Greens back most of Labour's housing plan

  • 11/07/2016
Building underway at Hobsonville in Auckland (Getty)
Building underway at Hobsonville in Auckland (Getty)

Greens co-leader James Shaw says Labour's housing plan has his party's backing, but they'd like to do more about foreign speculators.

Labour wants to establish a new independent Crown entity - the Affordable Housing Authority - to fast-track the building of more affordable homes.

The authority will have two key functions: to acquire land for housing, including Crown land, and to partner with the private sector, councils and iwi to create housing developments.

"The authority will use the best of public and private sector expertise to work with developers to cut through the red tape, with fast-tracked consenting so it can get on with building the houses we need," Labour leader Andrew Little said on Sunday.

The authority will also be the main driving force behind Labour's updated KiwiBuild programme, which aims to build 100,000 affordable homes for first-home buyers over 10 years - 50,000 of them in Auckland.

"The number of transactions is only a small percentage, but when you've got a speculative bubble like the one that we've got," says Mr Shaw, "those transactions on the margins actually contribute to the wild fluctuations in prices that we're seeing."

Mr Shaw says the Government must commit to gathering better data on who's buying here from overseas.

Greens back most of Labour's housing plan

James Shaw (Simon Wong / Newshub.)

But the Government says Labour's plan is largely an endorsement of what National's already doing.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has called the announcement "underwhelming".

"[Labour's] come out with a policy that says we would do most of the things that the Government is doing and we'd try and build some more houses, but we'd do it with roughly the same amount of money that the Government's already putting in," he told NZ Newswire.

"They've talked a very big game for months on end about how apparently the Government's doing nothing and apparently we're not building any houses and they would do it massively differently."

Labour is also mooting tougher rules for property speculators, including extending the bright line test - which determines when tax must be paid on the gain made when selling a property - from two years to five years.

"This will stop speculators making a quick buck from flicking houses and is on top of our ban on overseas speculators from buying existing homes," Mr Little said.

The current exemptions from the bright-line test will continue.

Labour will also look at the rules around negative gearing, which it says can be used by speculators to make taxpayers subsidise losses on their properties.

Winston Peters says the policy fails to deal with the key issue behind a shortage of homes - demand.

"If you don't get on top of demand now, you'll never be able to supply it, not with hat number of houses," he says. "You'll always be facing an artificial demand coming behind you as you're trying to build."

Ashley Church from the Property Institute likes the idea the Government would work with property developers, but doesn't think Labour's plan stacks up.

"I'm not entirely sure that this proposal deals with that affordability issue. It attempts to, and it talks about figures of $500,000 or $600,000, but the mechanism that it's proposing to do that I don't think is a workable one."

NZN / Newshub.