The Labour Party sides with Auckland Council in housing dispute with Housing Minister Nick Smith, calls for donations to fund more billboards

The Labour Party sides with Auckland Council in housing dispute with Housing Minister Nick Smith, calls for donations to fund more billboards

Driving to work this week I've been passing a large billboard questioning whether I elected Housing Minister Nick Smith to run Auckland.

Curious as to who was behind this campaign a quick Google search revealed it's the Labour Party, which unsurprisingly is siding with Auckland Council in its battle with the Government over Auckland housing.

Phil Twyford, Labour's Te Atatu MP and spokesperson on both transport and Auckland issues, is urging Aucklanders to "send a message to Nick Smith." Labour's website is also asking for donations to its anti-Smith billboard campaign.

"Aucklanders have been appalled at the way the Government has been undermining and blocking Auckland on key issues affecting the city's future. In response Labour MPs have coordinated a billboard campaign that confronts Aucklanders with an image of Cabinet Minister Nick Smith and asks: Did you elect this man to run our city?"

"Housing Minister Nick Smith, who is the MP for Nelson, is the latest Minister to try to run Auckland from his office in Wellington with his threats to take away Auckland Council’s planning powers, and open the city up to uncontrolled sprawl."

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, another South Island MP, insists on setting Auckland’s transport priorities by refusing to support the popular City Rail Link, and blocking Auckland from raising its own revenue to fund our transport projects.

The Government has misjudged the mood of Aucklanders. Under the super city, Auckland is moving ahead. Unfortunately this Government is a dead weight, saying no at every turn and acting as a brake on the city’s progress.

Why did the Government go to the trouble of setting up the super city so Auckland could speak with one voice, if it didn't want to listen to what Auckland says?

On the two most important issues for Auckland - housing affordability and transport - the Government is imposing its own agenda on Auckland just because it is ideologically opposed to the Auckland Plan, even though the Plan was developed by the elected mayor and council, and subject to a massive public consultation process.

Aucklanders don't want LA-style sprawl and they do want a modern public transport system. But the Government doesn't want to listen. It is arrogant and out of touch.

If Nick Smith wants to have a say in our urban plan he should give up his Ministerial job, move to Auckland and run for the mayoralty.

After a meeting between Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown last month it was announced a working party would be formed to address differences of opinion between the Government and Auckland Council over Auckland housing issues. A key area of difference between the two has been the Council, through its Unitary Plan looking to contain 60% of Auckland's development within existing city boundaries over the next 30 years, and Smith suggesting 'smashing" the metropolitan urban boundary to allow more houses to be built in greenfields areas to tackle housing affordability issues.

In a speech yesterday Finance Minster Bill English noted recent international experience shows periods of fast-rising house prices can create financial instability for households and the financial system when prices eventually drop.

"We will act where we can to reduce these risks following recommendations of the Productivity Commission last year," English said.

"Decisions to stop or restrict housing development where populations are growing have an effect on the whole economy, not just the local neighbourhood."

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data out yesterday showed the median Auckland house price up NZ$27,000 in March to a new record high of NZ$562,000. The median Auckland price is now 13.5% higher than it was a year ago.

The Productivity Commission last year called for the immediate release of new land for residential development in Auckland and Christchurch to help alleviate housing affordability problems, a recommendation the Auckland Council attacked as narrow minded.

See an interview with Auckland's Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse on the Unitary Plan here and see more from Smith here.

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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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.

37 Comments

Me an Gummy Bear will make donations...won't we Gummy!

... cue TUI bill-board : " Yeah , right ! " ....
 
I'm no wally , Wolly ........ well ...... not that much of a wally , anyway ...

Labour Party would need to be very careful about involving themselves in this particular way.
 Firstly Smith is only doing the bidding of his Admin, he is required to do that to the best of his ability...with extreme predjudice.
In theory Brown is supposed to be doing the bidding of Aucklanders not Labour, and as yet his recommendations have yet to be tested for public support.
 Given the magnitude of  the difference in viewpoint, more public consultation should be undertaken.
 Now this is where Labour should but out, even though the politic of Brown is not A political, it should be viewed to be, Smith representing the sitting Administration has a requirement to be involved for reasons of ongoing infrastructure and so forth.
I would wager if this tack is persued by Labour it will backfire and blow up in their face, particularly if they make it personal.
Brown should not be seen to represent Labour party interests whatever his political leanings, but use the muscle he has been given to nut out a result on merit alone.

Who says that Aucklanders don't like urban sprawl , Count ? ....... was there a poll on that question ? ...
 
....... I love urban sprawl .... I reckon it's totally brilliant ....
 
If you don't like it , leave Auckland ...... QED , crowding problem solves itself ...... this urban planning stuff is freakingingly easy , and consultants get paid for this ! ... Amazing !!!

That was one of my points there GBH...not enough public consultation, but Brown says we're too spread out for that to be practical.
 Hey missed you on Yesterdays 90 at 9 ...a cracking day was had by all...oh except Kimy couldn't find his manhole or something.
 

You should know better than that GBH. Back in the day when you were a copy-boy the editorial philosphy of most editors-in-chief was that the newspaper should reflect the views of the community in which it existed .. and so it was .. until the community lost its way .. but anyway the fact was most editorial boards tried to do just that ..
 
but politics is different .. politicians are different .. they dont try to reflect the views of the community .. they compose a list .. a plan .. they call it a manifesto .. a grab-bag of goodies that will give them power .. and so
 
There are two lists .. two manifesto's .. a red one .. a blue one .. maybe a green one
Take your pick .. you pick one of them .. and that's what gets to rule the day
Got nothing to do with what the community wants or needs or desires
Back to your question .. poll? what poll? did anyone ask you

ummm iconoclast...er he was just taking the piss there......bit of a laugh.....and I pretty much think he ...knows how pollies work  ...certainly got a good grasp of Aussie political landscape.
No mention today,  of the white paper finding no responsibility for 29 men dead at Pike River, ..........must be death by misadventure then..? 
Now there is a symptom of where we've got to as a society.......where we just suck it up and move along...one of these days somebody's gonna start choking on it, cough it up, and cause an epidemic.

...... as a disclaimer , Count ..... I live 680 km from the nearest major city ........ so , urban sprawl ain't gonna bother me , even if I live as long as Methuselah !

You live in Mt Isa then ya bugger....?

I had to check how far Macquarie Islands were from Adelaide and Hobart

Do you mean the green one with a hammer and sickle hanging from it?

Well Roger W. I really don't recall Russell Norman greeting the Chinese with tongue distended in the crouching tiger position....in fact he wan't his f@#*king flag back.
 Now if your talking about good ol John Boy and his love of Commie money, immigration, 19 gun salutes, Maori delagations telling us   ..."it's just the way of the word" because his Mokopuna is half Chinese then you can rightly expect one day to awaken to the news there is a Chinese Destroyer in the Waitemata and ...You...are now under the protection of the PRC.
<I: >)

Quick Kimy....get up n run outside...there's a flying pig headed your way....!

Ah yes, well, maybe I was a bit harsh there. It just seems there is a general theme - no one should be allowed to do anything the Greens don't like. So no dairying, no fishing, and certainly no mining. They are just so sure they are right about everything. Not to mention what looks suspiciously like foot stamping when they don't get their way.
 
I think there are some genuine issues the Greens highlight but there is also a communist undertone somehow disguised in a nice looking wrapper. Basically the message is no one can do anythink without the approval of the local commissar of the environment. It is scary.

I'm sure you will find Roger, extreme ideology has given way to pragmatism.....for the benifit of their own survival.
I can completely understand how many arrive at the conclusion of  Nanny politics where the greens are concerned... however they serve the purpose for now, I need a tail for a dog, not a big one, but  an effective one.......then I need the dog to bring down the Horse before I  think about the next phase..
But Commie pinko...nnnnnah I don't think so Roger...certainly altruism goes mad with a big stick, and hey that goes with being Green...but commie...? I just don't see the resemblance given Russia's and China's performance on ecologial matters`, shit sewers the pair of em. 

Yea well, communist was maybe not the right word. Just the idea that we would all be better off if only the experts in the state bureaucracy decided everything seemed dodgy. It leads to extreme centralisation of decision making. You are then only one step away from a totalitarian state. It all sounds so reasonable until it is too late.

I think Labour will get a lot of votes from this.  It should be the council setting zoning for Auckland, not the government, and especially not a south island MP.  If Aucklanders don't like the zoning that is set by the council they voted for, they can vote out Brown and the next guy can change it - its not like 1000's or appartments are going to go up over night.  Otherwise we end up with a handful of NIMPYs setting the rules instead of the majority.

I don't disagree JimboJ...with you on Council setting zoning...I do disagree on the vote catcher, Labour's track record in these types of campaigns has not been good...they tend to start playing the man not the subject matter.
  To make it a party issue, I guess one would have to assume...all Labour candidates are against sprawl...while all Nats are for sprawl...not likely is it....so it's a veiled attempt to discredit National's involvement in the process......
 As long as labour stick to the subject matter of promoting the Councils right to zone setting, I don't see that alienating swing voters.
 You have to keep in mind Smith had a rough ride for doing less than Banks would even bother to recall.....he had a lot of sympathy  out there in a certain demographic....Key stood him down while Parata continued to blunder her way from one disaster to the next , including the load being passed to the heavy boy.
 All I'm saying Jimbo, is repeatedly I see Labour not think things through ,if they are looking for an easy mark ...........Smith is the wrong choice...not because he is vulnerable, but because when he shows he can be , it gains a sympathetic backlash.  
Shearer needs to find the kind of dirt that will stick to Teflon John....cause buddy it just seems to slide off the little eel.

I know your too old to ever change your mind about something you've already decided, however for the record sprawl does not provide affordable housing.
 
Refer to the DBH report which has some very simple bullet points like:
 
 

"Higher density dwelling types cost less

In 2012, 80% of new apartments, town houses, flats and studios cost less 

than $250,000 to build, compared to 19% of new stand-alone houses."

 

 

 

or

 

 

 

"Fewer apartments = fewer medium-cost dwellings

Higher density types deliver half of medium-cost new dwellings. Their 

declining numbers partly explain the decline in medium-cost dwellings."

I agree with Hugh.
 
It is a total misconception that dense housing will have any impact on lowering house prices.  In fact it is the opposite.  
 
That is because desirable homes are gobbled up by less desirable townhouse complexes.  Hence the supply of desirable homes actually diminishes. Therefore prices of the remaining homes on larger plots increase.
 
The only high density that works is true inner city apartments in the commercial hub and exclusive standalone buildings in leafy inner fringes, as shown by resale prices anything else simply doesn't make the grade.
 
In terms of medium density, only freestanding or very well designed units on decent plot sizes with good outdoor space retain their desirability.  Anything else is destined to become a rental hovel.
 
The problem is not to just create affordable housing, but to create desirable affordable housing.
 
Greenfields developments must be part of the solution.  But so is redeveloping less desirable urban areas with outdated housing that no one wants - that doesn't mean building apartments in streets of million dollar heritage villas which are only on 400m2 sites, it means find a way to encourage redevelopment of the areas of rundown 90m2 40s,50s and 60s bungalows on 800m2 sites - and make it affordable by cutting council DCs!
 
Making it economical to build simple quality pared back homes, rather than convuluted, sloppy oversized behemoths is also part of the solution.
 
Have we learned nothing from the last 150 years of NZ architecture?
 
The most desirable today is the most simple, the most flexible and the most adaptable - the villa.  Yet most new construction is unwieldy, dull and gloomy brick and tiles with long pointless hallways, oversize garages and depressive living rooms with low ceilings and windows not dissimilar in size or position to homes of 50 years ago!
 
Affordability without desirability will see prices continue to soar.

Propaganda spin, Bob.
FACT: London: high density, unaffordable housing. Median multiple 9.
Every city in the UK: high density; median multiple over 6. Serious problems with degraded housing stock and lack of rebuilding and renewal. 
Vancouver: growth containment, new development very high density on average; median multiple 9. Other Canadian cities with similar policies: median multiples over 6.
Sydney: growth containment, new development very high density on average; median multiple 9. Other Aussie cities: similar policies: median multiples over 6.
Ditto Auckland and NZ cities.
LA, San Fran: growth containment, undersupply of housing: high median multiples, high bubble volatility.
100 odd cities in the USA: no growth containment; median multiples around 3.0; average section size approx half an acre; average density about half LA, one third of Akl, one fifth of London. Congestion and commute to work times: less than London, Vancouver, Akl, Sydney, any UK city, any Aussie city, and any NZ city. Try Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, too many to list here. 
Advocates of urban growth containment are among the worst lying scum in the history of politics. Go where you belong, all of you.

If Nick Smith and the Nats can't win this given the FACTS, they ruddy well don't deserve to be in government. Not that the other crowd presents any hope. NZ-ers deserve the economic Darwin-award fate they are bringing on themselves. I won't hang round to be caught up in it. 

Phil nice to hear from you again. Keep up the good fight : )

Labour got to be careful not to go into petty politics..  classics example was QLD Labour party, they adopted personal attack as their campaign style in 2012 state election.  They had good chance of winning that election 6 months earlier.  Eventually people tired of their mud throwing and Labour lost almost 90% of their seats.

National & Labour are always " dumb & dumber " ......
 
...... it's just a question at election time which one of the two is currently dumberest ...

Why should mum n dad property investors be able to cash in a tax free capital gain when as you state, they are investing in property to provide an income in their dotterage? Its an income stream right? So only some forms of income should be taxed?

A very sorry lot indeed Hugh...in fact , With David who..? at the helm  they'd need be gratefull to have Norman not shaking his head thinking WTF.

Let's play the broken record once again:
 
Six threads to the housing affordability crisis:
1 - zone or otherwise restrict land uses and promptly establish a rural-urban multiple thereby:  instant CG for the lucky few.
2 - encourage land-banking (e.g. by failing to penalise buildable but bare land heavily via rate differentials or other taxation) - more CG for the land-bankers via land price inflation.
3 - Restrict building and development to credentialled guilds.  Creates a cosy little monopoly for them as wot possess the pices of paper.
4 - Encourage a Cosy Material cartel, which raises input costs for new houses well above market-clearing levels.  ComCom has been asleep at the switch in this respect for over a decade.
5 - Tax developments heavily (contributions, processes, 'consultations' , y'all know how this plays out).
6 - Finally, tip lotsa real cheap credit into the mix and Stand Back!
 
Watch them prices Fly!
 
Wheee!
 
Now what part of the above doesn't Labour get???
 
All of it......
 

Phil Twyford shows how little he knows of the world with his comment that LA style sprawl is not wanted. Los Angles has planning rules designed to contain sprawl. Planning did not get rid of suburbia but they did cause a very nasty housing bubble, with the consequence that a lot of lower and middle income earners left LA. http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2013/02/12/jobs-arent-leaving-california-for-texas-but-people-are/
 
Phil should have used somewhere like Houston as an example of unrestrained urban sprawl. But maybe he prefers ignorance because Houston did not have a housing bubble and lots of low and middle income earners have been happy to move there.
 
Phil will want to keep this quiet though because he wants low and middle income earners to vote for his party.

I think Labour are making a mistake here.  Nick Smith may not be the most popular politician in Auckland, but that doesn 't mean Len Brown is "our man".   Politicians, particularly local ones, live in a Truman Show world which the public pays for and tolerates because one way or another we need people to do the admin and get stuff done.   Being the boss of that doesn't make you a visionary, or instantly charismatic or popular - ratepayers and voters just want them to do the job.  
Political commentators in the media find the antics of local and national politicians tremendous fun (and sometimes they are).     But let's not mistake that for active interest or affection for (any) political figures.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"The Productivity Commission last year called for the immediate release of new land for residential development in Auckland and Christchurch to help alleviate housing affordability problems, a recommendation the Auckland Council attacked as narrow minded."
 

...and the Productivity Commission had built in bias (unlike the Australian Productivity Commission):
.............................
"Productivity Commision:
We recommend that you:
a agree to the inquiry selection process set out in Appendix 1
Agree/disagree
b agree that Commission’s second tranche of inquiries be selected on the degree that
they:
are relatively uncontroversial given the desire to establish broad political support for the Commission"
http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/informationreleases/productivitycommission/pdfs/t2011-2000.pdf
.and our own (ignored) Savings Working Group:
Savings Working Group – Final Report | 47
The relationship between migration flows and housing prices has been analysed by Coleman and Landon-Lane (2007). They found that a net immigration flow equal to 1% of the population (10 per 1000 inhabitants) is associated with an approximately 10% increase in house prices. This relationship has existed since the 1960s. Limiting immigration swings could therefore lead to a substantial reduction in future house prices and housing debt.
Migration and total private-sector debt
New Zealand’s population growth rate in recent decades has been rapid by international standards;from 1990 to 2007 it was the third fastest in the OECD.
A country with a rapidly growing population needs to devote resources to building more roads, schools, shops, houses, factories and so on than a country with a low rate of population growth. In a country with a relatively low national savings rate, rapid population growth will put sustained upward pressure on real interest rates and, in turn, the real exchange rate, making it harder to achieve the per capita income gains that people (and the government) aspire to.
http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf
..........
So it is all a bit of a one sided discussion thanks to a pact between the left-wing elitists and business.

 

 
 

 

Great youtube of Sir Paul Callaghan. Recommend it. We should be setting up inclusive political and economic systems so that New Zealand is "A country where talent wants to live". Our long term well being hinges on whether we do this successfully.

The late Sir Paul Callagham makes some interesting points http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCAyIllnXY .

1. That if New Zealand wants a good standard of living then we need to create an environment where we are creating high value companies, with productivity per employee of $100,000s per year.

2. That tourism and the wine industry will not do that as they are low productivity industries. 100% Pure and Hobbit induced tourism will not give us a good standard of living.

3. That agriculture has reasonable productivity, in particular Fonterra has high productivity per employee but agriculture is reaching environmental limits. How much more shit can our lakes and rivers take?

4. New Zealand has tried to support bioscience, green technologies and other specific knowledge wave industries by government expenditure on research etc. but without much return for the investment.

5. New Zealand has some tens of high value businesses, but they are not in areas that government has supported. They are not in bioscience/agriculture or green technology. They are what they are, not we hope they are. They are weird niches like world leaders in respiratory devices (F & P Healthcare) or emergency services communication devices (Tait Electronics). That it is in this niches that New Zealand has a chance to be world leaders.

6. That to be successful over the coming decades we need to increase the number of these firms by an order of ten.

7. So our future is dependent on a 100 talented kiwis choosing New Zealand to be the place to develop weird world leading niche companies.

8. That our education system is up there with the world's best so we have no trouble producing the talent.

9. The question being is New Zealand a place where talent wants to be? How do we keep this talent and allow then to grow high value companies?

I would add the following

10. Just keeping taxes low also doesn't seem to support these companies developing either. They need support in response to there development, specialised tertiary qualifications, sympathetic planning rules and cities with amenities that attract good quality employees, such as low cost housing, recreational possibilities, uncongested transport systems etc. It is a comprehensive thing of taxes, services, amenities and cost of living.

11. In places like the US, Finland, Germany and even Australia it is local/ State government that is more responsive to these needs. These countries invest much more governmental R & D and in return their companies invest too. In New Zealand we have a distant Wellington which historically has missed the target while we have weak and economically naïve local government who are more of a hindrance than a help.

12. New Zealand is now in a catch up situation, in some ways that is good because it means there are countries that we can copy institutionally. We just need to copy best practice. Some things will be difficult because we probably need to change our political system, we have very centralised politics. There is not a lot of pluralism in our system. We do not do intelligent debate coming from the people determining political outcomes. Our public services are more responsive to the needs of the top (the PM) than the needs of the bottom (new talent). Policy wise housing would be a good start, it is clear what needs to be done, as Hugh says the debate is well advanced here in NZ. But the fact the politicians are talking but not acting shows log jammed our political system is.

Already seen them Hugh, pay close attention to some in the foreground of Skyscraper shots...n you'll see who he's selling the vision to. The sack of S*#t.

Tis the opposite Hugh, we have arrived at the beginnings of Big City Politics...where corruption and corrupt officials know the in door is in planning....and have learned everything has a price that may have little to do with the ...Greater good.....tending more toward investment interests benifiting the few.
But crikey Hugh, I can't understand how you guys haven't hauled the fat man out and hanged him yet.....course you'll have to wait till he's back from Maggie's sendoff...now wasn't that a little bit bloody convenient...
All the Best Hugh Love your work.

Those pics only give half the picture
Try these Hugh - from the inside instead of the outside
 
Affordable Homes - Hong kong Style
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57568111/hong-kongs-poor-live-in-stacked-metal-cages/
 
 
Another one
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2084971/Hong-Kongs-cage-homes-Tens-thousands-living-6ft-2ft-rabbit-hutches.html
 
Another one
Hong Kong -- If you have ever complained that your apartment is the size of a shoebox, consider the living space of this Hong Kong resident who lives in a 625 square foot (58 sqm) flat here with 18 strangers. The place is sectioned into tiny cubicles made of wooden planks and wire mesh. Everything he has acquired over the years -- clothes, dishes, figurines, a tired TV set -- is squeezed into this tiny cube, a modernized version of what is known here as a cage home.
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/28/cage.homes/
 
 

Iconoclast - unfortunately there are plenty of countries with these types of living conditions. 
It is appalling that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has not been upheld around the world by all Politicians and bureaucrats.
 
Political propoganda and intervention creates poverty.  When Political leaders and bureaucrats pursue their agenda's they are incapable of maintaining the principles and goals of the Universal Declaration.  The world is increasingly becoming an unethical and immoral place.
Socialism in all forms should be banned as it creates income and living disparities as the market place is interferred with.  Politicians and bureaucrats who can't staunchly defend the principles and goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are nothing but parasites on all of Society. The good thing is they are easy to spot.
 
The greatest offence against humanity is done by those people that breach the principles and goals of the Declaration.  The world has been through so much crap and so many people have lost their lives fighting for a cause that would allow future generations to live as free people and those free people have had no respect or gratitude for what they were given.