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National sits on hands as housing & skills shortages worsen



Housing Spokesperson

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8 September 2011

National sits on its hands as housing and skills shortages worsen

The National Party has no plan to deal with the ever-worsening housing crisis and ever-growing shortage of skilled tradespeople says Labour Housing Spokesperson Moana Mackey.

Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand show that building activity has fallen to the lowest level in ten years, led by a drop in residential building activity which fell by 12% in the June quarter.

“Residential building activity has fallen by 24% over the last year, and is now at the lowest level in 18 years. The National government has sat on its hands as housing shortages have worsened, apprentices have been laid off, and skilled tradespeople have headed overseas in droves,” Moana Mackey said.

“By contrast the Australian Government introduced a housing stimulus package of more than $5 billion to support their residential building sector through the global financial crisis and build much needed housing infrastructure. No wonder so many of our tradespeople have jumped the ditch.

“The depressed state of the residential building sector means that urgent action needs to be taken to ensure we have the workforce required to rebuild Christchurch, deal with the leaky buildings crisis, and start to address New Zealand’s ever worsening housing shortages.

“As Master Builders Federation chief executive Warwick Quinn has repeatedly pointed out, there is no longer the capacity left in the sector to do this work.

“Labour has a plan. We would start by focussing on the 24,000 teenagers who are currently not in work, education or training. As part of our recently announced youth unemployment package, instead of paying young people to sit on the unemployment benefit, Labour would convert dole payments into a $8700 subsidy to fund 9000 additional apprenticeship places.

“These trainees would be ready for work at the peak of the Christchurch rebuild in 2014-15.

“Importing tradespeople from overseas to carry out this work is ridiculous when unemployment in New Zealand remains stubbornly high. Labour wants to give young kiwis training opportunities and a reason to stay in New Zealand. National prefers to bury it’s head in the sand,” Moana Mackey said.


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