Opinion: Auckland burns, Government tinkers – again


So the Government is going to borrow some dough to help councils build pipes and roundabouts. About time.

Can we have more please? And throw in some houses too?

The problem is, this is a flea bite on an elephant of a problem.

It's small when we need big. We need something really, really big.

But this Government believes in the market and believes the market can deliver even though all we see is total market failure on housing.

That's why the average house price in Auckland is now inching towards $1 million.

Houses are now the domain of the rich in the country's largest city, while the hard working struggling classes have no option but to rent or leave the city.

This is a Crisis - yes, with a capital C.

How many affordable houses will be built as a result of this new fund? Zip? Most likely.

A new $1.2 million dollar house in Kumeu, West Auckland costs just $400,000 in Queensland. We simply have no supply.

Our land is seriously overpriced, our building supplies are too expensive and our elected representatives, governments and councils have sold us short in the planning and regulatory process.

We've let land bankers run wild and speculators and developers seriously profit without appropriate taxes as disincentives.

The Government can't even tell us how many houses have been built in the 120 Special Housing Areas.

The promise of 39,000 houses over three years is farcical. If we're lucky they'll be consents only. Joke.

The Prime Minister says tens of thousands of houses will be built as a result of this fund. I say rubbish.

I think the PM made that up. Even the Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, says it'll be hundreds. Don't over promise Prime Minister, we ain't fools.

Auckland alone needs $19 billion of infrastructure built - it may get half a billion out of this fund.

Let me put that into perspective: a new Waterview to Mangere sewer pipe costs $950m alone.

I've actually come to the conclusion that while some see this housing issue as a crisis, the Government sees it as opportunity and success.

It believes we got here because we're an attractive country to live in and we have a strong economy.

I see it differently. We have failed to plan, we have failed to build and we have been too slow and too reluctant to intervene in a market that has failed ordinary people.

Yes, a huge chunk of people are creaming it in the housing market. And yes, that keeps the rich, rich and the poor, more desperate.

This piecemeal, incremental approach has failed Kiwis and is a serious driver of poverty.

And the reactionary and rushed $1 billion fund we have to pay back is just further proof of that.