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Govt’s power hungry approach a threat


Phil
TWYFORD
Housing Spokesperson

17 May 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Govt’s power hungry approach a threat
The Government’s power hungry approach is causing its housing policy to unravel before the ink on the Budget is dry, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

Last week the Government said this, ‘The Government commits not to use any proposed or existing powers ... to override the council's planning and consenting processes’. But its housing Bill says this; ‘If an accord cannot be reached in an area of severe housing unaffordability, the Government can intervene by establishing special housing areas and issuing consents for developers’.

“No wonder Auckland Council says the so-called Accord is in danger of falling over.

“Desperate to be seen to be doing something, the Government could not resist riding in over the top and giving itself extra powers to override Councils if they cannot negotiate an agreement.

“This Government rides roughshod over anyone who gets in their way.

“What we haven’t seen from this government is a commitment to addressing the tax and investment drivers of housing speculation. Or even a basic commitment to dig in and deliver affordable homes like Labour’s KiwiBuild will.

“This is a massive expansion of powers, which would mean decisions would be made by the minister in his Beehive office, away from the community concerned.

“Mayor Len Brown has also pointed out that the Bill contains a number of inconsistencies with the agreement he negotiated with Nick Smith in relation to people having a say on new developments, rules applying to new houses, who runs the process and the extent of appeals.

“Clearly Auckland Council feels betrayed. They negotiated in good faith only to have the Government then sneakily insert extra powers in the Bill.

“The Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill sets up the legal framework for the Government’s deal with Auckland to fast track elements of the Unitary Plan, including the rules for development of both greenfields and brownfields land, as well as fast tracked consenting. The Government has indicated it wants to roll these types of agreements out across the country.

“Labour voted for the Bill to go to select committee because we recognise that while the Bill is an inadequate response to Auckland’s housing crisis, a deal hammered out by the Government and Auckland Council at least deserves to be properly reviewed at select committee.”

ENDS

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