Nick Smith deliberately blind to housing crisis


For years, the Government has denied the existence of a housing crisis in New Zealand. The claims by the Opposition that housing is becoming unaffordable has been rubbished time and again by the Minister for Housing Nick Smith. So, why then has every measure tried by the government failed?

When a Minister is so deliberately blind to the consequences of their Government’s policies it is obvious that the only way to change the policy implementation is to change the Government.  This sums up the case of Dr Smith and his portfolio, in which it is clearly obvious that the Government policies are not working.

Although Dr Smith has implemented a range of new initiatives, they are merely stop gap measures that are:

  1. Piecemeal – randomly filling up public reserves intended for relaxation and enjoyment with new housing has numerous limitations
  2. Hollow – if they were not hollow the crisis would not exist and this post would not have been written

The simple truth is that one policy only will bring the housing market under control: making immigration sustainable. With 60,000 new immigrants – more than the entire population of Nelson arriving in a calendar year, New Zealand simply does not have the land, the resources, tax base or population to sustain such an influx without huge socio-economic consequences.

Contrary to Dr Smith and the National Party’s claims, you cannot blame the Resource Management Act for this. Nor can you blame it for the fact that successive Governments have neglected to adequately support a full apprenticeship/trades programme to supply the electricians, the plumbers, carpenters and so forth that are needed to build houses. Nor can one blame the Act for individual councils implementation when sufficient skilled planning and resource consent staff are often hard to come by – in part because such people are viewed as “bureaucrats”; in part because

I am not going to make suggestions about what should happen, as I have already mentioned how I would solve the housing problems previously. Instead I shall point to what will happen if this problem is not tackled in the next year or two. The increasingly unsustainable population influx to New Zealand are having numerous consequences:

  1. New Zealanders are being priced out of the housing market in major cities, notably Auckland but also other large urban areas such as Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton
  2. Because ordinary New Zealanders are not able to afford housing in Auckland and other locations these cities are critically short of people qualified to do jobs where N.Z. citizenship or permanent residency is compulsory
  3. Housing prices and rents mean that people are foregoing essential health, educational and other needs in order to make sure that they can pay their rent

This is not acceptable, but according to Dr Smith and his National Party colleagues, the market “knows best”. Competition will keep housing prices in check so they said – and still say – but with houses costing $1 million in Auckland and averaging $500,000 in other cities, and still rising, it is obvious that the market does not know best. The Government rhetoric, like its hollow and piecemeal measures, is failing.

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