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Beth Ad Lib No. 32

DRINK UP

Spotted this story on the news about the carbon footprint of milk production.

Emissions from cow’s milk here are half the global average. Land use is 1/9th, and water use beats the global average using less than both almond and soy milk.

New Zealand milk is some of the most sustainable in the world.

"Our farmers are continuing to invest in sustainable outcomes, they've spent a billion dollars of their own money to improve the environmental outcomes and sustainability."

I think we can all continue to have a slosh of milk in our tea or coffee or on our breakfast cereal, guilt-free, for a while yet.

HOUSING CLIMATE EMERGENCY

A Bill before parliament, the Kainga Ora Homes and Communities Bill, made its way to my desk this week for local board comment. A cursory glance tells me that the government needs to change the planning rules to make it easier for them to build state houses more quickly. I know there will be consternation from the planning-loving members of my board that this will be “riding roughshod” over the Unitary Plan. But the fact it has to be done is surely an admission that current planning rules are an impediment to increasing the housing stock. If this has to be done for state housing, then it needs to be done for the private sector.

The henny-pennies will tell us this, like National’s SHAs, is all bad because councils can’t provide for infrastructure quickly enough. They could, however, if they were given a share of the GST on development to fund it. That share could be paid monthly as the council submits its invoices, incentivising them to process consent applications quickly. As well, councils should be able to enter into partnership with developers to fund infrastructure and have property buyers pay it back over 20 or 30 years, getting sections released to market in a much shorter timeframe.

Labour has finally admitted that the way to ease the cost of building a house in Auckland is to increase the amount of land available for housing. Simple supply and demand economics in action, ignored by National and philosophically abhorrent to Labour – until now.

Ministers Twyford and Parker, the minister responsible for the Resource Management Act, met with Mayor Goff to divine a way to extend Auckland’s Urban Boundary, opening up new land for residential development. Oddly, the meeting was held without officials from government departments. In fact, Twyford publicly denied the meeting ever took place. It wasn’t in the copy of his ministerial diary released as part of the Coalition’s open and transparent government edict. However, it wasn’t ‘missing’ from Parker’s diary. Now Twyford says his office is to blame for omitting the meeting from his diary. Jacinda says it was just a clerical error. The diary entry is immaterial because the meeting took place. The question must be: why the secrecy?

Opening up the Urban Boundary to relieve Auckland’s shortage of subdividable land has been ACT policy forever. Now Labour ministers are beginning to see the light. Opening up Auckland’s land supply will have a far greater positive impact on housing shortage in New Zealand’s biggest city than the failed KiwiBuild scheme would ever have. And it would set a precedent that local government throughout New Zealand could follow. We’ll just have to see if the secret meeting will produce the legislative goods required to put this vital – secret – policy into action. And why waste such a valuable opportunity? The Coalition Government and Auckland Council should also address the cost they each add to the construction of a house.

Meantime, the crisis builds in cities like Tauranga, where a shortage of land being released for development will mean a shortfall of thousands of houses within the next decade.

Tauranga has just 18 months of greenfield subdivision capacity left. However, the council's timeframes for delivering suitable and significant new development in new growth areas such as Te Tumu, Tauriko West and Ōmokoroa were at least another five years to go, the report stated.

See you at ReACT on Sunday! For those unable to attend, the event will be livestreamed through the ACT Facebook page from 11 am.


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