Housing crisis sets up political clash
By Peter Wilson
Affordable housing is shaping up as the big political issue for 2013 as the Government and opposition parties go head to head over how to deal with the crisis.
Houses in Auckland cost more now than they did at the height of the boom less than a decade ago and the rest of the country isn't far behind.
First time buyers are priced out of the market and all the political parties say solving the problem is a priority.
Prime Minister John Key unveiled the Government's strategy in his state of the nation speech on Friday - cutting red tape that holds up developers and 14,000 extra apprenticeships over the next five years with the focus on construction trades.
He warned councils that if they don't change their planning processes, the government will do it for them.
Labour, which says it will build 100,000 low cost homes over 10 years if it wins the next election, scoffed at the government's plans.
"Bandying around images of property developers champing at the bit to invest in affordable housing is pure nonsense," said housing spokeswoman Annette King.
"And dishing out veiled threats to local authorities won't get families into their first home either."
Mr Key promised significant changes to the Resource Management Act, which controls consents for new buildings, within months. But Labour and the Greens say tinkering with the legislation won't achieve anything.
The Greens on Thursday released their housing policy - a rent-to-buy scheme for low income families which they say would be about $100 a month cheaper than a mortgage and could be paid off in 25 years.
Labour and the Greens, who will form a coalition government if they win the next election, are looking at merging their housing policies to build homes that will cost about $300,000.
Mr Key says it's an impossible dream and the idea of building $300,000 houses in Auckland is "disingenuous".