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‘How Do We Fix New Zealand’s Housing Crisis?’

Monday 2 September, 2013

‘How Do We Fix New Zealand’s Housing Crisis?’

Government And Opposition Powerbrokers Go Head-to-Head in a Special Edition of Tv3’s ‘the Vote’

Is the Kiwi dream of owning your own home on the way out? Or is there a way to make housing more affordable? Do we need to ban foreign buyers, let our cities sprawl or do more to help first-home buyers onto the property ladder?

This month, The Vote tackles housing, asking “How do we fix New Zealand’s housing crisis?” In a piece of television history, the people answering that question are the political powerbrokers, in the first primetime multi-party debate to be held outside an election campaign, screening on Wednesday 11 September, at 8.30pm on TV3.

Just over a year from the 2014 General Election, and as the Labour party prepares to select its next leader, Kiwis will get their best chance to compare Government and Opposition approaches to the housing crisis. In a departure from its usual format, The Vote will be divided into three parts, each covering a key area of the housing debate: foreign ownership, first home buyers and the housing shortage.

The Vote: Housing Special will give Kiwis a rare insight into the Government’s plans, and the alternatives offered by Opposition parties. The coin toss has determined Duncan Garner will lead the Government team, with Sam Lotu-Iiga representing National, Peter Dunne speaking for United Future and John Banks for ACT. Guyon Espiner will lead the Opposition team, with Labour’s Phil Twyford, New Zealand First’s Winston Peters, and Metiria Turei representing The Green Party.

Broadcaster and lawyer, Linda Clark will again be charged with keeping the debaters in line and on topic. This month, instead of asking viewers to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the moot, she will invite them to vote ‘Gov’ or ‘Opp’ to indicate who they think offers the best solutions to the housing crisis, the Government or the Opposition.

Housing has been the topic of heated debate this year as prices in New Zealand hit record highs and home ownership rates fell as low as they’ve been for 50 years. Just 65 percent of Kiwis now own their own homes, down from 75 percent in the 1990s. In that time, house prices have more than doubled.

The median house price in New Zealand is now $385,000 – nearly 10 percent higher than the previous peak in 2007. In Auckland and Christchurch a median home now costs seven times the median household income, compared to just twice the median income in 1980, and Prime Minister John Key has said he fears young New Zealanders are “being locked out of the housing market altogether”.

Senior Producer Tim Watkin says: “We’re really excited to be able to pull together such a significant debate on The Vote.

“Housing literally hits people where they live, so this month we’re asking politicians for their solutions – what can they do to stop the next generation of Kiwis from being a generation of renters?

“It’s the first time six parties have agreed to debate on primetime television outside an election campaign, and that’s because New Zealanders care so much about this issue. We all need to know what the future holds for housing in New Zealand.”

Joining Duncan and Guyon next week are representatives of all main political parties:

THE GOVERNMENT – Led by Duncan Garner
• Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has been the National MP Maungakiekie for five years and chairs the Social Services Select Committee, which oversees the passage of new housing laws. Sam grew up in South Auckland after emigrating from Samoa as a child, and now lives in Onehunga with his family. He has an MBA from the University of Cambridge, and worked in law and banking before entering politics. In his electorate he sees developers stifled by regulations and says the Government is on the right track with its housing strategy – freeing up land for development, making councils quicken housing consents and keeping interest rates low.
• John Banks leads the ACT Party and is MP for Epsom. He is also a minister under the National-led Government. ACT’s main housing policy is giving Kiwis the Freedom to Build. That means fewer regulations and quicker consenting processes, as well as freeing up more land. Banks believes this is “the quickest and most effective way to make housing more affordable” and endorses the Government’s action in this area. ACT opposes a ban on foreign buyers, believing we should be encouraging foreign investment in New Zealand. He also opposes a Capital Gains Tax, saying it will only create more red tape.
• Peter Dunne is MP for Ohariu and leader of United Future, which has a confidence and supply agreement National. He supports the government’s direction with housing and the need for more affordable homes. Dunne does not believe we have a housing ‘crisis’ but a problem that could be helped by allowing families to capitalise their Working for Families payments to support the buying, extension or upkeep of a house. He thinks the Opposition parties’ policy of banning foreign buyers is racist and a solution looking for a problem.

THE OPPOSITION – Led by Guyon Espiner
• Phil Twyford is Labour’s MP for Te Atatu and Spokesperson for Housing. His background includes working as a journalist before setting up Oxfam New Zealand. A Capital Gains Tax of 15 percent (exempting the family home) was at the forefront of Labour’s election campaign in 2011 – and remains one the party’s key policies to help more Kiwis reach the home ownership dream. Labour has also announced a plan to build 100,000 houses over 10 years and restrict foreign ownership of New Zealand properties.
• Metiria Turei has been the Green Party Co-leader since 2009 and a Green MP since 2002. Metiria lives in Dunedin and has worked as a lawyer, as well as an advocate for the unemployed and beneficiaries. She leads the Green campaign for safe, secure and sustainable housing. Like Labour, the Green Party housing policy includes restrictions on foreign ownership and a Capital Gains Tax. The Green Party believes in “modern urban design”, so opposes opening up land that will create sprawling cities. It would like to implement a Progressive Ownership programme to help more Kiwis buy houses.
• Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First, and may hold the balance of power at next year’s General Election. Peters believes Housing is a “disaster in the making”, alleging Auckland’s housing boom is fuelled by thousands of foreign investors buying properties and making housing unaffordable for many Kiwis. New Zealand First wants an immediate freeze on all foreign property sales and a register of all foreign owned land. New Zealand First policy also aims to ease the serious housing shortage and provide government assistance to home owners, with sale and purchase land agreements and low interest rates.

The Vote is competitive current affairs – a monthly series of entertaining and informative national debates on the big issues facing New Zealanders. The debates take place in theatres with audience participation and voting, but the opinion that matters most is that of the audience watching at home.

Viewers are encouraged to vote for free at www.TheVote.co.nz, via Twitter @TheVoteNZ and Facebook at The Vote NZ. Viewers can also text their vote by texting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to 3920 at a cost of 20 cents per text.

The Vote is produced by TV3’s News and Current Affairs division with funding from NZ On Air, and screens once every four weeks in the same timeslot as 3rd Degree.

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