No reason to change migration settings for construction, English says; Defends inability to announce larger Auckland housing programme due to skills shortages; Labour defends KiwiBuild & migration policies

No reason to change migration settings for construction, English says; Defends inability to announce larger Auckland housing programme due to skills shortages; Labour defends KiwiBuild & migration policies

By Alex Tarrant

The government has not seen any reason to loosen migration settings to allow for more house building in Auckland, despite the construction industry hitting its buffers, Prime Minister Bill English says.

English backed comments made by Housing NZ Minister Amy Adams last week that the government felt unable to announce a larger state-led house building programme over the next decade than it had done, due primarily to constrains faced by the construction industry.

Constraints were led by skills shortages, English told media at his post-cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon. Asked whether the government should then loosen settings to allow for greater levels of building, he said migration levels for the industry were “about right,” as employers were able to tap migrant labour, but that the shortages also meant locals were being trained.

“We’re going to build for growth and get the skills in where there’s gaps, and New Zealanders are getting trained,” English said. “It’s the best opportunity in a generation – two generations – for anyone who’s interested in a trade.”

English was asked whether the promise of being able to source migrant labour might be a disincentive for the construction industry to invest in training locals. It was also put to him that, if the government had been planning its Auckland housing announcement for two years, then couldn’t it have started working earlier on ways to boost the local construction workforce?

The construction industry had grown at 20% compound growth – six times faster than the economy – for the last four or five years, English said. This could only be done with a combination of migrant labour and training more locals.

BCITO had got “thousands of apprentices – the highest number it’s ever had,” he said. The industry was training locals because it had “a long-steady pipeline” of work out ahead of it. “And they’ve been using some skilled migrants as well.”

English admitted shortages were a constraint. He said he was “pleased that the National Party has defended, and will continue to defend, migration policy that allows for the skills to come in to build our infrastructure and our houses.”

He used the example of Christchurch as showing National’s stance had worked. “Because we allowed migration of skilled people, the houses have been built, house prices in Christchurch are flat to falling. And that is a pretty good result from pretty intense demand in Christchurch.”

English used the opportunity to attack Labour’s stances on Auckland house building and migration. He claimed KiwiBuild was in fact a “no-build policy,” as Labour was opposed to the Point England development and Three Kings project.

“There’s no credibility in a policy if you can’t say, where they’re going to be built, how you’re going to pay for them, [and] particularly how you’re going to get a council to make the decisions that will allow the houses to be built. Because government doesn’t make those decisions; councils make them.”

And at the same time, talking about cutting migration numbers by the tens of thousands was “just dumb,” he said.

Labour defends KiwiBuild, migration, skills policies

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford had already defended against the accusations over the weekend on TV3’s The Nation.

Twyford attacked the announcement from Adams that between 20-50% of National’s planned Auckland Housing Plan properties would be priced at or under $650,000.

“Is $650,000 affordable? You know, that’s [their] definition of affordability, and the reason they use it is because that’s the threshold for people who get a HomeStart subsidy. By definition, if they need a government subsidy to buy a $650,000 house, I don’t think it is affordable,” Twyford said.

Labour was promising to deliver townhouses, flats and apartments in Auckland for under $500,000 and stand-alone houses for under $600,000, he said.

He attacked National for using the Hobsonville development as an example of providing affordable housing. While Hobsonville had “been a success commercially and design-wise…fewer than 20% of the homes at Hobsonville are affordable by the government’s own definition. Almost half of them cost over $1 million.”

“They’ve taken a multi-billion-dollar development of prime publicly owned land. The first thing National did was strip out all of the state housing, because it said that allowing low-income families to live there would be economic vandalism. The number of affordable houses is far too low. We need affordable homes for first-home buyers.”

Asked where Labour would aim to put its 100,000 KiwiBuild properties nationwide – half are set for Auckland – Twyford said New Zealand did not have a land shortage. However, “we have a highly restrictive planning system that chokes off the supply of new land. Labour’s going to free up those controls and allow cities to grow up and out.”

“We’re going to build large urban development projects, many of them around the railway network in Auckland. So, places like Henderson, Manukau, Mt Wellington, Onehunga, Panmure, Avondale,” Twyford said. The Auckland Council had already identified those sites for development, he added.

National lacked ambition, Twyford said. “Their approach is confined to knocking down state houses and building private houses on that land. We are going to take a much broader, more productive approach.”

“We are going to work with the council, we are going to work with Ngati Whatua, we’re going to work with other investors. And if necessary, we will buy private land to develop,” he said. While Labour hadn’t been able to identify what private land it might buy, it would set up an Affordable Housing Authority to make decisions.

On funding, Labour was going to give Housing New Zealand $2bn to kick off Kiwibuild – the same level as what National is proposing for its Auckland Housing Plan.

And on the construction workforce, Twyford said Labour planned on growing the local workforce of skilled tradespeople.

“National has completely failed to build the New Zealand workforce. They haven’t invested in the apprentices and the professions to do this work. Now, if we have to, we will rely on skilled tradespeople. We’ll bring in electricians, plumbers and carpenters from overseas if we have to,” he said.

“The reason it’s called an immigration policy is we get to choose who comes here. So we will choose the electricians, the plumbers and the carpenters instead of bringing people to this country to flip burgers and pump gas.”

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Here is more on the Point England Reserve Bill English is flippant on.
He seems to think houses can be built at any cost to the public.
The brief is negligible housing/barely treaty settlement/sell off public reserve 2 highest bidder/precedent setting...


this national government reminds me of the last term labour government talking down to the subjects telling them what light bulbs to buy or what water pressure to have.
paula benefits lets bring in mandatory tipping another case in point

It is surprising to hear her views about tipping. This is how the corruption starts , first start tipping in hospitality and then slowly - slowly start paying for good service in other occupations , what a great idea to keep New Zealand clean


at the end of the day the problem is simple, they have let too many people into Auckland per year that it can cope for.
so the solution is also simple we vote for a party or parties on September 28 that will stop this madness and reset the figure at a low number so services, construction and infrastructure can catch up in the next ten years

Or just build more houses, it shouldn't be so difficult! Is any party planning on doing something about the ridiculous building act?


Absolutely and half of these critically-needed migrants are shuffling around Takapuna every lunchtime waiting for a bus to take them for free medical services at North Shore Hospital.



I had to take my 80 year old (50 years of taxpaying) mother to North Shore hospital the other day for a small eye procedure.

We were the only native English speakers in a packed waiting room - absolutely full of very aged Asian men and women getting nice free healthcare.

Every morning I drive past the zombie shuffle on my way to work and then see them in the afternoon looking after the grandkids whilst mum and dad are ....well, elsewhere??

All on the backs of taxes never paid to contribute towards this.....

Foreigners coming and getting our benefits especially pension - that is what I used to think and what I used to believe but I checked the latest residency figures and (a) the government stopped parents last year and (b) looking at the data from April 2016 when the door was open then most Asian parents attaining residency were over 60 and therefore not eligible. It may have been an issue in the past but it isn't now.
Of course neither Labour nor National can look back with pride about a national discussion about immigration. Surely who joins the NZ family is worthy of debate?

Kiwi so dumb, lah.


National will twist facts / data to justify and support their vote bank.

Create a situation to argue their vested interest. Arrogance at best.

Though all political parties are as good or as bad but one thing is definite, that it is time for change of government


"And at the same time, talking about cutting migration numbers by the tens of thousands was “just dumb,” he said."
Really incite-full stuff from our leader.
Going along tonight to hear what Gareth Morgan has to say at Wellington Uni tonight - hopefully more interesting than the above garbage.

Incite-a-riot-full stuff, I think you mean.


Bill clearly does not drive to work in Auckland every day. Calling people dumb for questioning migration policy just reeks of arrogance, especially when half the reason we need the new houses is to support these migrants.

Immigrants building houses for immigrants building houses for immi.......Gotta feed the Ponzi

Hopefully coming to a NZ First Billboard soon.


I'm once again getting the impression that National does not give a rat's backside about young Kiwis. Everything seems to be about what's going to benefit their older investor / business-owner voters. High house prices and low labour costs.

Young Kiwis, vote National and #RentTillYouDie.


I'm retired. I've benefited from Auckland's growth - made me more money in property values than a lifetime of hard work. It is very embarrassing. Please get your kids to vote!


The government is running a scam in the name of immigration. There is ample data on the statistics and MoE website to conclude that construction-related students and workers make up barely a small fraction of migrants. The sheer majority of low-skilled students who take up "business management" programmes at dodgy private institutions is appalling.

Have any investigative journalists had a delve into the ownership of the fake schools which are the beneficiaries of the student visa scam? That would be very instructive, hint hint. And might cast light on why the government are so reluctant to deal with such an obvious and damaging scam. Limiting students to state-run genuine institutions and not giving away free work visas should be a no-brainer.

Cross-ref it with the National donors list.


Go back to sleep, Bill.


We could easily reduce immigration and keep the skilled immigrants coming in. The problem is mostly the fake "skilled immigrants" who are only able to work as labourers or cleaners.

Bill English needs a lesson in economics where if we increase the population faster than GDP growth then we get poorer per capita. He should take a different path rather than trying to make Trump look like a genius by comparison.


I suspect that English and the NP are a front for other machinations behind the scenes. What they are, I'm not exactly sure, but there are enough sectors benefiting in the short term from high immigration that I'm sure in-your-ear lobbying of the Nats is a factor here. Who knows, perhaps Bill on a personal level feels a great deal of dissonance about what he's saying, but has basically been told to do it.

Anyway, any hope that he represented something different after JK is now well and truly dead.

real skilled immigrants have other options too.

The problem is that the skill shortage is a result of their pathetic policy.
It's just a silly facade to hide behind. The fact of the matter is that there is no skill shortage in the building sector, only a shortage of cheap labour. It's a self perpetuating cycle; importing dirt cheap labour is much cheaper in the short run for business owners than training apprentices.

If he really wants to talk about shortage in the building industry, why doesn't he point out the ridiculous (artificial) shortage of construction materials.

MBIE changed the Building Code to further increase shortages by putting new and ridiculous requirements that couldn't be complied with for interior surface finishes for buildings. Of course only tested materials are useful in commercial construction even if there is an untested product with exactly the same composition. What MBIE did was excessive and unnecessarily complex which created a lot of problems for suppliers and manufacturers. Who drove the change? National, they literally hate reducing the cost of construction and have done everything they can to drive price increases for materials.


And this nonsense spouted by Bill et al is why I will never vote for your party again as long as my ass is still standing up..

The sheer arrogance and denial of what is in front of us - how can you fix a housing shortage by bringing in MORE demand/people!!!

Its insanity again and again and again...

One lifelong Nat party voter who will never go back.

Incompetence I can forgive but blind lying to my face simply so you don't lose face whilst the city I love gets transformed into an overcrowded, congested slum I cant.

I was going to give this a thumbs up. But it deserves more. It is remarkably unemotional and considered given the circumstances.

The construction industry has grown at 20 percent compound growth for the past 4-5 years. 1/ earthquake, 2/ Weather tightness issues, 3/ Build for John Key large building to house pokie machines. Sustainability.

and what is the growth in population... supply supply. does demand even exist


It's not immigration - it's population Bill. The Nats have not thought this through. Ask them what the 100 year plan is - they won't understand the question. They should be able to tell you what the 250 year plan is - no show of that.
As for me - again - my desired population for these triple star islands is 2 million. I would accept 5 million as part of the political deal.


with the change in Future technology(jobs) and resources needed to supply people, the short sighted arguement that a bigger population is good for a country is clearly driven by certain business sectors and not in the long tecrrm health wellbeing and resources of NZ
i dont subscribe to bigger is better

Read this Greater Auckland blog and be very afraid KH. I am.

Oh Doris. I did read it and it's truly awful.

Well .... in order to discuss this objectively, there are no Fake skilled migrants according to my sources close to this matter !! and almost all cleaners and labourers are mostly family members of the skilled migrants who have come in the last 5 years or so and that has stopped. Or they have come on that category and failed to prove who they are so stuck in the labour trade.
Skilled Migrants do not BUY properties hence they do not reduce the current housing stock, instead, they work to add to it ... Skill migrants RENT and consume the rental stock which we have plenty of (otherwise rents would have hit sky high if we didn't) .. yes I hear that that encourages investors to buy more houses and rent them ... well that has almost stopped too ... its too expensive and not worth the investment to most ....

At the end of the day, Labour is saying the same thing as Nats are saying apart from being stingy on details in case they were caught out ...
The Party which is acting ambiguously and mixing apples with pears is not prudent one in my books, it makes me more suspicious of what they can achieve !!

we don't need to build more houses!! we just destroy the economy making migrants not interested in us at all. house price will fall too. Everyone's happy.

here is an example of the wishy washy talk and BS in the RNZ interview:

more evasive answers .... from the future leader !!:

talk talk talk ... no commitment no numbers

@Echo Bird what is one to do when the choice is hopeless or hopeless? hopeless leading the hopeless?

Ignorance is bliss?!

"While Labour hadn’t been able to identify what private land it might buy, it would set up an Affordable Housing Authority to make decisions".
So Labour's going to use taxpayer dollars to buy expensive private land and build cheap houses on it?

There may be little other choice than that, and if they have to, well, they will just have to, because the problem has to be solved.

Bill is right on the total lack of detail Labour has provided to achieve their building targets. At no point in time is everyone happy there are always problems/difficulties to work through. National may get voted out this time but the NEXT problem will be the probable inability of Labout/Greens/NZ First to agree and work together to achieve results. Every new Government of rookies take a term to become useful and get over MMP in fighting before they become effective and confident. Perhaps it's time for a change, but don't expect a sudden majical solution for the current issues we may well reflect and regret...

If immigration is pushing up our house prices, particularly in Auckland, can someone explain to me why immigration is at record highs whilst the Auckland housing market is stagnating and falling?

The data would appear to suggest that while immigration is no doubt a factor, it's not the most important or even key factor and there have been other issues drive the housing market with a larger impact than immigration

Of course - I'd put low interest rates, foreign buyers, local speculative frenzy and tax-free capital gains ahead of immigration rates, although of course high immigration doesn't help.

I do blame immigration for unaffordable rental housing, and housing shortages displacing people into cars and garages.

BCITO had got “thousands of apprentices – the highest number it’s ever had,” he said. The industry was training locals because it had “a long-steady pipeline” of work out ahead of it.

So if there is no long steady pipeline the music stops ? I can guarantee that the pipeline, at the maximum, is 18 months long before the insane levels of debt people are racking up brings the whole shebang to a screaming halt. Training stops, and in 7 or so years time we repeat this conversation. Unless the incumbent government looks further afield than the end of its collective snout.
All this crap about supply, it is demand, plain and simple.

Why discuss as nothing will change unless their is a change of government.

Election now not too far away.

It's worth discussing to raise awareness to hopefully assist a change in Government.

Couldn't agree more.
Politicians cant be trusted to mange immigration in NZ's best interests - that is all NZer's.
Give the immigration rate to the RBNZ to manage as a macro tool. That will give the Bank interest rates and the immigration rate as tools to balance the economy and maximise gdp per capita growth.
The government can set the overall immigration strategy like it does with the inflation target.

That rather inept interviewer on The Nation was quoting elevated (produced by the Nats) figures on the percentages that are "affordable" at Hobsonville. To cut it short the Nats figures include units that were not affordable when the trigger was say $550k when built and first sold but they choose to be less than the current $650k.
If you ever need to massage some figures get Joyce and co to help!
We need some intelligent TV interviewers please.

English is right about capacity constraints. My extended family have subdivision contracting and house construction interests in AKL and are flat out. They reckon the whole industry is at maximum capacity and will struggle to significantly increase throughput. Labour talks big but is thin on detail and explanations of where the extra labour to meet their construction targets is coming from. Especially when they are planning to savagely cut immigration.

It's nonsense for the Nats to cite CHCH achieving a post EQ balance between supply and demand, as an example of how the market will fix AKLs problem. The population in CHCh declined sharply post EQ and only slowly climbed back to pre EQ levels. In addition there was not an existing pre EQ supply/demand imbalance caused by reckless immigration policies.

With 50% capital gains on NZers selling in Aussie there's going to be a FLOOD of kiwis back to NZ and ZERO leaving. How will that effect immigration?

The detailed point and counter point on the best way to ramp up supply and build affordable houses is irrelevant in the context of the demand factors. These are a kiwi property specu/vestor psyche, low interest rates, favourable tax treatment and the big one steady and cumulative population gain. The price of anything comes down to supply and demand. There is far more to fix on the demand side but that would take some balls and could offend an important voting block. Vote for a party prepared to address demand issues. 2 to choose from.

I voted for National, as I thought they were better for the economy, how wrong I was. When I say better for the economy, I really mean better for me and my buying power and my quality of life. But with Beer at $15 and Lettuce at $7 and wages staying relatively the same my buying power is mud. Plus with hospitals over burdened and traffic jams that makes your drive 30 minutes longer. NZ has deteriorated under National.

Its at a stage where I really depise English and Joyce every time they open their mouths. Politicians were like realestate agents to me, so you have a little disdain for them, but now I despise them as E&J have taken it to another level.

I use to think Joyce was very switched on and English was a nice NZ family guy doing his best for NZ. Now I see these guys as very stubborn and ignorant to NZers concerns, they just dont seem to care. Its like a movie the Thin Red Line where the commander sacrificed his men so he could look good in the eyes of his superiors, so he could get a promotion. Oblivious to the pain of others.

Day of reckoning in September. Who we used to vote for and our old loyalties are irrelevant in the face of our country's transformation in the last 9 years (ok maybe 15 years as the Clarke / Cullen regime was not guiltless in this transformation). Vote according to the kind of future you'd like your kids and grand kids to have.