Jacinda Ardern says housing crisis comments 'not about apportioning blame' to New Zealand public

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied passing blame for the housing crisis to New Zealanders after her comments drew controversy on Monday.

Speaking to TVNZ yesterday after Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr said the problem was politicians lacked "appetites for accepting policy recommendations", Ardern said actually the public lacks the appetite for these policies too.

But her comments were seen as passing the blame to Kiwis with National MP Nicola Willis tweeting her response was "disappointing".

"The Government's major response to our housing woes? Duck for cover and attribute blame," she wrote.

Ardern was questioned about it at her Monday post-Cabinet press standup.

"I think it's just acknowledging that I've listened. It's not about apportioning blame," she said.

Ardern ruled out a capital gains tax (CGT) under her leadership in April 2019 after Labour and the Greens were unable to reach a consensus with New Zealand First, saying at the time she felt too many New Zealanders did not support the policy. Ardern on Monday said she didn't regret ruling the CGT out.

"As a Labour Party that was something that we took to more than one election, that we took to New Zealanders to try and garner support for that," she told media.

"We were not able to do that. We tried again as a Government to try and get consensus from the parties that represented the majority of voters. We were unable to do that.

"My view was that although I support the principle of a capital gains tax, and I've never changed my view on that, I had to accept I hadn't won over New Zealanders on it."

Ardern said a CGT wasn't the only policy available to bring the housing crisis under control.

"The argument I would make is that there are other levers we have an obligation to look at and we will," she said.

"If we are looking for levers that will make a difference to house prices - that idea that simply this one is the only one is not correct and I think that's well understood. 

"There are a number of levers and we have continued to do work on both demand-side and supply-side."

She then gave examples of this including closing tax loopholes and extending the bright-line test, and said the Government was now particularly looking at measures to assist first home buyers.