Opinion: John Key's Govt has failed New Zealand on housing

Opinion: John Key's Govt has failed New Zealand on housing

The verdict is in: John Key's government has failed the New Zealand public when it comes to controlling the housing market. 

The failure has been made clear with an unprecedented 76 percent of voters in the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll saying 'no, the Government is not doing enough when it comes to housing'.

Opinion: John Key's Govt has failed New Zealand on housing


I have never had a poll result that shows the Government so far out of touch on an issue.

The result shows the Government has lost the public relations war on housing. 

It shows the public doesn't believe the Government's bluster. 

This is significant because the PR battle was one part of the housing crisis/challenge John Key, Bill English and Steven Joyce have had control of.

The Government's political tactic on housing has essentially been to do as little as possible and argue and blame its way out of it. And for a while it worked -- but not anymore.

Here's the truth: the Government's measures to increase supply are failing, its measures to quell demand aren't working, building costs are increasing and nothing has been done about foreign buyers.

In short: the housing market is out of control and the Government hasn't done enough to stop it -- and the public knows it.

The average Kiwi punter knows when their hardworking kids can't buy a house that something is broken. The average Kiwi punter knows that foreign buyers are an issue. The average Kiwi punter knows that land-bankers are getting richer by the day.

The average Kiwi punter knows that good people with good skills like teachers and police officers are leaving Auckland or refusing to move there because of house prices. The average Kiwi punter knows that when people with jobs are sleeping in cars and garages something just ain't right.

The housing market is an economic and social behemoth and it has got on top of the Government. 

It looks out of touch and out of ideas when it comes to housing.

It has the Budget tomorrow to show it still has the imagination and drive to solve Auckland's housing crisis. 

Another reflection of this is the poll result on foreign buyers – 61 percent of voters say foreign buyers are driving up house prices. The Government says they aren't a problem, but punters just don't believe them.

Just as its ministers will refuse to admit housing is a crisis, the Government will refuse to admit it has lost control of the housing market.

The only plus for the Government when it comes to housing is a back-of-the-envelope calculation that there are 500,000 homeowners in Auckland who are feeling really rich. As centre-voters, these "Waterview millionaires" play a crucial role in keeping John Key in power so the happier they are, the better.

The Newshub poll shows the Government is still in total control at 47 percent -- the same as election night.

The discontent about the Government's failure over housing is not translating into voter's changing camps -- they are still loyal to National and John Key.

But the result showing 76 percent of voters saying the Government isn't doing enough will be giving the Government real pause for thought.

Unlike an issue such as refugees, there is no quick fix for housing. There is no easy U-turn to make.

The Government has failed the New Zealand public on housing.

The public is not punishing them for it. They might continue to give the Government a pass on this in part because it is just so damn hard to fix.

But if there is one issue where this Government is weak -- this is it.