Labour saves its best present for last – why Little’s Housing plan is a political game changer more than a solution to poverty

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In terms of a political game changer, the Labour Party’s final present to NZ on its 100th Birthday of 100 000 affordable homes is about as good as it gets.

  • 100 000 new affordable houses.
  • Crack down on speculators
  • Crack down on foreign owners

Labour were desperately seeking a means to make this announcement a clear juxtaposition between what values they stand for and what values National stands for. ‘We build homes, National only sell them’ is as clear a political juxtaposition as you can get. It’s as clever as the Kiwi/Iwi billboards without being divisive.

This is a political game changer because the simple reality is that these 100 000 ‘affordable’ homes are going to the student loan indebted children of the middle classes while appealing to the hard working, lowly paid working classes.

In terms of a solution to poverty however, it’s deeply underwhelming.

1000 new state houses per year is honestly meaningless when we have 40 000 homeless. Sure, it’s better than selling them off, but as an eye witness to the madness of our housing crisis from doing Waatea 5th Estate for six months now, the pain, anguish and social damage occurring to those in the deepest poverty will only be marginally better off under Labour’s plan.

Will this win them the election? Probably. Will it solve the homelessness problem? Probably not.

What Labour could do to make this a game changer for poverty is tell Housing NZ to instead of using the $100million in profit they take from the poorest citizens to upgrade the housing, simply lower the actual rents for those in Housing NZ rentals. That would put real money directly back into the pockets of the poorest.

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With an affordable housing policy that will help the children of the working classes and the working poor get onto the property ladder, Labour have crafted a perfect political policy that may well win them the next election.. That looks to have come at the expense of doing something far more meaningful than a token 1000 state houses a year.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Sigh…. It a start, a plan that shows the direction where Labour is heading and it’s a plan that can be built on. Would you rather John key remain in power? That nasty cartoon that appears repeatedly on a number of posts depicting Labour as a skeleton, describes National more than Labour. These hot and cold blogs are getting too Jekyll and Hyde for me.

    • Well, I for one am happy to see National back in power. It seems that ‘we’, The Left, are still lacking in any real vision. This policy is ‘nice’, but if National and the Babyboomers hadn’t gone quite so feral, it’s really a policy that they could have come up with.

      Where is the Game Changer, and no, not a Magic Bullet, but the line in the sand, the call that says the system is rigged. The call for systematic Change??To me the Housing Issue is just a symptom of a corrupt and dying economic system. And seriously, how can people be making money from owning a home? We have an economy based on selling houses and cups of coffee to one another…sooner or latter it must hit the wall.

      • Well the wall is being hit. But National and the babyboomers hadn’t come up with the policy after 8 years though, and they don’t intend to, they have been far too busy profiting from the corrupt and dying economic system that they have largely created, selling houses and having cups of coffee with one another.

        Clearly, you are not of “The Left”. Enjoy what time you have remaining, National is coming to the end of it’s reign of terror and treachery.

    • Well, I for one am happy to see National back in power. It seems that ‘we’, The Left, are still lacking in any real vision. This policy is ‘nice’, but if National and the Babyboomers hadn’t gone quite so feral, it’s really a policy that they could have come up with.

      Where is the Game Changer, and no, not a Magic Bullet, but the line in the sand, the call that says the system is rigged. The call for systematic Change??Bernie and Sanders, and all their supporters seem to understand the problem.
      To me the Housing Issue is just a symptom of a corrupt and dying economic system. And seriously, how can people be making money from owning a home? We have an economy based on selling houses and cups of coffee to one another…sooner or latter it must hit the wall. Labour are just bystanders, and they seem to be at the wrong game.

      • Well the wall is being hit. But National and the babyboomers hadn’t come up with the policy after 8 years though, and they don’t intend to, they have been far too busy profiting from the corrupt and dying economic system that they have largely created, selling houses and having cups of coffee with one another.

        Clearly, you are not of “The Left”. Enjoy what time you have remaining, National is coming to the end of it’s reign of terror and treachery.

    • Words, I fully agree with you.

      I’m getting tired of commentators who supposedly come from the Left perspective yet repeatedly criticise Labour every chance they get. What exactly is their motivation? Do they want to destroy Labour’s chances of ever winning another election, so we have National in power ad infinitum?

      Of course, Labour’s policy / policies could go further. However, their housing policy is a start and a step in the right (no pun intended) direction. I for one would much rather have a slightly cautious Labour / Green Government than the continuation of the corrupt, morally bankrupt, self-serving National regime we’ve had since 2008.

      • Gemma, I am with you 100%!! I can only guess as to the motivation, jealousy, political bias, fear etc? I really don’t know, and I don’t understand it either. Its crazy for those to talk about wanting change, and yet clearly bolt when a positive alternative for change presents itself. It’s so counter productive and it’s basically sabotaging the cause, which is to remove National from power. Sometimes it really does seem that they would rather have National in power, rather than have a Lab/Green government, that’s what these mixed messages convey.

      • I agree with Gemma. At some stage you have to draw the line in the sand and stand on one side of it instead of throwing bombs from outside the sandpit at everyone. Sure you can criticise all you like but to pretend you are of the left and then blast the hell out of the very likely saviour is self defeating as far as I am concerned. I am sick of bashers who never take a real stand against the tyranny of our current government who have done everything they can to line the pockets of themselves and their friends at the expense of this countries history of support for all. Our reputation is becoming a steaming heap of poop like most western countries we seem to cuddle up to.

        • What a load of swill. Look, you want to be tribal Labour, knock your sock off but how dare you all line up and scream at the terrible things National do in power to the poor and then laud Labour’s pathetic attempt to counter that.

          1000 state houses is a joke. They are merely trying to win the political ground off National by offering the kids of the middle classes a house. That’s fine as a tactic to win power, it doesn’t do anything to help alleviate the poverty at the bottom.

          Our job is to demand more from Labour in power than they gave last time – which was sweet fuck all.

          • Disagree, and it’s better than nothing isn’t it? Would you rather the Nats stayed in power?
            In comparison, Labour’s plan is a hell of lot better than what the atrocious Nats have dished out. The 1000 state homes is a starting point, and stop National selling off state housing stock, and that frees up thousands of homes.

          • Disagree, and it’s better than nothing isn’t it? Would you rather the Nats stayed in power?
            In comparison, Labour’s plan is a hell of lot better than what the atrocious Nats have dished out. The 1000 state homes is a starting point, and stop National selling off state housing stock and that frees up thousands of homes.

  2. Sigh…. It a start, a plan that shows the direction where Labour is heading and it’s a plan that can be built on. Would you rather John key remain in power? That nasty cartoon that appears repeatedly on a number of posts depicting Labour as a skeleton, describes National more than Labour. These hot and cold blogs are getting too Jekyll and Hyde for me.

  3. Yes MARTYN,

    True on ‘Labours’ housing policy’ – as it seems the whole energy of the Labour Party trust for a ‘game changer’ only seemed to deal with housing while all other issues were left unattended sadly.

    If Andrew can now turn his ‘critical applications’ of “Game changer policy” to getting labour’s own ‘Kiwirail moving the freight again’ we would be much more impressed as their opposition parties are advocating Greens, & NZ FIRST.

    As of now everyone who travels on our single lane roads today knows full well, that there is a glaring issue that confronts everyone is we have such dangerous road transport issues all over this country now that even AA’s General Manager Mike Noonan on RNZ this morning is advocating for more ‘slow bays’ which wont do much except speed up cars/trucks and kill even more of us!!!!

    With truck gridlocked roads so dangerous that every day a truck crashes or kills other road users, as happened again this morning again at Thames when a pick up and a truck collided on highway 2 see coverage only on http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/81959563/one-dead-after-ute-and-truck-collide-on-hauraki-plains

    KIWIRAIL RESTORATION PROJECT PLEASE ANDREW NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

    • It was a special conference celebrating 100 years that the housing announcements were made. Housing was the first Labour government’s priority, just like it is again.

      The main conference where other issues will be discussed has yet to come.

    • They will. Since it was a Labour government that brought our rail back, you can bet rail will do very well under a new Lab/green government.

  4. +100 good Post

    Labour should be promising millions to places like this who cater for those most in need of housing and shelter…I know this is what Mana/Internet ( a real Left Party)would do if it was in power

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201807765/several-whare-closed-at-deathtrap-marae

    “A Wellington urban marae built by homeless youth, ex-cons, and gang members is struggling financially after the closure of several of its buildings by the Wellington City Council. The Council says it’s a death trap. Our reporter Daniela Maoate-Cox visited the marae to find out more.”

    ( This Marae 20+ years ago provided free of charge large native trees for me to plant in our local council owned wilderness reserve above Wellington city…Bruce Stewart and whanau have hearts of gold and are real environmentalists and Greenies)

    • Set up a petition to put pressure on the Wellington city council.

      How do you know that Labour is not going to support these organisation that are helping people? Because once in power the lab/Greens will, but promising to throw millions around, without a structured plan is what the failed Nats do. No one wants to copy that.

  5. “With an affordable housing policy that will help the children of the working classes and the working poor get onto the property ladder”

    Will it?

    I know these affordable housing policies are good for middle class people, but are they good for the working class?

    Will these affordable houses be realistically reachable for a 20 year old with little education and poverty wages? Can someone on $16 per hour and insecure employment access these ‘affordable’ houses?

  6. If New Zealanders don’t react positively to Labour’s policies then I thin k we can officially declare this country brain-dead and remove it from life-support.

    • Agree Priss. There are people here who seem to be their own worst enemy. Too blinded by bias and their own ideologies. it appears they would rather have the Nats remain in power, rather than give Labour and Greens a fair go. pretty sad and pathetic really. It just hurts the people already hurting that they say they care about with that kind of attitude. Very hard to fathom that double standard. Kind of hypocritical too, when those same people accuse others of playing politics.

      • the over leveraged voters are so far in debt they cant afford to have affordable housing built there property prices depend on dirty money and mass immigration labour is a threat to the status quo

        • Thanks for explaining that Darth, it makes sense. It also explains why some, who say they champion the disadvantaged, bolt when an alternative with a solution shows itself. Pretty disheartening really.

  7. For those hapless amongst you who wander into my rants like dull minded blow flies stumbling upon repetitive webs; you will know what I’m about to write.

    Something like this

    “Yes, all very good an’ that but who pays for Labours wondrous promises? ”

    We had all that stuff and all those things remember? The ever erudite @ Frank showed us images of a statehouse with kids playing outside around an old car, then the dire modern reality of kids living in a car and with no house.
    How do you think jonky and his flash minions manage on an hourly rate? That’s right. They don’t. They don’t because they’re running a ponzie scheme with your tax monies and your assets. Yes, that’s right. Jonky and his barbecue Bro’s are literally stealing from you and me.
    What then can Labour and Little do ? Fuck all if Little doesn’t bring our primary export sector into the fold, and that’s easy to do. Boot out the foreign banksters, write off mortgage debt and reset our economy without the usual World War to use as an excuse to hide vast, pandemic swindlings. Then I’m thinking a road-show to convince farmers that they’re been rooted like randy bandicoots but without the whiskery kissings by Nationals narcissistic sociopaths with the smell of easy money tattooed up their nostrils.
    Even I , a vague annoyance at best, can promise all sorts of wondrous things to the inattentive poor out there but unless I have the cash to back up my promises , my promises are as meaningless as paula bennetts G-string.
    I repeat, and will keep repeating like an iffy curry, Labour must have the NZ Farmer where National have them now. No, not up shit creek. As an on – going interactive between the cities and the land. Close the gap and you will win Andrew Little. If you don’t? You’ll get trounced by cashed up Nat’ cocks with access to every lie under the sun.

  8. I for one would like Little and Twyford to admit that the over-inflated house prices in Auckland are certain to fall, though not particularly as a result of their Affordable Homes thing. To assert anything else leads them into unsustainable positions. Their “comprehensive” policy should also include encouraging people to retire elsewhere and more focus on regional development. Both add to the housing stock and offer a more rounded policy. Meanwhile, the real problem/solution is actually about the increase in rental stock, not affordable homes to buy. Build enough of those and the house prices will drop without much more intervention as investors leave the bottom-end housing market.

    The end goal may eventually be to do away with the Accommodation Supplement landlord subsidy, freeing up even more money to improve the state rental stock

    Beyond this, most people are not wannabe first home buyers in Auckland. Believe it or not, over two thirds of the population do not even live in Auckland, incredible as that may sound, while 60% of the population, and probably nearly that in Gotham City itself actually already own their own home, while many who do, have no interest in selling, so the nominal wealth they are accumulating is pretty meaningless.

    What is actually needed will be policies that appeal to a far wider section of the population. Or affect the lives of most people. Clean rivers is one. Water bottling sales tax (what about 15c a bottle like in Fiji?) is probably another.

    It is essential that the Left get away from the impression that we are only a wack-a-mole problem solving movement. We must have key policies that everyone can aspire to if we want widening support. And ideally the policies should take an approach it would be impossible for a neo-liberal government to enact.

    Intervention, cooperation and a Public Service reminded of their core mission to actually serve the public. (A needed reminder for many, it seems).

    And more Labour-Green interaction to establish with the country that it is a real thing and not just a passing dance of the desperates.

    The housing announcement is a useful start as it gets the Visible Young Accountant movement on-side and that is excellent in the Talking Heads department of the media, but it it only a beginning. There is so much more needed to present a credible threat to the status quo.

    I look forward to further announcements.

  9. I had thought that Labour’s announcement started with the most urgent issue, i.e. housing the homeless. That they are giving 60 million to social agencies to do this (this is people sleeping in cars, rough. That the social services have supported this move. Good.

    I know that doesn’t attend to people in garages and living in overcrowded conditions, but that is where the state house building programme comes in. I had thought they said they will keep on building them, till the need is meet or is that the affordable homes for people to buy.
    I think it is important that Labour’s strategy doesn’t scare people off, then when in power they can really get cracking.

  10. So, if 60% own their own home, that leaves 40% who are renting. The spin off from the housing bubble is a whole lot more than emotive appeals regarding young couples not being able to afford the kiwi dream of owning their own home. It’s about ordinary working people not being able to afford the skyrocketing rents. Landlords seem to think that if the nominal value of their houses has gone up they can whack the rents up and in so many cases it’s gone beyond workers’, beneficiaries’, and superannuitants’ ability to pay. That’s why the homeless crisis has appeared. They are not all dropkicks and losers and ferals as the rightwing would have us believe.

    • Yes Rosie, obsessing over home ownership is traditionally a right-wing concern.
      The left should focus on renting – if we make it so people cannot profit from being landlords, then our housing stock won’t be hogged by wealthy people, and then more people will be able to afford housing.

      From where we’re at now, promoting home ownership will sustain our housing bubble. We can’t solve a housing bubble by creating more customers.

      This housing solution from Labour looks like a solution for the middle class. Where’s rent control?

    • I subscribe to Labour and Green parties for email alerts, and have done so for a number of years now. I completed a survey from Phil Twyford covering issues of housing and renting, and if you have watched Martyn’s current affairs show, you would have heard Phil Twyford talking about the very issues you have raised. The opposition knows. But nothing is going to change until National is removed from power. Labour is treading cautiously, you do not want to scare the horses too much or too suddenly, no doubt more policy will be released in the lead up to the election. Labour and the other opposition parties need to be in government to make those much needed changes. Remember there are very greedy people out there who are profiting from this housing squeeze and who don’t want it to end.

  11. Labour’s policy has obviously created a bit of a stir within National government ranks. Todays announcement that the government will not take a dividend off Housing NZ this year is the result of pressure on National over the housing crisis.
    Good decision: pity National had to be shamed into doing it.
    Despite the bluster and bravado of Key, Joyce and the rest of the Keystone Cops – they are feeling very vulnerable at the moment.
    They called Labour’s bluff and lost.

  12. Words says:
    “They will. Since it was a Labour government that brought our rail back, you can bet rail will do very well under a new Lab/green government.”

    WORDS.
    I met our Labour MP today for 30minutes he was good for this, and he has now to go back to Andrew confirm if our Labour Party will actually honour to bring back the Napier Gisborne rail service promised back in 2013 (P Twyford transport portfolio) as he couldn’t confirm that will is the case today! (see below)

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1301/S00076/labour-pledges-to-re-open-rail-line.htm

    National in 2011 pulled all the track maintenance money out of Napier Gisborne to keep the rail drains along the line open and a rain storm caused damage to the line, to a one km section!

    So National wilfully caused the line to get damaged! and we should charge them for the four million Dollar damage they caused and the lost revenue since the 2012 destruction of our public asset, because freight levels had doubled and were about to treble before the washouts.

    Words we need this written assurance they gave in 2013 below here.

    C:\Users\Ken\Labour pledges to re-open rail line New Zealand Labour.htm

    Phil Twyford

    Transport portfolio

    Labour pledges to re-open rail line

    Phil Twyford | Tuesday, January 22, 2013 – 16:51

    Labour in government will re-open the Gisborne-Napier rail line due to be closed under National, the party’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

    An independent report by economic consultants BERL casts doubt on the analysis used by KiwiRail to justify the mothballing of the line.

    “KiwiRail’s business case for the closure is utterly inadequate and falls way short of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, something a Labour government would carry out and which I am confident would justify the line’s re-opening,” Phil Twyford said.

    “National doesn’t give a damn about the affected communities, and is content to sit on its hands while Gisborne loses a vital economic lifeline.

    “It is wasting billions of dollars on its ‘motorways of madness’ but cannot find $4 million to fix slip damage to this rail line.

    “Shutting the line is typical of the short-termism National demonstrated with the closure and sale of the Hillside rail workshops. The BERL report shows that National is blind to the wider economic costs and benefits, just as it was at Hillside.

    “The line should be reinstated now for $4 million. It will never be cheaper. The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to re-open it.

    “This whole issue demonstrates National’s double standard when it comes to road and rail: KiwiRail’s inadequate business case justifying the line closure falls well short of the benefit cost analysis required of roading projects. On the other hand, if the Government applied the same narrow financial analysis to half the country’s roads they would be mothballed too.”

    Mr Twyford said the BERL report noted annual freight volumes only needed to reach 180-200,000 tonnes per year for the line to be profitable. Current volumes of 44,000 tonnes showed that growth from local horticulture and forestry would bring the target within reach and this would justify future re-opening.

    • Good work there Cleangreen and excellent backup info you have posted there. Excellent that your Lab mp is getting confirmation, that is the correct thing to do. I know from the Labour Party website that Labour are reviewing all of it’s 2014 policy, and won’t be releasing details until the election. I am pretty sure that this is to prevent the Nats from using them, and turning them into weapons. I feel confident for a positive outcome.

  13. No [sic] Zealand is NOT a country. Violent civil war is the game changer… it’s a matter of when, not if.

  14. “Game Changer”, I love it when the left use these words as it usually means nothing, the status quo!…3 recent ‘game changers’ from Labour-
    1: Cunliffe being Labour Leader
    2: McCarten hired as COS
    3: Little being Labour Leader
    4: (will throw in Goff and Shearer as Labour leader also, i’m sure that was seen as a game changer too)

    And what has changed?….Zip,Nada,Zilch as they are still struggling to hit that magical aspirinational 30% support.

  15. I guess like a broken clock, Labour will be right on occasions…but only briefly and infrequently! You guys really should stop using ‘game changer’ so far in 8 years it’s been used a few times by left MP’s and alot by leftie commentators/bloggers/posters but perhaps one time it will prove to be correct, but not this time!

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