Julie Anne Genter defends Greens' housing policies amid conflict of interest concerns

Green MP Julie Anne Genter says she's damned if she does own a home and damned if she doesn't.

At the weekend her Green Party colleague Chlöe Swarbrick suggested it could be a conflict of interest for MPs who own homes to be making decisions that affect the housing market.

"In the last term of Parliament, 115/120 MPs owned homes, the majority of them owned multiple," the 26-year-old, one of five MPs who are still renting, wrote on Twitter.

"In any other sector, making decisions about something you have a direct financial stake in is a conflict of interest. When I suggested this in Parliament, I was very angrily shouted at."

Housing prices have shot up this year, ignoring the pandemic and recession.

"This has never happened before - that house prices have been rising at all, let alone 15 or 20 percent in one year - while we're going into a recession and unemployment is increasing," Genter told The AM Show on Tuesday. 

Genter is now "so lucky" to be a homeowner. Asked if this meant she had a conflict of interest, Genter said it was "funny".

"Either way, you're going to get accused of something. Before when I was a renter, if I said 'we need to have better protection for renters' I could have been accused of not understanding the plight of homeowners. 

"Now I'm a homeowner, and I can say we absolutely need to have a tax system that reflects that if you're making money off owning things, you should be paying tax on that the same way you do off of your work."

Genter said Swarbrick's overall point was "that many MPs are better off than the average New Zealander, and maybe it makes it harder for Parliament as a whole to reflect all of the issues and make decisions on behalf of those people. 

"But the Green Party's policies I think have always been looking out for the most vulnerable in our society and ensuring that our tax system is fair, and we'll continue to advocate for that." 

Some MPs own not just their own home, but numerous rental properties - National Party MPs in particular. 

The Greens have called for more of the tax burden to be carried by those who profit off rising house prices and other presently untaxed income, rather than income from labour and work. But their idea of a wealth tax and another potential solution for rising house prices, such as a capital gains tax, have been ruled out by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

Ardern says Kiwis don't support it, which Genter disputes - saying that while that might once have been true, "circumstances have changed... we are in an unprecedented situation".

Despite repeated denials from Ardern, Genter says she has "faith" in the Prime Minister's "ability to "make the case for the things that need to happen". 

"I look at that group of ministers and the Prime Minister, and they're people who are realy hard-working, have great values and I have a lot of faith in them to do the right thing. It's our job to help them, to make it easier for them... It's up to her what she does. I have a lot of faith in her as a leader."