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Lisa Owen interviews Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse

On The Nation:

Lisa Owen interviews Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse

Headlines:

Penny Hulse calls for cross-party accord on Auckland housing because “it’s too important to score political points on”

“So that we’ve got the levers that Government has around population, around growth and around helping out with some financing of infrastructure, which again will unlock the ability for us to develop other areas”

Says REINZ figures showing only 9% of new build consents in Auckland last year are for so-called affordable houses under $500,000 isn’t enough

“In Auckland, it means that housing and owning a house is not a future that every Aucklander can expect to be part of.”

Says the Housing Accord has helped get rid of red tape but hasn’t solved how to get houses actually built.

Hulse says “over the last four years, we’ve absorbed a city the size of Tauranga in the Auckland region, and that’s creating the problem” yet also says that’s driving an economic boom

Lisa Owen: Auckland’s Deputy Mayor, Penny Hulse. Good morning.

Penny Hulse: Good morning.

Look, on paper you’re meeting all your targets with the Housing Accord, yet we are still falling further and further back. Is that a fair assessment?

We are meeting our targets, but the concentration on numbers alone is actually a bit of a side issue. We need to be getting to the heart of what the real problem is, and it’s two-fold. Number one, over the last four years, we’ve absorbed a city the size of Tauranga in the Auckland region, and that’s creating the problem. And the other issue is we are all nervous about being more interventionist and I think we need to be a more honest about what the problem is, move past numbers and get down to the real heart and the meat of the issue.

Well, there’s a lot to unpick there. Let’s start with the increasing demand – more people coming into Auckland. Auckland is growing massively. Are we growing too fast?

So, we have no control over the pace of growth. We are lucky enough. We’ve got problem—

Yeah, but central Government—

…the rest of New Zealand would kill for.

Deputy Mayor, central Auckland— central Government does have control over that.

They do.

So would it be a better idea if some people didn’t come to Auckland to live?
In Auckland, it’s the growth that is actually bringing the big economic boom, so we need to be very careful what we ask for, and we need to actually unpack what growth is doing in Auckland. Financially, Auckland is humming because of the growth. Housing – it’s having a detrimental effect, and we need to focus on how we deal with that. Parts of the rest of New Zealand are dying, and we also need to look at how we can support New Zealand Inc. The Government needs to engage in this really big picture of how we manage it throughout Auckland.

Does the Government need to talk about directing some of that population to other centres – new New Zealanders to other centres?

It’s not just about new New Zealanders. It’s making the rest of our regions viable, to look at investment and job creation around the regions so that some of our young people are able to look at an alternative – if they can’t afford to live in Auckland, maybe look at alternative areas. But that’s for the Government and the rest of New Zealand Inc. to sort out. We need to focus on Auckland and how we give people choices to live in our city.

Well, in Auckland those figures showed us that only 9% of the properties that were being built are so-called affordable houses. That means 91% are unaffordable. Where does that leave us?

And that’s huge. A lot of us are living that on a day-to-day basis. My son, his partner and their two babies are renting in Glen Eden. As a family, we’re really keen to see them settle in Auckland and in a house, so we’re watching this housing market like hawks. 9% in theory is where we should be hitting. We’ve said any new builds between 5% and 10% affordable.

But you accept that’s not enough, don’t you?

But it’s not enough. 10% is not okay. In Auckland, it means that housing and owning a house is not a future that every Aucklander can expect to be part of.
So goodbye to the dream?

Well, for a lot of Aucklanders, yes.

But when you say that that’s not enough, that’s an admission that this accord that you have is failing, isn’t it?

The accord is mainly about numbers, but it’s also been about how do we unlock a lot of the red tape and potential to do—

So is it failing? Yes or no? Is it failing?

It’s not a yes or no. We’re hitting the numbers, but is it doing what we really wanted to set out to do?

And the answer to that is?

The answer is there’s two bits. Number one, we’ve actually done some really good work in getting rid of the red tape that’s been getting in the way. We’ve moved that on. It’s seeing some of the special housing areas being consented within months, rather than years. That’s a good thing. Has it solved the issue of how to get the diggers in the ground and the wheelbarrows wheeling concrete and houses coming out of the ground, hasn’t solved that.

You’re still about 35,000 houses in deficit.

Yeah.

So how much does that worry you?

It worries me every day. Housing is the thing that I’m most concerned about, as the council is, but we’re only part of the picture. We’ve got to work with the development community—

Okay, so can I ask you, because we’re running out of time, to be specific…
…Government and investors.
…what do you want to happen, then? If it’s not just on the councillors, what do you want?
We need to move this forward. We need to work with the Government and all parts of government to say, ‘Can we just have a cross-party accord to move the issue of housing in Auckland forward?’ so that we’ve got the levers that Government has around population, around growth and around helping out with some financing of infrastructure, which again will unlock the ability for us to develop other areas—


So Nick Smith and Phil Twyford need to sit down around the table? Talk it out?


Boys, let’s actually talk about the realities here. Let’s look at our families, our people who need housing in Auckland. Let’s take the politics out of it. It’s too important to score political points on. Let’s actually change the paradigm in Auckland, and, you know, I’m happy to be right in the middle of that and helping make that happen.


All right, thank you very much for joining me this morning.
Thank you.


Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz

ENDS


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