Free Press, 25 June 2018


 

Free Press, 25 June

 

Wonderful news

 

The news that the Prime Minister delivered a baby girl on Thursday is wonderful. We extend our congratulations to Jacinda and Clarke and wish them all the very best as they take time off to be with their newborn.

 

A superficial housing solution

 

Phil Twyford is trying to convince construction firms and investors to begin building prefab houses in New Zealand in order to meet his KiwiBuild targets.

 

There would be absolutely no need for the Government to coax private companies to build houses if we had a truly free market in housing.

 

The myth of government home building

 

New Zealand is currently building a lower number of homes per capita than in the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, and the 2000s.

 

The problem is not a lack of government involvement in the housing market.

 

Between 1938 and 1970 – when the government was seriously into house-building – it only managed to build 94,000. In the same time period, the private sector built half a million.

 

The story of the housing crisis has been one of government failure. Regulation makes it far too difficult for councils to free up land. That has the effect of pushing up the price of land and houses and prevents the private sector from getting on and building.

 

Reaching our potential

 

ACT says we need to:

 

  • Abolish the Rural-Urban Boundary outside which development of new houses is banned

 

  • Remove New Zealand’s large cities from the Resource Management Act, and create separate urban development legislation, prioritising land supply and reducing red tape on developers

 

  • Incentivise councils to consent more land for development and build more infrastructure, by sharing a portion of GST levied on construction.

 

These measures will restore per capita building rates to those achieved in the 1970s.

 

Fees-Free a massive flop

 

New data released by the Tertiary Education Commission shows that the Government’s flagship tertiary education policy has been a failure.

 

Despite an injection of $275 million of taxpayer money, full-time equivalent university student numbers are down by 0.3 per cent this year.

 

The Government claimed Fees-Free would make university ‘more accessible’.

 

Predictably, it has turned out to be a subsidy for students from well-off families who would have gone to university anyway and who will earn much more over their lives than non-graduates.

 

Councils want new taxing powers

 

Phil Twyford has opened up Pandora’s box with his regional fuel tax legislation.

 

Designed to solve a problem in Auckland, ACT can reveal that 14 councils around the country are now discussing the prospect of introducing a regional fuel tax. Ratepayers are set to be hit even harder in the pocket.

 

These are the kinds of unintended consequences government interventions create.

 

Free Press says that giving councils the power to tax is like putting Gareth Morgan in charge of a cattery – it’s never going to end well.

 

A dog’s breakfast 

 

The Government’s foreign buyer ban has been rushed through due to the need to pass it before the CPTPP is ratified.

 

It looks like a dog’s breakfast with all sorts of exemptions being inserted into the Bill.

 

One exemption in particular – for the luxury Te Arai property development in Northland – is noteworthy.

 

Despite being told by Parliament’s lawyers the exemption was inappropriate, Labour members of the Finance and Expenditure Committee inserted it into the Bill anyway. It was later struck down by Speaker Trevor Mallard.

 

Free Press is told this is the first time in a decade the Speaker has ruled out a public bill because it tried to do special favours for a particular group.

 

What’s the real story?

 

David Parker – the Minister in charge of the Bill – says his office put the exemption in. But why?

 

We don’t quite know, but media are reporting on a couple of links between the Government and the development.

 

Parker is acquaintance of John Darby, the developer involved, and Darby’s PR firm is run by Jacinda Ardern’s former Chief of Staff.

 

ACT will be asking questions of Mr Parker – stay tuned.