Greens say housing accords and special housing areas bill gives the central Government 'wide powers to overrule local government'

Greens say housing accords and special housing areas bill gives the central Government 'wide powers to overrule local government'

The Green Party is urging more time be given for submissions on the Government's housing accords and special housing areas legislation, a bill that the Greens say "gives the Government wide powers to overrule local government".

Just two weeks have been given for submissions on the Housing Accords and Special Areas Bill after the Government rushed it into Parliament following the Budget two weeks ago. The bill was promoted as being about enabling the recently announced Auckland Housing Accord. However, the detail of the bill shows it actually gives the Government far-reaching powers.

The Auckland Council has already raised doubts about whether it will sign the accord if the legislation is not changed.

Green Party housing spokesperson Holly Walker said that National Party chairperson of the Social Services select committee, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, used his delegated authority to set the submission period at "only two weeks".

She said it was a "major Bill that gives central government the power to overrule local democracy and grant building consents without the agreement of councils".

Submissions on the bill close at midnight tonight. Walker said it was understood that very few have been received so far.

“National needs to give councils and members of the public more time to have their say on this major piece of legislation,” Walker said.

“This Bill would give the government of the day the power to ride roughshod over local democracy. Legislation to implement the housing accord that the Government has reached with Auckland Council is one thing, but this Bill will also apply to the rest of the country and allow the government to create new special housing zones without the support of local authorities.

“National knows what it is doing is wrong. That’s why it set a shortened report-back period for the Bill and allowed only two weeks for submissions without informing key stakeholders.

“Parliament needs to make informed decisions on all the laws it passes. We need to hear from councils and people who would be affected by this Bill. Many who weren’t aware of the timeframe for submissions will not get the chance to speak.

“I am calling on the select committee to extend the closing date for submissions. I’m also calling on people with an interest in this issue to make at least a preliminary submission today, which they can then add supplementary information to at a later date,” Walker 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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This just re-inforces my perception that Greens dont have a clue as to what they actually want .
Last month they were party to a fancy scheme with Labour to build 250,000 new houses over ten years at the bargain prices of $300,000 each to alleviate the backlog  .
Where did the Greens  they think they would build all these 250,000  houses without new Greenfield development and expansion to the city limits ?
How  were they going to this when we have a tardy, expensive , inefficient and unco-operative, Auckland City planning and plan approval dept? We need Auckland Council to be more proactive or someone must have teeth to  force them to be so .
One could not help but laugh at Ms Turia attacking John Key in Parliament over Nationals policy on  " INSHULASHUN" of damp homes occupeid by low income families . I was left dumbfounded by their reaction
The Greens also want  us to use public transport in Auckland , and not spend any money on road improvement , when what we really need is a proper functional road system like any other First World Metropolis.
The problem with getting people to use  public transport in Auckland is that its for " everyone-else- but-me "  . No one has done real research into whether Kiwis will get rid of the family cars and get on the bus ..... in case anyone want to know .....I wont be selling the car anytime soon.

 I recall the ever expansion of the M25 around London, no matter how many lanes they added, they got huge car park, nothing gained.
There are several reasons ppl will exit the highway, in growing numbers the biggest is going to be price of petrol. Think $2 is a lot, you aint seen anything yet....not to mention rationing.  So to keep things running we will need more public transport as ppl exit cars.  Take another example, around my train point, you cant park these sure Im sure there will be the die hards who wont change but signs are ppl are. Bear this in mind, I use public transport and walk, so my petrol bill is $90 a month, I can still afford petrol at $6 a litre or $180 a month.  Lots of ppl in work however drive and their petrol bill is already > $100 a week and some are spending $150 a week...$400~600 a month, do you really think they can pay $4 a litre or more? cant see it. 

i think this is a key issue. You cannot build houses without putting in infrastructure. Currently this is done slowly, expensively and inadequately by councils. No one is really happy with the status quo. I don't like the proposed government top down solution but what are the Greens/Labour proposing regarding the infrastructure that will be needed to go with their 100,000 homes. A talkfest?

Gotta give you creds on that Brendon....fact , although, half assed infrastructure planning is not just the domain of the Greens here, as Auck City has demonstrated so very well on so so many occassions.

Of course Christov. I am playing the blame game. Just doing my little bit to nudge on the process so we find a solution and move forward...

Be interesting to know if you get paid for your biased opinion Boatman, if in fact it is your opinion and not what you are happy to say for money. Funny thing is I can't imagine a green party supporter taking money for the same job.

didn't they pay for their supporters collecting Assets sale petition signatures..?? 

Nope I did it for free, as did everyone else I know.
Even if thats the case, I fail to see the difference, they collect signitures...

Nope I did it for free, as did everyone else I know.
Even if thats the case, I fail to see the difference, they collect signitures...

good on you steven.. as for the other supporters, they are professional supporters and doing it for the money..!

Can you actually prove there were any paid signiture collectors? othrwise really its a non-event / smear.

Actually, that is public record. Parties can use their leaders office funds for people to coordinate campaigns and collect signatures, and Russel Norman did. The Greens make no secret of this. 

There is a difference between incentivising people from their apathetic foetal position to bribery Boatman...demonstrated at every election, documented and condoned by the masses.
 I did it for free too..! the incentive to shift my ass, I didn't need.

The sad fact is that Councils, with the power of general competence handed to them in the 2002 LG Amendment Act (the Four Wellbeings, now deep-sixed with the 2012 Amendment), have had their shot at all of this.
They had practically infinite power (tell me just what activity ya could not have fitted within Social, Cultural, Economic and Infrastructure Well-beings).
They comprehensively blew it.
Rates have gone up at over the level of consumer inflation for the decade since.
What have they done with it all?
Blown it on buskers, planners, events, 'community development', and in the case of the Christchurch City Council, a whole bundle of extremely ill-advised land deals.
Did they get their act together and build out Infrastructure. ?  No. 
Did they work to get their Plans consistent with those of adjacent TLA's and aid/assist building?  No.  The Plans are in complete disarray (that's why the Unitary plan was even needed in the first place), the build rate declined over the decade to such a low point that we now face a backlog which will take a generation to clear.
Did they .....  well, folks they frigging Didn't.
The legacy is simply baleful:

  • much higher rates, for little practical effect
  • staff numbers through the roof, and these are hard to get rid of.
  • level of trust (as evidenced by local electoral turn-outs) low and declining
  • physical infrastructure lacking capacity for expansion
  • housing and available-lot shortages everywhere with a predictable effect on prices
  • plannerators and zonerisers still foobarring entire land pricing and housing markets via constrictions and wildy lengthy and Byzantine processes

And the dreamy Greenies wonder why the Gummint now feels impelled to stomp in with it's Size 13's and Take Over.....

Sorry to inject facts into an otherwise entertaining rant:

  • oneof the main reasons for rising rates over the last decade has been councils having to improve water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure in response to central government dictates. You have plenty of physical infrastructure to show for your rates.


  • Show me anything looney done during 2002-2012 and I will show you that councils were already doing this stuff before they got the power of general competence. BTW I don't think that power was revoked in the LGA Amendment Act


  • Local Government NZ identified lack of engagement (i.e. lack of interest/trust) as the most important issue facing the sector in 2001 i.e. a year before LGA 2002 was passed

There's plenty of good reasons for criticising local government but you might have to do a little homework before launching into print

Useta assist to run (financial/IT focus) one or two rural TLA's in my youf, so I have an excellent basis for comparison.  And I've consulted to not a few, on the data cubes etc behind the LTP's and other financial models more recently, so I have a very good idea how it's all put together, and where the munny goes.
In t'old days, the community actually did a lot of stuff itself.  Cut new water races.  Build, maintain country halls, recreation centres etc.  Provide gear and manpower for community projects.  Hold working bees to help out some members of communities.  Right hand washes left hand and so on.  Wunnerful to live amongst, so you may detect some nostaglia for a Lost Age here.
Key word:  empowerment.  Rural, naturally - cities rarely get to this sort of shtick.
The 2002 Act was merely the capstone over a whole lotta cocomitant changes:

  • Credentialism:  the possession of papers certifying various 'competencies'.  A poor substitute for craftsmanship.
  • The rise and rise of staff:  most rural TLA's in those far-off days had about enough office staff to fill a minivan, for perhaps 10,000 residents.  Ratios now would run 4-10 times that...and of course the Peter Principle applies.
  • Elfin Safety and other central plans to Save Folks from Themselves.  The range of activities one can actually Do now is hugely limited cf  coupla decades ago.

I reckon that the Need to Build is fairly much a human basic, and what we have gotten ourselves into is a situation where this instinct is thwarted, suppressed, and legislated away.
Needless to say this don't do much for Community (which depends at heart on Doing Stuff Together), and hence the rise of Community Development, which is a useful outlet for otherwise unemployable Social Science grads, but is not exactly delivering community.....
Yes, the 2002 Four Wellbeings were a uniquely dopey pieca law, and they will take quite some recovering from, financially especially.
But the whole context in which they arose has not gone away:  the disempowerment, the rules and regulations which add much cost and many layers for negligible benefit, the destruction of community, and the subsequent disengagement of the populace.
I'm not about to issue a PDK-style set of 10 Edicts to Fix Things.
But I can perfectly understand the Nick Smith frustration with TLA's who, as I started out with, had their chance at good government and wasted it.  To all our detriment.

Agree with most of this. Especially "The 2002 Act was merely the capstone over a whole lotta cocomitant changes". When you look at the chronology it all starts with reforms to the public sector in the eighties especially the revolution in public sector accounting followed by the reorganisation of local government in '89. As a sector local government was finally emasculated by LGA 2002 and has only been going through the motions since.
To bring this back to the original post the Greens are in a fantasy land in which local democracy still exists. Just so that recent history is not forgotten remember that LGA Amendment Act gave ministers sweeping powers to intervene in all aspects of local government operations anyway and the reforms to the RMA gave central government a much greater role in planning. So this latest legislation is fully consistent with the rest of the agenda.
But. honestly, they are flogging a dead horse.

Kumbel: a year or so ago you put up a long detailed post on how government instrumentalities were required to re-value all assets on a replacement basis. The mechanics of it. And the consequences of it. One of the most informative articles I've seen. (and I thank you for it)
It needs to be re-produced here periodically - if you still have it

Ta. Possibly the nicest thing anyone has said about my ramblings on this site. Didn't think I could but I did track it down:
Actually it made for an interesting review. Now that this year's draft Annual Plans are available it will be interesting to see what effect the LGA Amendment Act made and how our (er... my) sweeping predictions are panning out. Took a look at Taupo District (made famous by the giant $50K paper clip story). Their text says the Act has made no difference to their plans but they did manage to drop their predicted rates rise from 7% to 3-4%. This is a significant result and I am very curious how they really managed it.

 This is a significant result and I am very curious how they really managed it.
I don't know anything about Taupo or what their plans might have been and how they might have been altered - but just a guess - could be they decided to treat depreciation differently for their newer assets?
Like you, doesn't appear to me that the amendments are at all responsible for any significant rates reductions.  But then I never felt that was the Nats main aim with those amendments.  They dumped the well beings from the Act's purpose (they still exist in the principles of LG in the Act) as a means to appease an angry public (who as I think you pointed out before don't quite understand why rates are increasing to the degree they are).
The main thrust as I saw the amendments was to facilitate amalgamation and to give themselves easier power to install commissioners if they don't like the way individual TLAs are managing the business.  Essentially, the amendments were CG reminding LG they are just a creature of statute :-)!

Kumbel: Thanks - perfect - here is the full link to the post itself - comment 675717
Memo - David Chaston - worthy of a stand-alone article in itself

I agree, Kumbei or someone else knowledgeable about Council operations should write an article on this issue. If housing is the key issue holding back the country as Graeme Wheeler is suggesting then as Councils provide the infrastructure for new housing this issue is of national importance.
Then we can have a debate in one place on this issue. 
The debate should include but not be limited to;
1. If and why Council costs are rising, I think we agree that they are, but some facts or figures would be good.
2. Kumbei thesis that Council costs have risen because Central government has made councils do expensive upgrades of things like water quality. Plus Councils account for things like depreciation more honestly, which is more expensive in the short term but hopefully means less long term surprises. That Councils may not be perfect but we are pretty much getting what we pay for. That any dramatic reduction in costs can only come from a reduction in services, more pot holes, less clean water etc.
3. PDK thesis that costs are rising because of scarcity of resources, that with oil at $100 a barrel not $20 that it was only a little over a decade ago obviously means building infrastructure like roads, sewage systems etc is more expensive. That society must adapt to using resources sustainably.
4. The Waymad thesis that councils are bureacratic monsters full of zonerators, planerators and people with creditials and no practical skills. That if we just go back to the days of a few practical can do people geting on with the job there would be a massive improvement in the situation.
5. Then there is the Dale Smith thesis being the problem is that Councils are using planning like Auckland's Unitary plan as a revenue source. That this dramatically increases costs to new house buyers. This transfers through the entire housing market causing housing bubbles and problems with the Macro economy that Graeme Wheeler is grappling with at the Reserve Bank. See link at the top.
6. I would like some facts on what our local infrastructure is like compared to overseas. It seems there is big demands coming from local residents. Christchurch residents want a comprehensive bike lane system -$800 million price tag. Aucklanders want a rail loop -what is its price tag? Are these must have infrastructures to deal with transport systems that are overloaded or are they unnecessary luxuries? Will residents support extra housing that all the political parties are promising if it just means that their existing services are overloaded even more? 
7. Is the issue a clash between Central government who want macro economic stabilty and lower spending on housing related expenses like the accomadation supplement versus local communities who are struggling with things like overloaded roads. Do we need to look at the division and size of local versus central government. What about different models like Texas Municipal Districts? Or giving more taxation power to Auckland's supercity in exchange for a urban plan that does not use planning as a revenue source? Or should planning be removed from local government control entirely?
8. So finally given the above do any of the political parties have a plan that deals comprehensively with all the issues.
So can we have an essay that generates some answers on these issues?

I would happily contribute to a discussion that is usually dominated more by emotion than fact. I am sure that you would find the answer is (e) All of the above.
Let me leave you with a cheery weekend thought.
All over the country, being a Saturday, people have got out of bed and:

  • gone to the loo where, with one press of a button, all the nasties were flushed away never to return
  • opened the tap and made tea with water that is guaranteed not to give them something that opens the sluice gates at both ends
  • bundled the kids into the car and driven in relative ease for many kilometres to
  • a sports ground to play football, netball, rugby or a stadium to play basketball
  • dropped into the library on the way home to pick up some books and a DVD

Cost to this household today for all these council services: $6.30
...that's 1 latte in Auckland or 1.3 lattes anywhere else
Have a good weekend

Great reply Kumbei. What do I get for two lattes...
Take care and think about writing an essay. I'm sure David or Bernard would gladly publish it as a guest contributer.

Owning a property in Dunedin will be a 2 latte a day habit in rates costs (although not really as it turns out).
Took a bit longer than I thought but crunching the numbers for 13/14 I got a comparison between Waimakariri and Dunedin. When the rates requirement is averaged across the total number of rateable properties in each area you find that the average ratepayer in Waimakariri will stump up $5.25  in rates every day whereas in Dunedin it will be $8.06. Having lived in both places I would say Dunedin is probably better value for money (fantastic library, art gallery, botanic gardens, swimming pool and the all-new adventure playground on the St Clair Esplanade).
Naturally, as this is local government, it turns out this is not the whole story. Nobody pays the average. The average residential householder in Dunedin will pay about $1,800 plus a water rate annually but their counterpart in Rangiora will pay close to $2,500 for a similar basket of services.
What the??? Waimakariri is largely a dormitory suburb of Christchurch and has a small base of non-residential (commercial, institutional and farming) properties to rate compared to Dunedin. So, householders have to pick up more of the tab.

Kumbel: Dunedin at $8.06 per day works out at $2861 for the annual rates bill. Does that include water? How do you arrive at $1800? How much is the water rates bill? Having a wild time picturing the grey-hairs and pensioners gambolling in the swimming pool and the all-new adventure playground on the St Clair Esplanade. Oh, the joy. One way to keep them active and prolong their lives.

Analysing local government budgets ain't for the faint-hearted. In this case:

  • Dunedin's Draft Annual Plan 13/14 for Funding Impact Statement for total rates requirement and itemised targeted water rate requirement (total $141m)
  • Same for estimated rates incidence on median value residential property ($1800) which probably does not include the water rate. BTW average non-residential rate is $12K+
  • for DCC's claimed number of rateable properties (48,000)
  • for provisional population at 30 June 2012

Median Dunedin price about $265000 (Otago Daily Times April 13th). Go onto Trademe and browse real estate for recent sale in that ballpark at the bottom of page. Go onto Dunedin City Council Website and look up rates information by address. Note in passing that that property sold for well under its 1/7/10 assessed capital value. So for an assessed capital value of $315000, the properties 2013 rates ($1947.67) are broken down as:
Description / Gross General Rate / Net General Rate
General Rates:
Roads and Footpaths / 328.72 / 222.81
Parks and Reserves / 72.88 / 49.44
City Planning / 68.44 / 46.43
Economic Development / 21.57 / 14.65
Tourism / 16.07 / 10.92
Council Communications / 37.37 / 25.39
Elected Members / 43.67 / 29.65
Building Control / 25.12 / 17.04
Public Halls and Toilets / 63.38 / 43.05
Civil Defence & Rural Fires / 13.76 / 9.32
Liquor & Health Licensing / 14.82 / 10.03
Visitor Centre / 8.43 / 5.77
Cemeteries & Crematorium / 8.08 / 5.5
Animal Control / 6.21 / 4.26
Libraries / 148.51 / 100.75
Otago Settlers Museum / 71.72 / 48.64
Dunedin Public Art Gallery / 53.7 / 36.39
Otago Museum / 57.08 / 38.7
Events & Community Development / 65.51 / 44.47
Dunedin Centre/Town Hall / 22.01 / 14.91
Swimming Pools / 55.57 / 37.73
Forsyth Barr Stadium / 96.93 / 65.78
Chinese Garden / 8.88 / 6.04
Total General Rate / 1308.43 / 887.67
Less Dividend/Endowment Income / -420.76 /
NET TOTAL GENERAL RATES / 887.67 / 887.67
Community Services Rates:
Parks and Reserves / 165.98 / 165.98
Botanic Garden / 49.02 / 49.02
Total Community Services Rates / 215 / 215
Other Targeted Rates:
Residential Kerbside Recycling / 63 / 63
Citywide Water Charge / 374 / 374
Residential Drainage Charge / 408 / 408
Total Other Targeted Rates / 845 / 845
TOTAL RATES / 1947.67 / 1947.67

Mighty River Power
While following the bumph about the IPO of MRP my recollections of the implications of your article kept getting in the way. $8 billion of the value of the floats are from such re-valuations. A quick squiz at the last annual report of MRP disclosed an earnings profit of $450 million and the government ripped a dividend of $900 million out of it. So 100% of the earnings are being paid out as a dividend and the remainder out of the re-valuations reserve.
No wonder gov't is keen on re-valuations and ripping them out of the SOEs
No wonder electricity prices are high and going higher.
And the Greens/Labour cabal could only offer 10% roll-back. They're not serious.

No good can come from raiding that piggy bank. But of course Jonkey and Bill will be long gone when blame is being handed round.
Seriously I have a problem with an industry that pre-funds capital works through increased charges. A couple of years ago Transpower raised its charges on the grounds they needed money for major upgrades. Many elderly people have shivered through winter unable to afford the higher charges and, sadly, have since died without getting any benefit from their contributions to this investment. Long-life assets should be funded by a combination of existing reserves and debt to avoid trans-generational equity issues.

The tentacles of these government artifices spread wide and deep, right into the heart of nearly 60% of all topics discussed here on
When you get right down to it, you will find they all come back to your article
Hence I recommend that David Chaston preserve it for posterity, and pull it out, and republish it once a month as a touchstone.
Should he not do so I will certainly reference back to it.