MPs should be put in public housing - Green Party's Ricardo Menéndez March

A Green Party MP says Members of Parliament should be put in public housing instead of receiving an allowance because that enables wealthier MPs to become property investors.

Ricardo Menéndez March, a Green MP who entered Parliament following the election, said while he understands that representatives need a base in Wellington, he believes there is another way to tackle the housing divide.

According to the 2020 Register of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests - a list which contains details about MPs' property, overseas costs, and other interests - all but nine MPs own a home, with several owning more than one. This most recent list was released in April, meaning it doesn't list details of MPs who entered Parliament after this year's election.

Menéndez March said MPs should be stakeholders of quality public housing, not private capital.

"MPs should be put in public housing instead of given a hefty allowance which enables the wealthier MPs' pathway to being property investors," he wrote on Twitter.

"So many MPs enter the role either being or becoming multiple home owners by nature of the job. It is no wonder major parties protect the interests of wealthy property investors when so many benefit from the status quo."

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick also acknowledged almost all MPs owned homes, with the majority owning more than one. She said with this many MPs owning homes there could be conflicts of interest when making housing policies.

"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," she said on Twitter.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins responded to Swarbrick saying when he started working in local government, he asked the question around whether landlords should be making policy on rental accommodation.

"[I] was essentially told that if they all had to withdraw we wouldn't be left with enough members to make a robust decision," he said.

Their comments come after New Zealand property prices rose nearly 20 percent in the past 12 months and the average asking price for an Auckland house surpassed $1 million.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson believes COVID-19 and the "extra-cheap money" that's been flooding in has helped cause those runaway house prices.

"I don't think any of us before the election knew that we were going to be looking down the barrel of runaway house prices," she told Newshub Nation on Saturday. "I do think there is an opportunity - and the Prime Minister has shown that she can listen and review the situation - to reflect on all the tools, all the tools in the toolbox that are available to us."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out implementing measures that aren't in Labour's pre-election manifesto, most notably a capital gains tax and the Greens' policy of a wealth tax.

Davidson, now the Associate Minister for Housing, said the deal the Greens struck with Labour "protects our unique political voice" and allows them to criticise their major partner without fear. 

She said Ardern has shown an ability to reflect and review past decisions when situations change, so won't give up pushing for policies Ardern has publicly ruled out. 

"We are very clear that we need to put all the tools on the table to make sure that New Zealanders, that people in our country can have a decent home and somewhere to live."