ACT leader David Seymour not a fan of proposed 'Aotearoa' vs 'New Zealand' vote

ACT leader David Seymour, riding high in the polls, is not a fan of National's proposed vote on 'Aotearoa', and believes there are far more important issues to address. 

It comes after National leader Judith Collins voiced support for MP Stuart Smith's call for a referendum on whether 'Aotearoa' should be adopted officially, despite it already being used on official documents such as passports. 

"I believe in free speech. People choose to call it New Zealand, people choose to call it Aotearoa; Aotearoa is on the currency, on the passports, put there by the previous National Government," Seymour told The AM Show on Wednesday. 

"Personally, I say New Zealand, I'm not interested in going out and policing what other people say, and I know a lot of young people out there who say look, you can call it Timbuktu if you like, so long as I can afford a house there. 

"I just think there are some bigger issues for most people."

Seymour said the more important issue is solving the housing crisis. 

"If you look at what ACT's just done over this three week parliamentary break we had, we've done 46 stops touring up and down New Zealand listening to people," he said. 

"What people are saying is that the housing issue is important. People can't see how having the borders closed prices go up 30 percent. There's a whole lot of young people there saying actually, the deposit I need is going up much faster than I can save. 

"That is demoralising."

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: The AM Show

Seymour said for a country that's "practically uninhabited", there is a shortage of houses for the number of people. He said it's not that there's a shortage of land in New Zealand, but a shortage of land you can build on. 

ACT's solution is to give half of the GST on the construction of a new home that gets consented to councils, to give them more incentive. 

"One thing I noticed is that when you build a house, the council gets most of the costs, the central Government gets most of the tax, and as a result councils are unwilling to do it. We say, if a council issues a consent, then they get half the GST on the construction," Seymour said. 

"You think about it: councils will give you a parking ticket day or night - they come to you, you don't even ask. Why? Because when they give you a piece of paper, they get revenue. 

"Under our policy of GST sharing, councils that say yes and allow people to build actually get half the GST on that - they've got an incentive and they've got the money to fund the infrastructure.

"We're not short of land - we're short of land you can get to. That's because of infrastructure underinvestment, not helped by a Government that's focussed on a bike bridge, although they sound like they may be backpedaling on that now."

Solving the housing crisis

Real Estate Institute data shows the number of houses available to purchase in New Zealand is the lowest it has been in 14 years. And the homes that are available are too expensive for many Kiwis, with prices across the country up nearly 29 percent. 

However, consents are at record highs, with 44,299 new homes consented in the year to June. The Government has also built 3716 new public houses since 2017, which is part of a total 7934 new public housing spaces.

ACT also wants to return immigraiton to New Zealand to pre-COVID settings when public health conditions allow for it, which could put pressure on the housing market. The Government is currently resetting immigration settings, with an announcement set to come soon. 

The Government earlier this year launched a set of housing policies to try and bring house prices down. Income and price caps were tweaked for Government deposit assistance, and a $3.8 billion fund was set up for councils to dip into for housing infrastructure. 

The Government also controversially removed tax deductions on interest costs for rental properties, with the intention of discouraging property investment, because investors make up more than 40 percent of the market.

The Government further cracked down on property investors by increasing the bright-line test - the tax on property investment - from five to 10 years, however it will be kept at five years for new-build investment properties to help incentivise supply.