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Labour targets rental law overhaul; Nats to get even tougher on gangs and drugs; Greens target leached nitrates levy at dairy, could shave 5% off average dairy farm's profitability

Labour targets rental law overhaul; Nats to get even tougher on gangs and drugs; Greens target leached nitrates levy at dairy, could shave 5% off average dairy farm's profitability

By Alex Tarrant

Labour is targeting an overhaul of tenancy rules, National returned to the old chestnut of targeting gangs and drug dealers, while the Greens touted a leached nitrates levy aimed squarely at dairy farmers, announced at a candidate's sheep & beef farm.

A busy weekend with some rather meaty policies. Oh, Gareth Morgan also hit out at Labour's tax policy again - the bit about capital gains tax not including the family home (see end of article). This was all topped off with another poll Sunday night indicating the momentum is with Labour.

Let’s start with that. Sunday’s Newshub Reid Research poll showed National down a point from a couple of weeks ago to 43.3%, Labour up six to 39.4%, NZ First down three at 6.6%, the Greens down two at 6.1%, TOP down slightly at 1.9%, the Maori Party down half a point to 1% and ACT steady on 0.6%.

The momentum is the same as indicated as the first poll of this ‘round’ – last week’s 1 News Colmar Brunton. The Reid poll has New Zealand First remaining as ‘Kingmaker’ although people are now starting to talk about the Maori party as an alternative – something we’ve been discussing on this forum for some months now. The Reid poll indicates the Labour/Green/Maori bloc would need to find two more seats to be able to form a government.

Now, the Maori Party’s support has been trending down, which is a problem for the scenario. At 1% they’d only be allowed one MP in if they win an electorate seat (ie, that electorate MP). At the moment it is looking like winning two electorates though. The party would need about 2.1% to get a third (list MP) in, and 2.9% to get a fourth, which could be a stretch. Watch this space though, especially if NZ First continues to decline.

Policy review

To the policies. Labour was said to be targeting the "generational vote" with its announcement of a policy to overhaul tenancy laws. The basics are here (and you can read more in their press release below, or read the policy document here):

  • Limiting rent increases to once per year (the law currently limits it to once every six months) and require the formula for rental increases to be specified in the rental agreement
  • Extending notice periods to 90 days
  • Abolishing no-clause rental agreement terminations
  • Better resources for the tenancy tribunal so landlords can access hearings more quickly if an agreement is breached by the tenant.
  • Introducing ability for tenants to pay a higher bond in exchange for being able to make minor alterations, as long as a property is returned to its original state when they leave if requested
  • Passing the Healthy Homes Bill; offering landlords government subsidies of up to $2,000 to install insulation and heating

Gangs and drugs

No guesses needed for which party decided to announce a policy to get even tougher on gangs and drugs over the weekend. (Well, maybe one – it could possibly have been New Zealand First, but then that’s National’s target at the moment.)

Paula “National is the party of law and order” Bennett was fronting this one for National, announcing $82 million for tackling meth “with a range of tough measures to clamp down hard on organised crime and drug dealers.” These include:

  • Giving police new search powers
  • Doubling the number of dog teams – introducing them to domestic airports as well as international
  • Tougher penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis
  • Introducing a new charge of ‘willful contamination’ for people who contaminate rental properties
  • Compulsory police vetting for everyone who works at ports, mail centres or airport baggage centres, including contractors

Update - 08:30 Monday: Bill English was forced onto the back foot Monday morning, defending the policy while being questioned over a comment from Bennett on the policy that "some have fewer human rights than others".

Nitrates tax

The poor old Greens have been feeling a bit left out in recent weeks as Labour took the mantle on environmental issues – Jacinda Ardern grabbing freshwater headlines. This weekend was James Shaw’s chance to try and grab some of the environmental vote back. One thing Labour missed when discussing how to clean up waterways was talking about nitrogen and nitrate leaching. So, the Greens had a go.

A 'leached nitrate levy', which could shave 5% a year from the average dairy farm’s profitability, is expected by the Greens to raise $136.5 million from year one. The suggested levy is $2 per kg of nitrate which is termed as leaching each year per hectare. Revenue will go towards funding sustainable farming programmes and the clean-up of our waterways.

Just like Labour’s policy, the Greens’ freshwater plan doesn't seem to encourage urban water users – or settlements which discharge sewerage into our rivers – to clean up their acts. In fact, only dairy farmers will be hit for the first three years; sheep and beef, other agriculture and horticulture farmers will be given three years to work out how to absorb any financial hit and/or change land use.

The policy was announced at the farm of a Green Party candidate who is a sheep & beef farmer. The ‘average’ dairy farm will be hit by an estimated cost of $11,000 per year from the policy, according to the Greens' policy document.

Yes, nitrogen leached from soil from dairy cattle is greater than other sources, but sheep aren’t far behind, and they are higher than leaching that the Ministry for the Environment reckons comes straight from 'nitrogen fertiliser'.

The Greens’ plan to clean up waterways also contained a number of other elements. These include:

  • a moratorium on dairy farm conversions,
  • Raising funding for the Sustainable Farming Fund (encouraging land use change) from $9 million now by an extra $60 million over three years
  • Creating a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund focussing on sustainability and “farming with the environment”
  • Setting up an organic advisory programme to encourage organic farming
  • Setting up Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand – a programme to develop sustainability targets for dairy, horticulture, meat, wool and other sectors
  • Allowing accelerated depreciation on agricultural equipment such as dairy sheds, irrigators and effluent ponds. But only if farmers sign up to become certified organic or sign up to that Good Food scheme.
  • Getting rid of the government’s irrigation fund
  • Phasing out imports of palm kernel extract from 2018

Press releases:

Read Labour’s press release on rental laws below:

Labour will move to make renting a more stable and healthy experience for families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Labour is committed to restoring the Kiwi dream of owning your own place. We also recognise that long-term renting has become a reality for more families, but the current law creates instability and insecurity for many.

“It is not uncommon for renters to be forced to move as often as once a year. Families are living with a level of stress and anxiety, with often very little notice that they have to move on and find a home in a tough rental market.

“Cold, damp homes are also a huge problem. It’s vital we improve the quality of rentals so our children no longer get sick or die from living in cold, damp and mouldy houses.

“We’re going to fix this. We want our rental system to be fair, and take away stress for both tenants, and landlords.

Labour will extend notice periods to 90 days so that renters have the time they need to move their lives. We will also abolish “no-cause” terminations. Rent increases will be limited to once a year instead of the current six months, and the formula for increases will need to be set in tenancy agreements so that tenants know what to expect. Letting fees will also be abolished.

“Landlords should also feel secure knowing that their property is in good hands. If a tenancy agreement is breached, landlords should be able to access the tenancy tribunal and have action taken straight away. We’ll make sure the tribunal is resourced to take act quickly when they need to.

“Many landlords and renters are looking for secure longer term fixed tenancies. In these cases, we’ll change the law so there is the option of paying higher bond in exchange for the ability to make a house a home by making minor alternations, like painting a wall or hanging a picture, as long as the tenant returns the property to the state it was in at the start of the tenancy.

“Labour will pass the Healthy Homes Bill into law, ensuring that all rentals are warm, dry, and healthy to live in. We’ll help with this by offering landlords $2,000 grants for insulation and heating. These measures will help stop our kids getting sick and dying of preventable diseases that have no place in a country like New Zealand.

“This package has been designed, based on international examples, to get the balance between tenants and landlords right.

“It’s time to make renting a stable, healthy option for families. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Read Paula Bennett’s press release on a new crackdown on drugs and gangs below:

A re-elected National Government will invest $82 million over four years to tackle methamphetamine with a range of tough measures to clamp down hard on organised crime and drug dealers, Police spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

It will also fund more treatment places for those addicted to methamphetamine and other drugs.

“Gangs are increasingly pushing dangerous drugs into our communities and we are committed to stopping them, locking them up and seizing their ill-gotten gains,” Mrs Bennett says.

“National will redouble its efforts to stop drugs getting into the country, stamp out meth labs and disrupt the supply networks as part of a refreshed Methamphetamine Action Plan.

“We’ll also increase Police powers to stop gang members from committing crimes in the first place, backing up our investment in more Police officers and smarter policing and our tougher sentencing of offenders.”

A new National Government will spend $40 million over four years on drug treatment and education services including:

· 1500 additional in patient drug treatment places

· Community based treatment, prevention and education services provided by NGOs and Iwi

National will also invest $42 million over four years on a crackdown on gangs and the supply of serious drugs by:

· Giving Police new power to search the cars and houses of the most serious criminal gang members at any time to ensure they don’t have firearms through new Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs)

· Doubling the number of drug dog teams and introducing them in domestic airports, ferries and mail centres to clamp down on trafficking

· Increasing penalties for manufacturing and distributing synthetic cannabis from a maximum of two years imprisonment to eight years, but no changes to charges for possession

· Imposing new obligations on gang members on a benefit so that if they can’t justify expensive assets, they can have their benefit cancelled or be declined a benefit

· Introducing a new charge of ‘willful contamination’ for people who contaminate rental properties

· Introducing compulsory police vetting for anyone working at ports, mail centres or airport baggage centres (this includes contractors)

“These measures come on top of the $503 million announced earlier this year for 1125 more Police Staff, which included 80 police to target organised crime and drugs.

“Serious drugs like methamphetamine and the gangs who peddle them are a scourge on our society,” Mrs Bennett says.

“These drug dealers are destroying lives for profit and greed and these drugs have no place in our country.

“We need to help those that are already addicted and find ways of stopping new victims of this drug and the gangs who peddle them.

“Our investment in strengthening our borders will also help reduce harm because we know the most effective way to tackle this problem is to stop drugs reaching our shores in the first place.

“National is the party of law and order – we take the safety of all New Zealanders seriously. Police’s mission is for New Zealand to be the safest country in the world, and National wholeheartedly supports this goal,” Mrs Bennett says.

The $82 million over four years will be made up of $40 million from the proceeds of crime and $42 million of new funding.

Read the Greens’ release below:

The Green Party is today launching a game-changing plan to protect our waterways, which includes $136.5 million to help farmers move to less polluting, more sustainable and more profitable ways of operating.

“Unlike the National Party, we want to stop the causes of water pollution to ensure our rivers are clean, rather than just treat the symptoms. There’s no point spending money cleaning up rivers if you don’t look at what’s making them dirty in the first place,” said Green Party leader James Shaw.

“Scientists and environmentalists have told us that we need to reduce the number of cows we farm in this country in order to protect our rivers. But by doing that we’re asking indebted farmers to take a leap of faith.

“We will invest in the Sustainable Farming Fund, create a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund, support organic farming and growing, and establish a ‘Good Food Aotearoa NZ’ national sustainability accreditation scheme so that farmers aren’t left high and dry.

“Revenue for those ventures will come from a nitrate pollution levy charged on dairy farmers who continue to pollute our soils and water.

“We’ll also accelerate depreciation on the infrastructure that has left so many dairy farmers up to their eyeballs in debt, so that they have breathing room to pay down debt and free up capital to move away from intensive farming.

“The National Party’s mistaken belief that growth relies on high production, and its unrealistic goal of doubling exports by 2025, have put us in this position.

“Government-owned farmer Landcorp is leading the way by looking at sheep milk as an alternative to dairy, transitioning away from palm kernel extract as a feed, and reducing milkings to once a day because it recognises the importance of environmentally sustainable farming.

“World markets are crying out for sustainably-produced food, fibre and wood, and our dirty rivers undermine the clean, green brand that 80 percent of our exports rely on.

“Many farmers already know that we can have both healthy rivers and a healthy economy, so we’re helping them achieve that,” said Mr Shaw.

Read Gareth Morgan below:

If the latest predictions from flustered pundits come true, New Zealand faces the dystopian prospect of a Government without policy, being propped up by a party without principles.

That’s why The Opportunities Party is again asking Labour to abandon its “We’ll have a tax working group” approach to tax reform, and adopt TOP’s Fair Tax policies before polling day.

“I’ve been involved in the last two government tax reviews,” says Party Leader Dr Gareth Morgan. “Neither were adopted because they both made the same honest assessment that a CGT or a wealth Tax that doesn’t include the family home simply will not change a thing.”

“As a party based on policy, we cannot stand by and let the public of New Zealand be hoodwinked by a kick for touch policy from the party most believe will be at the centre of the next government”, continued Dr Morgan.“If Labour don’t have a tax policy to solve the housing crisis and reduce inequality they can have ours. Waiting for a review that will deliver the same answers will simply mean our current problems get worse.”

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Too late for National now - even if they start going after Winstons territory.
The public have already decided - may as well hold the election right now.


MB - you might be right but then we wouldn' t have the joy of watching the Nats implode as 9 years of do nothing, nothing to see here and general BS comes home to roost.

As an aside it will be interesting to see Todd Barclays reaction as he realises the ace in the hole he has re after hours shennaginans in Clutha will be virtually worthless after the 23rd.

After denying for 9 year.........

Sorry BE it is time for change.

The worm is turning after last night's poll. I'd rather have Labour in here in Wellington due to their usual expansionary fiscal policy which always inflates our local economy. However, they are such no hopers. Better leader obviously but the party seems all over the place and haven't done their homework policy wise.

Kelvin Davis didn't even know their capital gains policy. It's a disjointed party who are out of their depth.


i have been saying this for ages, laws to favour tenants and the tax treatment of rental housing will become harsher.
this is all down to the dropping home ownership rates and the growing number of voters who are tenants.
so rather than deal with the causes we now are setting up ambulances at the bottom of the cliff, from both national and labour

Dealing with both things will be necessary, because with the best will in the world, there will still be many people for a long time unable to buy. The only overnight fixes can be to sorting out tenancies and getting rid of foreign buyers. It will take far longer to sort home ownership.
The way property is invested in will change as well, there will be the ability for tenants themselves to perhaps own shares in property owning companies.

There are no tax advantages at all owning an investment property. this has been clarified by Labour now which is why they never mention it anymore. Do your homework.

I suspect you have green eyes because you didn't make the right investment decision.

Friends of mine who trade shares use margin accounts to inflate their profit,, they can deduct all of the interest on money borrowed and don't pay a capital gains tax at all.

Businesses depreciate the hell out of fixed assets, property investors can no longer do this. Nobody negative gears property for tax gains anymore since the LAQC company model was banned several years ago.

Doh, I don't think I can vote for Labour now:

"Passing the Healthy Homes Bill; offering landlords government subsidies of up to $2,000 to install insulation and heating"

Why should taxpayers pay for landlords who have just made hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains to get their property up to reasonable standards? The thought of it almost makes me vomit.

National are screwed unless they can pull something significant out of the bag, or Labour throw themselves under a bus -- and I suspect the latter is more likely than the former.

No one with half a brain cares much about what the polls say unless there is a significant 10+ percentage point lead.

What matters is how enthusiastic people are on election day. While less people statistically would vote for Labour over National, all that matters is that more Labour voters turn up on election day than National voters. And under current circumstances, that is exactly what will happen.


PB is doing her best to throw people BE under the bus, her latest statement about some in our society have less human rites than others is a very dangerous precedent.
whilst nobody likes gangs, drug dealers or some of the criminal scum we have, to give our authorites powers to do things without any oversight is very dangerous, there are many countries where this happens which are not very nice places and all people look over there shoulder watching out for those in charge more than the ciminals

Absolutely agree and you should see the disgusting AM show on this, just stirring up people who cannot seem to think things through

And how very Duterte of National

Giving the police more powers not a good idea. As it is they have trouble understanding their legal limits at the moment based on their history of planting evidence, bank searches without warrants and the like.

Giving the police more resources in terms of manpower and equipment - now that is good idea. National have fallen behind on this as the population has racheted up.

True, we've seen some concerning erosions of privacy and due process under National. I'm not a fan of this move toward a police state in terms of carte blanche powers granted.

The statutes are full of anti-gang powers put there by governments flinging knee-jerk populist promises about. They just sit there, unused and generally un-prosecutable. s.98A of the Crimes Act was one of those, and has hardly been used in the 20 years its been available. Police tried in the early days, but it doesn't really achieve anything.

This anti-gang 'policy' is no different. Sounds good to the superficial thinkers but doesn't stand up to analysis. First off, what's a gang? There's no official registry or legal definition. We already have a definition of organised crime group, which is three or more people, ongoing offending, for profit. See s.98A above for all the details.

But that isn't a definition of gang. Specify a list of groups, and all they have to do is change their name. Patched? Take 'em off. Group with members who have criminal convictions? If that's the definition you'd better hope that nobody in your book discussion group or rugby club or school board has convictions, because that would open you up to being searched just for belonging to that group, and they could go after your family on the same grounds.

It's a dangerous thing to put on the books, because it's too easy to abuse, and could be used by future governments to persecute almost anybody.

There are already laws against drug offending, intimidation, violence, and threats. Some people committing them are gang members, some are organised crime group members, all are individuals and will ultimately be prosecuted and convicted as individuals. You're absolutely right that the shortfall is in staff and resources. The existing powers are fine, and contain appropriate checks and balances. Police just don't have the capacity to deal with more than a fraction of offending.

Me again, on Paula and the bus thing, her trouble is she is trying to both throw him under the bus and drive it over him at the same time, is it any surprise she is making a hash of it

This election vote percentage will be high as whenever their is a Vote for change - it goes up.

yep...and National are even more screwed than the polls suggest. My pick is the Greens will start ticking up/recover and NZ First will track down.

Labour/Green/Maori one camp. Nats in a tent on their own. Big win to the left looking inevitable.

Based on what the Green will trend up? WP is clearly the risk as he is getting the negative headlines currently on the polls...

If you are right it will be another swing towards youthful appearance like Bill & Jacinda. Compare Winston to James Shaw - brains, cunning and experience on one side and mere youthfulness on the other. Of course the other factor is perceived honesty: which one would you buy a used car from?

.. James Shaw presents well and fronts well - he's no fool. They have plenty of young growing support, some will return from TOP as it's going nowhere. They have moved on from the Metirua thing (which Nat haven't done with Paula..just locked it away in legal constraints).

Winston is floundering around...he will need the Nats and they need him.....Labour/Greens can do it without him. As it becomes clearer that he will have to go nationals way, this will scare a chunk of both supporters.... both will be locked in a death grip.

That's my view..


Is it just me or is the current bunch of National politicians a completely unlikable bunch who come across as arrogant, smarmy and utterly untrustworthy - and I say this as someone who has always voted National. This time around I am not sure if I will even bother voting. No party grabs me as worthy of my vote. I could never bring myself to vote Labour and while Winston is entertaining and a bit of a laugh to watch, I am not sure I really want to vote for him either. ACT? Well, if I do vote they'll probably get my vote, even if it feels pointless in doing so.

I feel much the same. I will give my party vote to ACT, as Seymour will win Epsom, and if they can achieve around 1.2% (currently 1%), party vote they will get t least one other MP.

ACT wont be invited into a coalition with Winston so probably a wasted vote.

Depends on whether you have a swamp that needs draining - if so you need Winston

It's not just you. I voted for them (twice) but I've well and truly turned around based on their character and performance.

heres how it really is for you all in new zealand ...

This is so self evident to a truly thinking population it should not have been necessary to say it.

It's pretty telling when a billion dollar transport subsidy doesn't even shut someone up.

Some really well-targeted arrows in that skewering:

Mainfreight chief Don Braid has called time on the Government's leadership saying New Zealand needs to be led by visionaries - not "a couple of accountants".

"I think they've stopped listening to us. And I think they think they know better than us. And that's a problem I think for a Government that's been around for a long time," Braid said.

In a video interview for the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom Election Survey, Braid acknowledged the National-led Government's fiscal focus had been invaluable as New Zealand worked its way out of the impact of the Global Financial Crisis.

But he claimed the country had forgotten about investing for the future.

"The infrastructure of the country both in transportation, education, housing, water - all those things have been forgotten about in our view," he said.

"And now we need to have an intense look at where the country sits to fund the growth of the population, to fund the tourism that the country has found - which is all good for us, but we'll lose it if we don't look after it."

Asked why the Government took its eye off the ball, Braid blamed its focus on prudent fiscal responsibility.

"With all due respect, we're sort of being run by a couple of accountants, rather than visionaries, and I think the country needs some visionaries."

The Herald: "What you're talking about does seem quite a severe indictment on the current politicians who are running the Government."

Braid replied: "Well, I think the indictment comes when you have a current Government who have been in power for three terms, who then decide on the basis of electioneering suddenly they find money available for certain projects to actually tick the political landscape box. Whereas perhaps it might well have been better that if they'd continued to invest over a longer period of time the voter would've understood that they're the government for the next term."

Good to hear some sensible policies coming from Labour particularly like the one about making rental accommodation healthier, this also saves on healthcare costs.

There's only one policy that National that have put forward that I agree with and that's the dismantling of P labs. But somehow I can't see them ever actually implementing it, since it would massively reduced all that laundered cash flow that mostly ends up in our property market.

After all they have been stretching out implementing those AML regulations since 2015 when they were brought to the world stage. And they've still not enforced them yet.

National is in a time warp re P LAbs and drug policy. The reason for these labs and all of this crime is their vision-less approach to drug reform. This is wjhy our prisons are overflowing and we have bizarre gang announcements being made in a desperate attempt to garner some votes.

Check out what Portugal have achieved if you need some pointers on a visionary approach to drugs.

CJ - Cut them some slack, they are still looking at it (and a host of other things including the non-crisis housing crisis) and at the end of the day if we can see it in our hearts to forgive and re-elect them they promise to get Smitty and Brawnlee onto it the week after the election or just after Xmas or when the billshitter stops telling porkies - whichever comes last.

Does this mean it is time to pre-emptively raise rents to minimise the effect of labour's new tennancy law on my projected cashflow?

Are you charging less than your tenants are prepared to pay?

I have not raised rents in 3 years on most of my tenants. (New tenants get new rent rates) I have been of the opinion that if I get good tenants it can be worth keeping them at the expense of a couple thousand $ more a year.
Having a rent raising formula could be good because a legal maximum tends to end up being viewed as a minimum by the industry.
I would need to raise rents to market now to prevent my properties from being locked into below market rates for too long.

As if you need an excuse