Monday, July 11, 2016

A solid start on housing

Over the weekend, Labour used its 100th birthday celebrations to remind everyone of what the party can be, by presenting a real alternative on housing. First, with a promise of more money for emergency housing for the homeless. Second, by promising to rebuild and grow the state housing stock, and turn Housing New Zealand from a money-gouging slumlord into a public service department aimed at ensuring everyone has a roof over their heads. Finally, with a mass affordable-home building programme, underwritten by cheap government money and the compulsory acquisition powers of the Public Works Act, to burst the housing bubble. And as a bonus, extending the capital gains tax on rental properties while eliminating negative gearing.

Its a good combination of policies which tackles the problem head-on. And while National is trying to pretend it is what they were doing anyway (while simultaneously claiming that it won't work - so they think their policies don't work?), it is lightyears from their combination of foot-dragging and looking for someone to blame.

The tricky bit is going to be the delivery. Not the money side - that's easy enough - but whether they can build that many houses. Thanks to the running down of the education system, we have an under-supply of builders, which limits the capacity of the market to respond to shortage. But that's solvable in the medium-term, and this is a long-term policy - and I would rather have a government which actually tries to solve our problems than one which flings its hands up in despair at them (while privately making out like bandits at the expense of everyone else). And at the least, Labour looks like they're trying to earn a Ministerial salary, rather than National's demanding them for doing nothing.