Naming, blaming shaming

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford did some numbers on names and leapt to the conclusion that Auckland’s housing woes are caused by Chinese buyers.

(The transcript is here).

Thomas Lumley, Professor of Biostatistics counters his assertion in a post headlined what’s in a name?

. . . So, there is fairly good evidence that people of Chinese ethnicity are buying houses in Auckland at a higher rate than their proportion of the population.

The Labour claim extends this by saying that many of the buyers must be foreign. The data say nothing one way or the other about this, and it’s not obvious that it’s true. More precisely, since the existence of foreign investors is not really in doubt, it’s not obvious how far it’s true. The simple numbers don’t imply much, because relatively few people are housing buyers: for example, house buyers named “Wang” in the data set are less than 4% of Auckland residents named “Wang.” There are at least three other competing explanations, and probably more.

First, recent migrants are more likely to buy houses. I bought a house three years ago. I hadn’t previously bought one in Auckland. I bought it because I had moved to Auckland and I wanted somewhere to live. Consistent with this explanation, people with Korean and Indian names, while not over-represented to the same extent are also more likely to be buying than selling houses, by about the same ratio as Chinese.

Second, it could be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders prefer real estate as an investment to, say, stocks (to an even greater extent than Aucklanders in general).  Third, it could easily be that (some subset of) Chinese New Zealanders have a higher savings rate than other New Zealanders, and so have more money to invest in houses.

Personally, I’d guess that all these explanations are true: that Chinese New Zealanders (on average) buy both homes and investment properties more than other New Zealanders, and that there are foreign property investors of Chinese ethnicity. But that’s a guess: these data don’t tell us — as the Herald explicitly points out.

One of the repeated points I  make on StatsChat is that you need to distinguish between what you measured and what you wanted to measure.  Using ‘Chinese’ as a surrogate for ‘foreign’ will capture many New Zealanders and miss out on many foreigners.

The misclassifications aren’t just unavoidable bad luck, either. If you have a measure of ‘foreign real estate ownership’ that includes my next-door neighbours and excludes James Cameron, you’re doing it wrong, and in a way that has a long and reprehensible political history.

Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive, Ashley Church also uses the term  ‘reprehensible’ and calls the claims ‘an exercise in unveiled racism’.

Mr Church describes the data used by Mr Twyford as ‘shonky’ and says ‘it has so many holes in it that it would be marked with an ‘f’ if it was submitted as a High School Economics project’.

“Mr Twyford uses ‘Asian sounding’ surnames as his means to identify which buyers are ‘Asian Investors’ – without any way of knowing whether the buyer is a New Zealand immigrant who lives here, or an investor based in China”.

“On that basis Mr Twyford should be blowing the whistle on Scottish foreign investment in this country – because a large number of kiwi homes are owned by people who have names starting with ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’”.

“This is the sort of racist sideshow we’d expect from NZ First – not a serious political party with pretensions to hold the reins of power”.

Mr Church says that Mr Twyfords claims that the Auckland property market is being skewed by non-resident investors may prove to be correct – but he says that any action taken should be based on hard data and facts – and that the race of the buyer shouldn’t be a factor.

“We might be surprised to learn who the major investors really are. Work done by the Overseas Investment Office, in 2012, suggested that the biggest buyers were Americans, Brits, Canadians and Aussies – with the Chinese a long way behind”.

Mr Church says the Property Institute supports the recent move, by the Government, to create a foreign buyer register by requiring investors to have a New Zealand tax number.

“This will provide good, accurate, information and it will help us to determine whether we need to be taking steps to ban foreign investment in kiwi homes – or direct it into the construction of new houses, as is the case in Australia”.

If there is an issue with non-resident foreigners buying houses it’s not one of people from any particular country.

But in light of Twyford’s comments, who could blame anyone with a foreign-sounding name if, as Gravedodger suggests, they start buying property under some variation of The Smith Family Trust numbered whatever.

However, let’s not forget the real problem is not who’s buying houses but that there’s not enough of them in some areas nor who’s responsible for the imbalance between supply and demand:

Hugh Pavletich co-author of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey says blame the incompetent council:

If Auckland was a normal housing market, like most in North America, house prices would be at or below $300,000 for those on $100,000-a-year household incomes.

Thanks to the incompetent Auckland Council, an Auckland family with a household income of $100,000 is forced to pay $820,000 for a house.

The council is forcing them to pay an extra $520,000 for the house and this new study calling for more apartments in the suburbs is no solution to the crisis.

That money for an Auckland house must come from a grossly excessive mortgage, crippling the city’s residents for the remainder of their working life.

Add the interest over the life of this inflated mortgage and this $100,000-a-year household is forced to pay over $1 million in excessive mortgage costs, and all because the Auckland Council is incompetent.

The council is being deliberately misleading because it has lost control of its costs and has lost the capacity to meet its infrastructure responsibilities to its community

Land supply, infrastructure financing and processing for new housing are issues councils must tackle – and no council more than Auckland needs to deal with this.

Back to Professor Lumley:

But on top of that, if there is substantial foreign investment and if it is driving up prices, that’s only because of the artificial restrictions on the supply of Auckland houses. If Auckland could get its consent and zoning right, so that more money meant more homes, foreign investment wouldn’t be a problem for people trying to find somewhere to live. That’s a real problem, and it’s one that lies within the power of governments to solve.

It’s not difficult for people with a better grasp of statistics and without the political desperation that’s driving  Labour down this divisive path to counter the claims.

But let’s not forget that the naming, blaming and shaming by numbers can hurt people.

I received an email from a Young Nat, Melissa Hu, who wrote:

. . . I was born here, I study here, I work here and I’m a New Zealand citizen but because my last name sounds Chinese I’m apparently a big part of the housing affordability problem – (I’m actually of Mongolian descent but would Labour care about that?

Labour chose to make racially inflammatory comments based on half-baked data from an anonymous real estate agent in Auckland. They chose to say that there are too many Chinese buyers in the Auckland housing market based on whether your last name was Wang, Lee – or even like mine.

 The problem is, this data doesn’t actually prove whether the buyers are foreigners or not. Even NZIER’s Principal Economist said Labour’s comments were “very damaging for a multi-cultural, welcoming place like New Zealand”.

 I’ve lived here all my life, and I’m proud to call myself Kiwi. Young New Zealanders like me are ambitious, excited and open about New Zealand’s future. I don’t think my last name, or yours, has anything to do with trying to buy a house. 

 We need to be encouraging all Kiwis – young, old, European, Maori, Chinese, whatever – to aim high, work hard, create wealth and continue to raise our living standards. We also need the Government to keep taking common sense steps with councils to make more land available for housing. That’s why I support National they know there’s a problem and they have a real plan to fix it.

 We don’t need to start a “pick on the Chinese” attitude which could create more problems than it solves. Auckland’s housing problem is a supply issue – not a Chinese issue. We’re a multicultural, ambitious and prosperous country – I hope we stay that way.

There’s nothing new about this naming, blaming and shaming.

My father-in-law was the butt of some because his name was German, even though he’d though he’d not long returned from serving overseas with the New Zealand army.

How sad that nearly  70 years later it’s still a political tactic.

 

63 Responses to Naming, blaming shaming

  1. Roger Barton says:

    Dame Susan Devoy might have something to say over this but then again she might’nt.
    Sit back with the popcorn and watch the show.
    Winston and Andrew Little can now be bed mates.

  2. Will Dwan says:

    All very well, but that 39.5% is a shockingly high number. This won’t go away National, sort it out or you will be handing power back to the loons.

  3. J Bloggs says:

    Will Dwan: but all that 39.5% translates to is 1600 houses out of 4000 – so 2400 houses over the same time were sold to Not Chinese surnames.

  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    It is clear that buying houses in NZ is promoted heavily amongst nonresident investors in China.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=11440520
    http://www.rawa.co.nz/uncategorized/nz-in-top-ten-chinese-property-searches/

    I think Labour could have avoided claims of racism if they had matched buyers with the electoral role and would have captured those more likely to be nonresidents, and not only those who are Chinese (the dominant overseas investors in Southland dairy farms are German and an English friend of mine recently bought a house in Mataura for $10,000).

  5. JC says:

    If the houses are being purchased and occupied in a timely manner then no issue.

    If they are being purchased but not occupied in a part of the country where there is no housing shortage then still no issue.

    But it does matter in Auckland if statistically a significant number are withdrawn from the occupancy pool. Find out what the occupancy rate for such houses is and then we can talk about it some more.

    JC

  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, Good points. The census identified that around 33,000 homes in Auckland were unoccupied, but this can’t be explained by investors leaving them empty as it compares no differently to other centres. More analysis is needed though. What I find frustrating is the Government’s reluctance to use evidence (and do the research to provide it) on which to base decisions.
    http://transportblog.co.nz/2015/05/28/are-vacant-homes-adding-to-aucklands-housing-shortage/

  7. Gravedodger says:

    For a country that depends on trade to make real progress this beatup is sad, desperate and predictable.
    Labour made a massive tactical error in standing Willow Jean Prime aside to give Key a bloody nose in Northland and it is manifesting now with Labour and the Peters party scrapping in a demeaning, embarrassing, shameful way over a racist ploy that most left to the dwarf as the rightful measure of his true worth as a politician.

    Ms Devoid is “upset” at the use of suspectly obtained dodgy stats, hell on a bicycle she should be calling for heads to roll at such a shameful degrading and potentially damaging use of illicitly obtained shoddy raw statistics.
    I personally know NZ citizens who as descendants of Chinese who came here primarily to seek gold and after generations of hard work and honest endeavour have every right to call themselves New Zealanders just as I do from my family history of the Highland Clearances.

    How would I be viewed if I used Slater’s “Silly first name syndrome” or how Maori a name was revealed in yet another sad incident where a baby fell on its head and died in Starship Hospital however populist in its deployment

    Now we have the even greater crime of Angry Andy giving his support and blessing to the whole mess, god only knows how the Chinese Government who view such insulting behaviour with the contempt and disdain it deserves will see this entirely xenophobic incident
    We as a Nation could see serious loss of mana over this appalling departure from statesmanship.

  8. Quinton Hogg says:

    Its good to see labour going full on racist.

    It shows up their sanctimony for what it is.

    The way Mr Twyford is talking makes me wonder if Labour will re-introduce a poll tax or set up a white NZ policy.

  9. Will says:

    Trying to divert this into a ‘that’s racist’ argument is not going to work. People feel they can’t compete with Chinese money. There is a sense that there is enough to swamp our economy. I doubt that the reaction would be any different if dubious Russian money was driving the market out of locals reach. Not so easy to cry racism then.

  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    The Chinese are the dominant house buyers at the moment, especially at the higher end. This isn’t racism it’s just a fact. Although it could have been managed better I’m sure Labour’s intent wasn’t racist but it sure is the best way to attack them and avoid actually confronting what the reality may be.

  11. Will Dwan says:

    No need to be so precious. New Zealanders are not a particularly racist people. Chinese are, second only to Koreans. If they act all hurt, let ’em act. And we should not be so fearful of trade consequences. It’s a free trade deal with strict limitations. The ’emergency’ tariffs that they seem to find a reason to apply to dairy every single year. And those hold-ups on the wharves about ‘paperwork’ when meat exports got a bit high. We all got the message.

    I’m sick of the way our little country gets kicked around by the bullies.
    Hectored by the UN, cold-shouldered by the European Empire, monstered by the US, shut out of Japan and ripped off by Australia. Now we’re terrified of Chinese reaction to maybe looking after our own citizens.

    Perhaps our new flag should be a white one waved in surrender.

  12. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, I think I agree with you. However it is more than the Chinese, we are being naively being taken for a ride by many:
    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2015/02/the-tppa-and-recolonisation-of-aotearoa.html

  13. Paranormal says:

    This is a political issue, but one where Liarbour have made another strategic blunder.

    The reason we have high priced houses in Auckland (and note this is an Auckland only issue) is because of the councils compact city policy. If supply was freed up prices would stabilise. At present we have excess demand with no supply. Yes there has been a recent uptick in chinese housebuyers looking to find a home for their savings outside an economically shaky mainland China. If we had supply issues sorted it wouldn’t be a problem.

    But back to the politics – after their blunder in Northland letting Winston take the seat, Liarbour are doubling down on their strategic stupidity. Sure they are taking the race based fight to Winston to win their supporters back, but at what cost? The supposed beneficiaries of this campaign are ‘new house buyers’. How much of the population do they make up? However, campaigning to bring down houseprices will actively set the majority of Auckland houseowners against them. As Phil Quinn has pointed out – elections are won in the middle. New Zealand elections are won and lost in Auckland. Overall a tactically and strategically stupid campaign from Liabour.

  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    “The reason we have high priced houses in Auckland (and note this is an Auckland only issue) is because of the councils compact city policy.”
    How on earth can the compact city policy increase prices. There is a higher cost spreading into greenfield developments because of the infrastructure that has to be installed (water, sewerage, electricity, telephone, transport). Much of those costs have to be absorbed by a council that is already struggling to keep within budgets and not add new expenses.

    In basic economics a market is determined by the demand side and the supply side and this Government is only really looking at supply and has done a poor job of that. The other issue is that it refuses to do the research to clarify the issues. You may criticise Labour for its handling of the issue but the Government cannot really respond effectively because it has no idea what the level of overseas buyers is. Key claimed in the past that it was only 1% which is clearly false (it could easily be around 10% or more), but over a number of years even that small % begins to add up to a large number of homes.

    The Government claims that nonresident buyers is not an issue and yet real estate firms are promoting New Zealand properties world wide as a good investment claiming: no capital gains tax, low interest rates, no warrant of fitness for rental houses, few restrictions for overseas buyers and high returns. It has also been noted that buying NZ property has been a useful way to launder criminal earnings.

    For many, property investment is their main source of growing wealth and when house prices in Auckland went up 13% last year and the Government refusing to intervene, it makes it very attractive for those who have the money.

    Surely the demand side needs addressing as well as the supply.

  15. Dave Kennedy says:

    Apparently the median house price went up by 26% over the past year and it’s not through the demand of average Kiwis, as they have been pushed out of the market for some time. The median price is now $755,000 and the the accepted level of affordability for buying a house is that it should be no more than three times the annual household income. The median household income in NZ is 68,000 and so the median house price is now over 11 times the median income. Either a small number of Aucklanders are buying multiple properties or there is a high level of nonresident buyers.

  16. Paranormal says:

    DK – “How on earth can the compact city policy increase prices”. You’ve said you understand economics – your statement above tells us otherwise.

    There are a number of ways the council can increase supply, the main and best option is greenfields development. The developer builds the infrastructure. Just because you luddites don’t like greenfields developments, doesn’t mean thy aren’t a good idea. Brownfield development can be far more expensive to rebuild infrastructure for an increased load.

    The Council’s compact city policy also makes property development, whatever sort of field it is in, more expensive. The fact the council employs hundreds of planners to act as a roadblock for development is perhaps the most telling.

    DK your stats are also wrong and out of date In particular Auckland households have a significantly higher median income than rest of NZ. You also need to take the word ‘should’ out of your vocabulary. Why ‘should’ a property be three times household income? it’s because you don’t understand how money works you take this closed minded approach.

    New Zealand, as a nation of net spenders, needs foreign investment. Policy settings are structured accordingly.

    I think you’ve also missed my point above about who the policy is targeted at. Those hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders that own their own homes would be very upset if you were to suddenly devalue their investment through any xenophobic knee jerk reaction. Maybe you might think about altering your mindset?

  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, Auckland also has a whole ward where the median income dropped between the 2006 and 2013 census and these are the people most in need of good homes:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11170255

    Surely there should be a combination of approaches, including brown and greenfields. However the Government began by pushing greenfields before they realised the expense of putting in services for new developments and the fact that developers were reluctant to add low cost housing into the mix. Greenfields also increase transport issues (more roads or rail connections?).

    “Those hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders that own their own homes would be very upset if you were to suddenly devalue their investment”
    I certainly haven’t suggested that but some brakes on the market are necessary when 26% price rise occurs in 12 months. The market has become a gold rush and an inevitable crash would be far more disastrous if nothing is done. It is a ticking time bomb and it is clear the Government now gets it when you see the desperation and backdowns involved with current initiatives. Things are becoming very messy.

  18. Paranormal says:

    DK do you think the median house price in that ward your refer to is $755,000?

  19. Dave Kennedy says:

    Considering one of the areas with the lowest median income in Auckland ($19,000) is Otahuhu, a trade me search of all houses for sale found only 24. The cheapest was a 2 bedroom house at $490,000 and a 3 bedroom ‘remove or renovation’ property was on the market for $749,000. Look for yourself: http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/CategoryAttributeSearchResults.aspx?sort_order=price_asc&search=1&cid=5748&sidebar=1&rptpath=350-5748-3399-&132=PROPERTY&selected135=7&selected136=338&134=1&135=7&136=338&216=0%2C0&217=0%2C0&153=&29=House&122=0%2C6&49=0%2C0&178=0%2C0&sidebarSearch_keypresses=0&sidebarSearch_suggested=0

    I ranked them from the lowest price.

  20. Dave Kennedy says:

    There certainly is a good argument for capturing overseas investment to increase supply, Paranormal. To look at that possibility we would first need to know the extent of foreign speculation and investment and then introduce legislation to direct the investment where it is needed. If we had capital for housing developments that included lower cost and social housing then that would address a need.

    It would have to be strongly managed because the current market is dependent on strong demand and shortage of supply. It would then mean that investors would be contributing to a dampening of the market and will reduce their potential returns. Even now housing developments where the government have promised a % of lower cost housing have backtracked and gone for the most profit instead.

    How do suggest it could be managed? Do you think there is a case for promoting this idea because it could actually save the market from a future crash as the current 26% rise isn’t sustainable?

  21. Will says:

    It doesn’t have to be strongly managed Dave. Supply will rise to match demand if you can leave it alone.

  22. Mr E says:

    Dave,

    These stats indicate the following:
    Otahuhu average house price = $399K
    Otahuhu section price =$250K

    http://www.suburbview.co.nz/realestate/auckland/otahuhu/buy/report/median+price+graphs+for+sale

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that either supply or demand is this issue.

    If we want our regions to keep growing then supply is a good area to work on. With land prices been high (over 60% of home value) improving the supply of land seems obvious.

    I am not against working on demand – but I note that stalling demand can stall growth.

  23. Paranormal says:

    DK if you want to ‘strongly manage’ it, you’ll miss the boat. Capital is fungible and by the time you’ve done your information gathering, analysis and proposed regulations – it’s gone. You are really just showing your authoritarian streak when you make these comments.

    As for Otahuhu you are again just showing your ignorance of the area. Have you ever been there? It is a diverse suburb, possibly the most diverse in Auckland, with areas of urban decay as well as quite wealthy enclaves, particularly on the Waitemata. Your reliance on averages will not reveal this.

  24. Dave Kennedy says:

    “It doesn’t have to be strongly managed Dave. Supply will rise to match demand if you can leave it alone.”
    Will, we have largely left it alone for over ten years and now have a market that has a severe shortage of low cost, healthy homes and when compared to similar market booms elsewhere it seems poised to crash (which is a natural market phenomena). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_property_bubble

    Mr E, do you think that demand is partly being driven by foreign speculation? The way our property market is being promoted overseas (especially in China) certainly seems as though it is attractive for international investors.

    The real need is for low cost housing as practically all the houses currently being constructed is for the luxury end. How do we get the houses constructed for those on medium to low incomes. We also have the issue (especially in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown) where wealthy house owners do not want low cost housing built near them as it lowers their potential capital gain. Gated communities and refusals to have mixed housing in new developments is common. Surely if we allow market forces to control housing developments will have low waged workers and poor families housed in ghettos as there is no money to be made in housing them.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/home-property/70140888/backpackers-reckon-rental-market-in-queenstown-is-worse-than-london.html

    http://queenstown.nzsothebysrealty.com/queenstown-properties/?Location=11-Pinnacle-Place-Queenstown&PropertyID=1306

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/69482197/residents-to-protest-relocated-house-block-delivery.html

    This is appears to be the new New Zealand under the current housing market: A growth in gated communities, new houses only for the high end market and the lower income earners forced to live in substandard housing (27 workers sharing one house in Queenstown and overcrowded housing common in Auckland) and no social housing in wealthy suburbs.

  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, I did as you suggested and you saw what i found on trade me. Even a rough three bedroom house in an “area of urban decay”, and was advertised for renovation or removal, had an asking price of almost $750,000. You are open to find me any other houses in the area that would be affordable to someone on a median income 😉

    As for allowing the market to find solutions (please read my earlier comment) where is that heading in Queenstown?

  26. Mr E says:

    “You are open to find me any other houses in the area that would be affordable to someone on a median income ”

    What is the household income Dave? I believe about 60% of residents of Otahuhu identify as pacific islanders, and I understand in their culture extended families often live under one roof.

    Median income and house price becomes reasonably irrelevant in this situation. Household income is more important.

    You will note my above statistics suggest the average home price is $399K in Otahuhu.

    Also your $750K house – what is the land value I wonder? Could it be $600K?

  27. Paranormal says:

    DK you are only proving your ignorance and reliance on dodgy figures yet again. Trademe is not a reliable source of Real Estate statistics. Those are asking prices shown. Quite different to the actual sale price. Mr E is trying to help you here with some real statistics.

    And we know your mindset around needing to control everything rather than allowing the market to operate. Shame you fail to see the reality of your authoritarian nature and how government intervention in markets causes wee problems, you know like the GFC.

    It’s not surprising you Greens are labelled the way you are with your burning need to control the state and all activity within it.

  28. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I believe about 60% of residents of Otahuhu identify as pacific islanders, and I understand in their culture extended families often live under one roof.”

    Mr E, Yes that understanding is a common myth that provides an excuse for more than one family being forced to live in one house. This is a prime cause for the likes of rheumatic fever. I think you will find that one family may actually live in the garage.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6541422/Family-is-reduced-to-living-in-a-garage
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/9238710/Garage-life-for-two-years

    “You will note my above statistics suggest the average home price is $399K in Otahuhu.”

    Maybe, but I couldn’t find one for that price in my search, the cheapest I could find was $480,000. Perhaps you can find one at that price.

    “Also your $750K house – what is the land value I wonder? Could it be $600K?”

    It could very well be, the house didn’t look up to much. If that is the case it means a decent house would be totally unaffordable.

    “Trademe is not a reliable source of Real Estate statistics”

    I never claimed it was but it must provide an indication. I am open to anything more accurate that you can produce, Paranormal.

    “It’s not surprising you Greens are labelled the way you are with your burning need to control the state and all activity within it.”

    Then perhaps you can explain how the market will construct 30,000 decent low cost homes to meet immediate needs of low income earners and families in desperate need. New Zealand has significantly more deaths over the Winter months than any other OECD country. How do we address that? Or perhaps these people are just the collateral damage of allowing market forces to do their thing?

    http://www.otago.ac.nz/wellington/otago024004.pdf

  29. Will says:

    Severely restricting section availability with Urban Boundaries is NOT leaving the market alone. You create a supply problem which pushes up prices and makes land-banking feasible.

  30. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, I have never stated that restricting urban boundaries is part of the the solution, what I have said is that multiple solutions need to be used. Housing people who work in the centre of a city beyond the present boundaries needs to be weighed up with the costs of providing the services to those developments and transporting them back again to work. Surely we should have mixed housing developments across the city when it is projected that the city will have a population of almost 2 million in 15 years, Urban sprawl is inefficient and population density is not great compared to cities with similar populations around the world.
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/Maps_and_geography/Geographic-areas/mapping-trends-in-the-auckland-region/population-density.aspx

    Land-banking already occurs in the absence of sunset clauses. It just makes commercial sense to hold on to land as long as possible when there is high demand to gain maximum profit,. That’s the way unrestricted markets work. In Queenstown there is no shortage of undeveloped land zoned residential, but the owners want to wring maximum value from it.

  31. Will says:

    Auckland is nothing like Queenstown. And it doesn’t really have a centre. If you work on the North Shore it pays to live close. If your job is in Papakura you probably won’t stay in Devonport long. This tendency will increase as the city sprawls. Think of Auckland as several cities. The most affordable cities are unrestricted, like Houston. Hong Kong on the other hand…

  32. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will did you know that Houston has a population that is 700,000 larger than Auckland but covers an area that is less than 1/3 the size (1,553 sq km compared to 4,894 sq km). Adelaide has a similar population to Auckland but covers 1,000 sq km less. The bigger the sprawl the greater the servicing and infrastructure costs, surely?

    I don’t get your argument.

  33. Dave Kennedy says:

    Also the reason I mentioned Queenstown is because it is an example of where the market has dominated the development. There is almost no housing for low waged workers within the town, almost no provision for the elderly, heaps of gated communities and land-banking restricts the availability of new developments. Market forces mean workers sleep in the park, live in decrepit caravans, have 27-30 people crammed into one house or have over 2hrs of commuting each day from Lumsden or Cromwell. This has been an issue for well over a decade, will the market solve the problem, or will there need to be government intervention?

  34. TraceyS says:

    The median house price for Otahuhu between April-June 2015 was $524,500 (56 sales).
    (https://www.qv.co.nz/resources/residential-sales-prices-by-suburb)

    It seems that an average 600-700m2 section value would be close to $300,000 (a section which in the 80s might have been worth about $15,000). This is a high land value but many sections of this size will allow for two dwellings per section. The $750k house for sale (situated on a quarter-acre) that Dave mentioned could be replaced by three dwellings. Given the shortage of homes it would probably be better that a developer buys it and develops it (rather than a family who wouldn’t). This is probably what will happen with that price tag. It doesn’t seem very likely that a single luxury house would be built there.

    It is interesting that the median rent in Otahuhu is $290pw which doesn’t seem too unreasonable given what is being paid for properties.
    (https://www.qv.co.nz/resources/property-investment-rental-analysis)

    If landlords are buying houses and leaving them empty then why not do something positive and offer an incentive to rent them out? I doubt this will be a big part of the problem though because there are already major disincentives to leaving a house empty. No investor really wants to lose value on a property (eg. through vandalism or neglect) if this is at all avoidable.

  35. TraceyS says:

    Dave at 12:00am, can’t you see that the forces of nature ie. geology, has something to do with this?

    Regarding the market, if workers can’t get accommodation in Queenstown then they may not come to Queenstown. If businesses can’t get workers then they can’t offer the services and products people want. That would surely end up detracting from the area so there has to be a solution eventually. The land-bankers, of course, will not want to leave their run too late. It would be foolish to think that growth in demand will never undergo phases of decline.

    “The tourist hot spot has long been regarded as a boom and bust town. When the economy and tourism are on a roll, Queenstown does particularly well and that attracts property developers like bees to a honey pot.

    However that can also lead to over-development and when the inevitable downturn arrives, Queenstown tends to be hit hard.

    This can be seen in the latest median dwelling price figures from the Real Estate Institute which show that housing prices in Queenstown have slumped much more severely than the national average.

    Residential property prices in Queenstown and throughout the country peaked in October 2007. According to the REINZ figures, the national median sales price in April had declined by just 3% since the peak, although data from other sources suggests the decline is more likely to be around 10%.

    However in Queenstown, the median price had declined by a massive 31% since the peak.

    The depressed state of Queenstown’s residential property market also shows up in the number of properties listed for sale in the town.”

    When my Grandparents lost virtually everything in the late 60s they went to work in Queenstown. They were provided with hostel accommodation by the hotel they both worked in. I don’t suppose that is the case for workers nowadays. But it does suggest that there wasn’t always an abundance of nice residential accommodation for people of low means even back then. If there had been a house available that they could afford I am sure they would have taken it.

  36. Dave Kennedy says:

    “If landlords are buying houses and leaving them empty then why not do something positive and offer an incentive to rent them out?”

    Tracey I think this already exists with the accommodation supplement, Tracey, it allows more tenants to afford market rentals (costing about $1 billion a year). But conversely it also allows landlords to charge more than the real market may actually support.

    I agree with you about intensifying land use, it does make sense.

    “Regarding the market, if workers can’t get accommodation in Queenstown then they may not come to Queenstown. If businesses can’t get workers then they can’t offer the services and products people want.”

    That is the market model, but it seems that workers are prepared to live in cars and tents and cram into overcrowded houses for short periods (it is a very itinerant workforce). I guess it depends whether we find it acceptable for people to live in those conditions and pay the market rate of around $200 a week for sharing a bedroom with two other people. Is it also acceptable in New Zealand to allow lots of gated communities and exclusive housing developments where workers or ordinary New Zealanders aren’t welcome? Communities where the wealthy live in luxury and the workers who service their lifestyles and the needs of tourists live in slum like conditions is what occurs when there are few regulations and seem to fit the description of a banana republic rather than the sort of country I want to live in.

    Uncontrolled markets push boundaries to the extremes that are tolerated by by those operating and living within it. Young people on low incomes love the work opportunities and environment in Queenstown, but should we allow this to be a resort where only the wealthy can stay there in relative comfort? Should it be acceptable to force workers to live in relative squalor?

  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    The cheapest accommodation I could find in Queestown/Arrowtown was a bedroom and ensuite in a large house for $220 per week. Remember too that much of the work in Queenstown will be casual and possibly zero hour contracts on the minimum wage. Around $300 -$400 a week earnings is probably common.
    http://www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-to-rent/auction-889150549.htm

  38. Gravedodger says:

    Ah well that is it we need a highspeed rail link between Qtown and Cromwell and just raise the rates to pay for it.

  39. Dave Kennedy says:

    What a crazy idea, Gravedodger. I know it was a silly attempt to imply that is the sort of thing a Green may support, but is the only suggestion you’ve made on a possible solution. I find there is a lot of support here for less government intervention and to allow the market to find the answers in Queenstown, but this approach has clearly failed.

    Queenstown needs to have sunset clauses for developing new residential land to stop blatant profiteering and getting more houses built. There needs to be expectations of mixed housing in new developments that cater for a range of people and supports diverse communities.

    The proliferation of gated communities needs to be debated as it creates an us and them culture similar to what resulted in a death of an unarmed black youth in the US. I have heard that some wealthy property owners in Queenstown have made it clear that they want no ‘working people’ living near them.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2112385/Family-black-teenager-shot-dead-Neighborhood-Watch-went-buy-candy-brother-demands-justice.html

    Perhaps there should be an expectation that employers that have over a certain number of employees have to have to find accommodation for them (that may encourage the business community to support the provision of worker accommodation).

    Sometimes a little Government intervention is necessary to keep markets operating properly 😉

  40. Gravedodger says:

    Gee stop picking scabs Gravedodger now sit in the corner until lunchtime.

    You see DaveK, you daft bugger, you often contribute equally stupid solutions but alas you don’t do irony.

    Get over yourself.

    Btw you and your fruitloop mates will never stop at a “little government intervention”, it is beyond your ken.

    Crats just cannot do “little” interventions.
    eg Fat tax, Sugar tax, anti smacking law, partnership schools, stop road construction, prevent a scenic rail option to Milford, save rail, two dad families, two mum families, smashed to death infant families, cold houses, dope addled enemployable.
    And you DaveK have a solution to every single one of them with the help and assistance of endless academic links to equally daft buggers who have no idea how things work in the real world.

    The Market solution to the universally admitted accommodation for workers in Qtown problem will come from those who face the freakin problem and not from some Marxist gummint intervention that will come complete with its raft of unforeseen accompanying problems.

    Catch and release is a wonderful way to enjoy my sport, c ya.

  41. Dave Kennedy says:

    Gravedodger, you’re an irrepressible old capitalist (I’m guessing by your pseudonym that you have survived a few decades) and Green hater 😉

    I have been pretty specific about the sort of interventions that may work and you just throw around all these red neck reactions, accusations and generalisations.

    It appears that as far as you’re concerned the wealthy in Queenstown have earned every penny and deserve to dictate how the region develops. Gated communities are probably necessary in your mind to protect the inhabitants from the marxists and “two dad families, two mum families, smashed to death infant families, and dope addled enemployable”. I do note that you thankfully refrain from the “line them up against the wall and shoot them” solution but your rants stop just short of that.

    It seems that evidence and research is academic nonsense and we need more people like yourself to make the sensible decisions based on gut feelings and common sense. Sadly your prejudices, political bias and closed mind would mean that the decisions would be flawed and unsustainable and would probably cost a fortune to fix.

    In your world Gravedodger everything is us and them, good capitalists on one side and crazy tree hugging marxists on the other. Compromise and collaboration obviously is beyond you and the idea that you can have continuum of political thinking that doesn’t always involve extremes appears beyond you.

    It is the free market laissez-faire economic solutions that never stop delivering the sort of tragedies like Pike River, Solid Energy, the Rena disaster, zero hour contracts, the working poor and gated communities. Banana republic here we come 😉

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laissez-faire

  42. tom hunter says:

    Will did you know that Houston has a population that is 700,000 larger than Auckland but covers an area that is less than 1/3 the size (1,553 sq km compared to 4,894 sq km). Adelaide has a similar population to Auckland but covers 1,000 sq km less. The bigger the sprawl the greater the servicing and infrastructure costs, surely?

    I don’t get your argument.

    Hmmmm …. Google search for Houston Urban Area: 1,625 km²

    Same search for “Auckland Urban Area” = 1,086 km²

    “Adelaide Urban Area” = 1,827 km²

    Perhaps you need to return to the 1970’s when environmental activists could say anything and not be quickly fact-checked on it.

  43. tom hunter says:

    Oh – and the same Google also reveals the urban populations as:

    Houston – 2.196 million (2013)
    Auckland – 1.377millon (2011)
    Adelaide – 1.251 million (2012)

    So urban density is as follows:
    Houston – 1,351 people/km²
    Auckland – 1,267 people/km²
    Adelaide – 684 people/km²

  44. tom hunter says:

    It is the free market laissez-faire economic solutions that never stop delivering the sort of tragedies like Pike River, Solid Energy, ….

    Solid Energy? The 100% owned by the government, State-Owned-Enterprise Solid Energy?

    Free market laissz-faire?

    You really do just say anything to try and win an argument, don’t you? Joe Biden on steroids. The mouth opens: the words fall out.
    with you
    Instead of discussing economics (or business, energy production, science, etc) I should just stick to post-modern literature where words can mean anything and the reader controls the text as much as the author. I’m sure you’ll be great at that.

  45. Name Withheld says:

    The proliferation of gated communities needs to be debated as it creates an us and them culture similar to what resulted in a death of an unarmed black youth who (went to buy candy) in the US.
    And you express surprise that nobody takes you seriously, Mr Kennedy,
    That you would dredge up a 3 year old event in the US and try and relate it to Queenstown to win your argument just shows how pathetically naive you are, and how you would swallow spin like the gullible sap you pretend not to be.
    Try reading a little more widely about the event you present here, instead of just linking to a sensational headline as another of your “reading assignments”
    For a start you may like to view This Image. of the deceased, instead of a cute little photo of him aged 13.
    Your scurrilous offhand comment is either a result of your silly immaturity, or something more sinister.
    You may like to peruse some facts.

    1. Trayvon Martin was a drug dealer and burglar who was walking between houses and looking into windows when he was spotted by Zimmerman.

    2. Zimmerman called police to report the suspicious person. The dispatcher kept Zimmerman on the phone while police responded.

    3. Zimmerman attempted to keep Martin in view in order to point him out to responding police.

    4. When Zimmerman lost sight of Martin and exited his vehicle to get his bearings, the civilian dispatcher asked if he was trying to follow the suspect. When Zimmerman said he was, the dispatcher said “we don’t NEED you to do that” (the source of the media LIE that says “police ordered Zimmerman not to follow Martin”)

    5. Zimmerman said “OK” to the dispatcher and turned to head back to his vehicle when Martin came out from behind some shrubbery and confronted him.

    6. Martin “sissy punched” Zimmerman in the face breaking his nose and knocking him to the ground.

    7. Martin got down and straddled Zimmerman and proceeded to beat him “MMA-Style”, according to an eye witness, while pounding his head on the sidewalk. The witness said that ZImmerman was screaming for help.

    8. Zimmerman was able to reach his concealed licensed handgun and fire a single shot which killed his attacker.

    “Went to buy candy?”

    But of course facts that do not suit your narrative are always ignored by you.

  46. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tom, Houston was used as an example of how a less dense city works and yet it is obviously denser than Auckland. I won’t argue with your figures (we obviously used different sources) as they still support my point.

    Laissez-faire economics applies to SOEs as well, our power companies were set up with a market model and the management of Solid Energy was encouraged to operate as a private company by a Government that supports free markets.

    Surely it is better to discuss solutions to the obvious housing crisis rather than just concentrates on attacking me personally.

    Should I put you down as the same as GD, a believer in the market delivering the solutions with no interventions?

  47. tom hunter says:

    Houston was used as an example of how a less dense city works and yet it is obviously denser than Auckland.

    A 6% difference – so slight as to make no practical difference in the scientific world of 5-95% confidence intervals. In any case Houston was first mentioned by Will, and he did so to make the point about how less restricted it is in terms of land for housing. He could have gone on to point out the result that houses there are very much cheaper than in Auckland (or other US cities) as a result of that deregulated approach.

    If anything Will’s point is made stronger – and yours weaker – by showing that Houston is only slightly denser than Auckland, since Houston’s housing is hugely cheaper. Clearly something more than the simplistic slogan of “urban sprawl” is at work.

    I won’t argue with your figures …

    That would be wise.

    (we obviously used different sources) as they still support my point.

    Perhaps you should write to Google and tell them that their sources – which they rather pride themselves on as a purveyor of data you can trust and which include the city administrations that define their own “urban areas” – have got it wrong compared to your sources. According to you the densities were as follows:

    Houston – 1,351 people/km² (same as mine)
    Auckland – 286 people/km²
    Adelaide – 359 people/km²

    The density calculations I provided with sources for the latter cities cannot, in any rational world, still support your point – which is that Auckland suffers from urban sprawl.

    Should I put you down as the same as GD, a believer in the market delivering the solutions with no interventions?

    You will anyway. But someone who thinks that energy markets, or even the more narrow coal market was going to turn on whether … the management of Solid Energy was encouraged to operate as a private company , really does not have the understanding to determine what economics their opponents believe in.

    …rather than just concentrates on attacking me personally.

    You fling data around without sourcing it – and remember, a single research paper does not count, “consensus” does in your world – and then utter the classic Leftist myth/lie soundbite about Trayvon Martin.

    Such actions – and the person who committed them – are certainly something that should be “attacked” if we’re to have honest debates.

    Moreover, such argumentative actions pretty much preclude an honest discussion of solutions. To paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, you’re not even wrong.

  48. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tom, attack me as you wish, most of the things you bring up are just debating the fringes.

    “The density calculations I provided with sources for the latter cities cannot, in any rational world, still support your point – which is that Auckland suffers from urban sprawl.”
    No it wasn’t my point! My actual point was that Auckland has room for greater density and it may even be cheaper to do that because of the lower infrastructure and service costs that come with greenfield developments. I linked to an article that showed research to support that approach.

    I notice that you are quick to criticise but offer no solutions yourself, how is that an honest discussion?

  49. Gravedodger says:

    Gee DaveK that was a bit sad

    Yes I am older than I would personally prefer but only due to irreversible scientific facts such as the inconvenience of when My Mother conceived, my age for me and my actually being here for you and your little bunch of the deluded.

    My preferred name in the ether came about when I found myself as a 59 year old in a bunch of 20 or so absolutely terrific young blokes who worked their collective arses off doing things for our community, I took the title as a badge of honour.

    Yes strictly speaking I am a red neck but as with the Gd (note my preferred diminutive) there is no shame in having toiled for many hours in the sun earning my reward of a happy retirement. However if you were insinuating I am a simple thick bastard peasant I will plead not guilty. I was in the estimation of a teacher at the Waiau Primary School the first old pupil to gain UE, I passed the seven three hour exams in Law, Contract, Valuation, Town planning x 2, R E practice and Ethics among them to qualify as a licenced Real Estate Agent while farming through the challenges that The very necessary Douglas reforms delivered while selling property and running the 4000 su farm.
    Was moderately successful in passing the academics for St John Ambulance Officer but could not make the Practical requirements to pass the in service module due to my regard for my longtime partner in sharing our hard earned retirement and the distance from the city.

    I have a very high regard for the pure academic success of those who study and produce peer reviewed papers from the hallowed halls but when numpties use that work to support a view that in the real world is easily rendered valueless, eg a Phd on The Alliance by one Dr Norman, it rapidly reaches the inane and therefore my scepticism prevails.
    So much of the academic support for Man Made adverse compounding of climate change is but one example. Recent lines of investigation and observation from the university of Northumbria has reinforced my belief that the sun will ultimately dictate climate change in a far greater way than Alphonse Gormless and his magnificent footprint ever will.

    Green Hater? you have fallen for the same sinkhole that Your esteemed BiL did in assuming things that are patently false.
    Yes I detest all in the present GP manifestation where the Melons, no apology for that nomenclature as more and more of the policy has origins in Marxism and less and less, unless it suits the narrative, vested in environmental concerns, attempt to brainwash the disinterested politically.
    I share so much of the concern at deforestation, water degradation, tourism blights, pollution of the environment and all the other threats to a human future but where we will always differ is in targeting the alleged polluters, nearly always from a GP perspective a wealth creating entity and then in forming solutions that will threaten such created wealth. Babies are far more valuable than bathwater and very easily separated before dumping the latter.

    You intemperate outburst had me with visions of a nineteen pound salmon in my landing net from too long under the Ohau Canal Salmon cages getting fat on food intended for others.
    You really should find the sage advice The Hon John Dyson Heydon gave to Willy Shortonbrains with regard to his answers to Questions from Jeremy Stoljar and adopt the more pertinent bits of that advice.

    In a few words, undeserved ageist denigration of someone by way of a personal attack with little regard to what maybe very pertinent and established opinions formed over many years of at times very hard graft in an at times unforgiving workplace while basing your entire effort on assumptions that are provably false.

    My belief that you were better than that is damaged but you have an undiminished right in my ever humble opinion to believe and state what you wish as I also retain the right to hold my opinions.

    Your views on freedom are clearly often widely divergent from mine, the difference coming in which of us will allow the other to hold his unimpeded by the depredations of the State.

  50. Dave Kennedy says:

    Oops should read: My actual point was that Auckland has room for greater density and it may even be cheaper to do that because of the lower infrastructure and service costs than greenfield developments.

  51. Dave Kennedy says:

    Well GD, what a great response 😉

    I do not believe that you know the Green party particularly well. I have compared the National Ministers with our 14 Green MPs here before and it is clear that the Greens wins hands down in business experience and economic credibility. The most common prior occupation for National Ministers is law followed by working for the state or local government. The 3rd ranking National Minister was a teacher and the 2nd has a degree in English literature. I don’t have a problem with those backgrounds myself (apart from too many lawyers), but if you want to attack the Greens for all being Marxist Melons you are pushing credibility.

    You are obviously more educated than your red neck rants generally present and I know that you actually care about many of the things I do when your guard slips.

    The main point of difference between us is around how good things are achieved. I too believe that the market culture delivers useful outcomes and the resulting competition encourages innovation, improved service and useful efficiencies. However there is a lot that the market does not deliver well and some intervention and controls are needed to stop the effects of greed, exploitation and corruption.

    When it comes to housing, the market has been given too much of a free rein and it has become horrendously corrupted and seriously flawed. The housing market won’t heal itself and no sensible developer (who wants to make money) would ever get involved in social housing or meeting the needs of low income families.

    The Government is best positioned for building low cost and social housing in bulk, it can use low interest finance to build quality housing that will hopefully last for 70 years into the future like the M J Savage originals. The Green idea is that tenants then should be able to rent to buy. That will encourage those on lower incomes to value their houses as their own and bring more people into the market and allow them to build their own capital assets. Home ownership has now dropped below 50% and we need to turn that around.

    Building houses is already good for our economy and on the scale we need them there are opportunities for training and future work. We need to give thousands of our workers the opportunity to learn a skilled occupation and be able to earn living wages. It would be a win win and government coffers will benefit.

    Wait for the market to deliver and we will only get more of the same: overheated investment, gated communities, homeless clogging Auckland CBD doorways, children dying in damp houses, international criminal funds being laundered through purchases and rapidly growing inequality where a smaller and smaller % will ever be able to own a home.

    You talk about freedom, in reality freedom of choice is largely decided by how wealthy you are and currently hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have few choices a few real freedoms.

  52. TraceyS says:

    “The Green idea is that tenants then should be able to rent to buy. That will encourage those on lower incomes to value their houses as their own and…”

    …increase unemployment. You have already accepted this fact in a previous comment, Dave.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/be-warned-george-osborne-more-home-owners-just-really-means-higher-unemployment-8612758.html

    Could you be any more transparent in your promotion of State dependency? In your whimsical response to GD you let down your own guard.

    What could be worse than owning your own home and not being able to afford to maintain it because you are jobless? This was my reality growing up. My parents owned our home. I recall Mum standing on stools in the dark of night with a broom to slay rats. When it rained there were pots placed everywhere to catch the drips.

    We’d have been much better off with a landlord however average.

  53. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, sorry that link is just nonsense as it is all about the context. All you need to do is go back forty years in New Zealand’s history and you could never draw the same conclusions. In the 60s and 70s we had high employment and high house ownership.

    Even your personal story is not the reality for many, you can’t use one example to pass a judgement on all. If I was to use my own extended family’s experiences it would be the dead opposite. My parents have done exceptionally well and have retired wealthy because of capital gains on property investments. I have done well too, I live in my third house and we used the capital gain from the previous ones to move to the next. Your situation was related to a low income not house ownership in itself.

    I would never say that owning a house is the right thing for everyone and especially now as it doesn’t make economic sense. What will go out to support a mortgage if you have little ability to pay it off quickly would be horrendous. However if a family had a secure income, work available close by and the house was affordable it would make perfect sense.

    All the study proves is that if you are on a low income in today’s market home ownership isn’t affordable and does not provide flexibility for changing employment.

    We now have an economy where a large number of people have no regular incomes because of casual contracts and general job insecurity. We also have an over valued housing market, poor transport systems in Auckland for longer commutes, and few choices in the lower price range for house hunters. The market is stuffed.

  54. TraceyS says:

    “Your situation was related to a low income not house ownership in itself.”

    Incorrect. It was related to owning a house where the jobs were not. And partly it was to do with pride (misplaced albeit) which conspired to prevent moving to where the opportunities were.

    And I don’t think you read my link properly:

    “A doubling of the rate of home ownership in a US state is followed in the long run by more than a doubling of the later unemployment rate. We also find that high home ownership lowers employment rates. These effects do take some time to develop – roughly of the order of five years.

    What mechanism might explain this? Our argument is not that owners themselves are disproportionately unemployed. They have higher employment rates than renters. But the evidence suggests, instead, that the housing market can produce negative “externalities” upon the labour market. We show that rises in home ownership lead to three problems: (i) lower levels of labour mobility, (ii) greater commuting times, and (iii) fewer new businesses. And so official policies that boost the amount of home ownership in a country are likely to inflict damage on the labour market. (my bold)

    You write…“My parents have done exceptionally well and have retired wealthy because of capital gains on property investments. I have done well too…”

    And then…

    “The market is stuffed…”

    Very funny that it got “stuffed” after you benefited.

  55. TraceyS says:

    “Even your personal story is not the reality for many, you can’t use one example to pass a judgement on all…”

    I did not judge anyone.

    And I am glad that my experience is not the reality for many. Glad indeed. Much has changed for the better. Yes there are new problems…that never changes.

  56. Name Withheld says:

    I do not believe that you know the Green party particularly well
    Their Vision for our future. is pretty transparent, albeit insane, though.

  57. Name Withheld says:

    Well GD, what a great response
    Great response?
    He flayed you, Mr Kennedy.
    Simply Flayed you.

  58. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Very funny that it got “stuffed” after you benefited.”
    Oh dear, Tracey, I did well when the market was relatively stable, the housing crisis has occurred since. You are also using the US situation to explain our own and we all know what happened there 😉

    NW, That video represents the NZ Green Party in the same way that this video represents National supporters 😉

    “He flayed you, Mr Kennedy.
    Simply Flayed you.”
    I guess that depends whether you are impressed by rhetoric or real arguments 😉

  59. tom hunter says:

    My actual point was that Auckland has room for greater density

    A truism as almost any city has room for greater density, as Shanghai is learning by going vertical with living spaces like Shanghai Tower.

    But culturally that’s not us, any more than we’re Manhattan or Tokyo.

    There will always be people who want to live in such places, I would have – in fact I did – in my 20’s, both in Wellington and overseas.

    But the thousands of New Zealanders who return each year don’t want to live like that, and I think that further thousands looking to start families each year don’t want to live like that. Why would they want to live in high density spaces like those they’ve left behind in London, Hong Kong, New York and countless other such places – especially when they’re earning perhaps 1/3 or 1/4 of the income?

    Having a decent-sized, private backyard and lawn for your kids, as well having decent public parks within walking distance, means “sprawl”.

    Even if the focus is just on low-income folks, your government solutions are just the same old central planning nonsense that has blighted Western cities with ghettos over the decades. Godforsaken places that fulfilled all your nostrums about efficient, bulk, high-density, and low-cost.

    They all started out with the same utopian dreams of left-wingers like you but produced godawful, inhuman places that I’ve seen with my own eyes while I lived overseas – and also seen in countless documentaries and read about in countless books and articles. You make reference to Mickey Savage’s classic state homes – but they were the complete antithesis of what you’re proposing here, that’s why they worked.

    In any case, all around Auckland I see those old sections being carved up to fit four or even eight homes rather than one, so it would appear that National is heading in your direction, just not in the style or at the pace you want. BTW, even with your approach the private sector will still be the ones doing the work and getting the money – quite a lot of it too given the state’s ability to produce endless amounts of low interest finance. Fletcher Challenge will probably make out like bandits, as they did with the first Labour government. Crony capitalism at it’s finest.

    Finally, you don’t seem to realise that all this is happening amidst massive planning exercises and regulatory control in Auckland, together with an RMA and Building Consent process that is already near overwhelming. I’m the parent chairman of a Scout group in Auckland and we’ve already spent thousands working our way to enlarging and improving our Scout Hall: we started in 2012 and might be done by 2017 if we’re lucky. Apparently if we just got on with planning and construction we’d ruin the local environment – that’s the overwhelming message of the ACC and the RMA. Frustrating does not even begin to cover it. I figure our changes will cost at least 20% more – possibly 40% as a result of all this, not to mention the resources (time) spent by parents who’d rather be having fun with their kids. I went through the same nonsense personally with two house renovations in the last decade. Just insane.

    There’s too much “intervention” in the damned housing market now – but you want more, just like Muldoon’s answer to the screwed up NZ economy of the day was more government intervention, of all sorts. Idiots.

    My answer? From the AGW discussions I see that you are vaguely aware of the law of supply and demand, in pushing for things like a Carbon Tax you understand that less CO2 will be produced. So with regard to housing – remove all the government shit that makes them more expensive to build: reduce the cost and there will be more of them. Dump the town planners and the zoning laws and you’ll kill land-banking at one stroke. There’s even a chance for you to indulge in some classic capitalist crotch shots, where you could make it easier for people to import building supplies instead of the oligopoly we have now that sells everything from Gib-board to nails at prices far in excess of the USA or Asia (this in an age of ever cheaper shipping that should have destroyed the bottom-of-the-world excuse long ago).

    What I want from the government in this market is for there to be rules around earthquake, fire insulation, water, power and communication supplies. Instead of spending money on planners spend it on inspectors if you must and make sure they actually inspect – and let the private builders have at it – and private homeowners like me who just want to put up shelter over our deck without having to fill in endless forms, submit detailed plans and fork over money for the privilege of having all this approved.

    You speak of freedom of choice? Take a look at what one uneducated man did, and even then he had to fight tooth and nail against the LA city authorities for years. In a classic example of Dave Kennedy thinking the city actually tried to demolish the structure after they’d driven the guy away and were convinced it would fall over with just a bit of applied force from a crane.

    The test stopped when the crane suffered mechanical failure.

    If anybody tried that nowadays in Auckland they’d probably find themselves in jail – after being confronted by an angry “flash” mob inspired by Green outrage on Twitter. So much for the human spirit under the thumb of bureaucrats.

  60. Gravedodger says:

    Kennedy you suggest that my perception of the Melons is flawed and I do not really understand how marvellous they actually are.

    Well my old splutterer it is as a result of the messaging that is in my ever humble opinion quite well supported and proclaimed by a sympathetic media that never question or investigate its content.
    That salient fact is not in any way my fault but over many years of observation and listening, my perceptions are well established and it appears are up until the latest polling, in accordance with the views of around 90% of the voters.

    Two statements made by Baroness Thatcher and Ronald Reagan fit well within my basic Philosophy;
    Thatcher, “socialism will last so long as there is other peoples money to fund it”.
    Reagan, The scariest thing you will ever hear ” I am from the government and I am here to help”.

    Then again I suppose as a demented old person I should be prohibited from voting eh.

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