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Downturn in building sector ideal timing for state house build

5 December 2011

Downturn in building sector ideal timing for state house build

The Government can stop the potential loss of capacity and skills in the building sector by investing in state house construction before the rebuild of Christchurch gets underway, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

Dr Norman was responding to building and construction statistics released today that showed the residential building sector at its lowest point in 18 years. The trend for the volume of all building work fell 4.0 percent in the September 2011 quarter, and is now at its lowest level in 10 years.

“The National Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the building sector. They risk losing capacity and skills from the construction industry while they wait for the Christchurch rebuild to get underway,” said Dr Norman.
“The residential construction industry has reached new lows not seen since 1993.

“Losing more skilled labour to Australia would be a disastrous outcome for the Christchurch rebuild.

“A smarter way forward would be to smooth the contraction by investing in state and community sector housing construction, bridging the gap between the current downturn and the Christchurch rebuild.

“Expanding the supply of state housing now would increase the stock of housing in the market, limiting the possibility of another housing price spike caused by a lack of supply.

The Green Party have costed plans to build an additional 2000 state and community sector houses before the rebuilding of Christchurch gets underway. The initiative would cost $670 million and employ 3,100 directly — creating 9,300 jobs in total if indirect and upstream employment effects are included.

“There’s a huge shortage of rental accommodation, especially in Auckland. The building of an additional 2000 new energy-efficient state and community sector houses nationally would help rents become affordable and give more families the security of a place to call home,” Dr Norman said.

“While National sits on their hands, watching skilled labour move to Australia, we have a plan that can keep talent here, usefully employed, and providing much-needed housing for those languishing on state house waiting lists.”

The Green Party have previously outlined measures to raise revenues to pay for the additional state houses including a long overdue capital gains tax (excluding the family home).

Link to Statistics New Zealand figures:

Link to further details of the Green Jobs package:


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