Shearer: No leadership challenge; Weekend party conference a chance to tout policies; Labour eyes shift on KiwiSaver first home deposit restrictions

Shearer: No leadership challenge; Weekend party conference a chance to tout policies; Labour eyes shift on KiwiSaver first home deposit restrictions

By Alex Tarrant

Labour Party leader David Shearer says talk of any leadership challenge is merely rumour, and that this weekend's party conference will be a chance for the party to showcase its policy platform, which could be boosted by the announcement of new housing policy.

While Shearer on Monday would not be drawn on any possible policy announcement at the conference, there is talk that Labour is looking to loosen restrictions around KiwiSavers buying a first home.

Whether that will be the big policy announcement touted for the conference is yet to be seen. However, housing was "obviously an issue that affects many, many New Zealanders," Shearer told media in Parliament buildings.

Currently, KiwiSavers who have been in the scheme for more than three years can get a subsidy of NZ$1,000 for each year they have been a member, up to NZ$5,000, to contribute to a deposit on a first home.

To be eligible, buyers must have a combined gross annual income earned in the last 12 months of NZ$100,000 or less (before tax) for one or two buyers, or have a combined gross annual income earned in the last 12 months of NZ$140,000 or less (before tax) for three or more buyers.

Houses are also subject to maximum price caps, which are: NZ$400,000 for Auckland, Wellington City, Selwyn District and Queenstown Lakes District, and NZ$300,000 for all other areas.

KiwiSavers also cannot currently withdraw the NZ$1,000 government kickstart or any government 'member tax credit' contributions when withdrawing their savings for a first home purchase.

Leadership speculation

Meanwhile, Shearer said the party conference was a chance for New Zealanders to hear about Labour Party policy stances, rather than just the usual reactive responses to government announcements.

But media coverage is still likely to focus on Shearer's hold on the top job, and potential leadership challenger David Cunliffe, particularly if Shearer fails to fire in a major speech at the conference on Sunday.

"It's an opportunity for us to put our agenda across. Whereas normally in opposition you're reacting to the government," Shearer said.

"It's also about being able to express ourselves and our policies and get them out there for people to hear," he said.

Shearer was not expecting any challenge to his leadership.

"It's not about a challenge. There is no challenge, so there's no issue," he said.

"They're rumour and talk."

The conference was a chance for Labour to express its stances on jobs, education and a new way of approaching the economy.

"I see it as a real opportunity. We don't get very many opportunities in opposition. This gives us a real chance to get our message across to New Zealand."

Shearer did not accept the party had been sluggish in the opinion polls.

"We've halved the gap between National and Labour in about eleven months. We are closer together than we have been in the last five years. So that's a pretty good record. I'm very happy where we're going and where the trends are going," he said.

The speculation about the leadership was due to "bloggers talking to each other."

"And I'm surprised that others have been asking these questions," Shearer said.

"I am doing a good job as leader because Labour has come up in the opinion polls, and National have come down. The gap between us is only about ten or eleven points now. That is closer than we have been in the last four or five years," he said.

Policy announcement

Shearer would not be drawn on what the touted policy announcement at the conference would be.

However, "we will be talking obviously about jobs, housing is obviously an issue that affects many, many New Zealanders," Shearer said.

"It's on the minds of lots of New Zealanders as well. The affordability of housing and being able to get into that first home," he said.

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?

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He seems a nice enough chap, and unlike Key he has actually helped people in his lifetime,  but I reckon he'll get rolled for Cunliffe in January.

he is a nice chap and he has helped a lot of people but it seems he wants to help a lot of new zealanders  using my tax dollars.
more hand outs for everyone at the workers expense.
labour only has 1 policy and that is HAND OUTS  not HANDS UP

Agreed, not sure why any working man or woman would vote for Labour or the Greens. 

LOL, yeah right, and National has working ppl at its heart? absolute rubbish IMHO...
Greens' well lets see grown to 10%+ maybe its concern for the environment....

Just as I predicted.... as house prices go up, instead of addressing the issue, they try to perpetuate it by giving people more cash to keep the ponzi-fires burning!
Agree with NG above... tax dollars will be poured into the scheme at an ever-increasing rate, and the only people who'll win are the large-scale investors and the banks.

Agree. But let's hold back on final judgement till the conference is held. Maybe they will come out with some decent supply-side responses.
Personally, I 'd like to see the State building more houses again. That doesn't just need to mean social housing, there's all sorts of partnership models possible.
And coupled with that, free up planning regs both in the city and on the fringes to help the private sectoy deliver its share.   

The government is doing a lot of talking about building more affordable homes, terraces, flats, apartments etc in Auckland.  There are already these types of properties in areas like Flat Bush, Botany and Dannemora.  I wonder whether these are selling?  Is anyone in the industry know whether people are actually buying these cheaper alternatives?
If not it would beg the question whether it is worth building a whole lot more. 

There once was a Leader named Shearer
Who waited for news from some Bearer
Of a Change in the Tide
But then, oh what a Ride
He got rolled by a Better Preparer

"Shearer was not expecting any challenge to his leadership " !
"It's not about a challenge. There is no challenge, so there's no issue," he said."
( whats that metal on metal sharpening sound then ? )
At least he will be able to score a job with Tui ads after Cunliffe or Robertson take over

Shearer (and Labour) should concentrate less on internal politics and concentrate heavily on building up a strong regional grass roots organisation (involving it more and listening to the man in the streat).  As Danien O'connor commented Labour have become far too head office Wellington focussed, polishing personal personal political objectives and carreers.  Despite very strong head winds it was Obama's strong grass roots political organisation that won him the election. 
Areas where Shearer needs to strengthen.  Obama had a strong vision for the USA that aligned well with many peoples values.  He clearly communicated this and avoided getting side tracked on side issues.

Why are some peasants thinking, replacing Shearer with another would make a wouldn't.
Labour failed. Nine years and they failed. Many of the failures remain in the Zoo.

A challenege to Shearer should be on the radar.  People vote for leaders as well as parties, and with Shearer that makes two consistent poor leaders of the labour party.  Get someone capable in, and you got a shot at getting some votes (including mine).

I mentioned this against another article but it's probably worth noting again.  Politics these days is a race to the centre and National is already there; this leaves Labour with very little options.  1.  agree with National on everything.  2. go further left, isolate more voters, and be in line with the Greens .  3.  re-invent itself as a centre right party.
Agree the David Shearer is not the man to lead them, ask most Kiwis to name the Labour leader and they can't. 

good link thanks Scarfie. That economics teacher hits the nail on the head. Lucky students who have that guy teaching them

I wonder whether the socialists party get together will look at formulating policies aimed at boosting non govt employment, while also sorting out the ways and means of shrinking the govt splurge...with an aim to reduce raise real disposable incomes..boost savings and investment...and....oh well it was just a thought...stop laughing you lot.

Last time Labour suggested any policy like this you were amoung the first and loudest decenters. I am talking specifically about all the Labour talk about reducing the foreign exchange rate, a policy which meets all your criteria above. Unsurprisingly since you have nothing constructive to suggest, you support the party of do nothing constructive currently in office.

Gee wizz Nic you got something right for a change...yes I posted comments rubbishing the urge to manipulate the exchange rate...everything else you claim is rot.
Quite how non govt employment increases due to a lower exchange rate, as you are suggesting, is a mystery. Yes there will be some exporters able to hang on to workers but there will also be many non exporters needing to lay staff off due to the higher cost of imports leading to reduced demand for 'stuff'.

If your going to rubbish constructive suggestions, don't complain that nobody has any to suggest.
In fact why don't you make a constructive suggestion yourself!

Read your own post Nic...rubbishing is your way...
"Constructive"...sure thing Nic...we need less govt in our lives...that would lead to reduced taxation...leads to increased disposable income...generates employment thru spending and investing...
Unfortunately our govts are intent on increasing the size and cost of govt...paying for it thru increased tax and greater borrowing.

So Wolly, how are you going to prove to me that the cause of the recession is too much government? Because I don't see it that way, I think you only attribute it to that because you have a preference for paying less tax, a preference which I don't share with you by any means.
Since the global financial crisis, and the ensuing recession didn't start with that, and the NZ economy is not in recession because of anything the government is doing (as far as I can observe) good luck justifying your argument.

Go for it Shearer use that peace core experience to help Kiwis, "it is an easy fix" NZ must reduce debt, particularly in property we don't want to end up like The P.I.G.S evictions on mass.

Any politician (or any policymaker), who wishes to address the housing affordability issue and DOESN'T have "prevent foreign investment in residential property and prevent non-citizens from owning residential property that's not new-build while they're resident in NZ" at the top of their list, isn't serious about addressing the issue at all.

true...if it's kiwisaver subsidies they offer per Alex's article it will exascberate the problem, putting more petrol on the fire of housing prices

you got it Factboy....."NO DESIRE to fix"....we need some new polticians

Labour Party conference aims are to identify which policies will harvest the most that end the focus will be on how much 'pork' to slice and hand out to whom....
The internal spat over who should lead....will eat away at any possible chance Labour could come up with policies aimed at boosting self reliance, personal responsibility and shrinking the size and cost of govt.

One should bloody well hope that Labour is trying to create policies which will harvest the most votes.
One would be bloody appauled if they were planning how to seize power by a coup or some other means, and then to foister what you call 'self reliance, personal responsibility and shrinking the cost of govt' and what everybody else calls cutting costs for the people who can most afford it, onto people who voted for them.

Wake up NZ there are numerous foreign owners of rental properties in NZ pocketing public money via housing top ups and working for families, not to mention benefits. Criminal! Get them out of the equation and watch house prices begin to reflect what they are actually worth - IN NEW ZEALAND gaulling this raegun. 1 in 5 households in NZ have accomodation subsidy paid. As you say any foreign owned rentals, the overseas landlord, gets this money. Crazy, crazy stuff.

cant quantify how many that is of course.

steven...I can quantify number of househoilds receiving subsidy...figures reported on this site with numbers receiving accom subsidy, divided by number of NZ households (1.6m) - shows 1 in 5 households on it. Don't know how much flowing overseas to landlords. Certaintly a lot of the subsidy also ends out with the banks, most of which flows to Aussie, as major banks Aussie owned

who cares, seeing as you wouldn't be able to prove there is none. You know there is a large number of rental properties owned by foreigners as well as I do, and I want it stopped

Here we go. The details are slowly creeping out:
"Details of the policy, seen as appealing to core Labour voters, are closely guarded to ensure maximum impact by Mr Shearer in his keynote speech in Auckland on Sunday.
But sources suggest it will see a big push on affordable housing as well as more cash to upgrade state housing stock.
Labour's housing spokeswoman Annette King last month called for the revival of the Hobsonville development in Auckland, which would have seen 500 state houses and 500 affordable houses built alongside upmarket properties in Prime Minister John Key's Helensville electorate.
It is understood Labour is also looking at ways to make it easier for home buyers to access KiwiSaver savings."

Yet more reasons not to vote denial....rather than fixing the problem throw more of other ppls money at it...
What a waste.
Bugger at this rate I may have to vote National just to keep a bigger set of losers out.
oh yey...

agree...halfwitted solution if this is it...will seriously damage country further

Houses doubled in value last time Labour was in.  They opened the immigration flood gates and we had 50,000 pa positive immigration some years.
And now they say housing affordabiltiy is a problem that the government needs to tackle!  Sorry but I just don't believe them.

Yep....but they have no where else to go when wedded to their ideology that is in turn built on the foundations of  infinite growth....plonked on ever incraesing supply of fossil fuel.
OMG with his comments earlier summed up their group dilusion very well...

Don't count on the MPs to do anything to lower rents or prices of housing. A recent survey show that most of the MPs own multiple properties. Vested interest.