Has there ever been a more astonishing political coalition in the history of Aotearoa?

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Support for an industrial-scale state house building programme now extends far across the political spectrum from the progressive left to the hard right. 

Bryce Edwards has detailed this astonishing across-the-board coalition today. Set aside normal political disagreements – this is the good, the bad and the ugly on steroids. 

From progressive voices like the Child Poverty Action Group and the State Housing Action Network and virtually every living, breathing Labour, Maori and Green Party voter, to economists such as Bernard Hickey, Shamubeel Eaqub and Sam Stubbs, local mayors across the country, academics such as Prof John Tookey of AUT and Auckland University’s Susan St John, Stuff columnists Andrea Vance and Susan Edmonds, the Herald’s Simon Wilson, all the way to conservative voices such as John Bishop, Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan and even Bob Jones – bless his cotton socks. 

The commentary from these disparate groups has similar themes

  • The state house waiting list is increasing at double the rate the government is building state houses – its now up to 22,803
  • We are building just one third the number of state houses per capita that we built in the 1930s and 1940s when we last had a housing crisis on this scale
  • The private sector is building homes for higher income households but not for middle and low incomes households where the housing crisis is centred
  • The private sector has NEVER built houses for people on low incomes
  • The accommodation supplement, which props up the failed housing market by subsidising unaffordable rents in the private sector, has ballooned out to $3.5 billion per year – money much better spent building state houses
  • Only the government has the resources and capacity to build the number of warm, dry homes the country so desperately needs
  • The government can borrow money at lower interest rates than the private sector and can use economies of scale to drastically drop the cost of building

 

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And we have a Labour government in power – the first outright majority government in the history of MMP – with interest rates at historic lows. Surely this should be a slam dunk!

But no – the tiny group in the Labour leadership which has control of the levers of power is mired in neo-liberalism where the market rules everything. They are terrified of their own shadow.  

This coming budget is Labour’s last-chance saloon to create a state agency (a 2021 Ministry of Works) to build state houses on the industrial scale the community is demanding.

35 COMMENTS

  1. I think Arden and Robertson lack courage and the longer view necessary to bold action.

    Ardern’s legacy from a 50% increase in house prices will be as the Prime Minster (and from Labour!) who did the most to lock in inequality between asset owners and workers, and who ended most working peoples’ hope for a better life.

    ‘Asperations’ or ‘ambition’ in future will be marrying into a family with lots of houses and real estate.

    • “Ardern’s legacy from a 50% increase in house prices”.. And so the “news media” has succeeded in it’s job of transferring for what was started deliberately under john Keys national party government onto the current government.. I was in Auckland from 2004 until 2014, when I decided I’d had enough of the tories attacks on the working poor, and their utterly irresponsible “eggs in one basket” economics, which is why we have such an unbalanced, and overblown property market.. One should note that the criticism of this government went from the perception that they were doing nothing to alleviate the housing shortages, from a full frontal attack the second they did do something, because it was the tories mates, and the delusional middle classes had no interest in fixing a situation that allowed them to practically print money, at the expense of the wider population… And didn’t people rush to swallow that particular excuse to be selfish and greedy at an obscene rate of knots…. Your comment highlights the main reason the “best and brightest” all leave this country as soon as they can… The sort of moronic, self centered piffle that passes for political/economic “wisdom” here is why I will be escaping again the second it is feasible for me to go back to Europe to ply my craft..

  2. All correct, John, except the part about: ‘we have a Labour government in power’.

    It is LINO. Labour In Name Only.

    In reality, the Adern government is a pseudo neo-fascist government, caring primarily for the interests of banks, corporations and the military, and well-connected opportunists.

    It is also a cowardly government that protects and promotes the vast army of incompetent bureaucrats, economists, consultants etc. the majority of whose systems are completely dysfunctional and whose policy recommendations lead to ever-worsening outcomes, particularly with respect to energy and the environment, but also financial, economic and social.

    This dysfunction maintains a long-standing record of dysfunction amongst governments that goes back several decades, and is responsible for the ever-declining quality of life, as well as the ever-descending ranking of NZ amongst developed nations.

    The only question we need to ask is: What will the government do next to sabotage the future of the people who live on these islands?

    It is a given, that whatever the government does or doesn’t do, life will get a lot harder for the vast majority of people because the government will refuse to take action appropriate to the reality of our predicament.

    Only rapid dismantling of current systems -especially the dysfunctional GDP system, the fractional reserve banking system, the credit system and the consumer society- will help in the short term, the medium term and the long term.

    I suspect it is now far too late to do anything anyway: the meltdown if the globalised financial system is underway; the global energy system is well past peak; the environment is collapsing, both globally and locally.
    .
    One only has to examine the idiotic recommendations in the recently-released Climate Commission report -a total failure before it even gets started because the contradictions, omissions and mutually-exclusive concepts- to recognise how far we are from where we need to be and headed super-fast in completely the wrong direction.

    However, the level of resistance within government and bureaucratic circles to taking appropriate is sufficiently high to ensure none will be taken. They will persist with totally inappropriate policies until they can’t.

    That point will e reached within 2 years, but could well be as early as later this year, depending in how disastrous the policies of other nations are.

    • Jacinda is just another corrupt politician, which makes her a criminal IMO I will forever curse her and the Labour Party for betraying working-class people and my whanau. All this BS she parades about the place. Id like to rub her face in the faces of poverty and ask her Prime Minister wheres your kindness for these people?? Yeah nah didn’t think so, compassionate and kind my arse.

  3. I find Bob Jones’ supporting reasons offensive and ultimately destructive to NZ’s future, but surely it is the standout example proving Labour’s malicious inaction: If Bob Effing Jones says state houses should be built, how far away from any remembered trait of a Labour government has Jacinda and Grant’s crowd travelled? In the very least, it means neoliberalism is dead here. Greed is more popular than ever, and the insecurites it nutures poison us still, but we can celebrate the end of one of it’s organised forms that so easily spread it’s divisive ideals through “the lower classes”. All noise about it’s promise and glamour from here on is just eulogies.

  4. Very true.

    That is not buzzing we hear in the beehive, it is snoozzzzzzing.

    How to wake them up?

    • Bill Mitchel is obviously seriously uninformed or deluded, or both. Jobs and infrastructure are very much part of the problem (particularly at this late stage of the game) along with creation of money out of thin air.

      Only two things really count: the energy supply and the capacity of the environment to support life. Both are under continuous attack by industrial humans. And both are routinely ignored by economists, financiers and governments

    • Govts always used to create their own currency, until they stupidly gave those rights to private businesses who now charge interest and have almost NO limit on how much currencies they create.
      e.g. Fed in the USA. Neither federal nor a reserve. But a good LIE.
      c.f. Royal Jubilees and Roman debt right offs etc.
      So historically ALL the profits/benefits of creating currency went to Govts, and note how taxes basically didn’t exist but for war, but now it goes to the uber elites, who therefore control almost everything, including Govts/politics. Famous quote…. “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.”…. Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild.
      Our real problems can simply be solved by reversing this matter, but we ARE NOT ALLOWED to, thus we’re peeing into a hurricane and hoping to have an affect.
      Simple solution, but sadly it’ll take a violent revolution to make it happen and they SADLY also have massive unintended consequences, so we are royally screwed.

    • MMT was what we pursued in the 1930s, breaking with Sterling and gold to print our own money with a Kiwi on it, Māori motifs and an image of King Tāwhiao (who fought the British in the 1860s), spent into circulation by way of the State Housing schemes and clawed back via higher taxes on the rich, plus strict control of the trading banks to make sure they didn’t over-multiply the state’s money for speculative purposes. How quickly we forget . . . Been here, done that even including an early nod to a new national identity as Aotearoa. Here’s what 1930s New Zealand money looked like, and its actual history including the rupture with the City of London: https://discover.stqry.com/v/First-Issue-banknotes-1934-1940/s/0744a1d4ea530d55e273083b076a020f. Now, a starter for ten, could Grant and Jacinda ever be that radical?

  5. There is a hardcore of monetarists in the Labour Caucus–and–fifth columnists at the top of Govt. Ministries, Treasury, SOEs and Reserve Bank, who are so dedicated to neo liberalism that only Pinochet’s Chile could have rivalled their purism.

    Filthy bastards one and all, particularly the Labour Party ones, given that they are trading on the historic Labour brand while shafting the working class.

    I have been saying for months, and will personally support such direct action, that it is time to start occupying empty commercial and residential property, both as a political act, and as accomodation for those that desperately need it.

    • Hear hear re: Filthy bastards one and all, particularly the Labour Party ones, given that they are trading on the historic Labour brand while shafting the working class.

      I have been saying for months, and will personally support such direct action, that it is time to start occupying empty commercial and residential property, both as a political act, and as accomodation for those that desperately need it

    • ” Filthy bastards one and all, particularly the Labour Party ones, given that they are trading on the historic Labour brand while shafting the working class ”

      Yeah that sums up the utter fucking hypocrisy of the current Social Democrats and they can’t even see how sickening and bereft of the guts and tenacity they should have to be delivering for the most marginalised.

      At least the Nasty Natz always stay true to their parties founding principles.
      The Social Democrats have not been a representative of their parties historic founding principles since 1972 with Norm Kirk and his cabinet and party.

      There will be NO progress on the severe social economic repression of the many by the few until there is an untainted new movement to challenge the market stranglehold over the control of our country.

      It will never be Adern, her colleagues and the established neolibreal elite as they are the problem in the way of the solution.

      There needs to be a counter movement against the plutocracy and the war will be long and terrifying.

  6. That the state needs to get building houses is agreed by most people of any political persuading. It should be noted that in January Judith Collins suggested her party would support Emergency Powers similar to those used in Christchurch after the earthquakes to get houses built without being slowed by councils. This was rejected.
    I would dispute that the private sector has not built low cost homes . I can only speak about Christchurch but the new area of Rolleston is full of homes built well ideally priced for first home buyers and in the city there is a range of apartments across the price range.
    Historically I brought my first home in 1976 which was from a specbuilder . Housing Corp loan min deposit meant mortgage was less than the rent I was paying. Unlike today we brought just a house no fences no driveway no garage . As funds allowed neighbours got together and put up the fences with a barbie and beers at the end .

  7. All of which goes to show the massive amounts of dead wood in the Parliamentary Labour Party. They,ve got a long way to go before I will ever vote for them.

    • But who can we vote for on the left?…..IMHO Labour seemingly have a Stockholm syndrome effect going on with some right wing leaning hijacker, and thus are NOT remotely a true Labour party. But absent anyone else reasonable to vote for, they are when push comes to shove, JUST better than the corporatist Nacts

  8. Lying About Bringing Our Underclass Results – LABOUR
    Just Another Cruel Intentioned Neoliberal Deficient Aristocrat
    JACINDA

  9. The Government fails to embrace the rôle it must assume as the nation’s premier landlord. We need 100,000 new-build state-owned houses, available for lifetime income-related rent by all who want them. We need them built densely, close to city centres and commuter railway lines, giving their occupants quick, easy, environmentally safe access to the places of their work and play. Only as these 100,000 houses are built, with the Government as landlord, will private landlords be forced to lift their game, private rents become affordable, and private house prices accessible for those who want to buy.

    • It’s almost as if the Govt has been paid by some unknown party to NOT BUILD homes for those without.
      Maybe ‘stop’ immigration (bar obvious humanitarian issues) UNTIL most Kiwis have a home. But watch business cry about that.
      Money/business it seems comes before citizens in present day Slavelandia (aka NZ). Which is the typical definition of Corporatism i.e. near-Fascism.

  10. and watch out for another land grab for maori land.
    collaborations being made.
    i say dont let them build transitional housing (ghettos?) on our land unless we get to own the buildings at some point. otherwise our land could be locked into hosting housing that we have no say over and is not for us.

    • Willie Jackson’s been shutting those loopholes down. There’s some left over and forgotten loopholes from a hundred years ago that whack landlocked maori land with rates and fees and so on. Now he’s moving on to the next phase in the maori renaissance

  11. ” Filthy bastards one and all, particularly the Labour Party ones, given that they are trading on the historic Labour brand while shafting the working class ”

    Yeah that sums up the utter fucking hypocrisy of the current Social Democrats and they can’t even see how sickening and bereft of the guts and tenacity they should have to be delivering for the most marginalised.

    At least the Nasty Natz always stay true to their parties founding principles.
    The Social Democrats have not been a representative of their parties historic founding principles since 1972 with Norm Kirk and his cabinet and party.

    There will be NO progress on the severe social economic repression of the many by the few until there is an untainted new movement to challenge the market stranglehold over the control of our country.

    It will never be Adern, her colleagues and the established neolibreal elite as they are the problem in the way of the solution.

    There needs to be a counter movement against the plutocracy and the war will be long and terrifying.

    • You have to admire the neoliberals currently in power for their sheer gall, and their displays arrogance and sociopathy.

      It takes incredible gall to continuously parade under a red flag when being entirely blue. And, as a people from privileged backgrounds, the pure arrogance of stamping on downtrodden people and ignoring them when they cry out is ‘admirable’, if not astounding.

      I think it all demonstrates true sociopathy, when so-called leaders can ignore suffering on a continuous basis and do it with a friendly smile whilst making promises they have no intention of keeping.

  12. So I take it all you Tories are supporting the speculators and the Natz, Act. Thank Jacinda that Collins and her loser lot arent in power relying on immigration and property speculation to run the economy. The last Natz government saw rising land values put farms and houses out of the reach of most NZers. They wont build any social housing – the Natz hate the poor, beneficiaries, workers, Maori, homeless, renters, low-paid workers. They believe in the low (exploitive) wage economy and expensive (speculative) housing. you may have got a few $$$ together so you act like a Natz or Act supporter. Im afraid a lot of you commentators/bloggers are acting above your station.
    I think Govt should work with Maori to build houses on their papakainga for their homelessness and kaumatua in the cities. NZ builders and suppliers are too busy and more interested in commercial and expensive housing so this is solution. Tender and Commission Asian companies to fabricate building components, fixtures, etc from the logs they take from NZ and bring them to NZ in containers with an Asian work force who will work 24/7 to assemble the various designed NZ approved houses on the papakainga. We may have to rely on them to also construct the infrastructure and preparatory works.
    Isnt NZ doing well – thank you Jacinda, Ash and the Labour party for keeping us safe and making NZ the freest country in the world. The only restriction we have is at the borders.

  13. Everyone talks about the quantity but few talk about the quality or the suitability.

    I haven’t been to the Auckland suburbs for a long time. Does anyone know whether the ‘matchsticks and carboard’ (untreated timber with lightweight cladding and a coat of paint) housing thrown up by speculators in the 1990s is decaying faster than houses are being constructed?

    Presumably every scrap of previously-industrial land within 50 kilometres of the CBD has been built on, and new housing is either units on land occupied by villas or on previously-farmed land in locations remote from everything, and totally dependent on road transport.

    Are developers still filling in swamps and constructing on land 0.5 metres above high tide?

    Has the rotting infrastructure -particularly the water delivery system and the rotting sewage system- been fixed yet? Or is the plan to overload the infrastructure even more than previously, leading to ever greater quantities of sewage on beaches etc. whenever there is a storm, and collapse via inability to deliver water?

    Bearing in mind the world is post peak oil and on the way down, and bearing in mind that NZ is totally dependent on imported oil and imported fuels, has anyone thought AT ALL about what happens when oil is no longer delivered to NZ, something we face quite soon and possibly within five years.

    Or does ‘everyone’, without even thinking at all, assume the market will provide when the need arises?

    Slightly longer term, we know that we are in for substantial sea level rise that will inundate all the land less than 1 metre above current sea level. And after that, all the land less than 5 metres above current sea level.

    Again, does anyone plan for these effects of these well-established phenomena, or does everyone just kick the can down the road and hope that nothing bad happens while they are responsible? It sure looks that way to me.

    Those are very pertinent questions when ‘everyone’ is saying “Build more houses.”

    Oil availability: the lowest it has ever been and being made worse.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide: the highest it has been in millions of years , and rising at an ever-faster pace, i.e. being made worse.

    Ocean heat content: the highest it has been in millions of years. And being made worse.

    Arctic ice: melting at an unprecedented rate. And being made worse.

    Antarctic ice: being undercut by warm waters at an unprecedented rate. And being made worse.

    Climate stability: already ruined, and the official plan is to make it so diabolically bad no one will be able to survive.

  14. Yes nearly all apartment built in the 1990’s have water ingress problems. We were lucky the Ak Council was the last one standing and it cost them a mint – one of the reasons resource/building consents cost more and take longer.

    Whos going to pay for the separation of waste/storm water in CBD/Ponsonby/Parnell – probably the West & South Aucklanders. The CBD’s of Tauranga, Hamilton & Auckland are dead now and need rejuvenating – cant wait for tourists or returning Asian students.

    I wouldn’t build or live less than 6m above sea level. A decent tsunami is due one day especially on the east coast – could be tomorrow or could be in 1000 years. Petrol/petroleum wont be around in 30 years – electricity is the way forward helped by advances and progress in sciences and technology. Its amazing the changes in IT from 1966 and the two computers in NZ at that time in DSIR and Otago Uni to today. In surveying it was measuring by chain-band and 8 figure logorithims before
    1980 to GPS now. The mind boggles.

  15. What I find utterly despicable here, is that we now have the news media spouting the same rhetoric that the labour party was being pilloried for when in opposition, by the same people who are now singing from the same song sheet.. How many are going to be taken in, and fall into believing that the housing bubble here was created by the current government? From what I’m seeing, far too many NZers to give me any faith in the intelligence, and maturity of outlook of the majority of NZers… At some point, we need to ask ourselves why it is that so many highly skilled “movers and shakers” have gone away, never to come back… the answer is simple… ” how can one fly like an eagle when surrounded by turkeys”… Look at your history.. Martyn has noted, more than once that the 1st Labour govt had to be pushed into the transformative and nation building program by it’s rank and file… This govt has shown it can be pushed into doing the right thing as well.. It’s not ideal, but why hasn’t anyone pointed out that at least things will happen if we make loud enough noises, which is more than ever happened with the tories… This is OUR opportunity to make a difference, and look what we’re doing with it.. Whining our way back to a tory govt that will simply start moving everything back to the mess it was.. That is, once the “news media” has convinced you all that the improvements made were their doing, of course.. And, once more, that pack of lies will be gleefully swallowed by a large percentage of our “informed” electorate.. At this rate, it will be easy to make a case for an invasion of this country on the grounds of our inability to govern with any sense of rationality, or humanity.. Any lawyer worth his/her salt could make a compelling case for having this country put into “statutory management”, by a “friendly” power..

  16. Govt doesnt want the embarrassment of having to admit they sold off all our forests to overseas interests and why timber is so eye wateringly expensive here.

  17. So well said, one of our great people.

    Funny how the social democrats’ views of reality diverge so much from the supposed accepted ‘norm’. And we are right here in NZ as the progressives lead by Sanders are right in America. The present norm is wrong about the future. Your stomach matters not a bit.

  18. Amusing, Labour isn’t willing to shout. Can you imagine Jace and Grant thinking of that?! Yet it’s central to Labour. How otherwise can you over-power the powerful. Kirk didn’t shout but in his heart, we all picked up on.

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