Labour's poor performance & what it might do next; Auckland housing, infrastructure, transport and Watercare; Alex Tarrant's post-Budget thoughts

Labour's poor performance & what it might do next; Auckland housing, infrastructure, transport and Watercare; Alex Tarrant's post-Budget thoughts

By Alex Tarrant

Bill English and Steven Joyce certainly can’t complain too much about the last two weeks. Budget criticism has been absorbed by the collective grouping of individualistic reactions.

“How much will I get back? $26 a week? About time. They say government needs to keep paying off debt for resilience so that’s fair enough. Perhaps we’ll get more after the election.”

Post-Budget was a week to forget for Labour. Others have covered this, so I won’t go too far into it.

But just remember, Labour knew there were going to be changes to income tax brackets. They knew there were going to be Working for Families boosts. They knew there was going to be a boost to the Accommodation Supplement.

There was going to be a Families Package that gave money back to every earner – no matter how rich or poor. Sure, the size of the bracket changes was surprising. But fumbling around with a government WFF/income tax calculator never won an election before and it won’t win one now.

Talk about jobs, education, housing, helping those at the bottom before the top. Don’t send a spreadsheet to RNZ on who’s going to be less-better off than other ‘families’ in different situations and then expect to be given the freedom to talk about high-level political direction. Particularly when no one is going to be worse off.

“This Budget was two years too early. Labour will focus first on who needs support the most. We will focus on reducing school overcrowding, focus on sorting out healthcare. We will get house building going again. Then we promise to look at compensating New Zealanders who waited out nine long years of bracket creep just to pay for National’s gross economic mismanagement.”

I’ll give that one to Andrew Little for free. You don’t need a Treasury tax calculator to pump that out.

Mental health

The one line of attack from Labour post-Budget that might stick is on health. Mental health.

If Labour can make inroads on mental health that would 1) be great to see, but 2) be something National could easily tack back onto. Sadly, what will count here are announcements and headlines.

Steven Joyce has a ready list of measures the government has going for it. Labour tried to attack National’s $100m Budget mental health contingency fund as being an eleventh-hour mock-up job.

That’s fair enough. But the reality is the fund gives National space and time for a handful of set-piece announcements on mental health that it can trickle out as the election approaches.

Families package

As per last week’s column, Labour is now focusing on putting together a whopper families package as the centre-piece of an alternative Budget.

What could be in it? The place to start is what National took off the table – the independent earners tax credit, for example. Could we see that returned under Labour? Doubled? How can Best Start be super-sized to target those on less than $48,000?

What else can we expect to see from here?

Back to National.

You can hear the cheering from the upper floors of the Beehive every time Quotable Value figures come out showing house price growth in Auckland has been flat in recent months.

If this continues in the months up to the election housing will certainly become less of an issue. Don’t get me wrong – it will still be an issue – but what’s the one thing more terrifying for home owners than prices not rising?

Negative equity.

You can hear that collective grouping of individualistic reactions again. "House prices have risen quickly. That’s bad. But they’re flat now. I wouldn’t mind that for a while – it’ll give struggling first home buyers a better chance to save for that deposit. Zero growth for a bit is a fair outcome."

Housing narrative

The initial response to Amy Adams’ 34,000 houses announcement was not quite what National expected.

I just can’t understand how people accept $650,000 as ‘affordable’. And if you’re only promising a minimum 20% of the houses you're building will be ‘affordable’ then the flip side is you’re promising as many of 80% of the houses you’ll build will be ‘unaffordable’.

Not a good start. But National has started to build a narrative around its position on Auckland housing. ‘The government only owns 5% of Auckland land’. ‘We can’t build a greater number because of construction sector pressures’.

Do not mention the potential for 69,000 dwellings that could be built on Crown land in Auckland. Amy Adams even sneakily tried to reduce that to 60,000. ‘It’s a theoretical maximum’. All part of the narrative behind ‘why we can’t do more’.

Infrastructure

A common question now to Joyce and English is ‘what more have you got planned on housing in the lead up to the election?’

The common response is that we might be given some idea of which projects will receive funding from the $1bn Housing Infrastructure Fund. These will just be headlines – spending isn’t forecast to start until sometime between July 2018 and June 2019.

But infrastructure is another subject Joyce and English want to keep talking about. The government got a few headlines from its $11bn infrastructure spend announcement but these didn’t stick as much as they wanted.

We’ll be hearing about it again. And I wouldn’t be surprised if hear noises on Watercare.

Watercare is not allowed to pay dividends. If you know all earnings must be reinvested and you’re not going to be held to account by shareholders on your ability to return cash, then there is no incentive to focus on efficiencies and the cost side of the ledger.

A fair target for a National Cabinet, then.

Transport

National’s thinking is that if house price growth bumbles along at zero until the election then other issues will come to the fore of peoples’ frustrations.

Like Auckland transport.

National’s already revealed its hand on a city-to-airport busway which may be turned into a train track in countless years’ time. They’ve already made an initial promise to help fund some of the first stage of the inner-city rail loop.

I’m not sure what it will be, but I’ll bet the amount of time that you’re stuck in traffic this long weekend that we’ll hear more from National on Auckland transport to try and take the wind out of critics’ sails.

_______________________________

Post-script

This was a bit crazy – as I was writing the portion of this column regarding Joyce’s next moves, Echo & The Bunnymen’s The Cutter started playing on Spotify.

Who's on the seventh floor
Brewing alternatives
What's in the bottom drawer
Waiting for things to give
Spare us the cutter

Come to the free for all
With seven tapered knives
Some of them six feet tall
We will escape our lives
Spare us the cutter

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

77 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

Labour should have immediately come out after the Budget and said "Great idea, we will do the same with tax brackets & WFF etc". Plus we will boost Govt spending in Health, Education, Regional Devt etc. ( Not that I necessarily agree with that but politically it would have taken away Nationals advantage.

11
up

Alex - no mention of immigration. is it relevant at all ? is it really only us common taters on interest.co who are interested ?

Auckland has a fixed number of houses. Every time a new family moves into an Auckland house then either one more family shares a property or a family moves into a car or garage or under a bridge, etc. So stop job creation in Auckland until house building is faster than families arrive. This means freezing all work visa for immigrants planning to work in Auckland. Fix the problem with housing and then back put things back to normal. This matches Andrew Little's concept of turning the immigration faucet off and on.

10
up

9 years is too long a time to rule to get complacent specially for arrogant National.

Change of government is good for NZ and to be free from government policy of Denial, Lie, Manipulation and if nothing works blame other - can identfy anything that national does or says to thier core policy.

National and it supporter will try to play on fear psychology but at this stage now it is time for change.

12
up

Agree that many like myself ( who have voted for national in last 3 election) are looking for and will be voting for change.

This election will be a fight between people who are associated with property market vs others.

Wait and watch.

Many are in favour of immigrants being one themselves but no wants like anything in extreme at the cost of people who are already in NZ.

Disagree about one comment: ignoring ivory tower academics you will find more anti-immigration comments among immigrants than you will with pakeha. That includes me (UK) and friends from China and India. The only people I've met who think doubling NZ's population is a great idea are Kiwi by birth who have never been on an OE.

This has been my observation also from speaking with Indian and Chinese colleagues.

Winston Peter vote percentage will definitely be more than 15% only if he can come out and declares that will not go with national (highly unlikely that he will).

Immigration by itself is not bad but by going in extreme national has made it a bad word - come election.

Also with such high immigration - rate of disenchantment is high among new immigrant (though can argue their own choice) and is givin bad name to NZ.

It is now popularly known to one and all outside NZ that New Zealand is the most easiest place to migrate and if one cannot migrate to NZ, cannot do it in any developed country.

I think he'll get most votes if he declares that reducing immigration Is a non-negotiable in a coalition.

I don't like a lot of NZ First policies e.g. Pike River (daft), anti 1080 (wrong), anti raising the Super qualifying age (wrong), Christchurch Cathedral (no thanks). But I'm considering voting for them purely on their immigration policy.

You speak the truth. Deserves more than a 'like'.
So long as Winston doesn't say the words "Asian" or "Chinese" then he will do well. Almost certainly needs a heavy hitter politician like Shane Jones because otherwise it seems like a one man band.

But in going with National he can be seen to make more inroads by way of getting NZ First concessions in a coalition agreement. National are setting up a whole bunch of strawmen for him to knock over (e.g., raising the super age, no change to immigration settings, etc.). These policy strawmen give NZ First plenty of potential seen-to-be 'wins' in any coalition agreement.

Will be very interesting if the preferred PM stakes see WP at the top rank prior to the election. Now that would make for real negotiating power - well beyond just strawman concessions.

Laila Harre said something similar Kate on Q+A this weekend. That National are setting up policies -that they can 'relent on' to Winston in exchange for his cooperation -such as no change in Superannuation, decreasing immigration (maybe, it hasn't happened in previous coalitions) -thus allowing voters who want to vote for change 'a safe option' of voting for Winston -without upsetting the status quo National government.

If voters really want to change the government, then they need to ensure the Labour/Green voting block gets more votes. Voting NZ First does not guarantee change.

Legend at the bottom of Tarrant's article
"Our 2017 election issue coverage is supported by EY. For more about how EY is building a better working world ..."

EY is one of the "Big 4" global instruments who are re-engineering our world in the image of the non-taxpaying multi-nationals

If Michael West was operating in NZ he would tear you a new one - they are one of his favourite targets

Definitely an opinion article, as opposed to objective journalism.

Immigration has become a self-sabotaging game

It's all inter-connected - housing - traffic - wages - immigration
You can't discuss one without discussing the others
You cant solve one without simultaneously solving the others

Here are the breadcumbs for all to see - 1 year ago in May 2016 we were forewarned that a sense is arising that soon employers in Auckland will need to start providing subsidised accommodation because the skilled and unskilled employees are there - they just can't afford their own accommodation close to where the jobs are and the hours and costs spent to get to far away jobs have become prohibitive - that was fairly evident

Spelt out here
8 May 2016 - Subsidised Housing
http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/81423/bernard-hickey-asks-why-over-thi...

Immediately after the budget offered this comment on education and schools and Rangitoto College
27 May 2017
Government screws education funding to the bone - budget announces 4 new AKL schools
http://www.interest.co.nz/news/87936/what-budget-2017-spending-promises-...

NZ Herald - Rangitoto announces it is forced to build teacher housing on campus canibalising shool fields
3 June 2017
Rangitoto College build subsidised housing for teachers
http://beta.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11868150

And now ....
Black and White - it is so - NZ Herald - reveals Rangitoto College to provide subsidised accommodation to migrant teachers to get them here and then get them to stay here
4 June 2017
Rangitoto College - Subsidising rents for new teachers from overseas
http://beta.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11867471
Macleans principal Byron Bentley says he is already subsidising rents for nine teachers who have come to the college this year from overseas or other areas outside Auckland

How long will it be before all the other teachers jack up and ask for the same perk
The government's education budget will be blitzed out the window

Yea, it's scary that what is happening in Auckland is an exact manifestation of what urban economists identify as the stages of collapse of cities.

All the while, we just try and put band aids on the glaring issues in some futile hope that it will fix the systemic problems.

It doesn't matter who wins the election this year. Without some fundamental restructuring of the status quo (which no party really seems to have an answer for), things will just get worse.

I wrote something below without seeing both of your comments.
Absolutely.
Sadly, Auckland is well on the way to becoming socially dysfunctional

And the person who made Auckland socially dysfunctional with massive immigration, low wages and unaffordable houses has become a Knight for doing so, makes a mockery of the system.

Why only teacher, what about so many other profession.

It is a real shame to what has happened in NZ in the name of so called national prosperity.

Because there aren't many other jobs where the pay is the same in invercargill as Auckland. A couple of teachers would be rich in invercargill, poor in Auckland.

"How long will it be before all the other teachers jack up and ask for the same perk" If they have any brains, immediately, and so they bloody should. Should be offered to NZ teachers before it is offered to any prospective immigrant.

As a result of Trumps actions more and more people will now start to vote environmentally over financially.

Whoever you vote for this year please vote for non selfish reasons. $26 a week is certainly not going to buy my vote.

11
up

Auckland is in big big trouble. I've been saying this for years.
Who read the Herald's cover story yesterday about the teaching crisis?
I've been saying for years that this housing crisis is going to flow over into an education, and healthcare crisis.
Well, it's happening.???
With a rapidly growing population, we are going to keep needing more and more schools, and more and more teachers. But there won't be anywhere enough because:
1. Teaching doesn't pay anywhere enough and
2. Housing is far too expensive in Auckland

I'm sorry to say that Auckland is totally screwed. In my opinion, only three things can solve this crisis (probably all are required):
1. House prices undergo a significant correction
2. Govt starts building mass rental housing for key government workers
3. Teachers, health care workers start getting paid a LOT more

I can't see 2 or 3 even being contemplated, so 1 is the only hope

I worked as a nurse in the UK. We were entitled to apply for "keyworker" housing and I bought a flat via the scheme. Something like that could work for Auckland. On the other hand maybe NZ gov just work to bring house prices back in line with wages. It's a novel idea that people should be able to afford a house, based on x4 their household income near their employment, I know, but plenty of cities around the world achieve this.

I think "keyworker" housing is quite a good idea. It would appeal to younger Kiwi professionals (22ish to 35ish) without kids who could get a cheap one/two bedroom flat/apartment as a first home.

Yes well we will need plenty of that here, which will need a lot of taxpayer subsidisation....
Of course, if we hadn't had an absurd immigration policy, and had sorted out our planning system in the mid 2000s, then we probably wouldn't be in this situation....

I'm sorry, but something like that will never work in Auckland.

The net result will be to increase prices, further - as with all subsidies for goods with inelastic supply.
Plus, who dictates what a key worker is?
Is it a teacher, a nurse, a policeman, a fireman?
Who is to say that the mailman, garbageman, groundsman isn't a key worker..

Another option is that 'Auckland salaries' apply for teachers, nurses, policemen etc.
After all, generally speaking the private sector pays more in Auckland than elsewhere - it's a natural market dynamic, but for public sector jobs it will require a policy decision

Ha, well, yea, that is obvious for us logical people.
But then you get those service workers for Gore and Wanganui crying over unequal pay.

Plus, in effect, it has no different effect to that of a subsidy..

Fritz -the rest of NZ are already annoyed that they have to subsidise Auckland's high property prices by paying the biggest chunk of the $1.8 b accommodation supplement to Auckland, I cannot see the support for expanding this subsidy through paying higher Auckland public service salaries.

So what is the solution then?

Crash the housing market and reset the system. This is going to be like taking off a band-aid. You have two choices; pull it off slowly and experience less pain but for a long time, or; rip it off quickly, experiencing greater pain but for a short time....

You can't ignore the problem - which is what the government and it's supporters are presently doing. At some point the band-aids gotta come off.

Stop subsidising the property ponzi -introduce genuine supply reforms so that housing supply is more elastic (in the economic sense -meaning the response to increased demand leads to more houses/quantity being built not higher prices). In the meantime while supply reforms are being introduced -remove excess demand -such as low skilled immigration, poor quality foreign education, foreign investors, speculative investors -make tax changes to remove properties structural advantage...

NB. Some of that excess demand has already been reduced by the Reserve Bank Loan to value ratios for investors and by China putting limits on capital leaving China. Probably there is also political uncertainty re who will win the election -from potential house buyers which is also restraining the market -this also happened in 2014.

These factors probably explain the odd situation of house prices in Auckland flattening even though the build rate is not high enough to adequately house Auckland's growing population.

Special housing forAuckland teachers is akin as sticking a bandaid on someone with terminal lung cancer

If they are actually needed but you can't get them to come because of too low wages/too low costs then they are indeed, a keyworker, maybe not so much the groundsman or maybe even the mailman, but all the others, yes they are, and there will be a few others as well. The government HAS to be involved for this type of housing to cut the profit making/taking aspect out of it, and when you are ready to move on from the special housing, even if you own it, it would have to go back into that same pool.
If it eventually crashes the rest of the market, too bad, it deserved to be crashed in that case.

I also worked in various places in the UK as a nurse -once for a few months just outside of the London pay weighting area. The system did not work -there were still massive supply shortages of key workers in London -like psychiatric workers. It is a short term policy option like the accommodation supplement and government mortgage deposit schemes which in the longer term are more beneficial to landlords and property owners because they push up localised property demand and get capitalised into higher city property prices.

But why can't the government provide rental housing directly, like they used to, beyond providing it just for the effectively destitute? If anything, that helps relieve pressure on the private rental housing sector, therefore helping relieve pressure for private rental increases.
Auckland's issues won't be addressed until there is substantial government intervention.

Yes the government could build houses for rent. Labour's plan to build 100,000 affordable houses though will have a similar effect.

Fritz re 'Auckland being in big trouble' did you see Fran O'Sullivan (usually probusiness/rightwing) state when asked about violent crime prevention funding for the increasing dairy robberies -that it is a problem of rising inequality/people not being able to afford to live in Auckland. Further stating that people are being 'locked out -that's what happens -people take out guns '.

http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2017/06/panel-tim-watkin-david-slack... at the 10.40 mark.

Fixing housing affordability is a meta policy -it affects so many other areas -crime, education, health, wealth inequality, childhood poverty, loss of equality of opportunity...... employment options, the cost of a living wage that either business or taxpayer subsidies have to pay.....

The Golden Quartet:
Herne Bay $2,464,750
St Marys Bay $2,228,900
Remuera $2,052,300
Stanley Pt $1,950,850
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1186...

Your point?

I think what he's trying to say is those areas are overvalued by a nominal amount of at at least 1 million dollars. They've pushed to the stratosphere both by Chinese capital flight, and through the actions / inaction of our neoliberal government.

My point is these values will double in 10 years time. So if you own properties in any of these quartet suburbs hold on to it and you'll have your retirement sorted in 10 years.

Are you Nostradamus?
If you think you know where prices will be in 10 years you are deluded
Sure, all things being equal they will be higher, but double?

Since when have those houses in the "golden property quartet" been the Auckland property market. While you keep focusing on a few suburbs what is happening in other parts of the Auckland property market - South Auckland, out West and the North Shore. It isn't called a property ladder for no reason If people are unable to get on the lower rungs of the property ladder or are unable to move to the next rung eventually this will flow through to the wealthier neighbourhoods as well, as people who aspire to those neighbourhoods are unable to sell their home or afford the next rung.

The opening paragraph of your linked article says,

"Auckland's golden quartet of $2m suburbs has lost some of its shine after the majority dipped in value and one of its members fell below the exclusive threshold."

so even these neighbourhoods are not immune to the downward price sentiment. Then what happens - you drop a neighbourhood or two because they have become less expensive or exclusive. Then down to one neighbourhood, then to the the part of the neighbourhood that is on the "right side" of the motorway (river, road etc) , then to a particular road and finally a particular house.

Argumentum ad absurdum

The Auckland housing market is the entire Auckland housing market - not the bits that suit and support your argument . Others use the argument that Auckland is a desirable place to live (and then use a survey to support their argument). While New Zealand may have desirable attributes when attracting skilled talent to Auckland house prices aren't one of them . People may want to to move to New Zealand (more specifically Auckland) but when they look at the cost of living versus wages the desire may wane.

Not much of a point at all.
All investments @ 7% yoy will double in 10 years.
You can get a better adjusted return by other methods.

.... a year after British Columbia implemented a 15% property tax targeting foreign buyers, in May the biggest real estate bubble of all time did the impossible and in a testament to the persistence of Chinese oligarchs, criminals, money launderers and pretty much anyone who is desperate to park their cash as far away as possible, after a modest drop following last summer's tax the Vancouver housing bubble has bounced right back to new all time highs, as prices of detached, attached houses and apartment all surged to new record highs.....

If you're a doctor or lawyer or engineer or educated professional and you don't already own realestate in Auckland, then just leave! Get out and go somewhere else. You cant compete with the aforementioned capital flight. The government has consented to having your income harvested in the form of rent to foreign nationals. If you stay then because of your high income you're going to pay way more than your fair share of tax for accommodation supplements and superanuation payments, all services which you'll never benefit from. Social contract broken!

When Auckland's prices become so expensive that key workers can no longer afford to live there then some sort of natural correction should take place. Also if other investments give significantly better returns. There shouldn't be a need to try and artificially correct things through punitive taxes etc.

Mass immigration has introduced a new element into the mix. We have people arriving who have no memory of the way it was and from locations that are worse than Auckland in many respects. They will displace many of the original inhabitants and develop a new culture of renting and working for lower pay or else going to extraordinary lengths to purchase a home. Apartment living will become more popular. They will enjoy much more freedom and individualism than that provided by their countries of origin. Some may even become rich too.
One of the biggest lies ever told was that mass immigration wouldn't change things much.

There's just no excuse as to we're the only OECD country without a foreign buyer tax. Vancouver put one in place and their housing market appears to still on fire and out of control. There has been no meaningful Auckland house price correction and it looks possible that there wont be while international capital continues to pour in, I mean 88A Kohimarama just sold for 3.1 mill. Nobody wants a recession but one good thing that comes from one is a cleansing of malinvestment, and renewal of opportunities for people with dry powder. I think the next recession will look like "hyperstagflation" continued hyperinflation of asset prices and stagnation or decline of wages while people lose their jobs. It'll be the ultimate form of misery for non asset owners.

The atomised society you speak of sounds like the antithesis of everything egalitarian and fair, the opposite of what I perceive it is to be a New Zealander. Anyway I see John Key got a knighthood. I have to go throw up.

88a Kohimarama Rd would have gone for well over $4m if it was plonked somewhere in Remuera northern slopes in DGZ. It is a fantastic family home. https://www.barfoot.co.nz/595673

when you say "family home" you mean "investment vehicle" for wealthy foreigners.

double gz with no teachers, no nurses, no police. South Bronx circa 1970.

They can be imported from overseas. Plenty of immigrants would fight for the jobs at a low wage.

Gingerninja - there's no way in this world that house prices in Auckland will come back to a 4/5 ratio to incomes.
No way.
Without a massive housing crash...
The horse has well and truly bolted and there are no policy solutions now available to resolve this. Because of a lack of action 10-15 years ago by the various Councils in Auckland, we are now faced with sky high land prices.
The Unitary Plan, whilst good, was sadly 10 years too late.

Very true.
Without a crash, prices will never align.
We are rapidly turning into a one trick pony, low wage economy.

However, I still firmly believe there will be a crash.
Either it will be due to financial/capital issues or labor mobility.
It won't be a pretty place when it happens.

What I am particularly interested is, at what point do Auckland's issues start to become a real deterrent to people wanting to live here???
It doesn't seem to have really occurred to date, although I think quite a few kiwis in Auckland have moved out in recent times or are thinking of it.
But surely, for immigrants, Auckland is increasingly a lot less appealing with its sky high cost of living, and growing transport and social issues?
However, I guess for high net wealth immigrants it's not really an issue, and for lower skilled / lower paid immigrants from third world countries they see lift in hope and possibility.
But why would you migrate to Auckland if you were a UK or Canadian teacher?

So, at what point will we start to see a push back? If you view cities and migration like an economy then surely the 'demand for Auckland' might start to pull back???

Definitely there has been a huge amount of mobility for native New Zealanders.

The problem is that cities do very well in attracting poor people, as essentially they supply wealth. Naturally the inverse is also true - when long term net wealth is negative, there is no incentive to stay there. Hence the labor mobility - and why you are correct in suspecting that western workers don't see the place as desirable.

So, the issues are two-fold in that we have terrible supply constraints in New Zealand and a huge influx of essentially dirt poor, immigrants.
I have absolutely no issue with immigration. What I do object to is exploitation of immigrants and (unskilled) immigration by persons who in the long run won't be of net benefit to the country.

If the govt is clamping down on low skilled immigrants then that should help things?
To generalize, but I think those are often the people desperate to get to a western city like Auckland.
So lower skilled immigration falls back, we still have high net worth immigration but fairly minor. The key is the middle - to what extent will middle income professionals want to keep coming to Auckland?

Rubbish - they aren't clamping down on anything.
That's just a ploy.

Why would middle class come here - their wealth isn't going to be increased..

Good question.
If terrorism got so bad throughout the U.K. Then maybe more English would consider to migrate to nz, regardless of our expensiveness?...

Coincidentally, if we keep on importing people to an ultimately unviable lifestyle we'll eventually also end up with our own disaffected folk ripe for extremist brainwashing too.

What a future National is creating!

Some people will become disaffected even in a viable environment.
With a mixing up of cultures and lifestyles it will just get crazier and crazier. The only thing that makes sense now is to look after your nearest and dearest. No one else will appreciate your sacrifice. In fact you will be scorned if you willingly give up your privilege.

Auckland issues started to become a deterrent 6 years ago when I first drew them to attention based on a number of friends who had already got out and headed north

Yup. I agree. Although. i'm not ruling out an almighty crash. I think some kind of down or low cycle in NZ house prices is very likely in the near future. Not sure whether that will be almighty crash or just a small dip and stagnation, but anything is possible with this number of storm clouds looming. Not sure any of that means Auckland will ever be affordable, and think it's just as likely that Auckland will just become more and more of a disaster.

Watercare - woe betide any government that seeks a profit margin out of the supply of reticulated water to citizen consumers - but fails to apply a price to commercial bottlers. The efficiency argument, Alex, is the neoliberal prescription in thinking and will of course be criticised as such. I'd be really surprised if the Nats go there - but then I guess they do need something to distinguish them from Labour these days.

The biggest news this weekend is The Nation's interview of Auckland's Mayor, Phil Goff -where he revealed that this week National will announce congestion road pricing is coming. Phil also stated that Auckland's estimated infrastructure deficit has grown from $4 billion to $7 billion because the earlier estimate was based on immigration/population growth of 15,000 people and now it is 45,000 people per annum. Phil also stated that Auckland had reached its debt to revenue limits because of its spending commitments on transport -CRL for example. Phil argued that Auckland needs some sort of revenue sharing from central government.

This is a great line of argument by Phil Goff -the National government keeps arguing that immigration is a sign of success..... so if it is such a successful strategy for the country/economy then National should be prepared to share some of the resulting revenue to fund the infrastructure to support continued immigration. Not to do this -exposes National's immigration policy as being a pure property ponzi policy.

The interview is here -http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2017/06/interview-auckland-mayor-phi.... The post interview panel discussion was supportive of what Phil Goff is trying to achieve.

One of the panel -Tim Watkin -a producer from RNZ. Insightfully said the interview was Phil Goff sending a message to English/Joyce. That it was about Auckland trying to find a way out of the regulatory maze that National had put it in. To resolve issues like unaffordable housing and congested roads.
https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/wellington-this-is-auckland-calling-let...

Nationals high immigration policies have caused most of Auckland's problems so the National Government should pay for the extra infrastructure, not the ratepayers.

And the person who made Auckland socially dysfunctional with massive immigration, low wages and unaffordable houses has become a Knight for doing so, makes a mockery of the system

So now National is going to use more tax to penalises those who can only afford to live further out, to avoid the need to increase rates in the wealthy inner suburbs.

Remmers FTW! "Enjoy your new taxes, suburban peasants!"

Auckland's most expensive apartments on $16m of land.
'...the sale price for each apartment was sure to be higher than a recent $8m+ Remuera apartment sale which was one of the highest sales.'
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=1186...

Good to see you back to your old self Double-GZ. Stick to reporting rather than social justice warrioring.

What's your point? Most people here and most of the population don't give a hoot what is happening in the property market in a few elite Auckland suburbs.
you are one strange / twisted individual

Maybe zac is right.Welcome to alesym

House prices going up and down does not change the number of houses available. A $ 650000 house that has gone up or down 5% recently is still way out of the reach of a huge proportion of the population.
the government only owns 5 % of the land for housing , but all their proposals involve selling much of it to private developers, and relying on more density on whats left to fudge the numbers. Imagine if they built high density affordable houses on all the govt land . would keep everyone happy as it wouldnt affect the price of the higher value houses everyone is speculating on .

That is such an obvious point I had never given it any thought. Even if they passed a law nationalising all land and forced house to be sold for say $1,000 there would still simply not be enough houses. The government and the opposition are talking about changes that will magically build houses but nobody says they will exist this year - the most optimistic predictions by the most fanatic government minister does not expect serious house building to occur for another 3 to 5 years. So either the government has to stop people coming to Auckland or they have to persuade them to move out. The current solution of having low paid student immigrants willing to live 5 to a small apartment and earn 3rd world wages fails when they desperately save up and bring a wife from abroad and start families.

I suspect that a lot of people saying that it's time for a change were saying that 6 and 3 years ago but not 9 years ago. Hmmmm

The problem for Labour is that it agrees in principle with National on the key economic issues. It's just tweaks. Their budget rules have conceded the issue.

It also looks like Labour couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery and the Greens will hurt Labour over and over again. Labour lost its way from being a workers party and fell into the Chardonnay Socialist crowd - or more specifically they took over the party. The Greens are smug liberals that despise anyone that disagrees with them. This is not a winning combo.

Labour agrees with National? How about it is National agrees with Labour as it is them pinching just about every idea Labour has come up with, bar the most important ones, like controlling foreign buying in our real estate.
"The Greens are smug liberals that despise anyone that disagrees with them." I think the most of the hatred and name calling goes the other way, to be frank.
Your bias is showing much in your comment.
And mine is in mine. Difference being, I can see it.