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Housing red-tape move is election-year amnesia

Phil Heatley MP National Party Housing Spokesman

26 March 2008

Housing red-tape move is election-year amnesia

National Party Housing spokesman Phil Heatley says Labour's election-year moves at the margins of housing affordability need to be laid against its appalling record of failure.

"This is a classic case of election-year amnesia.

"Government papers confirm real house prices have increased by close to 80% between March 2002 and March 2007, around the same increase as was recorded across the entire 1962-2002 period.

"In 2000, 59% of renting couples (including couples with and without children) and 11% of non-partnered individuals could have afforded a lower-quartile price house. By 2006 that figure had fallen to 29% of renting couples and 2% singles. It is even worse in Auckland where only 6% of renting couples could afford a lower-quartile priced house.

"And when, house prices have risen at 5-6 times the rate of wages and salaries since 2001*, keeping interest rates under control and lifting after tax incomes must be part of the solution.

"The experts are now telling us the cost of red-tape can add up to $55,000 to the cost of building a new home. That's why Labour should be acting for the majority rather than focussing on the fringes.

"Carving a few thousand dollars off standardised building consent applications, as Labour is doing, is like trying to use a water pistol to put out a raging forest fire. Something is always going to be better than nothing - but the initiatives launched at the weekend would appear to be the very least Labour can do after eight years of denial.

"For instance, while the cost of materials used on an average house has risen by 25% in five years, the cost of infrastructure levies and fees have increased by around 900% and consent fees have increased by about 58%.**

"Labour's own housing unit agrees that the measures unveiled at the weekend are unlikely to make much of a difference to the majority of new home buyers. Alongside fixing the Resource Management Act and the Building Act, more has to be done to free up land so the price of sections can come down to a reasonable level. The cost of land for an average house has doubled in the past five years**.

"For years, National has been warning Labour about the costs of its red-tape and bureaucracy. It is a handbrake on the economy, and a drain on the public purse.

"Labour now appears to be trying to disown its legacy on housing unaffordability. Struggling home buyers should not let them."


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