin on the Nats’ housing blame game”

  1. shorts 1

    “Ultimately, National may have to accept the inevitability of a government building scheme, swallow that dead rat and promise that themselves.”

    This – I can’t see why they aren’t being proactive and announcing something along the lines of the state building some houses, even if they have no actual intention of building them… sure its a “defeat” but to not do so is strategically dumb and they continue to be on the wrong side of the media right now

    I still await Labour to really capitalise and re-announce the parties commitment to kiwi build and some more policies & promises that will be targeted at those (tens of) thousands really struggling – fuck the middle classes, stop pandering only to them

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      National are saving it for election year, just you wait. They’ll take the guts of Labour’s Kiwi Build programme and double it.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Surely halving it would be more their style? And probably as a PPP with Fletchers.

      • leftie 1.1.2

        8 years and all National have shown is that they are liars
        Colonial Viper, everyone knows that. Northland, by shunning National’s obvious lies and bribes, set the example to follow.

  2. Janice 2

    The Auckland housing under supply will never be fixed so long as for every house built there is probably about three more purchased by investors and speculators and left empty.

    • aerobubble 2.1

      So, Key introduces a new class of millionarie dotcom residents stoking demand, he installs the new super city bureaucracy keeping change from happening, i.e limits on debt, control over new quangos, etc etc, he wont spend to provide for those new investors dotcoms, and he also puts the boot into those who spend their income imediately by raising gst. Its laughable that any but Key could be held accountable.

      Investors should be required to build not buy like they do in Oz. Key should then now need to pump money into new builds as investor would be, in fact, its the poorest who Key is now forcing to pay for housing infrastructure, by have to move to poorer housing, or garages,or sleeping in cars, or on couz floor. Its simple physics, increase the no of people into NZ and being over nice to them because they are rich, a fatal flaw in Key – well thats when he can get someone else to pay, the poorest.

      Keys inept govt, give to the rich, the market will pickup the slack, is just more crazy neoliberalism.

    • Keith 2.2

      Damned right there Janice!

    • Psych nurse 2.3

      So, we need squatters rights,just move into an empty foreign owned home and sit tight.

  3. Enviro Gal 3

    How good would it be for New Zealand to have a government seek to have some apartments well designed then built in Auckland City, as It is clear to thinking people that there is a house /apartment supply problem.
    How is Auckland Council to cope with 68 thousand new arrivals in NewZealand
    in the last year, with the majority coming to Auckland: the immigration problem
    is a government responsibility.
    It is also clear that a more compact city with highrise building creates a better city economically, the cost of continuing sprawl for infrastructure and transport
    simply does not make sense.

    • shorts 3.1

      well designed and well built!!!! For families and aimed to become affordable rentals or affordable to purchase – enough of the teeny tiny boxes or lavish slightly bigger boxes

      Most of the world manages to build apartment buildings that don’t leak and are comfortable to live in – not cheap builds developers to on-sell to speculators (mom and dad investors) thinking they’ll cash in on renting the places out

      • aerobubble 3.1.1

        Auckland is an isthmus on a volcanic field. Sure s.auckland is prime horocultural land. That means hilly land south of the growing areas would be the ideal place to build, with fast public transit to industrail s. auckland or north hamilton, etc. Hey why not turn huntly into the new business hub. Its called planning and nobody in auckland does that, the buteaucrats live in wellington, there isn’t the land, nobody put in proper rails, people think twice as a volcano might start up, the elites all like the high prices which they cant force higher so no incentives.
        Auckland is jus one big pile of housing pooh.

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Everyone seems fine squashing 1/3 of NZ’s population into the 0.3% of NZ’s land area that Auckland represents, and then squeezing in another 60K newbies a year moving into the city.

      Why there is any problem with accommodation in Auckland, I’ll never understand.

      Meanwhile the provinces have been depleting for years as small town NZ has emptied out.

      But whatever, Auckland Auckland Auckland, ra ra ra.

      • Sacha 3.2.1

        It’s a worldwide trend that people are moving to larger cities. Nothing personal, Dunedin.

        • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1

          It’s also a world wide trend to smash trade unions and move jobs to Bangladesh. So we just go with it?

      • Sabine 3.2.2

        its only Auckland, rah rah rha?

        really?

        You know what, if that is / was your attitude to people and the life they live and are trying to live, i am thanking the voters for not having voted for you.
        I’d rather deal with a wanna be Tory like the double dipper then a faux lefty that can barely contain his contempt for about 1/3 of the population.

        • greywarshark 3.2.2.1

          Sabine
          I don’t think you understand sarcasm. If your comment at 3.2.2 is about CVs at 3.2 then I suggest you have misunderstood the point completely and need to restrain yourself from attacking lefties on this site in such an impulsive way. It increases the confusion about policies and just feeds into the fractious approach that too often occurs here.

          CV I would bet is very concerned about Auckland and the people affected by the lack of available affordable housing there. He is not a a faux lefty that can barely contain his contempt for about 1/3 of the population..

          He is taking the mickey out of the RW when he mimics their ignorant views in:
          Why there is any problem with accommodation in Auckland, I’ll never understand.
          Meanwhile the provinces have been depleting for years as small town NZ has emptied out.
          But whatever, Auckland Auckland Auckland, ra ra ra.

          First he refers to the government practice of pushing Auckland’s interests over other areas especially regions. (This has resulted in Auckland’s local governments being decimated, combined into a huge entity more like a faceless corporate.)

          Then on top of that there are thousands of new people being fed into the area:
          squeezing in another 60K newbies a year moving into the city.,
          which result in exponential growth in prices with demand exceeding supply and ratcheting up the market which we are supposed to live by.
          “Teach your children well, their parents’ hell will slowly go by,
          And feed them on your dreams,
          The ones they pick will be the ones you’ll know by” ….etc.

          We are supposed to have an avowed economic aim, an alert Treasury full of lerts, banks, with one in Reserve, which have had serious tertiary training along with planners, and other officials. Still we have this housing debacle that is being actively encouraged we hear, destroying our urban village in order to save the housing market, trading in which is one of our main activities, just a bit up on taking in each other’s washing. It seems the idea is to provide a sort of housing stock exchange thought up by economic mercenaries.

          Most of us know all that and despise the politicians and screwed-up people who like this happening and chirp on about Auckland, what they are going to do to make it an enjoyable city, a great destination in the world blah blah. Everything they say about Auckland has a hidden background of abandonment of the majority of citizens, in favour of the ashpirational who are willing to place poorer citizens on a pyre of their hopes, dreams and lives.

          All that can be expressed in a few words of sarcasm. So can you and others keep from attacking other lefties trying to keep these issues alive, in our faces and those of the politicians? We need to pull together in the left, not nitpick at each other’s comments. Try wondering what point they are trying to make before you dump on them.

          • Sabine 3.2.2.1.1

            we are currently trying to re-home two young women, two young guys and a bloke in his middle age, two dogs and three cats.

            I have run out of storage space to give to people that have lost their homes, and are afraid of loosing now all of their belongings.
            I have lost the house we rented for the young ones as it is sold. in the last two years of thirty people have lived in this house for a week to several month. Just enough time to get back up and going.
            I am taking in the cat of someone tomorrow who does not want to euthanize his cat and who is afraid that if she goes to the SPCA she will not live to tell the tale, he is moving into his van.
            I have run out of patience with sarcasm from people that don’t care.

            Auckland for all its faults and warts is home to 1/3 of the country. WE pay taxes, we have family elsewhere in NZ, we are New Zealand.

            And for what its worse this shit is happening all over the country.
            So frankly, and with all due respect, maybe its time to cut the sarcasm.

            • greywarshark 3.2.2.1.1.1

              My main point was with all due respect, to have some respect for other left commenters here Sabine. I believe that you are doing much, you have indicated that you are very extended in other posts.

              Just dont direct your scorn at others working for change please. People who have been airing problems, describing what is happening, trying to arouse public concern and political action for years arent helped when others newer to the scene, start biting them on the ankles. For best results for change direct your disappointment with the system to the appropriate people.

              • Jenny Kirk

                query to greywarshark : is CV working for change ?

                It doesn’t show in his comments, and personally I think you’re out of line to chastise Sabine for querying him as well.

                • greywarshark

                  Jenny Kirk
                  I didn’t think that comment was a helpful one.on the matter. and I am surprised at yours. I presume you have read mine completely and I explained my reasoning there. If you don’t agree that the left should stop nit-picking at each other then …

                  As for CV. He is working for change, a bit like a mosquito which bites and you slap it. But that is his object. To wake up the comfortable on the left, away in a little dream.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Hi GWS, It seems to me that people have lost all sense of physical reality, which is what I am pointing to here. 1/3 of the country’s population in 0.3% of the land area, with thousands more coming in every month.

                    There is no building programme possible which will keep up with that growth, let alone remediate the current shortage of tens of thousands of houses.

                • Colonial Viper

                  query to greywarshark : is CV working for change ?

                  Well, the Thorndon Bubble crowd get paid six figures to not work for change whereas I am a giving volunteer not working for change.

                  • greywarshark

                    Colonial Viper
                    What do you mean you are ‘not working for change’. I do not understand. Please elucidate further. Explain yourself, because your message is not getting through to me or the cognoscenti.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      It means that the Labour Thorndon Bubble crowd want to keep the current system, but they want to be the managers.

                      It means that I am applying pressure as I can where I can, but the massive inertia of the system in motion may not budge a single millimetre in time.

                    • greywarshark

                      Okay what I thought Colonial Viper. But your way of expressing yourself and your goals can confuse those who don’t know your track record.

                      Especially for those who don’t actually read through a comment, as you have stated yourself FTTT, TLDR. But we all want to put forward ideas freely considering it a right, without subjecting them to objective self scrutiny.

                      It ends up that we live in a cargo culture where someone else is going to do the hard work nutting out the way forward, hard-headedly looking at the barriers and recalcitrant opposition, rolling up their sleeves and making it happen. But no, the right way is to have the right thoughts of groupthink, by sitting in a circle and finding consensus. It’s working together in the glow of group righteousness that’s important and if the project doesn’t work then it is nobody’s fault, or a scapegoat is looked for.

                      Another approach is to be Red Hen followers, a few turn up when the ground is being prepared, start watching from the sidelines and discussing methods while the seed is being sown, the majority are busy elsewhere at the times to weed and water, but find time to help and make a joyful ritual at the harvest, which they expect for free because it is a community project isn’t it.

                      Good tool for handling ideas and projects for groups converting ideas to something solid.
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis

  4. Keith 4

    It’s beyond National to do mass house building. After all this is the Party who are furiously trying to off load state houses to whoever will take them. This bunch of self centred, me, me, me rich pricks are incapable of formulating an effective house building response for the masses, its just not in their DNA.

    As lprent said elsewhere, there is so many building resources tied up rectifying leaky homes, the result of Nationals brain dead building deregulation in the 90’s that they are even more unlikely to achieve anything of any significance. Blame away National, you are fucked!

  5. ianmac 5

    Guyon interviewed Key on the Government V Auckland Council this morning. I could not figure out just what the state of the play is from the Key duck and dive. This is in spite of the Key rhetoric recently which threatened hell for Council if they misbehaved.
    Is it just my inability to comprehend?
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201802550

  6. It worries me a lot that state schools are facing a teacher shortage because teachers can’t afford to live in Auckland anymore – another symptom of a broken system which was until quite recently being celebrated by Keys as a triumph for homeowning aucklanders. Not quite so clever when the schools near the homes you own lack teachers.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      The Ministry used to regularly supply housing to school teachers. Part of the employment contract.

      • dv 6.1.1

        Country service only CV I thought?

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Yes that was generally the case – but any area where it was difficult to attract the required teaching staff would be included.

      • Westiechick 6.1.2

        I think that was rural. The point is that the people a city needs ie teachers, police, firepeople etc can no longer afford to be in the city. What hapens next?

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1

          They travel in from an hour outside the city to work, Takanini, etc.

          • Kiwiri 6.1.2.1.1

            Eventually, some will move to Australia and get better pay and lifestyle. I say this because quite of few of my friends and relatives have left in recent years.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.2.1.1.1

              2/3 of our key public sector has long left and for the larger part only the inexperienced, easily influenced, recent imports and right wing remain.

          • greywarshark 6.1.2.1.2

            Getting to work in Auckland! Can confirm that many have to travel from Takanini etc. Only it is beginning to take more than an hour to get to work, over roads that without gridlocked traffic would be travelled in half the time. It’s very inefficient fuel and time use. When the road lovin’ Nats wheel out their excuses for not having rail, they don’t mention this waste of precious fuel and the additon to greenhouse warming from a mass of fuming cars and drivers.

            Traffic is becoming near stationary sometimes, but especially when there is an accident, which is to be expected with such mass traffic flows, at intersections. In this country’s driving guidelines there is little emphasis on being a courteous driver and on how to make way for others to allow others to enter the main flow, to just think about others on the road, signal early when turning etc.
            edited

        • dv 6.1.2.2

          Sort of a bit like the shortage of tradies.

    • Lloyd 6.2

      Don’t worry, some entrepreneur will start a charter school!
      With the subsidy they get they will be able to house their teachers in new model Audis.

  7. aerobubble 7

    Hamilton to Auckland bus takes 2hrs, getting on and off, negotiating to get to bus stops. In any other major city globally there would be a rail line and a fast train, where people could commute in under an hour. The problem with Auckland its never considered itslef seriously.

  8. esoteric pineapples 9

    buying – add two lls and you have “bullying”

  9. Once Was Tim 10

    “what’s clear is [to paraphrase] the blame gets shared around” – Aided and abetted of course by a compliant and comfortable media.
    Housing of course is the crisis de jour, and it just frustrates me that the opposition still doesn’t seem to grasp the many other issues that cudda shudda wudda provide them an opportunity to make progress:
    – Electricity reticulation – prime fucking example! One of the most well endoured? endowered? countries for sustainable and cheap generation with unbelievable high electricity costs.
    There’s two ideologically derived words that describe that frikken fiasco: one is Max, the other is Bradford. I’d venture to suggest that we’d still have a functioning system had it remained in state and public hands with tiknollgee that existed 30 years ago (ripple controlling, state ownership whereby there was an adequate, non-partisan reinvestment in infrastructure without a profit driven imperative, whereby a ‘consumer’ (ugly word) could expect compensation AT THE SAME RATE for returning their excesses to the public grid ….. (a simple ‘fishint n fektiv’ answer to the ability to control and balance load)
    – Health …… so many fucking examples its hard to know where to begin – whether is skin or bowel cancer (screening); or that fucking little imp Simon Upton whose legacy of Hepatisus C infections seems to have gone un-noticed;
    or
    Ed Ya Kayshun (going forward)

    Never mind!. The natives are getting restless.

    Bloody shame though that Labour (at least), can’t see the writing on the wall or see the signs. Maybe it’s because they shudda cudda wudda gone to Spec Savers because the various members of their focus groups are at odds with each other.
    It’s really only a shame though because if they don’t get their shit together very soon, they’ll merely become an historical entry on Te Ara, and nothing will have been learnt from history (i.e. there will have been ‘no learnings going forward’).

    Christ! – which reminds me ….. the state of the Public Service – now there’s another tunetee! Whether its an incompetent MPI, a bugger’s muddle of a MoBIE, a CYFS, a WINZ, a Housing Corp…… let alone a TPK or an SSC!
    (ALL with highly – and obviously OVERpaid CEO’s running their little fiefdoms whilst putting their shit on the coal-face more junior public servants who work – usually IN SPITE of the, rather than because of their supposed immaculate corporate leadership qualities).

    • Once Was Tim 10.1

      Then there’s Christchurch ….. one of the Insurance (and Gummint Munster responsible) industry’s sleeziest, dishonest, utterly incompetent, bullshit risk-managed/managerial class scams ever inflicted on Chch citizens and a NZ Public!
      Fuck me!, and they actually put then back in power at the time!

      WHAT a total fuckup and a treasure for monopolistic building (trens Tesmun) suppliers; consultants of varying competency; ex NSW coppers looking for an earn in their retirement as assessors – the list goes on.

      It’s ekshully a bit funny but for the fek its also a bit seard and that there have been, AND still are so many casualties.

      If ever there was a tunetee for an opposition …. there’s another

      Can I ask a question though – if anyone knows:

      Did Nafe Goi get his warrant purely on the basis of learning his lines (getting learnings going forward), and his reward as Munster in charge MPI on the basis of pottering around on a farm – or was there ekshully some other, more formal measure of his competence.
      Jesus!!! Even Paul Henry recognises his total incompetence. I reckon it must have been all that not inhaling and finding himself a tailor that told him pin stripes on blue would see him through – because sure as shit there’s an explanation that’d be a little harder to believe. Oh – maybe it was a theme at someone’s 21st he struck up an idea or two from

  10. Treetop 11

    This is the way I see the housing crisis in Auckland and the ruining of HNZ.

    1. Too much housing supply and this will trigger the bursting of the housing bubble. (Middle income know to buy a Auckland home now could be risky). An increase in interest rates or in inflation will make the Aussie banks nervous. As well put pressure on those paying a mortgage.

    1.1 I believe there is already a farming land/loan bubble which is about to burst.

    2. 46% of Auckland home buyers are investors.

    3. The average section price in Auckland is $460,000. Building materials, tradie wages, GST and building consent costs all add up.

    4. Immigrants settling in Auckland should be required to build and not purchase an existing home, unless in the country for 10 years.

    5. Training more apprenticeship tradies, short term tradies from overseas to fast track building/alterations on every vacant HNZ home in Auckland and else where. There is a housing shortage for tradies in Auckland.

    6. State housing stock has not increased since 1991. Current stock is per capita as in 1949.

    7. More state houses would force private landlords to compete for tenants and no private landlord wants an empty rental.

    8. The government could provide tax relief and the council a rebate to anyone building a new home.

    9. Infrastructure costs need to be shared between the government and the council, in the end the council gets rates from a new build.

    10. Social housing needs to be dumped, this is a big distraction. I would have a specialist section at HNZ to look after anyone with high or special needs.

    When I hear what the disruption to a childs education and health is, due to living in a car, garage, a crowded home or due to having to leave a dwelling because the rent can no longer be afforded I am left wondering why Auckland housing is not the priority of every politician in NZ.

    The government need to find $150,000,000 today and trim this off other spends in last weeks MISSED IT on housing for those who are doing it tuff in the 2016 budget. I would halve what the spooks got for a start.

    Already Tollies innovative changes in Child, Youth and Family will be undermined and sabotaged due to the housing crisis.

    • BM 11.1

      Who’s going to train these apprentices?

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 11.1.1

        Very good question.

        Mike Moore was told in no uncertain terms that each year the public service didn’t train apprentices (most apprenticeships were in the public service) that 30-35 years down the road there would be a massive gap.

        After 5 years of not training apprentices the staff and support systems used to train them would also be gone.

        He didn’t want to hear that and proceeded, along with the rest of the traitorous Labour Party, to dismantle the blue collar jobs in the public service.

        We’re now reaping what was sowed.

        Was asked, was told, chose to ignore.

        Labour Party continues to ask, continues to be told, continues to ignore.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          You smear the reputation of the great Labour Party and you prove that you’re a John Key right winger at heart

          PS thanks for the historical context

        • BM 11.1.1.2

          I agree, the private sector doesn’t have the interest, the time or the resources to train apprentices.

          That was one thing the government did do well and that’s train trades people.

          • Pat 11.1.1.2.1

            any business or industry that “doesn’t have the interest,the time or the resources to train” is non viable.

            • Descendant Of Sssmith 11.1.1.2.1.1

              Nah don’t agree at all.

              Law firms don’t train lawyers for instance.

              I have no problem at all having the state train up people on building and maintaining state assets such as housing and schools and rail and roads and having some of those people later move into the private sector.

              Seems perfectly sensible to me.

              I do have a problem destroying those jobs in the public sector, having the private sector do the work on a contract basis and then sell off the assets as it’s too costly to pay the private sector to do the job.

              Many, many people got their start in the public sector.

              • Pat

                “I have no problem at all having the state train up people on building and maintaining state assets such as housing and schools and rail and roads and having some of those people later move into the private sector.”

                and

                “Law firms don’t train lawyers for instance.”

                Lawyers don’t just suddenly appear fully competent and nor do tradesmen.
                they are trained (in your examples,by the state)…the question then becomes who pays or provides….if businesses wish the state to provide the training then they should foot the bill…..curiously as we reduced taxes for business we also reduced the level of state provided training….and look how well the private sector have handled that.

                the choice is simple…public assisted training and higher tax(or direct industry funding) or minimal tax and industry training.

                there are many ways industries can try to avoid the costs of training but none that retain a viable industry…..as a number have found to their(and our) cost.

                Youse gets what youse pay for

  11. Craig H 12

    Borrow money at 2.5%, build stacks of apartments, rent them at 25% of income. Sell them for 3 x annual income, with right of repurchase for 10 years.

    Do the same for houses for families.

    Build a high speed rail between Hamilton and Auckland and build more houses in and around Hamilton, same deal.

    Do the same in regional NZ, and move government services around to create decent jobs to underpin the programme.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Government can issue the NZD to do this work, and do it at 0%. It does not need to borrow these NZD.

      • Treetop 12.1.1

        There are a couple of carpenters/builders in my family, they trained in the early 1970s. What worked then needs to happen now. They are still tradies.

        If there is a tradie out there who trained in the early 1970s please tell me how apprentices were trained then?

        All I know is that the pay was low and some attendance was required at a polytechnic and a builder/carpenter mentored a person. As well people trained on high rise building sites.

        There seems to be a lot of contracting out work now and a quick profit is the goal. Tax incentives could be offered to counteract the high cost in training tradies.

        I do not know what private and public sector training actually is and who pays the wages?

      • Treetop 12.1.2

        As long as NZD stay away from building bridges, recall the bee keeper who died on the dodgy bridge. Coming to think of it this sparked some changes in who is responsible for worker saftey on private property.

    • You_Fool 12.2

      High sped rail to Tauranga and Whangerei as well – expand prt services at both those places and use trains to move cargo from those ports to a inland port at Wiri before re-distributing through Auckland (difference in travel distance from port to final destination offset by trucks not being stuck in central Auckland traffic) and then we also have more land to build on – either more retail, open space or apartments (or a combination of all those) – or just a big Passenger Ship terminal + retail mall – possibly with apartments above that

    • Lloyd 12.3

      And nationalise companies and move the HQ’s from Auckland to Wellington.

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