Friday, July 7, 2017
David Seymour, Leader, ACT Party
The cost of housing is unacceptably high. In Auckland, the price of an average house is nearly ten times the income of an average household. This leaves families with less money to spend on themselves, and also creates costs on taxpayers who fund more emergency housing, Income-Related Rent subsidies, and Accommodation Supplements.
ACT believes that both Labour and National governments have made housing more expensive by intervening in the housing market and creating a housing shortage. ACT would reverse these interventions.
ACT believes that the shortage of housing can be fixed by private developers, when local and central government get out of the way.
Regulations such as the Resource Management Act (RMA) have made it difficult for developers to build houses to keep up with a growing population.
The RMA gives too much power to councils to restrict development. It requires councils to provide for environmental protection and conduct consultations but doesn't require them to consider property rights of owners, economic growth or provide for an adequate supply of housing.
The number of new dwellings consented each year is still far below its peak of 39,000 in 1974. National’s housing policies have been a band-aid on a broken planning system, but they do not fix the RMA, which creates a major housing shortage in our main urban centres.
ACT would rewrite the RMA, and introduce new supply-focused planning law for large cities. Urban and environments and areas at the edges of our cities should not be regulated in the same ways as undeveloped natural environments.
Our alternative planning law would prioritise supplying land and infrastructure, in response to demand. We would make land zoning less restrictive. We would strengthen property rights for existing owners by limiting objection rights to people who are directly affected, rather than allowing outsiders to have a say.
Many Councils block housing development because of infrastructure costs. ACT would share half the GST revenue from the construction of new housing with the local council to incentivise them to approve new homes. This revenue would help fund infrastructure like roads, water and sewerage needed for new development.
ACT would also reduce the cost of regulatory compliance for builders, and reduce the financial risk on councils, by replacing council building certification with a compulsory insurance plan. This would ensure standards are upheld while reducing the time spent on council inspections and red tape.
All these policies would make it drastically more affordable to buy land and build houses, and these savings will be passed onto first home buyers as supply matches demand. And as new supply will keep prices stable, there will be less incentive for investors to speculate on housing.