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Pass mark for government, hard issues need tackling

19 August 2011

Pass mark for government, hard issues need tackling

Property Council New Zealand is calling on the government to tackle some hard issues that will address New Zealand’s fundamental economic problem – productivity.

Today at its National Conference in Sydney Property Council outlined a new policy manifesto, Fast-forward to Growth, due for publication in September. The document will give the Government a pass mark for weathering the global financial crisis and impact of the Canterbury earthquakes.

But Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said unless New Zealand prioritised some hard issues and made further economic and regulatory reforms to improve productivity, it would struggle to improve its OECD rankings.

Recommended policy measures in the document include unlocking New Zealand’s natural infrastructure assets, including the potential for spending on water irrigation, along with onshore and offshore mineral exploration and road infrastructure spending and delivery.

“Road infrastructure plays an important role in the timely and efficient movement of freight and we need a unified approach to infrastructure funding and delivery. New Zealand is too small to be divided over infrastructure spending.”

Property Council argues the infrastructure spend of local authorities needs to be regulated and aligned with central government’s national plan.

Mr Townsend said New Zealand needed to be a place of opportunity for skilled young people and that meant being able to compete against global markets to offer jobs, and being open to global capital and global labour.

“Key to attracting a skilled population is offering an affordable place to live. Local authorities play a huge role in driving development costs that get passed on to potential home owners.

“It’s time local authority funding mechanisms such as development contributions are overhauled, because as the cost of credit continues to go up, people’s ability to wear taxes and charges, along with the cost of the developer obtaining finance, will be totally squeezed.”

Councils across New Zealand also need to be more liberal in allowing development opportunities to be realised. “The days of debating projects and consent applications are over. We need to encourage development by changing Unitary Plans to allow discretionary activities as permitted activities.”

Property Council argues the commercial heart of Australian cities are progressing, while New Zealand’s risk stalling.

Mr Townsend said the government was wrong to move on depreciation last year. “We are now out of step with our major OECD partners, sending a very negative message to potential investors, who view our stock as more expensive to maintain and upgrade.”


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