Friday, June 27, 2014

Fixing Christchurch

Labour has announced another part of its package to fix Christchurch: an immediate crash home-building plan:

A Labour government would build 100 "high-quality modular" houses for Christchurch in its first four months and have a further 300 of its Kiwibuild homes ready within six months.

The commitment is part of a plan to build 10,000 affordable homes in Canterbury, addressing what Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford calls the broken free-market "tweaking" of planning laws in National's rebuild.


Fewer than 1000 of the 12,000 to 15,000 houses needed in Canterbury had been built after three and half years, he said.

Only 25 per cent of the state house repairs has been done, and of the 700 state house rebuild that had been promised a year ago, only 29 had been completed.

The market has failed, so the government has to step in. Its that simple. As for why the market has failed, there's the ongoing insurance problems of course, but perhaps this also has something to do with it: wages for builders, plumbers, and the other workers required to rebuild Christchurch haven't kept pace with the living costs there. Or, to put it another way, the construction industry is simply pocketing increased rebuild costs.

In this context, Labour saying they'll bring workers in from overseas if necessary looks like a betrayal. There are workers here. They're just not paid enough to work in Christchurch. Importing people with lower living standards expectations isn't a solution to that problem - it just creates more exploited, desperate people. And that doesn't sound like a very labour-oriented policy to me.