Interest.co.nz sat down with National's housing spokesperson, Judith Collins, to get a sense of how National would address the country's housing shortage.
National’s housing spokesperson Judith Collins is more supportive of the policy changes Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford is making than one might be led to believe.
Collins backs Twyford’s draft legislation that will enable government-approved large-scale urban development projects to go through a streamlined consenting process.
She’s enthusiastic about draft legislation that will enable private developers or local councils to levy landowners (with government permission) to cover the costs of infrastructure in their areas.
And, like the Coalition Government, she wants to see rent-to-buy and shared equity schemes introduced.
However Collins assured: “It’s not my job to defend Phil Twyford - definitely not.”
Repeal of the RMA
At the top of Collins’ agenda, should National be elected into government in 2020, is repealing the Resource Management Act (RMA).
A working group will report back to Environment Minister David Parker on how to overhaul the law by mid-2020. New legislation is unlikely to be drafted before the election.
Collins is open to replacing the RMA with two separate pieces of legislation - one that deals with the environment and the other urban development.
If in government, she would pass a piece of transitional legislation, which she’s drafting (but won’t release publicly), while drawing up the two new laws.
ACT recently came out in support of National’s idea to replace the RMA with two pieces of legislation, but Collins didn’t know whether it would support her draft Bill.
A lack of political consensus has in the past prevented RMA reform.
Foreign buyer ban, government underwrite and five-year bright-line test not going anywhere
Collins said the Coalition Government’s decision to extend the bright-line test from two to five years was “ridiculous”. However she wouldn’t commit National to winding it back to two years.
While critical of the foreign property buyer ban, she said the party was yet to make official announcements on whether it would repeal it.
As for KiwiBuild, this has given Collins a platform from which to hammer Twyford.
National has committed to scrapping the policy, however Collins wouldn’t rule out a National-led government underwriting private development - a mechanism central to KiwiBuild.
“It would have to be a very compelling reason for the National Party to be underwriting developers building houses for the private sector when the private sector may not want the houses in the first place. And that’s the problem with KiwiBuild,” Collins said.
“I don’t see that there’s a need [for a government underwrite]. Around 40,000 houses are built every year by the private sector without the government poking its nose in.
“The best thing that we could do to encourage that development, and more of it, would be to reform the RMA and the planning rules that go with it.”
Social housing differences
A key point of difference between National and the Coalition Government is their treatment of social housing.
National wants community housing providers to play a greater role managing social houses.
It’s consulting on whether government should underwrite the building of social houses, to encourage community housing providers to build more
It also wants to apply a “remind, remedy, and remove” approach to social housing, where if after a warning and assistance to fix an issue, a poorly behaved tenant refuses to change, they are evicted.