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English tackled on government's housing demand and supply record; Says construction industry telling him 10,000 houses a year in Auckland "as fast as they can" go; Says cutting immigration wouldn't help; Rules out looking at asset taxes

English tackled on government's housing demand and supply record; Says construction industry telling him 10,000 houses a year in Auckland "as fast as they can" go; Says cutting immigration wouldn't help; Rules out looking at asset taxes

By Alex Tarrant

Prime Minister Bill English has defended his government’s record on housing supply and demand responses, saying demand had both been underpinned by government subsidies for first home buyers while also being cut by way of loan-to-value ratio restrictions and introduction of a two-year capital gains tax which excludes the family home.

Supply was set to be boosted by government moves to allow increased land supply, although the building industry was saying it was maxed out at the current rate of 10,000 a year in Auckland. He used that argument to defend the need for continuing high immigration.

English brushed aside suggestions that wages would have to keep rising for 50 years with house prices remaining flat for affordability metrics to return to more acceptable levels in Auckland, or that house prices would alternatively have to fall 60%. It was good that prices were steady now, he said.

Meanwhile, he also laid out why National would not even consider researching fundamental changes to New Zealand’s tax system, including asset taxes, saying such moves would hit superannuants with low cash incomes the hardest, and that he favours existing settings including labour income taxes because they rewarded work.

In separate news, the latest Electoral Commission stats on voter enrolment show 98% of superannuants are enrolled to vote. There are 699,300 of them (and an extra 255,000 60-64 year-olds who are nearly there), while only 69% of 18-24 year olds are enrolled (317,000), 77% of 25-29 year-olds (260,100) and 87% of 30-34 year olds (260,400).

Home ownership

English perhaps faced his toughest interview of the campaign thus far, with Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan asking the questions on Nine to Noon. There were some rather interesting exchanges on housing demand and supply.

He was asked by Ryan whether it was too hard for an increasing number of New Zealanders to start building an asset base, including equity in a house. He replied that there had been “moderate but consistent” increases in income. He pointed to the minimum wage rising by $8,000 since National took office, and that the average wage was up $13,000 – twice the rate of inflation.

“So, inflation’s been very low, you’ve seen these moderate but consistent gains in incomes, and then with respect to say, getting into the housing market, 30,000 people have already used the HomeStart support. We announced the package the other day – another 80,000 over the next four years, some of them with a grant of up to $30,000 from government will be able to get in,” he said.

This relied on the on-going strength of the economy, he said. “But I can tell you this: If you’re concerned about peoples’ incomes, then the answer is not more tax and more government spending.”

Ryan put to English that the median house price in Auckland had surpassed 10 times the normal household income and that rents had risen at the same time. She put to him a comment from former Reserve Bank Governor and National Party leader, Don Brash, that it would take 50 years for wages to catch up with house prices in terms of returning affordability metrics to normal, or that we’d need a 60% house price reduction.

“Well, look, that’s a pretty dramatic description of it, I’d have to say,” English said. “The house prices are now flat to falling. And…30,000 first home buyers got in, remarkably, even [with] these house prices.” And a further 80,000 will further, he said referencing the new HomeStart package again. “Because we want people to be able to get into those houses.”

He then tried to turn attention to the supply side. “We’ve worked intensively over recent years to change the way that councils operate with the availability of land. Because the fundamental problem, particularly here in Auckland was that, when the demand came on – 150,000 Kiwis who we thought would leave in the last five years, but stayed home, that’s extra pressure in the market – the market took too long to react.

“Now, the supply is there. We’re in the biggest construction boom that New Zealand’s seen in decades. Both the housing and the support infrastructure,” English said.

Ryan jumped in to put to English that the government’s own housing pipeline report showed building wasn’t keeping up with demand. Could National not have done anything more on the demand side such as reducing immigration, capital gains tax or banning overseas buyers?

“And a number of steps were taken,” English said. “The bright line test on flipping the houses for speculation, the LVRs came in from the Reserve Bank – I oversaw that process. The tax requirements around foreigners were significantly upgraded. And that’s all had an effect on demand.

“This is why prices are flat to falling. We’ve seen it happen in Christchurch where the supply expanded rapidly after the earthquake – prices falling there. Here [Auckland], they’re flat to falling. Look, you don’t want a drastic adjustment. Because this is peoples’ main asset. What you do want is, an economy that’s growing, that is going to continue to lift incomes…”

State housing

The conversation shifted to state housing. Ryan put to English that New Zealand had a net 4,000 fewer state houses than in 2015 – particularly if it was known that demand was increasing over supply.

English said the government has been ensuring supply was available for those most in need. “We’ve changed the social housing system. So, the numbers that are used about the Housing New Zealand-owned houses, are only part – they’re still the major part – but they’re not all the social houses that are available.”

He pointed to the Tamaki redevelopment project with 2,500 social houses, which weren’t counted under the Housing NZ figures. Several thousand others were coming into the market as well, he said. “So, that supply is expanding.”

10,000 a year ‘as fast as the industry can do’

The government was also spending $2 billion a year underpinning rentals. “Sixty percent of all rentals in New Zealand are subsidised by government, and that has grown as the rentals have grown. On 1 April next year, accommodation assistance, particularly in South and West Auckland will grow quite significantly,” he said. Some families would get over $100 a week extra, “because their rents have gone up”.

“Again, as the economy expands, the industry tells us they’re going about as fast as they can at 10,000 a year [in Auckland]. Slashing migration is going to make it very difficult to build the houses and the roads that we need to accommodate a growing economy and a growing population.”

The haves vs the have-nots

Ryan asked whether New Zealand was becoming divided between Kiwis who had assets, such as equity in a house, and those who couldn’t get that – even if they had a decent income. “The growing economy is going to improve that,” English said. “As incomes rise, as the houses get built.”

He raised an example of people trying to get into the housing market. A combination of HomeStart and the Welcome Home Loan 10% equity scheme meant a couple that had been in KiwiSaver five years, with no other savings, would be able to put down a deposit on a $600,000 house [in Auckland].

“Now, 18% of Auckland’s sales in the last year were under $600,000, so the opportunity is there. But, again, taking more tax off them, creating uncertainty around capital gains tax and so on – that is going to slow things down and they’ll go backwards.”

Asset taxes

That took the conversation onto the tax system. Had English’s thinking changed on whether a different approach might now be needed to New Zealand’s tax settings? Was the system fair and deliverable, Ryan asked.

“We have one of the best tax systems in the world. It’s fair, it’s very consistent. Everyone pays pretty much the statutory rate that they’re meant to pay. There’s very few opportunities for avoidance. It’s part of what has enabled the growth and certainty in this economy,” English said. “Because people [are] now focusing on expanding the businesses, employing, exporting, rather than trying to avoid tax.”

Although it hadn’t been fundamentally changed since the late 1980s, when the tax scale was flattened with top income tax rates coming down and GST coming in, Ryan said. Was it time to look at things like asset taxes? Particularly after a period of low interest rates had helped fuel asset price rises.

English said National would not explore such options. “We believe the tax system, as it is, works now. Rewards effort. And you can see the uncertainty that’s created when you’ve got the Labour Party unwilling to actually say clearly what they want to do.”

How about environmental or externality taxes? Why should taxpayers clean up after polluters making profit out of their activities, Ryan asked. English said there had been an enormous amount of work on environmental impacts in rural areas. People there were now grappling with extensive investment to mitigate this. Nutrient limits had been set catchment, by catchment, a national measurement system was in place.

“We believe that technology that changes farming practice is going to be much more helpful than what has been a randomly proposed tax just on one group, which doesn’t actually relate to the environmental impact.”

Ryan tried again of asset taxes: National was not interested in looking at, where people who had built assets and wealth should now be contributing tax relative to what was taken out of the pay packets of people now struggling to build those assets?

“Look at who is the largest group of asset holders. Superannuitants,” English said. “And they don’t have large incomes. They pay rates, as local body tax now. If you were going to bring in wealth taxes, that’s one of the biggest single problems with them. Often, you’re levying the tax on older people who hold assets, have low cash incomes and can’t pay it.”

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"he favours existing settings including labour income taxes because they rewarded work."

“We believe the tax system, as it is, works now. Rewards effort."

Surely he has been misheard...
Exactly how does income tax reward work/effort?

Alex, did he actually say that income tax rewards work?

Its a bit like how a capital gains tax would reward people for their hardwork...oh...ummmm....what????

Capital gains is the reward people get when they invest, when you take away capital gains you take away capitalism, just to be clear....comrade

Um, the capital gains still exist they are just taxed, just to be clear..... obergruppenfuhrer.

Hey it's your leader that calls you comrade, don't shoot the messenger!

When you take away income its called slavery, just to be clear.....crony..

That's a bit of a reach?


Wow so in Bill's world in a "demand v supply" equation changing one of the variables (immigration/demand) does not change the outcome...welcome to new maths everyone.


He also says he's addressed demand with first home buyer subsidies.

Hang on? Address, as in pouring petrol on the fire? Did he mean to say he's addressed demand by increasing it?

And on what planet does it make sense to try to address a housing crisis by redistributing taxpayers' money into subsidies that only increase the amount sellers can ask? It's a crazy policy - unless your MPs own over three houses on average and want to see their own personal net worth increase. Where's the "sound economic management"?


I totally agree with you

Bill has lost the plot, honestly! with one hand he had LVRs and the other an extra $20K to reach the LVR deposit. Logically ridiculous!

Also add to that we need more immigrants to build more houses for more immigrants while the locals can live in people movers! WTF is going on inside that mans head!

Hadn't thought of that - so they're saying to first home buyers, we don't want you exposed to excessive risk/debt (so here's an LVR), but at the same time they're saying to first home buyers, here we really care about you, heres more money to get your self into a mountain of debt and take on that risk we don't want you to take on (another $20K or whatever the figure is).....Sounds like common sense...


I think the man is totally conflicted with himself - being in a role where he relies on twisting the truth, versus his Catholic faith where lying is a sin.


I agree - it used to disturb me how comfortable John Key was while lying (to the point I thought JK was actually a bit of a psycho)....and it appears to have rubbed off a bit on English which is a shame because I used to quite like the guy....guess he has to continue the narrative that Key started otherwise he'd look like a hypocrite....

Yes, I used to quite like English esteem of him has dropped a lot since he became PM.
I genuinely think he is uncomfortable with this gig.
He probably shouldn't have taken it on

But if he didn't then who - Paula Benefit is hardly PM material....

Think it is more likely that he just has to keep up the lies that Key left him with

A few hail Mary's and some fervent twiddling of the rosary beads should take care of that


"English brushed aside suggestions that wages would have to keep rising for 50 years with house prices remaining flat for affordability metrics to return to more acceptable levels in Auckland, or that house prices would alternatively have to fall 60%."

Translation: prepare for the upcoming crash because we're not doing anything to soften the blow.

“Well, look, that’s a pretty dramatic description of it, I’d have to say,” English said"
Meaning / Dramatic = (of an event or circumstance) sudden and striking. If you think the issue is either sudden or striking, then you're out of touch.....Oh!......


Yes very much agree with you Rich. And of course those off shore foreign buyers are not coming back for the foreseeable future. Not sure if everyone has heard the latest news but China has now pretty much banned cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin by shutting down exchanges in the country to help reduce capital flight.

BBC article: China orders Bitcoin exchanges in capital city to close

Quote: Chinese authorities decided to ban digital currencies as part of a plan for reducing the country's financial risks.

Yes, risk of their growing middle class being able to secure their wealth outside government control.

And we happily sell control of our most vital industries to them


Nothing new. Time for change.


The problem is that the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer over the last 9 years, as the divide between rich and poor has grown. What should have happened, is that everyone should have gotten richer. When house prices rise, only people with houses benefit (as well as banks and agents of course), while those that aren't house owners lose out. At some stage the number of poor will out number the rich, and envy taxes will be brought in We are still a few years away from that, and I guess we maybe voting for that in 2020 if labour get in and after the working group has had it's say. But that is very dependent on who is chosen, and whether all parties should have a say in who the party is made up of.


Actually, when house prices go up, peoples income decreases proportionally. So those with at least one house get "richer" in comparison, but together both homeowners and renters are all poorer income wise - their income used to be able to buy a house in 3 years, now it is 10 years. If you have a house, it is now more expensive to sell it and buy a nicer one. The only ones who really get better off are those who are speculating on the housing market and own many properties, and those who have no mortgage and are cashing out into retirement homes, downsizing or leaving town. A one-off shot in the arm for the economy, with a large hangover to come.

In what sense have the poor gotten poorer?


a higher % of their income being spent on shelter is one measure

But their wages rose faster than rents and indeed have growing faster than general wages:

Laminar. Food costs as a percentage of income - shocking statistics;

Statistics New Zealand information released to the Herald shows for families on the lowest incomes (under $35,000), that means they're now spending 60 per cent of their income on food, compared to 48 per cent in 2007.

Malnutrition is putting twice as many kids in hospital compared with 10 years ago, as food prices continue to bite into household incomes.

Look at that graph in the growth since 2010 of children hospitalised with nutritional deficiencies.

Vote for change.

But more taxation and increased business compliance costs won't reduce food costs.

Or are you advocating greater welfare payments?

Low income earners haven't got a chance, PAYE and then GST, followed by fuel taxes etc, leave them impoverished before they even begin.

Not to mention working for families and accommodation supplements.

Thats something i agree with, GST is poverty tax and should be abolished.

"Statistics New Zealand information released to the Herald shows for families on the lowest incomes (under $35,000), that means they're now spending 60 per cent of their income on food, compared to 48 per cent in 2007."

The Herald has engineered that number by setting $35,000 as a static number. Simply put $35,000 in 2007 was a lot more than $35,000 today. They needed to adjust the income. In 100 years for example when $35,000 on buys a loaf of bread, those earning under $35,000 will be spending 100% of their income on food and can only buy 1 loaf of bread each year!

Here is an actual measure of poverty and as you will see it is basically flat:
Youl also note that the Herald uses 2007 specifically to exaggerate the change.

By all means look to tackle poverty but the poor are not getting poorer and the working poor are seeing their lives improve.

Those in poverty - roughly unchanged
The poor - getting richer
The rich - getting much richer

This is just an anecdote. But I have recently gone back to Waiuku a town of 4000 people. We never ever ever had homeless. Now even Waiuku has homeless. All this homelessness that National has created has made it more mainstream. Imagine that its trendy to be homeless.

I think I might buy shares in barb wire, as most of the McMansions will be surrounded by barb wire soon as the poor will become more desperate. What a great country National has created. Homelessness, and chucking sick people on the street because of overcrowding. Great legacy National.

I like the old "rising tide lifts all boats" well that depends entirely on how long the mooring rope is, doesn't it?


"Sixty percent of all rentals in New Zealand are subsidised by government, and that has grown as the rentals have grown". Who benefits from this subsidy, the renter or the landlord? What would happen if this subsidy was removed? Wouldn't rentals and house prices decrease accordingly? How much money would this save the Government?

"Who benefits from this subsidy, the renter or the landlord? "

Both surely.

The renter until the market can re-price (months) then the landlord for the rest of time. Increasing the amount that can be paid will increase the amount charged. It's called rent seeking for a reason.

Price increases can end up being factored in earlier on:

Yesterday morning, National announced that, if re-elected, it would increase the subsidies offered to first-home buyers. First-home buyer grants, in a supply-constrained market, are a policy so daft that I’m not aware of any serious analyst, from any side of the political/economic debate, who thinks they are a good idea (and Treasury and the Reserve Bank have opposed them). New Zealand was mercifully free of such subsidies for most of its history – and policy people used to look across the Tasman, slightly disdainfully, at the grants there. First home buyer grants are, largely, an expensive way of getting house prices a bit higher than they otherwise would be. And here that outcome is even more likely given the announced increases in accommodation supplement payments next year. Renters will be able to pay a bit more (so investors can afford to pay a bit more), and potential first home buyers would now also be able to pay a bit more – perhaps especially in provincial areas where the grant goes a bit further. Since the policy is well-foreshadowed, most of the effects will have been compounded into prices before the first young couple can get their increased grant.

These sorts of subsidies (FHB Grant, Accommodation Supplement) only pour fuel on the fire and are essentially subsidies flowing straight to investors.

The Bank via mortgage benefits, then the Landlord with his tax offset because of his bank debt, and then the renter...oh that's right, there is nothing left at that point.

Inevitably the landlord. My most vehement objection to this welfare is when it is being taken up by foreign landlords, imagine one with multiple houses, how much they can lift from the public purse


If 60% of rentals are subsidised by the Govt then that means the rents are not at market rates, the govt is pushing up the rates by subsidising.

Its a vicious circle where taxpayers are supporting landlords.

In order for landlords to take a person with subsidies there should be minimum standards such as

Fully insulated
Non leaky
mould free
P tested
minimum term leases at fixed pricing

And not foreign

Exactly. Its a massive rort of the taxpayer, with a significant % going offshore.

Here's one from the archive, Meteria Turei in 2011 expressing her disquiet with the way the landlord subsidy was going;

Watch the video - Metiria was right - the Government was wrong (and TSY forecasts were wrong). We're losing her and guess who's still in the race?

What did the Government do? SFA.

Along with Gingerninja you were an example to us of how to maintain a civil debate. It now appears we have collectively corrupted you.

Nah, you guys are all good - it was one of the kids that taught me that acronym yesterday. They were testing my 'texting' language knowledge :-).

This is just the taxpayer subsidising rents so the landlord benefits. Rents can go up and the taxpayer keeps on paying.


Still same old lies about migrants building houses and infrastructure:

" a construction sector where total employment has increased by 56000 in three years, perhaps only 2500 (or less than 5 per cent) of that increase has been met by the immigration of non-citizens.

So in that sense the answer to the Prime Minister’s question is easy. Who will build the houses if immigration is cut back? The same people who always overwhelmingly have, people who were already here.

So what would happen if, say, the 45000 residence approvals target was cut to, say, the 10000 to 15000 per annum I’ve been advocating (still, in per capita terms, around the rate of permanent approvals in the United States), and issuance of work visas was also tightened up, so that the stock of people on temporary work visas was no longer growing?

Given the huge scale of the pressures that new people put on the construction sector (not just houses, but roads, schools, offices, shops etc), and the fact that immigration policy as actually run has not seen us bring in many construction workers (10 per cent of the visas, when 25 per cent of the new jobs have been in construction), such a policy change would greatly ease resource pressures in the construction sector specifically.

It also misses a key point that residency is not a requirement in order to bring in workers to fulfill a need. Labour is brought in for short terms as required the world over, without the need for permanent residence. Olympic villages, skyscrapers, oil refineries...many of these rely on short term contract international labour.

"But I can tell you this: If you’re concerned about peoples’ incomes, then the answer is not more tax and more government spending"

Well that is certainly true. People don't get richer when you take their income away in tax.

Well, where does the tax money go? You know it doesn't disappear by magic. WFF, that alleviates poverty, Bill even said so.

It would be better to simply raise minimum wage to one which is enough to live on, instead of subsidise employers and land lords with WFF however.

In this article from 2014, at that time "the per capita cost of running the New Zealand government exceeds $16,000.":

So quite a lot appears to be lost to the running overheads of a large bureaucracy.

What is left gets spent; Social security and welfare: $28.9 billion, Health: $15.2 billion, Education: $13.8 billion, etc:

In the end, if you are someone who pays net income tax, they money they took out of your pocket does not magically reappear.

It magically reappears when you hit retirement, end up in hospital, send your kids to school, etc.

Ha ha ha, If you think that is the same dollar I have a ponzi scheme I would like you to buy into to. has a good breakdown of where the money goes if you are interested.

That 16K really is not well defined. "running the government" what exactly is that?

Tax is the price we pay to live in a healthy functioning society. A healthy functioning society creates opportunities for you to make money in.

Well lets reduce income tax, reduce GST, reduce corporation Tax.

Incease CGT.


Out of touch.


Baffled by Bill saying ""Slashing migration is going to make it very difficult to build the houses and the roads that we need to accommodate a growing economy and a growing population.”" The population is not growing because Kiwi families are having plenty of babies; it is growing because of immigration. Roughly put: no immigration no need for new roads and houses. More smoothly put: the demand is in the cities; cities are where most immigrants end up - it would be possible to maintain immigration if the immigrants were forced to stay in rural New Zealand.

The growing economy is not an economy growing in productivity nor in exports per capita. Our economy is ticking along building infrastructure for immigrants; spending on public transport because of congestion; building more hospitals and training more medical staff, etc. Without immigration the population would be steady and many businesses would suffer because they have got used to a steady increase in demand without actually earning it by being more effective.


The breeding situation will only worsen. Kiwis being priced out of homes is like a bird that can't find build a nest. We will see a dramatic change in popn make-up. Low local breeding by the educated/skilled replaced by more and more immigrants and local misfits..self perpetuation situation. Grandchildren will be a thing of the past...better choose your new pet.


It's sick rastas. I see Muslims pushing around double-kid prams while my other half and I can only really afford a dog.

The short sighted "economist" politicians see the birth rate go down and immediately import people from India and China. It's cultural suicide. Population growth is not a good thing for country with a very basic resource based economy like ours. The young middle class have been pillaged.

Housing is expensive. Food is expensive. The health care is rubbish. Crime is up. Time to give the Gnats the boot and give kiwis a chance.

Working for families sucks - it encourages dumb people to breed. Of course like any National/Labour lolly scrambles "Get **** you you don't qualify".

More like Idiocracy where only the stupid breed and the human race devolves into mass stupidity. At least there will be more National voters :)

The growing economy is growing in productivity though?

Thanks for the fascinating link. I put in the date range 2003 (when I arrived) to 2015 (latest figure for OECD average). In that time our GDP per hour worked increased by 10.69% but the OECD was 15.78% - please don't blame only me for lack of productivity it was over half a million other immigrants who were not pulling their weight.
Why we under-performed the average can only be guessed at. My guess is NZ was spending too much on demand created by immigrants instead of investing in exporting industries. The Christchurch earthquake and the GFC don't seem to make much difference.

I get 10.69% from 2003 to 2015 for NZ, the same as you do but for the OECD i get 13.51%

However if you change to 2004 to 2015 you get:
NZ - 11.16%
OECD - 10.97%

So a reasonable statement is that NZ productivity has grown roughly in line with the OECD average. Thats pretty remarkable given our relative size and location.

Agreed 13.51% not sure where I went wrong. I gave my reason for choosing those years. Certainly there are odditiies such as 2012; maybe too easy to chose data and date range to push one side or the other.
It seemed reasonable to compare with Australia and that doesn't look too good. And it has got worse in the last few years when the resource boom stopped.

It's the perfect circle, facilitate mass immigration to exacerbate the housing pressures to create a pretext for more mass immigration to build the housing for the... You get the idea.

And how come nary a peep from anyone in government or the media about the complete inadequacy of Auckland's waste management, where anything more than a stout mist results in raw sewage dumping into the Waitemata harbour. Even the 'ten year plan' to build more storm water infrastructure isn't expected to be able to handle the entirety of the present output, nevermind how many more people and their by-products there will be ten years from now. Such idiocy, such silence.


What's crazy is that only 2,000 or so of the net new migrants in 2016 had anything to do with construction. So all that increasing of demand, without bothering to import significant numbers of workers needed for building.

Yes - talk about poorly targetted immigration!!!!

A very interesting and in many respects prescient consideration of NZ immigration policy and its relationship to the Treaty of Waitangi written by Ranginui Walker back in 1993/4;

Well worth a full read.

But if you are in a hurry, here's Michael Reddell's blog on it;


Amy Adams National's housing spokesperson looked stupid when interviewed by Duncan Garner because she couldn't answer the simple question of how many houses were built in Auckland last year. National continue with their epic fail on housing.
English in his interview on the RNZ -made a series of excuses for why nothing could be changed. Well if nothing is changed then nothing will change.....
It is time for change so English and co must go....


As Phil Twyford said in his part of the Duncan Garner housing interview -the first Labour government of Mickey Savage and co did not give up before thy started. At a time of the Great Depression and World War 2 they did not lack political will and the ambition to do better for NZ. They were not daunted by labour, land and building material constraints. They trained workers, made the construction industry more productive, found affordable land, built commuter rail (Hutt Valley and Porirua). The first Labour government had a 'let's do it' attitude and it worked. I believe it is this heritage which Jacinda is channelling in her campaign.

Meanwhile Phil Goff (LAB) took the opportunity last month to ban housing from an area of affordable land at Takanini North. Just to make sure land costs stay elevated forever and poor people are screwed.

Now that is Labour Party in action, which you can see with your own eyes.


"the average wage was up $13,000 – twice the rate of inflation"

If average wage increases were indeed oustripping inflation by 2:1 ... growth would be ballistic
This is a straight out lie.

"He pointed to the minimum wage rising by.."

You do realise he his pointing to Statistics NZ figures?

in other words lies and damn statistics ... using averages rather than medians ... crap inflation measures like new tv prices (hello?) which dont reflect true cost of living increases etc

In other words; even if it *is* a lie, a claim for which you present no proof, it would be a NZ Statistics lie and not Mr English.

Im a big believer in the Mike Hosking standard of proof principle.

Yes. I think that is reasonably self-evident.

Let say inflation is 0.2% per year, and wage growth is 0.4% per year, the ratio is 2:1 but is growth ballistic? Math.

If the average wage has gone up $13,000 and oustripped inflation by double ... then there is $6500 MORE discretionary spending in there. Math.
Add that to the massive increases in personal DEBT .... Are you telling me that the economy wouldn't notice that?

Im not sure what you are trying to say but ill quote you below:
"If average wage increases were indeed outstripping inflation by 2:1 ... growth would be ballistic"
And then I explained how the ratio of 2:1 does not imply ballistic growth. I gave the example of: inflation 0.2% on a ratio of 2:1 would mean income growth of 0.4% and 0.4% wage growth does not imply ballistic growth.
So a ratio of 2:1 does not mean there is ballistic growth.

"the average wage was up $13,000 – twice the rate of inflation"

Inflation is measured by the CPI, which is a construct that has no direct relevance to a representative individual in an economy. If the CPI increases by 1% but a renter's housing costs increases by 5-10%, it doesn't mean that the renter's outgoings default to 1%.

CPI doesn't cover rises in house prices.
Increases in salaries have massively lagged increases in house prices.

This is what is missed by the media.

If your starting salary is 50,000, and you get 3% increase for five years, your salary is now: $58,000. Wow your salary grew faster than inflation, you should be doing great.

If a house costs $500,000 and its value increases by 10% per year for five years it now costs: $805,000.

During those five years the gap between income and cost of housing has grown exponentially. From a ratio perspective we've gone from 10:1, to 14:1. From a pure dollars perspective the difference between annual salary and cost of housing has increased from $450,000 to $747,000. Wow you just got fucked.

The point is what matters is not so much wage increases (an individual doing only 5 hours a week whose hourly rate has increased by 'x' is still likely only getting 5 hours a week). What one has to look at are overall household income increases to get a better feel for it.

Not sure what you mean but household incomes are rising:


In National`s world there are 3 types of people , farmers , business owners and landlords, anything outside these categories are consumeables

In National`s world there are 3 types of people , farmers , business owners and landlords, anything outside these categories are consumeables

Only if they're stupid. Consumer spending is the largest driver of economic vitality. The poorest spend a greater proportion of their income on consumer goods than the richest. The poor are vital for the economy, not as consumeables, but as consumers.

I think what Danish meant was we are consumable - ie to be eaten - if we are not a farmer, business owner or landlord.

Yes I know, but my comment is to suggest that there are economic externalities associated with oppressing the poor. You can argue that the farmers, business owners and landlords will simply spend what the poor transfer to them. Perhaps.

Yup National are catering for the 'me, here, now' people. Not realising that 'me, here, now' policies forget about the 'us, all of NZ, future' which also need attention....and neglecting it isn't the far can we kick the can? - if National get back in I guess we'll find out....

It's the trickle down bullshit National truely believe, but ultimately widens the gap between rich and poor. Where as trickle up (getting more money into the yards of the poor, and there's all sorts of poor including working poor) makes everyone richer because more wealth is spent in our economy, driving demand, and driving the ability to increase wages.

Trickle down theory is just that, a theory. Trickle down is purely discretionary.


In denial right up the the last day in office!!!!


Like a possum in headlights he simply doesn't know what to do. It is a kind of cognitive dissonance. He has absorbed such a single-minded approach to national well-being (it's all about GDP, and this rests on squarely on immigration) to such a degree that he can't see that anything can be - let alone needs to be - thought about differently.

Instead of seeing a society, he sees an economy. They are not the same thing. And we need to take account of both. The role of an economy is to support a society. It is not the role of society to carry the can for a disordered economy. Where in any of his or National party pronouncements is there the least concern with the kind of New Zealand society New Zealanders want? We want, I suggest, to live in a well functioning society, not a poorly functioning economic model.

You are incorrect about growth only coming from immigration:


How so, Laminar?
What does a flat normalised GDP curve tell us?

What do you mean flat? It grew, by my count, 5.2% over 6 years.

You mean 7 years? 105.2/100 (base is 2010).
Between 2010 and 2012 our population growth rate was declining. Interestingly we see increases in normalised GDP over that period, by your data.

...What about the last 5 years?
In that time population growth has been positive yoy and normalised GDP is, essentially, flat.

2010 - index 100
2011 - first year of growth
2012 - second year of growth
2013 - third year of growth
2014 - fourth year of growth
2015 - fifth year of growth
2016 - sixth year of growth
Change from base is 5.2% over 6 years of time

The data stops in 2016, we will have to wait until 2018 to get the 2017 data.

Sorry, correct. 6 Years.

Now tell us what the corresponding values are.
I currently have Matlab open, but I doubt we will need that (or even a calculator) to work out the period growth rates.

2010 - 100
2011 - 102.2
2012 - 105.7
2013 - 103.6
2014 - 102.8
2015 - 104.6
2016 - 105.2
Change from base is 5.2% over 6 years of time, about 0.85% p.a.

What about the change from 2012 to 2016?
is 105.2/105.7 lower than unity, perhaps?


2001 - 91
2002 - 92.8
2003 - 94.5
2004 - 94.1
2005 - 94.0
2006 - 95.4
2007 - 99.1
2008 - 96.0
2009 - 101
2010 - 100
2011 - 102.2
2012 - 105.7
2013 - 103.6
2014 - 102.8
2015 - 104.6
2016 - 105.2

2001 to 2016 = 15 years
GDP per hour rose from index 91 to index 105.2, that is 14.2 points over 15 years.
The arithmetic mean is 0.95% p.a.
The cumulative mean is 0.97% p.a.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

I'm sorry, Laminar.
I was unaware we were talking about the last 15 years.
Here I was thinking that the argument was about the last few years.
All very well you fitting a linear mean. That may persuade some dummies in an exec meeting. How about something non linear?

The exponential function to describe the line shape is almost identical to the linear function implying that it is very nearly a straight line.
The most I can deform it before it becomes farcical is y=88.48x^{0.057} which is still growth.

Why would you be deforming the function?
You are telling me that y=88.48x^0.057 is almost linear?

Tell me, Laminar, what is this shape?

And, what does it imply when we look at the 1st derivative at different values of x.

It is deformed because the line shape i gave you does not fit the data as well as a linear

What do you mean you need to deform it?
Just ln the x and y and use the normal ols functional form. Then exponential it back. There should be no need to 'deform' a fitted function. Otherwise, what's the point in fitting it to start with.

The curve is pretty worrying though, isn't it?
Seeing as the original concern was that growth is flattening (as shown by the figures you quoted), this pretty much reiterates this right?
Of course we have an asymptotic condition here so this function can never be negative. But, importantly we have reducing returns in x for normalised gdp while our population is growth is positively exponential in nature.

You cant extrapolate the long term trend from the data presented. There is a weak statement that can be made: growth in productivity is slowing, but that is often the case as countries develop. There is nothing overly concerning in the line shape because the line shape is not a very tight fit for the data so there is little evidence to suggest its the true long term trend.
The only reasonable thing to say is that there is evidence that NZ has persistent growth in productivity of around 0.8% to 1% p.a. over recent history.

I'm sorry, but that isn't a consistent conclusion. In my profession, you would get laughed at for making that assertion given the tail end trend of 5 years with no growth - which is what the discourse has been centered on.
Plus, by your own data, look at the other developed countries and tell me if you notice anything different between the case of NZ and the others over the past 5 periods. NZ is dragging down the average.

Yes, that looks like a much better ln function.

Oh sorry your replying, 1 min

Here is another way to look at this data:


That is the list of productivity change by year. It generates the following line shape:
y = -0.31ln(x) + 1.573
which is more illustrative of growth over time and even includes societal collapse :-)

This is first difference data in levels?
This should (in theory) have a constant mean...And you are trying to fit a log function to it?

Are you sure you have any idea what you are doing?

What you see there is the actual annual change in productivity. As a scatter plot youl see that its very random. Never the less for fun you can still calculate a line shape and that line shape is indeed a logarithmic function. It shows growth in productivity declines with time at reducing rate, but that in 160 years we would actually start going backwards. Never the less thats just me having a laugh because the data is simply too variable to fit a reasonable trend to project a long term line shape.
As to your claim:
"In my profession, you would get laughed at for making that assertion given the tail end trend of 5 years with no growth - which is what the discourse has been centered on."
Firstly the idea that 2012 by itself is the trend rather than the outlier is silly. I have been showing you this fact by showing you the long term trend to help you see that there is a trend of growth and that trend continues. Consider that the 6 year period from before and the 4 year period after both show growth and it is only by picking 2012 specifically that you can draw a downward sloping line. Doing such a thing is what would be laughed at. 2012 is an outlier, the trend is clear.
If you truly think that cherry picking 2012 specify is the most accurate way to represent the recent trend then that sir, is laughable.
The data is highly variable and so outlier results are to be expected. To account for such outliers, smoothed trends should be used.
You are like some guys who claim that global warming stopped 1998 but ignore the trend and arbitrarily decide that 1998 is where the trend line should start... But drawing the trend from almost any other year shows continuous warming.
Using your bunk concept of cherry picking one year you would have made the nonsense claim that in 2004 NZ had turned a corner and productivity was heading downwards long term and again in 2008 you would have claimed productivity was headed down for the long term and yet again in 2010!
In fact using your methodology you'd be calling long term declines in productivity every few years :-)
Caught by the outlier!
"Hasty generalization is an informal fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence—essentially making a rushed conclusion without considering all of the variables. In statistics, it may involve basing broad conclusions regarding the statistics of a survey from a small sample group that fails to sufficiently represent an entire population."

Are you kidding Laminar? NZ has one of the worst productivity records in the OECD. Check out Michael Reddells posts, e.g.,

Or look at NZ's productivity compared to other countries at PPP:

Our base level, for example, is $US 37/hour vs Australia at $US 56/hour. We are miles behind any country we think we can compare with.

@rgb73 nymad said growth in NZ only comes from immigration, and i pointed out that hes wrong. Your data backs this up as does my own. nymad made a stupid comment and hes been struggling to find a way out of that. If you wanna talk about productivity that is fine but my point is that there is growth in NZ beyond immigration.

All countries have improving productivity. Think of all the small technological improvement (such as a spell checker as I write); say drones and tablets improving productivity in numerous ways - tradesmen can see the problem with a picture on their phone before they even arrive, etc. Productivity increasing should be the norm. What is odd is how NZ with a highly skilled work-force has lower productivity per capita increase than average OECD countries or specifically say Australia.

nymad is claiming that there is onyl growth by way of immigration, im debunking that. Your talking about how well we do in relative terms to other countries productivity which is a different topic.



'Instead of seeing a society, he sees an economy'

You just nailed it right there.

Apart from generalised talk about a prefabrication factory in Gisborne and an apprenticeship support scheme, the question English asks about where the Jacinda party is going to magic up the required house construction infrastructure from, remains unanswered. The CHCH rebuild was strongly dependent on immigrant labour which Cindy is going to drastically slash. AKL will be many times bigger.

If there is no increase in affordable land does it really matter?

Very few of the current visas are construction-related. There's plenty of room to change the mix. Labour also have suggested a new category of visa specifically for this.

Why not import fewer Uber drivers and more builders, rather than National's current mix?

Acknowledging the crisis and beginning work on addressing it is better than persisting with the lie that there is no crisis even though you might have campaigned on said crisis to get in.

I agree that there's no way Labour are going to be able to magic up any more houses than what are being built already, but if Adern does carry through on her promise to cut immigration it will help the problem massively since such a tiny percentage of immigrants are involved in building:
" a construction sector where total employment has increased by 56000 in three years, perhaps only 2500 (or less than 5 per cent) of that increase has been met by the immigration of non-citizens."

'I agree that there's no way Labour are going to be able to magic up any more houses than what are being built already'
I don't agree.
A large prefabrication plant supported by government could deliver mass housing quicker, and at scale, on government land.
This is the basis for Kiwibuild.

You may be right, if they were government funded, but actually I hope not because the other day on RNZ Adern said she would be very happy for 70,000 people a year to come to NZ if there were houses for them.

I dispute this - a direct link that supports that please.

2017 will see less house built in Auckland than 2016. So there's obviously excess labor available. Combine it with government funded building of homes smaller than the industry average size, and pre fab effencies Labour will be able to get more homes built without importing more builder.

Vote wisely, people. Clearly the present lot are so out of touch with reality & only making matters worse. Time for change.

Nothing a like an out of touch career politicians B.S. rhetoric. hard to know where to start after 9 years of tinkering, inaction - one crises to the next ...The failure of neoliberalism, rise of the asset class / professional global investors wiping out the average earning essential service providers, families and communities from the basic need of a home.
Maybe someone else can Govern our society fairly and make the tough decisions that need to be made?

Real estate agents are saying that house prices are only stalling due to pre election jitters and LVR. So once the LVR ends, it will be business as usual for house prices, according to them. They also say aucklands prices are current stabilising.

It is not in a real estate agent's DNA to do anything other than spruik the market

The market is demand driven, record high immigration creates demand. Real Estate agents are correct, the Auckland market is taking a breather for the election and winter, meanwhile pressure is building.

No tax pledge will get National in for another term, for sure.


Carry on Bill. Ignore the noise and continue to deal with issues as you and your co have done so far. Common sense will prevail.

Carry on Bill, Ignore the issues and continue to make noise as you and your co have done so far. Common sense will prevail.

There you go, all fixed for you. You're welcome.

David Seymour announces "I can't afford my own house in Auckland".
He said "clearly the market is stuffed for everybody"
One suggestion for him - vote Labour on Sat.

That Bolger is a good man.

Scathing of Don Brash. I think we can share a crate Jim.

Good comment Middleman , gees I am sick and tired of that womans face on tv and the friggen kids show on politics I just switched off.
I have voted already not interested in this last week of promises


English is an idiot.
The construction sector may be at capacity, and not building enough houses, but that was totally foreseeable many years ago and his government have simply not done enough to promote apprenticeships, bring in enough construction immigrants etc.
Another great example of poor planning and policy from the government.

Couldn't agree more - the article is spot on.

That article nails it.
Gordon Campbell is a very clever man.

"faith trumps the evidence"

Aint that the truth.

Lets not look at record numbers of homelessness, or DTIs greater then 10, average house prices greater then 900K in Auckland, waiting ques in hospitals, traffic jams that last for 2 hours or more.......

Lets just call people lefties and losers.


The government was also spending $2 billion a year underpinning rentals. “Sixty percent of all rentals in New Zealand are subsidised by government, and that has grown as the rentals have grown. On 1 April next year, accommodation assistance, particularly in South and West Auckland will grow quite significantly,” he said. Some families would get over $100 a week extra, “because their rents have gone up”.

This sounds like an issue where throwing money at the problem should not be the solution.


To claim that National are the common sense party then see what they are doing on this issue....its nuts! $2 billion...imagine the investment that could be made on things that will produce for the country with that amount of money....sorry team...these National turkeys have to go......

National aren't delivering for all NZ'ers, they're deliverying for landlords and farmers....and thats about it....

Don't for get the millions (or is it a billion) spent on motels for emergency accommodation.

The reality is mass government home building doesn't have to have a negative impact on the tax dollars. You sell some, and rent the others (instead of handing out benefits), then the money you get self funds the next round of building and so on and so one until supply and demand become equalised and can no longer find owners for new homes.

National is the sticky tape and plaster government, its like a big dam with leaks all over the place, soon its going to blow.

Yes, I wasn't aware that 60% of rentals are indirectly subsidized (I'm not based in NZ).

Quite frankly, that's obscene and obviously one of the drivers of this ridiculous situation.

The day the subsidies stop or we have a recession, I think our housing market might crash....(no rent payment, landlords default on mortgage repayments, house goes on market for sale, oversupply on market, prices crash). I mean if 60% of people can't afford to pay landlords based upon their take home salary - then our whole housing market and residential lending/debt structure is built on's going to crumble at some point in time...

Yes we subsidize many, many wastrels and blood suckers. That is what taxation does, when in the wrong hands.

About time we resolved this issue. About time we did things in the Countries benefit, not those overseas and pumping up our already over priced houses, for Capital the National Interest.

WE need an honest Party, not a bent one running our warped system.. Get back to basics.....when a House was a Home, not an invest-meant.

The buildings that can be built at a profit in the Auckland market are larger dwellings, typically in the sprawling exurbs favoured by Auckland Council.

But if land were opened up to Auckland, with land costs lowered our exact same scale building industry could make 70 - 100% more houses.

Not that this will ever happen, because Phil Goff (LAB) and Bill English (NAT) are both opposed to doing anything useful.

Going going..... and voted out.

Gotta say he is fully commitment to protecting bank and specuvestor property debt over tax paying kiwis is quite remarkable. Just sad that its at the expense of the averageman working and paying tax in NZ. Shame on National. Really solidifies my vote as not him. Prepared to suffer the rabble on the other side to get housing corrected.

Picking Labour will definitely flip lop on one key promise -they will change taxes withing the 36 month window, I'm picking it will be changed/fixed before Xmas.

It's amazing how hard core his specuvestor supporters are though...their moral compass disappeared somewhere back around 2010 and since then all they see are dollar signs....and National are their police force...bit of a shame that hundreds of thousands of kiwis have turned into greedy (insert word here...)

It's not surprising though, given that most people vote in their own interests.

I have some modest equity in the property that I live in, but I'd love seeing prices come down a decent amount. It would make upgrading to a slightly nicer property much cheaper.

I'd love to see a poll on
1. Are you voting to benefit yourself?
2. Are you voting to benefit the society you live in?

I'm proud to be in number 2.

WOW - am I reading this right?

There has been an increase in enrolments of:

45% in the 18-24 yo age group
30% in the 25-29 yo age group
15% in the 30-34 yo age group

Whereas across all age groups, enrolments are only up 10%.

If that is right, I'm thinking that the a large proportion of the newly enrolled demographic might well have registered/enrolled at the same time at one of the advance voting polling stations - which means they will be counted as Special Votes, and that count (of Special Votes) doesn't happen on election night.

Therefore, if there has been a 'youth quake' it might be two weeks before we understand the full effect of it on the final make up of Parliament.

I sincerely hope so, the last stats I saw (off the top of my head) showed 98% for over 65s enrolled, last stats I saw for under 24s was really low, so if that's additional we're going to see a Corbyn-esque galvanization. Go on the young 'uns!

Oops, false alarm - sorry about that - see explanation below.

Only two days to go for new enrolments - can't enrol on election day - wonder why we haven't seen the Orange Man telling us that on the telly?

You may have pasted the wrong link because I don't see what you are getting at.


I'd recommend reading your link again, this time for comprehension.

Your "increase in enrolments" is actually = (total eligible - total enroled) / total enroled) -1

In other words, for the 18-24 age group, when looking at the enroled people, there are 46% more people that are not enroled.

You are not reading this right.

I so wish that the elections were over.

I voted today,.. You?

Thanks! Yes, you're right!!!! I thought 'Difference' meant in enrolments between last election period and this one. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted. LOL.

No, haven't voted yet - tradition - always walk to the polling booth together as a family on the day - with the dog too :-).

Congrats that for you, it's done :-)! We do need a four year term.

I do find it interesting that your original post has a few likes... does anyone actually read links or is it just "like the sound of that" and click on the thumbs-up.

I hope your dog is enrolled to vote.


Wonder if John Keys 20m house sale would have been allowed under Labours excellent policy?

Labour’s ban on foreign speculators purchasing existing houses will be based on the Australian policy. Under our policy only citizens and permanent residents will be able to buy existing homes. The ban will also apply to foreign trusts and foreign corporations. Removing this speculative demand from the market will help stabilise prices and give Kiwi families a fair shot at buying a place of their own.

Johnny knows how to time a market.

HAHAHA, I read all the dooms and glooms comments on this today and rolled over laughing ... I just started to admire the "twisting" and "tossing" ability of some commentators here today ...trying desperately to pull all and any BS out of the air to counter anything that BE said ... a bunch of moaners crying on each other's shoulders ....and patting each other's backs
First note though, If what he is saying about the 10,000 house max building capacity in Auckland , then Labour will be able to do stuff all to change the current situation and their promise of "Homes for All" running on radio promos ...
Another observation, prices have flattened or slightly fallen in the last 12 months, Immigration numbers were actually higher , sales numbers were noticeable down ... SO migration are not the major reason for house price inflation !!!! ...
Not every buyer is interested in a 100m2 affordable 500-600K home, in fact only 18% FHB will do so ... the rest want 4-5 bdrms, 200-350m2 houses on the beach or in City centre - the once which have $1m+ price tag - these need to be built too ....!!
Maybe some doomers and gloomers need to think and see a bit further than their own nose ..!

"“Whenever I hear people talk pessimistically about this country, I think they’re out of their mind,” Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc"

There are other optimists out there.

" need to think and see a bit further than their own nose ..!"

Right back at you.

House prices not related to immigration - agreed not a direct relationship. However with our failure to build you can directly relate immigration with homelessness - Kiwi families living in garages, cars and government provided motels.


"Because the fundamental problem, particularly here in Auckland was that, when the demand came on – 150,000 Kiwis who we thought would leave in the last five years, but stayed home, that’s extra pressure in the market"

Fundamental problems, yeah NZers get out of NZ, we dont want you, we want to import more people. NZ is not for NZers anymore. Your creating problems.

I tell you what Bill, if you want more NZers to leave NZ, why dont you show us what to do and leave.

All those on here against National should club together in small groups and buy a house ! bad news otherwise, looks like National are back in so 3 more years of whining on here and your going nowhere fast.

Dont need to club together buddy, most have their own houses, some have businesses. I have a scalable business, which hopefully if I can get the right investors I can take global.

But what I dont like and you obviously do like.

Is the homelessness, the waiting ques in hospitals, the debt that our children will hold for the rest of their lives, productivity decreases where productive business that can be global are disregarded in favour of property, the traffic ques which can last over 2 hours, the mass immigration of people who are not integrating, the low skill jobs that keep wages low, the lack of training and apprenticeships for our youth, house prices that are so out of whack with wages that will leave our children in debt for the rest of their lives, or renting for the rest of their lives.

If you think our country revolves around property and thats all your focus is, then that just shows how bad NZ has become. I would prefer NZ to become a highly intellectual country focussing on IT/BIO and any type of scalable business, that go world wide. Create a few unicorns, get more people like Rod Drury, so we can have Kiwis we are truely proud of in the business world.

Look at these guys for inspiration.

But hey if you want to think small................