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ACT Proposes Improvements To Housing Legislation

ACT Leader David Seymour has written to Labour and National outlining three policies that would significantly improve their joint-housing policy.

“ACT agrees that there is a major problem with housing affordability, we are pleased to see a supply side solution proposed. However, Labour and National are in danger of failing to deliver on their promise, while creating division and resentment in the community. They need to focus on infrastructure and pull the zoning changes back to a level supported by their own modelling,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Labour and National have promised the public that they will deliver homes, and that they’ll work together to achieve it. Unfortunately their solution ignores the real problem of infrastructure funding, and the price of working secretly together is that they couldn’t work with anyone else.

“Since the announcement, it has become clear that there was no consultation. Now, the Bill will go through under urgency, with only a three week Select Committee process, meaning there is now little opportunity for developers or councils to give feedback. Contrary to the Government’s Principles of Engagement with local government, senior council figures were refused a pre-announcement briefing, let alone being asked to contribute to the policy.

“Since the announcement, I have consulted with a number of people including planning experts, developers, and Councillors, all of whom raised similar concerns.

“To address these concerns, ACT has three proposals to improve this legislation:”

1. GST Sharing: ACT supports the building of new homes, and we understand that homes come with infrastructure costs that need to be met. That is why we proposed a policy to ensure that local councils receive a payment equivalent to 50 per cent of the GST for every new dwelling constructed in its territory. The policy provides both an incentive for councils to enable building, and a means of covering some of the costs that fall on them as a result. It transforms development from being a source of cost to a source of revenue.

2. Public-Private Partnerships: Tapping into private sector investment will help fund new projects faster and at less cost to New Zealanders. By using public-private partnerships, the Government can limit the cost and risk taken on by taxpayers and councils.

- Immediately fast track and seek proposals under the Infrastructure and Financing Act

- Immediately begin work to seek out and secure private capital for new infrastructure projects (ACT has supported combining Crown Infrastructure Partners and the Infrastructure Commission with this mandate, but we are open to discussion on the method of delivery).

3. Abandon the MDRS and use the existing Auckland MHS Zone to achieve intensification: ACT proposes that, instead of imposing an entirely new zone, the legislation should simply require that zones with lower intensity than those that currently exist are upzoned to Mixed Housing Suburban (MHS) and, in cities where such a zone does not exist, use the MHS zone. The exemption from Resource Consents could remain, simply using the Auckland MHS rules, and removing the restriction on further quality standards in building consents.

“The current legislation is divisive, Labour and National have promised one generation houses that councils cannot afford to service, and needlessly scapegoated another in the process. Sadly, neither National nor Labour have a good track record around housing.

“People are likely to be disappointed. They will conclude that National and Labour have both fouled up housing by themselves, but now, with their powers combined, they’re going to foul it up beyond all recognition.

“ACT wants to support good policy to solve the housing crisis. We can’t support the legislation as it currently stands. We urge both National and Labour to demonstrate that they are serious about cross-party solutions by engaging with the concerns we have raised.”

A copy of the letter to Megan Woods and Judith Collins can be found here.

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