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You can’t afford a house because of – plants!

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, February 27th, 2017 - 58 comments
Categories: bill english, class war, Conservation, housing, sustainability, useless - Tags: , , , ,

I’m used to hearing some pretty pathetic excuses out of the National government. But this – this will really take some beating:

Prime Minister Bill English blames environment for high cost of housing

The high cost of housing “hanging over” young families is a result of the efforts to protect the environment in Auckland and other big cities, Prime Minister Bill English says.

Regulations dictating how furniture should be laid out in yet-to-be-built buildings and how plants should be positioned on sections needed to be axed, the Prime Minister said today.

Of course! Furniture and plants are to blame for the high cost of housing! Why didn’t we see it before?

“The cost of housing in New Zealand is fundamentally a product of poorly-directed but well intentioned views about the environment, and the urban environment and the fringes of cities.”

Joking aside – what a load of bullshit.

Land supply is not the problem, and whatever the contribution that environmental regulation makes to the cost of housing, it is dwarfed by the consequences of years of neglect of more fundamental issues. The NZ economy lacks diversity and opportunities for productive investment leading people to over-invest in housing. The tax system is set up to favour property speculation. In particular the lack of a capital gains tax makes un-earned gains much more attractive than working for a living. Consequently we have developed a culture of property speculation, fueled by years of low interest rates and supercharged by cashed-up overseas buyers. We have compounded the whole mess with NIMBY opposition to higher density housing and some good old fashioned price gouging in the cost of building supplies. That’s why have pumped up a property price bubble of epic proportions.

Or it could be some regulations somewhere or other that apply in some cases to furniture and plants.

Eight long years.

58 comments on “You can’t afford a house because of – plants! ”

  1. Panic is setting in. Glutching at straws.

  2. You forgot the big one: having the housing market open to foreign investors. But yeah, National can’t afford to admit any of them might be affecting NZ house prices, because then they’d have to do something about it.

    • Sacha 2.1

      And then voters might notice our zero improvement in GDP per capita and start asking awkward questions about Blinglish’s stewardship of the economy.

    • DoublePlusGood 2.2

      And the even bigger one: there is too much population growth stoking demand.

  3. “Wait, the government can tell me where to put my furniture? Z0mg!!!!! Nanny-state!!! quick get rid of all teh regulations now and let me do what I want!!!!!! Obviously it is all Labour and the greens fault, stupid environment, what has it ever done for me??”

    – Average Joe & Joan Smith, 2 Whiteonly lane, St Helliers

  4. Sanctuary 4

    Actually I think we need to see English’s comment as context for his general view of the environment. English (and his close mate Nick Smith) are clearly completely unreconstructed 19th century colonial rapers and exploiters of the land.

    God (remember, Bill Engish is a full-tilt God squadder) gave to man the world to use as he pleases. The environment is useless unless it can pillaged for the profit of men, and a pristine, free running river has no intrinsic value beyond how much of it you can pump out for irrigation, to make men rich from natures bounty as God intended. Saying “the environment” is stopping housing tells us he thinks nothing – not the last Kiwi in the last patch of bush, or the last Tui in the last tree – should be allowed to stand in the way of “progress”. The environment is useless, unless it has a dollar value to be exploited.

  5. Under Privileged 5

    Let’s break down Double Dippers statement. When doing the specifications for a new build most district plans require that the requisite furniture fits in the rooms designed, similar when it comes to a small garden For a architect/ draftsman this is a 30 minute cut and paste to show the furniture/ garden given they have the dimensions right in the first place, which is their job.

    We have a building boom at the moment and a shortage of all trades and professionals. This is a complex issue that is not caused by a 30 minute drafting exercise.

    • lloyd 5.1

      Could you please show me where in the Auckland Unitary Plan there is any requirement to consider the size of furniture or the placement of trees or shrubs?

      • Graeme 5.1.1

        I wonder if he’s conflating planning requirements with developer’s covenants. These can be very extensive and restrictive, all designed to maintain the “exclusivity of the neighbourhood”. But they go well down the value chain too.

  6. Andre 6

    I remember light bulbs and shower heads being a big enough problem to discredit the previous Labour government. But I don’t recall plants and furniture being a problem back then. Looks like the Nats totally own this one.

    • Brutus Iscariot 6.1

      They were just a lightning rod of voter fatigue, rather than a key issue. Same thing could happen to the current government over any minor kerfuffle.

  7. Whispering Kate 7

    Golly me even Martin Snedden said on the AM show today that his kid had applied to rent a room in a house and there were thirty other applicants there to apply as well. He said he thought he would be in the top 5% for living quality and admitted his kids would need help from family to buy into the AK market and quantified this with saying that the housing situation would be an election biggie. Double Dipper the God botherer is in serious trouble because his Government has not had the guts to make the hard decisions and he knows what they are. Folks earning a hundred thousand a year cannot buy in the AK market but we know who can and they are doing it like there’s no tomorrow. I know because I live in an area where I feel I need my fourth generation NZ passport to get down the road to my house.

  8. Siobhan 8

    Yep. National are crap. We can keep pointing that out.
    So you would think Labour could absolutely demolish them in the polls with some good housing policy.

    In 1936 Labour were proposing “to provide modern houses of a decent standard to be let at reasonable rates to people in the lower income groups”.
    You don’t get that sort of talk these days.
    You get ‘homes for the homeless’ and $500,000 affordable houses for everyone else.

    That’s one massive, and growing group in the middle of that who are not being addressed. Atleast nothing more than moves to make sure they don’t end up permanently disabled from being so darned cold..(by the way…an insulated house, just another excuse for the landlord to up the rent)
    And my hunch is that the people who are entitled to State Homes at present, the truly desperate, are not exactly ‘engaged’ voters.

    NZ political parties are seemingly determined to chase a smaller and smaller pool of voters.
    More fool them.

  9. jcuknz 9

    Awhile back wrote how lucky I was to live and work when I did …. when a 5K loan was enough to build the family home out of income [ total about 10K or a bit more] with my wife’s help despite earning about $29 a fortnight. and now in retirement I get $750 two weeks to live on.
    Actually it is the whole country which has gone wrong, led by Polies from all parties.
    You can blame Douglas but really the problem was the timidity of a loud mouth who called for the cuppa-tea and stopped the caring part of the package being implemented once the country could afford it. Pandering to the selfish voter in a three year election cycle.

    • garibaldi 9.1

      Yes jcuknz . Just think how well off we would be if it hadn’t been for Muldoon’s Cossacks dancing across our screens, along with his monumental bribe of super from age 60. Labour’s super scheme was far superior.
      I agree with you about Lange too. Great orator but lightweight politician eg tomorrows schools.

      • jcuknz 9.1.1

        As one who was just in time to benefit from Muldoon’s 60’s pension I will not say much against him but perhaps Douglas whose changes probably caused my redundancy at 89 instead of retirement at 65 with a bigger pension. What with a year on the dole at $7 a week/two weeks and loosing 20% of the pension I contributed to I am ambivalent about the long gone past … water under the bridge and not worth thinking about … pity more do not live in today’s world rather than harking backwards.

    • coffeeconnoiseur 9.2

      Actually once you understand and break down the system of Capitalism everything that is happening now is exactly to be expected….
      increasing indebtedness
      The cost of essential basic needs outstripping wages
      The housing crisis
      Increasing poverty.
      These factors are what system collapse looks like under capitalism (because of Capitalisms need to only have a single willing buyer and a single willing seller to agree on price).
      Unfortunately it will get worse, much worse.

      Our political system is also part of the problem as all parties remain wedded to the debt based monetary system.
      The way to take people out of poverty…
      (The true definition of which is the ability to meet ones essential basic needs)
      is to give them more money…..

      The only ways to do this in the current system are as follows
      Print more.. which reduces value and spending power so isn’t really a good solution.
      Debt (its a debt based monetary system after all this is how it works and is also the real problem)
      Redistribution of wealth (this is always going to get voted against by those it is being taken from).

      There are many solutions but none within the current political frame.

      It really has become a system of slavery. Slavery through debt and the need to work to earn a living in order to buy the things needed to survive.

      With the high levels of automation this isn’t required anymore. We should really be having a transition to an automated society which only requires work for jobs that can’t be automated and where the ablility to live is no longer linked to the need to work to earn money to be able to pay for the ability to live.

      It is truly insane.

      Some solutions:

      a single taxation system worldwide with the objective of ensuring that essential basic needs are met via a universal basic income leaving nowhere for corporations to hide.

      Universal basic income coupled with a debt free monetary system where funds are cancelled once spent.

      Development of On Demand system of product and service hubs designed to let you live the life you actually want to live.

      A system of pay that is coupled with a UBI that pays people for hours worked at the same rate recognising that it is hours taken from ones life by work that is arguably important regardless of the type of job.

      I never voted for this system and neither did you!

      Discuss 🙂

  10. dukeofurl 10

    Auckland Design manual

    The interesting bit is
    Rules of Thumb
    Studio apartments, up to two persons 40sqm
    One bedroom apartments, two persons 50sqm
    Two bedroom apartments, four persons 75sqm
    Three bedroom apartments, six persons 100sqm​

    It seems to be basic architectural considerations, bedrooms can fit beds, living rooms can be lived in and and kitchens can open cupboards.

    • jcuknz 10.1

      Once upon a time we had a building code about building houses, if I bit restrictive on builders who wanted to cut corners and thought they knew everything ….
      I knew nothing and followed the rules otherwise I didn’t know anything about building just a year in prep school carpentry where I ended up first equal with a classmate who did as he was told … carefully ….two dovetail joints out of the twenty or so in class which fitted firmly … it seemed obvious to me to lay the tail on the second piece of wood and scribe around it 🙂

  11. greywarshark 11

    This is not the time for vague promises to come….
    Peter Sellers sallies forth:

  12. greywarshark 12

    After you have suffered the anticlimax of political promises and policy you might need a Drop of the Hard Stuff.

  13. saveNZ 13

    Natz want the housing crisis and have profited from it. However they may finally have bitten off more than they can chew.

    They are using a US based strategy of blaming land scarcity , which is straight from right wing fascist lobby group ‘The Heritage foundation’ which after populating that viewpoint, then leads to blaming the environment and excessive regulation.

    Soon we are told that it’s housing or the environment. Bill English is now on 2.0 of the US based strategy to destroy environmental regulation in this country and social law by now blaming the environment for the housing crisis.

    The Natz and left wingers whether real or just a front, seem to be trying to get everyone frothing at the mouth about forcing through RMA and zoning changes so that only economic factors are considered, deregulating construction, getting rid of environmental controls and getting rid of any oversight on construction.

    The council diligently (or with realising it) helps the Natz dirty work for them, by being incompetent and pushing the same discourses which is dissimulated everywhere.

    I have no doubt the Spinoff, The productivity commission, and other avenues for pushing the US based deregulation strategy will continue on this theme. The point is, when are the left going to do about it?

    Funny enough, more socialist countries like the EU seem to be able to fit everyone in, but have tight regulation and zoning and less of a housing crisis (unless they opened their housing up to foreign investment) like the UK.

    All this deregulation brings back memories of the Shipley government in the 1990’s when they got all those leaky buildings erected that many of us are still paying for – only this time it is the resource consent side National are going for (and pretty much succeeded) not the building side (that will come aka it’s the furniture’s fault).

    Considering we just had Pike River kill so many people and be built in such a shoddy standard well outside of any normal design criteria – you have to wonder why we are not looking to increase resource consent requirements to be safe and sound and actually have someone bear the consequences if it is not.

    National are increasing a rubber stamp check list of incompetence on consenting not actually preventing poor practises let alone trying to make our country better through them.

  14. RedLogix 14

    No rules = Slums.

    Very cheap and affordable, widely implemented solution worldwide. NZ needs to keep up. /sarc

    • saveNZ 14.1

      Or Oligarch mansions or rich housing estate ghettos.

      We are not just getting slums and mansions now with National’s unitary plan, we are getting further social isolation and inequality.

      That is why it has always been important to have state housing in ALL areas across NZ.

      Likewise the old social housing run by councils.

      And zoning rules that restricted social inequality.

      Last year, a mother at my child’s school said they were going to have to move to a different area because they could not afford a 4th bedroom in the area we live in. It is a very family orientated area with many old state type housing or villas, presently constantly being renovated.

      It used to be people would put up a simple renovation with an extra bathroom or bedroom.

      But now it seems much of Auckland is knocking down the old villas and state houses and putting up oversized housing with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, media room, internally double garaging and pool. Generally these houses exceed zoning rules to be built, shadow neighbours and take years to build.

      They then leave a lasting legacy in the area of being unaffordable for the typical family on local wages who used to live or rent there.

      So someone who just needs an extra bedroom for a child, is not able to live there as the financial leap is not 30m2 but about 180m2 for the garaging, bedrooms, bathrooms, media rooms and pool. This excess practically always exceed zoning rules but are always allowed by council.

      The resulting houses are replacing former affordable houses with unaffordable ones that not even the middle class can afford.

      So even in small way a small change in zoning by allowing bigger housing actually starts denuding the area people on local wages and making it unaffordable.

      National’s unitary plan is a lie, it does not help ‘affordability’ in any way. It is doing the opposite. Just like in the USA.

      Having no rules helps the council in the short term, because a larger house earns them more rates money. But it is harder for the inhabitents to maintain financially due to more rates, more costs to insure, maintain, more power needs.

      It helps power companies, council, government (collects GST), insurers, etc

      Does not help the community, affordability, neighbours or equality.

      The people moving out are generally more likely to care about community and not be National supporters.

      • saveNZ 14.1.1

        Labour/Greens need to include homeowners in, with renters in who they are trying to protect in Auckland from the Natz deregulation plans!

        They need to ditch the NIMBY talk, the simpleton policy talk, and actually use their brains to work out how the Natz are tricking them into supporting inequality and deregulation and removing democracy.

      • jcuknz 14.1.2

        I would have thought a sensible family would avoid that fourth child or is it 7th+8th. People think the state should look after them however silly their actions … whereas insurance is based on risk and if you are risky you pay more or have an up front share of the cost [ the word escapes me at the moment 🙁 ] as I did after wrecking two boats and having a $1000 excess [ word came to me that quick 🙂 ] The sea attracts me but is not for me sadly.

        • garibaldi

          “Water under the bridge” from your reply to me above jcuknz .If you have wrecked 2 boats then wouldn’t “water over the bridge” be more appropriate?

        • rhinocrates

          I would have thought a sensible family would avoid that fourth child or is it 7th+8th. People think the state should look after them however silly their actions

          You mean like the state beneficiary Blinglish who was rorting the system for his housing allowance?

          • saveNZ

            Most of the 4 bedrooms mansions seem inhabited by older people with no kids, funny enough.

            I’m sure the Natz strategy of importing in 2 grandparents per 1 low paid worker will help. sarc.

            • Andrea

              “Most of the 4 bedrooms mansions seem inhabited by older people with no kids, funny enough.”

              Sounds like a furphy masquerading as a humongous non-specific generalisation – funnily enough.

            • Whispering Kate

              I think you will find Savenz that some older people are residing and hanging on to their homes as an investment for their children especially in AK. Once upon a time this was not necessary but the longer older folks can stay in their homes and hopefully be carted out feet first, the better their children can be provided for. Its a disgusting state of affairs when parents have to do this, in our early life we could save hard (as we all should do for a home) but at least the goal was attainable – even with 19% mortgage rates and 23% bridging finance – but it is not possible now for our kids.

              We only have two to consider so I feel really sorry for mums and dads who have more than that to wish to give a hand to. All power to parents who want to help their kids – many children will rent all their days and no parent of this day and age wants that.

              • saveNZ

                My comments were more at jcuknz who thinks people who can’t afford housing is because they have too many children.

                Totally missed my comment that the houses are unaffordable not because they don’t have enough bedrooms (standard old state houses and villas designed for workers had 3 or 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom) but because the council and zoning and consumer society are pimping oversized housing with too many extras now being considered essential, and a lot of these houses violate regulations but the council just lets them all pass, creating ghetto’s of unaffordable mansions in areas that formally normal families could afford.

                I don’t care if older people live in big homes. Good on them!

                I’m not after a socialist state of throwing the older folk out of their homes to reallocate resources, nor am I after the capitalist state of having no regulation and letting people create new housing that local people on local wages can’t actually afford and creating social inequality.

                Something in between please. We used to have that with state housing.

                But now some economist right wingers seems to think we need 15 million people in NZ and it’s created this boom of speculation while making locals homeless or struggling and housing that does not actually fit most people’s pockets, let alone being carbon neutral or a house of the future!

  15. Spectator 15

    “The NZ economy lacks diversity and opportunities for productive investment leading people to over-invest in housing. ”

    If they are over investing in housing, why is there a housing shortage?

    • saveNZ 15.1

      Because National has ensured that there is plenty of demand! And that demand also helps our low wage economy too, that Bill English has always praised as making NZ ‘competitive’ in the world.

      • Red 15.1.1

        A more logically inconsistent thread from one commenter I have not seen, even when contradiction are highlighted Truely stupendous incoherence deserving of an oscar

        • saveNZ

          Thanks Red. I’m pleased it is so confusing for you!

        • ropata

          You really are titanically thick. You have failed to state what you disagree with, or to make any argument at all, and you have committed 3 grammar/spelling errors as well. Facepalm at your utter incompetence.

  16. Groundhog 16

    You continue to get this so wrong.

    “The NZ economy lacks diversity and opportunities for productive investment leading people to over-invest in housing.”
    Rubbish. The NZ economy is booming across a range of sectors, and investment is flowing into those sectors.

    “In particular the lack of a capital gains tax makes un-earned gains much more attractive than working for a living. ”
    Again, rubbish. Capital Gains taxes do not limit price rises, as evidence in Australia, the UK and elsewhere.

    English is correct to point out some of the crazy rules we have in place. House prices are an Auckland issue, and so that’s where you have to look for answers. The rural-urban limit is one. Auckland council and left wing mayors obsession with public transport (and the association inaction on letting Auckland sprawl) is another. Housing costs went up under Labour more than they have under National, and NZ’ers know that.

    • Sorrwerdna 16.1


    • garibaldi 16.2

      Perhaps you should get the Oscar Groundhog.

    • Whispering Kate 16.3

      “House prices are an Auckland issue” – Rubbish, housing is on the rise all around the upper North Island. Aucklanders moving out and moving to these areas are causing the house price rise. Just look at how housing has risen right the way down to Napier and New Plymouth. It may have started here but we have passed the disease onto these other provinces.

      For what its worth I blame the open gates to immigration on a grand scale to folks who quite frankly have plenty of cash. We know people who live in the Auckland inner city, we regularly see Mustangs, Porsche’s, really expensive motors parked outside their apartment building – hardly anybody who is a local can afford motors like that – incidently this friend of ours feels like they are the only kiwi on the street. It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, we were all once immigrants but enough is enough and we need to put the brakes on but no Government has the balls to do it. By the way we also feel like we need a passport to enter our street – but I have already mentioned that on this site.

      • Groundhog 16.3.1

        You say ‘rubbish’, and then proceed to explain that increasing prices are the result of Aucklanders leaving. Do you not see the fallacy in your comment?

        And your comments about immigration are ill informed and xenophobic. A significant portion of the change in net migration is Kiwi’s coming home or not moving overseas. In any event, migration is a vote of confidence in NZ. If we had had a council in Auckland with any kind of forward thinking, the market would have been able to meet the demand.

        • ropata

          Groundhog churning out the Natcorp™ lines over and over. Yes immigration is a huge factor, liar. Yes Aucklanders are putting pressure on house prices elsewhere, liar. No the council rules are not the primary factor in the broken housing market, liar. The market has been fucked up by too much speculation and ballooning prices, and the Government has sat on their fat arses and done nothing substantial to regulate the madness.

  17. AsleepWhileWalking 17

    When in doubt blame the succulents.

  18. feijoa 18

    Heard a German talking on the radio a while back saying in Germany you can only get kicked out of your flat if you wreck it , or if the owners themselves want to live in it
    No other reasons

    Should try that here and see how many serious landlords there are left

  19. greywarshark 19

    Planning what a lot of fuss, intrusive councils being concerned about light space between houses and not crowding each other out, and whether houses can be serviced with nearby fire hydrants when instant water’s needed, and having access to transport, and a bit of community planning with shops and perhaps a neighbourhood office allowing a library service, and medical care. And stormwater pipes. big ones so when there is a dump of rain everybody on the flat isn’t flooded with dank smelly water up to the armpits, and cycle lanes and places to cross and traffic smoothing that somehow the councils whose business it is, haven’t the right to enforce lawfully, and some trees around parks for shade so people can be outside and not burnt, and so the place isn’t an ashphalt jungle. And some hardy perennials to soften hard kerb lines and hard neighbourhoods.

    Bloody paperwork these councils actually thinking about people and what makes a place pleasant and encourages people to enjoy living near each other in an attractive place, not fancy mind, just okay where people take an interest. More rather than less of that would be good, so that someone up a tree with her foot stuck in the tree fork and too embarrassed to call help but shouting Oi Oi every few minutes, doesn’t get ignored by neighbours until her blood supply got squeezed and she either lost her foot, or her life. I couldn’t bear to read it all it was so sad that could happen and I think in NZ. Planning has an affect on people, it can drive them to isolate themselves, or encourage them to mix and take an interest. Planning and housing are not able to be thrown up any old how and be all things to all people, or just about.

    • Andrea 19.1

      Greywarshark: planners do think about people and what makes a place pleasant. The points you cover are indeed vital. Totally agree.

      And, of course, there is the Dark Side of councils. The mates’ rates and closed shops. The exorbitant costs. The poor quality of inspection and the ‘health and safety run wild’ aspects. Permissions given to build encroaching ego trips and wreck pleasant places in the name of ‘progress’ for a select few.

      I could wish we had more practical and visionary planners – and a few more Ian Athfields, too. The country has an over-supply of little boxes made of ticky-tacky.

      • lloyd 19.1.1

        If you lived in an Athfield house you might want a box, Those Athfield tubes don’t always fit the boxes too well.

  20. lloyd 20

    When it comes down to it Council’s District Plans are the result of democracy.
    If we had a dictator giving out a plan we would have distinct looking cities and towns. Some of them would be unlivable and some would become cities to admire – like Paris.
    If we had Blinguish as our planning dictator we know there would be no room for plants and furniture – I wonder what he would put in our visually impoverished dwellings?

    • saveNZ 20.1

      Nope Lloyd, judging by the amount of barristers on $500 p/h attending the unitary plan zoning changes – I don’t think the process could be considered a democracy.

      A mockery of democracy.

      Memocracy, prehaps?

      Bit like the super city – just wasting money on pretending to consult but the decision was already made.

      • saveNZ 20.1.1

        The councils evidence in the unitary plan was thrown out – it was not even compliant so they chickened out of submitting it but the good folks (sarc) at the commission took it anyway!!

        If the council’s own evidence cost millions to produce but was not compliant by policy experts – how the hell could you expect a normal citizen to consult under that level of bureaucracy and legal overload!

        The unitary plan was never a democratic process! And it was never about a vision of how people should live and the society we want in Auckland.

        It was about $$$$ to change zoning rules so that a few people could make a lot of money and the lefties were all fooled into supporting it, and didn’t even make a fuss when the affordability and other criteria were removed.

  21. NZJester 21

    10 to 1 it will be a Trojan horse bill that will be introduced. It will be touted as a change in law to cut back on the environmental regulations supposedly stagnating new residential housing but you can bet is will have wording in it that does not just apply to residential buildings. They will sneak in stuff that has it apply to industrial land and farming also. While it will not save any money in the building of new residential housing it will probably allow for big business and farming to move into sensitive environmental areas without a lot of the current protections in place.

  22. Takere 22

    This Pt England Development Enabling Bill of Nick Smiths’, allows the Crown to exercise its Executive Power(s) to Confiscate any local park, reserve,DoC managed land as well as National park land and private property too, to then onsell to the highest bidder!
    This is what the Crown is doing with the negotiators from a interim PSGE, the Ngati Paoa iwi Trust Board(which has only 2 members as well as 2 other boards and associated Deeds & Mandates) & its interim negotiators Eugene & Antony as a private commercial deal masquerading as a Treaty Settlement of which it is not!
    It is a precedent setting Bill! No one’s private property is or public property is safe from been confiscated throughout the whole of NZ in the “name” of “Housing!” It’s what you might call a “FireSale!”
    Nick Smith & Chris Finlayson are in cahoots!

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