Last week I wrote about what I described as the great Auckland turnaround story. Auckland seems to be beginning an urban renaissance, backed by a raft of fundamental policy reforms and new investments in urban infrastructure such as busways, metro rail, and cycleways.

Of course, there are a number of flies in the ointment. Housing affordability is the big problem facing the city – we don’t have enough homes for everyone who wants to buy or rent in Auckland, so prices have risen. And on the transport front, where things are moving forward faster, there are still plenty of instances of projects that have been delayed or built with sub-optimal designs.

But these problems occur in the context of rapid and often positive change. For instance, Ministry of Transport data shows that from 2001 to 2015, Auckland went from 34 annual public transport trips per capita to 51 PT trips per capita. That’s a 50% increase – admittedly, from a low base, but there are many other cities that started from a low base and declined further over the same period.

Good urban outcomes are often winning. We need to ask how to make them win faster.

Lots of small steps forward

Two news articles from last week highlighted the current urban policy dynamic.

First, the National government announced a programme to build 34,000 new social and affordable homes on public land over the next decade. Commentators immediately responded that it sounded a lot like a watered-down version of Labour’s policy for the government to build 100,000 new social, affordable, and market rate homes. As Bernard Hickey put it, “It’s Kiwibuild vs Kiwibuild Lite“.

Second, Auckland Transport released consultation designs for the Victoria Street Cycleway, which will provide a new crosstown link to make it easier to access the Nelson St cycleway (and PinkPath!) and the soon-to-be-built Franklin Road cycleway. Of course, it’s possible that we may get a different design depending upon the outcome of the consultation on the Midtown Bus Corridor. But regardless: connected downtown cycleway network, here we come!

Four or five years ago, either of these announcements would have been the story of the week for people interested in better transport and housing outcomes in Auckland. Either one of them would have represented a significant step forward for the city, and a major change of attitude for the organisations involved.

Now, they seem like they might even be a bit… timid.

Getting to yes

The debate over whether the government should step in to build more homes seems to be following the same path as the debate over the City Rail Link, or, before that, rail electrification.

Now that electrification is complete and the CRL is being built, it’s worth recalling the tortuous path that they followed to get there. In both cases, local government backers, some opposition parties, and outside advocates (like Transportblog) made the case to a skeptical central government. Central government said no, we don’t want to spend the money, and besides, we think that rail is a 19th-century technology whose time has passed.

Then the discussion continued, and the perceived need for change increased. And government said: maybe, but not anytime soon. And a bit later, after further debate and analysis and all that, they said: yes, we’ll fund (part of) it, but not for a decade.

At this point, the basic principle had been agreed, and the city and central government were negotiating over timing, precise funding shares, and the minutia of design. This process delayed both projects by a couple of years, but, importantly, it ultimately meant that there was a strong cross-party consensus that they should go ahead. This makes them robust to political backtracking or electoral change. Contrast that to the way that transport planning is done in Australia, where state elections often result in multi-billion-dollar transport projects being abruptly cancelled or advanced.

National’s “Kiwibuild-lite” announcement seems to fall into the same category as rail electrification or CRL: after a long public debate over what more the government should do to boost housing supply in Auckland, all parties agree that there’s going to be some publicly-led construction. Now we’re talking about timing and scale.

The public wants a say

Finally, a key part of the story is that most Aucklanders seem to be supportive of the changes that the city’s making, or at least not angrily opposed. With luck, this will mean that we get more improvements, and fewer reverses, over time.

It’s true that people are concerned about the dysfunctional aspects of Auckland’s recent rapid growth. Housing affordability and traffic congestion are seen as growing problems. But there’s also broad public support for:

However, polling isn’t the only measure of public interest in change. I’ve been continually impressed by Generation Zero’s success in rounding up hundreds or thousands of submissions on important decisions. For instance, on the Midtown Bus Corridor, over 1500 people submitted through their online form, in addition to more than 500 people who put in submissions on the AT website. Now, Generation Zero has made it really easy to submit, but people still wouldn’t bother to do so unless they thought that a better city was important.

Where to from here?

None of this means that we’ll get a perfect outcome, or even a good one. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. Central government or Auckland Council could have a change of heart and send positive changes to a screaming halt. There could be a public backlash, if things change too fast or if the effects of change are widely disliked. And then there’s the risk of garden-variety bumbling and bad delivery.

But I think that this dynamic offers us many opportunities to make the good bits of Auckland better and fix the bad bits. Increasingly, we’re not arguing about whether we should change, or even how: we’re now discussing how fast we should move to fix things.

What do you think we should be doing faster to make Auckland better?

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71 comments

  1. What we badly need is real policy to improve things, most especially from central government, not smoke and mirrors and clever twisting of facts to give appearances they are doing something, whilst doing bugger all.

    I am uncomfortable with Goff being backed into a corner by National to sell off the revenue earning Ports of Auckland to tide us over for a bit on transport initatives. That classic short term thinking is great for the few investors, bad for everyone else long term

    It turned out Nationals 34000 new homes was a mirage, or lie, take your pick, a rehash of existing policy, previous committments, houses already built, replacements for demolished state houses and state houses sold, and whats left is largely a pool for speculators and all to be done on the never never time frame. But I note this morning the unquestioning rather useless Stuff.Co is still quoting the 34000 houses fiction as if it were real. Actually 34 homes probably sums it up.

    And to quote the Herald from last week, 800 extra cars are hitting the road every week and as a user of the roads 24 hours 7 days, I can attest to the growing gridlock in Auckland.

    So again, we need real policy from all parties, to turn both around for the better, not the current reality of do nothing from the current government.

    1. I have great difficulty accepting that suddenly in 2017 National have found the political will to address the housing crisis. Back in 2007 before he was elected John Key gave a speech to the National Party Conference explaining why housing affordability was a problem and confidently explaining that a National government had the answers.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWPgoAI1cLE

      Yet since 2008, whilst in government, house prices doubled in Auckland, homelessness has never been worse, the homeownership rate has dropped to levels last seen in the 1950s and rents have risen faster than wages. Despite all this the National government have refused to acknowledge a crisis in housing. In their most recent National conference the Associate Social Housing Minister -Alfred Ngaro stated the housing crisis was manufactured by the media -a statement which he refuses to apologise for.
      http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/05/alfred-ngaro-refuses-to-apologise-for-claims-media-manufactured-housing-crisis.html

      The National government’s latest promise to build houses in Auckland -only boils down to a few thousand houses guaranteed to be priced under $650,000 -the vast majority of the houses will not be affordable -even $650,000 is not really affordable. http://www.interest.co.nz/property/87756/amy-adams-defends-national%E2%80%99s-auckland-housing-policy-critics-say-numbers-fall-far

      The main effect of this so-called government build programme is to convert HNZ land and state housing into private housing and privately provided social housing -with no/few guarantees of affordability.

      The National government refuses to commit to buying/acquiring land for its build programme -so it is absolutely about privatising a public resource -once the existing stock of Crown land is used then future governments ability to provide State housing will be compromised.

      1. In Question Time yesterday, Carmel Sepuloni crushed Ngaro about his comments. He eventually says he regrets comments and has apologised

        1. The insincerity and lack of care coming from Alfred Ngaro in that video is pathetic. If that is the leadership culture being promoted in the National party by Bill English (he could have stood Alfred down), then it is hard to be optimistic that housing for the middle and lower classes will be prioritised.

          1. The supreme irony is Alfred is surely the most honest person in the National Party though. He articulated what they have done for years, even using Powerpoint. Brilliant

          2. 100% agree – Imagine if a mayor for a city was interviewed on TV and had that sort of a reaction – voters would be up in arms!

        2. Note Alfred Ngaro did apologise in Parliament for accusing the media of manufacturing the housing crisis, but refused to say why he made those comments, he refused to apologise to Paddy Gower (the media) for his comments, or give examples of the media ‘manufacturing the crisis’. And he did not offer his resignation to his boss -the PM Bill English, despite the most sincere part of his apology being the apology to his colleagues ‘for letting them down’ -because obviously they are very important people, unlike the homeless…….

      2. Brendon, whilst I agree with much of your criticism of the govt on housing, I think we should acknowledge early in their reign the positive work they did in pushing Auckland Council in the direction it was long overdue in arriving at. I maintain that much of the housing issue has its roots in the inaction of the Labour govt between 2000 abd 2008 and also the woeful inaction of the various legacy councils during the same period.

        1. Matt P -housing has been going wrong gradually since about 1990 -that was peak home ownership in NZ. It got a lot worse under the Clark/Cullen government and John Key was right to make affordable housing an election issue in 2007. But he did not follow through and now 9 years later it is National’s problem -they inherited it, they new about it and they claimed to know how to fix it. Now they have to take responsibility for it -blaming others -doesn’t cut the mustard…..

          Sure other players such as Auckland Council have also been useless -especially around the issue of relaxing planning restrictions. But in NZ real power resides with central government -they control more levers -infrastructure provision and funding, state housing, rental reforms, immigration, foreign investment and tax settings….. The government could have done more and what they have done, they have done late and reluctantly……

          1. Agree. But if we are being fair we should acknowledge the failure of the previous Labour govt and the seeds that failure planted for the crisis. And…congratulate the National govt exerted on Auckland Council, early in its reign, to ‘Get it right’ in terms of the Unitary Plan

          2. I am not sure that the Unitary Plan really is that good. Sure it is an small improvement, but it is not a step change. Auckland’s housing and infrastructure under the new Unitary Plan will not get as good as Brisbane (hardly a city setting the world alight for its affordability and amenities) -where Transportblogger Stu Donovan seems to have defected to.

          3. I too have reservations about the plan, but it’s a huge improvement on the original plan notified by council which was totally defective, and the govt should get some real recognition for knocking it into the right kind of shape. Any planner who has been involved in plan making knows it’s an imperfect process, highly political with tugs here and there, and usually full of necessary compromise. Given all that, I score it a B or B+.

  2. To change the status quo for transport, raise taxation on higher earners, close off tax loopholes such as that already suggested on housing speculators, allow the likes of Auckland Council to raise revenue in alternative ways, currently forbidden by the control freak Joyce and put the money being wasted on expressways and motorways into alterntives to roads and PT for 5 years.

    For starters anyway.

        1. Maori Statutory Board. Ethnic advisory panel. Rainbow communities panel. Council rebranding. Polls on whether citizens trust it to make the right decisions.
          Image consultants for accounts staff.
          Living wage plan should be dumped.
          .

        2. Diwali Festival to start with.
          The millions spent ripping out plants and then replanting them again with the same or similar plants for no apparent reason.
          The millions spent on consultants on name changes e.g Punuku Auckland etc.
          The millions spent resurfacing roads after some contractor has done an average job repairing them after digging them up to install a pipe etc. These things need to be better coordinated so that the street is dug up once, not multiple times every few months.
          Not sure how much the council wastes rolling out a bunch of councillors to all sorts of public events so that they can all self-congratulate each other in a big ass-kissing exercise (not too mention if councillors are involved then you have to have catering because the poor darlings are incapable of feeding themselves on their meagre earnings…. /sarcasm).

          1. Then there’s the Wynyard Tram line. What’s happening with that?
            How much was wasted on that?

          2. A typical response from a male ‘of a certain type’ who only notices things they dont like. Any road isnt the heritage Appian Way which cant be touched, resealing has to happen with a certain time, weather being a big factor. There are 1000s of different services under roads, problems can happen at any time.
            A good idea is get some bigger horizons than what the surface of the road is like

          3. Ztev – nice condescending tone there.
            Most roads (in fact I can’t think of any road in this country that has “thousands of different services” under it – evidence? Even for the CRL there weren’t thousands of services).
            My point is that when a contractor digs up a road to put in a cable and then does a shoddy/average job repairing the road surface then we all end up paying for it – uneven surfaces result in potholes on roads and other damage which needs to be repaired otherwise the underlaying base gets damaged which is expensive to repair. Vehicles have increased wear and tear from these surfaces too. Cyclists struggle on them and are more likely to get a puncture. The council ends up having to reseal the surface earlier than it otherwise would have costing extra money.
            Have a think next time before you make a fool of yourself.

          4. Services are installed in the road reserve under the terms of various Designations. The infrastructure providors – Watercare, Vector etc have the right to dig up the road reserve in order to maintain or service their pipework. Many of the pipes are separate (eletcricity and gas don’t live together well) so cannot be worked on at the same time. Council (or rather AT) is informed about this work, but does not manage it.

          5. Get rid of Diwali? At least if we get rid of all of those fantastic things we won’t have to accommodate any growth.

          6. Maybe rather than get rid of Diwali the Council could shift it to a time that isn’t actually Diwali. Oh right they already did that.

          7. Does anyone know the reason why ‘services’ are run underneath the road?
            Wouldn’t it be smarter to run pipes, cables, etc under the footpath? That would cause less disruption (pedestrians can easily switch to the other side of the road) than diverting traffic and digging up a road, surely? I believe in the US they do something like that, meaning you only have to lift the concrete slab to access the services underneath (IIRC) so it’s all done quickly because no digging is required?

          8. many services do run under the footpaths, for various reasons they have to inter-connect with the other side, or if there is a side street cross the road.
            A major under road service is stormwater, thats usually for gradient reasons and to connect to the cess pits. often when I see a road dug up for new pipes its a housing issue, the only stormwater connection is the other side of the road. The road sealing people arent necessarily aware whats in the pipeline ahead. The project could be held up for all sorts of reasons
            Aucklands issues are far bigger than a few bumps from poor re-sealing . Get a life.

          9. Some of the services under roads are historic or very big. Like the new water main than went up Victoria St last year. I can send you some pictures of the tench and 1.5m pipe is you like.

          10. Having had experience of this overseas, most councils actually have authority to ensure that when a street is dug up, all maintenance needed over the coming years are scheduled to take place. Its not rocket-science and only require a tiny bit of centralisation and planning. Not bad if you ask me…

            As far as I can see what we have here are a classic form of siloism. Different public institutions not communicating nor needing to seek permission for their work. Scary, this breeds organisations that aren’t responsible to others but themselves. This is allowed to go on since there isn’t enough oversight from those paying the bills and those who instigate the governance over these organisations obviously lack the vivion and knowledge of how things work in more efficient cities.

            However having seen one part of Mt Eden street dug up no less than 8 times in 2,5 years, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

        3. Vance

          Maoris eh? They lost almost of their land in Auckland to colonisation but you don’t think they deserve some input? Even someone in National thought that suitable? Next you will say they are on the pigs back.

          And dump a living wage? We cannot possibly have people being able to survive on their wages can we? Bring back slavery more your scene?

  3. Overall, the biggest thing NZ needs is a wider “Overton window” (i.e. what can be considered in public discourse) as well as a wider “Kingdon window” (what is considered feasible from a policy perspective).

    Back in the 1980s, we had everything from Marxists to libertarians (some who flipped from one to the other). Now, everything is constrained into an incredibly narrow field that (and I say this without using it flippantly) is bound by a neo-liberal/capitalist worldview; it is almost impossible to argue for any shifts to a “capitalist lite” approach to country management (I say management, not leadership).

    For Auckland, even at the latest mayoral elections, there was nothing bold. Goff, Swarbrick, Crone – nothing bold. Why didn’t Crone say she’d strip Auckland Council back to essential services (as Roger Douglas might have back in 1987). Why didn’t Swarbrick as the “de facto” green candidate announce that if she won, AT would be required to shift to all electric within 5 years? And why didn’t Goff as Labour announce a massive council house build?

    Because we’ve lost boldness. I sometimes wish the politicians would read Tolkien, particularly the two towers, and wake up and realise that they are strong, and they can do amazing things – if they just have the courage to do so.

    I think the saddest thing in NZ politics (and I speak as a socialist) is the degeneration of the Act party from a cohesive, comprehensive philosophy based on J S Mills to a party that contradicts itself each week in the pursuit of an extra dozen votes.

    1. Couldn’t disagree more. The wild ideological ride of NZ politics in the last 25 years of the 20th century nearly destroyed the country. We have done much better since 2000 with this much more moderate approach.

      Counter factual example: go see how everything in the USA is intensely partisan these days and what a giant screw up that is.

      1. I dont think the last 9 years has been moderate, just well choreographed to look moderate. Its been a sizeable shift back to extreme capitalism and market forces that English aspired to as a young politician.

        1. Disagree entirely. Look at what Douglas and co. were propounding in the mid-1980s – far more extreme than anything Key/English has done.

          1. We have had and are still having asset sales, jails for profit, schools for profit, anti worker legislation, zero hour contracts that are still prevailing no matter what our short attention span media report, dodgy tax havens, a sizable increase in the ability of the state to spy on its citizens, Ministers with business conflicts of interest that is the norm, and a massive erosion in social services. And that is just for starters. Even Douglas didn’t go that far.

      2. The best PM we ever had, Savage, was an extreme ideologue

        And US “partisanship” has very little to do with policy. If you put Democrats/Republicans on a spectrum, they’d be almost superimposed.

      3. Interesting comments about politicians, boldness and courage or lack thereof. Perhaps the more moderate politics since 2000 simply reflect the Sir Humphrey/Jim Hacker meaning of courageous and the future fear of the Lisa Owen inquisition with ‘But you promised, you have failed,thats not good enough etc’

        1. They are only more “moderate” because the political spectrum has taken a permanent step to the right in this country since Rogernomics. We are now a classic neo-liberal society. I’m not advocating for socialism or anything like that as that’s just nuts but compared to Nordic countries we are very much right wing fiscally.

          1. There are five Nordic countries. There are way more than five countries to the right of us.

            I agree though we are much more right than we used to be, but both Clark and the current governments have pulled us slightly back to the left.

  4. The hard thing for central government is to balance the funding between cities and rural and the same policy can’t please both.

    Why can’t half of our tax automatically goes toward the council we live in and elected to?

    Currently property rates itself aren’t enough.

  5. To answer your actual question Peter, I think we need to fix the consent process for developments. It is still too costly and time consuming. Before the Super City Manukau had streamlined the process a lot. Let’s at least move to that then from there look at even better ways.

  6. Why doesn’t National adopt Labour’s housing package in its totality? Why is it just doing a lite version of some parts of it?

    Clearly there is a consensus at the civil society/public level that a broad platform of housing policy reforms are necessary. Why doesn’t Bill English just get on with it?

    Is it loyalty to Nick Smith? Is it a chance to use the housing crisis to justify privatising HNZ -a hidden goal of his and National? A chance to destroy the legacy of Micky Savage and the First Labour government?

    I cannot see Bill English’s approach to housing working politically. As the experienced political journalist John Armstrong (and no leftie) states;

    “Auckland housing crisis is a crisis has been a textbook example of the kind of self-inflicted muddles that bedevil long-running governments and which ultimately destroy them.” https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/opinion-governments-handling-housing-crisis-lurches-chaotic-shambolic

    1. Labour’s policy involves purchasing private land at the top of the market, and then building a quantity of houses that would almost certainly sink house and probably land prices. I’m glad National has chosen not to do this with my tax dollars.

      1. What a strange comment. So are you saying Jezza that National will not fix housing affordability but Labour will? I would have thought that would be a good reason to vote Labour.

        Labour has quite clear policies on how it will address the problem of speculators, land bankers and those owning property for the purposes of capital gain. Is that a problem?

        1. It sounds great in theory but I don’t think Kiwibuild is a credible policy. To build 100,000 homes would be a serious building boom, and I can’t see our building industry being able to meet this without significant shortcuts.

          It’s also not really feasible to build this many houses in the right places on existing crown land so it will inevitably involve a significant purchase of private land at the top of the market, which I don’t believe has been budgeted for nor is wise use of tax dollars.

          Incidentally Andrew Little is on record as saying he doesn’t want house prices to fall, just to level out.

          Both parties deserve significant blame for this situation. Labour for failing to act on council restrictions and National for failing to undertake a building programme at the beginning of their term when there was a glut of builders.

          1. I believe KiwiBuild is credible -given a few years to ramp up. We have a historic precedent -the First LAbour government’s State house building programme.

            A much higher build rate was achieved in the three decades after WW2. So it is possible to increase the build rate further. See the graph here http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/331545/what-budget-2017-needs-to-deliver-for-housing

            Given we know already that a net 25,000 houses can be built in Auckland using National’s Crown land plan. Auckland only needs to find land for another 25,000 houses over a decade to meet Labour’s KiwiBuild promises. Urban development authorities could find some of that -apartments around train stations, light rail routes etc. Then there is the possibility of using some rural land locations at farmland prices and develop transit oriented versions of Hobsonville.

            I do not believe blame for the current housing crisis can be evenly divided between National and Labour. National have been in government for 9 years and with that privilege comes responsibility. Also Labour in opposition have rightly done its duty and exposed the government’s failings. On the housing front they have been particularly effective. Much of the progress NZ has made on housing issues is due to their pressure.

            Finally I think National are inconsistent -they want to have their cake and eat it too. They argue that the construction industry has maxed out and that the government cannot build any more houses on Crown owned land. So it is arguing that supply has reached its upper limits, yet it is unwilling to reduce demand, by for example reducing immigration, or foreign investment, or property investor speculator demand……

          2. 100,000 homes is 21 per 1000 people, that’s in another league compared with the figures in that graph.

          3. Totally agree Jezza, equal blame should be apportioned.
            We need Kiwibuild or equivalent desperately now – but the main reason we need it so desperately is that the lack of central government and local government action on planning regulation from 2000-2008 inflated land prices so much. And Labour were pathetic. And how bout the various Auckland councils? We had the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy in 1999, promoting a compact city, and then very little upzoning for the next 10 years….surprise surprise we get a housing bubble…
            And no one can tell me we didn’t know of the consequences back then – Owen McShane was writing about it in the late 90s, I was writing / submitting on it early -mid 2000s. There was almost universal denial from the planning profession I am ashamed to say. It was like banging your head against a brick wall.
            I am working on development feasibility on an almost daily basis, and it’s almost impossible to get two bedroom townhouses delivered to the market for less than 650K…. what a joke.

          4. It is not clear from that particular graph Jezza but those build rates were houses per 1000 residents per *year* (not per decade). So KiwiBuild works out as a boost of 2.1 houses per 1000 residents. Even with this additional supply, NZ’s build rate would probably still be below the 8 to 9 that was sustained through the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

            Note Canterbury peaked at a build rate of 11 per 1000 residents in the year to June 2016, while Auckland was only at 6. Auckland can still increase -it hasn’t reached its supply limits.
            http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/83636539/canterbury-tops-housing-consents-per-capita

          5. Ahh, that makes sense, I thought it seemed a bit low, but on the other hand a bit high for an annual figure. 100,000 houses over 10 years, in a country that currently has about 1.7 million houses appears a hell of a lot, but I guess a number are demolished each year.

            I think getting affordable land without sprawling will be the biggest challenge, and also not falling into the trap of building what are affordable homes in the current high market but may well be sub-optimal homes if the market was to fall.

            Probably more credible than I first thought but I still think it will be a significant challenge.

      2. I don’t want my tax dollars to resolve or chronic housing shortage, with more than 40,000 homeless and people are dying from their shifty homes, too. /sarc

        1. You do realise that those tax dollars would be going to those despised speculators as they get to sell their land to the government at the top of the market.

          Labour’s plan could also crowd out private building anyway meaning the gain relative to National’s probably isn’t nearly as big as it looks.

          TBH with housing market as it is now I think National’s programme could easily knock the top off the market without having to resort to buying private land.

          1. Andrew Little’s speech to the Property Council last November showed that Labour has thought through the crowding out issue. It will not be a problem -there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone. Builders like Mike Greer have asked that the government ramp up a govt led build programme. They can see the wall of demand that is out there.

            Andrew Little’s speech is here.
            http://www.labour.org.nz/andrew_little_speech_to_the_property_council_s_residential_development_summit

          2. Buy adjacent farms and then unilaterally change their designation to Urban. So cheap land. Then build houses – factory assembled – commit to keep building so factory has future orders. A rapid way to build a town about the size of Warkworth. During 2nd or 3rd year add schools, churches, library, shops, During year zero plan transport. Put it wherever you like.

          3. Exactly Bob -if there is enough political will -there is no problem re the feasibility of the government building affordable houses -those houses will pay for themselves -they just require an initial capital injection -after that it is simply build…. sell….build…. sell…..

          4. Bob re “year zero plan transport” -it would be good to get feedback from this good website about what the options are.

          5. HSB1 – not sure seizing land to build houses on will get any party anywhere near the treasury benches.

            Bob – I suspect the land value would start going up pretty quickly once the owners got wind of what the government was up to. That sort of thing is only really possible if you allow a 30 year lead in time so you can by land when it goes on the market.

            Brendon – interesting speech, it’s high on rhetoric and light on details though. He talks about managing the peaks and troughs of building demand, which is exactly what a government should be doing. However, this does make it harder to set a defined time frame as we don’t know when the next trough is coming.

            Also I suspect industry would be wanting a guarantee of more than 10 years to justify investing in the necessary plant, which unfortunately is hard to give as it’s longer than a typical government term.

          6. Government can print money to fund land or houses required under the plan. This is exactly what Savage Government did.

          7. Realist -you are right -the First Labour government did print money. But they were in the midst of the Great Depression. The gold standard had failed. Monetary policy was in similar position to the GFC with countries resorting to quantitative easing. The current monetary position is not that bad. But interest rates globally are very low -there are a lot of investors looking for safe reliable investments. This could be a source of capital for housing related infrastructures in NZ. Phil Twyford/Labour has a policy on using innovative infrastructure bonds for this purpose.

          8. The problem I have with that is we have a housing market which represents complete market failure. The govt will already have to pay exorbitant amounts for land, WHY should it then have to pay interest on that also. Further why is it ok for banks to make credit out of thin air but not ok for govt to do it?

            I think this is just another example of the neo liberal tunnel vision we face these days.

  7. It would be sad if this blog descended into a slanging session like some others. Admittedly it is hard to keep politics out of the Auckland discussion. But there does need to be political will for parties to do right for the city, not just their voters. At the moment that will seems to be lacking. To answer the question, we as Aucklanders need to lean on our politicians to actually DO something for their city.

  8. Good point, Stephen. In the same vein, we need to lean on our councillors and local board members. Can we have confidence that our democratic system works when something important needs to be decided, such as the appointment of a new CEO of AT? AT is supposed to be a CCO, with the level of council control limited to stop political seesaws affecting transport projects. So, with a new CEO to be appointed this year, how can Aucklanders democratically contribute to a wise appointment?

    Or is representative democracy with participatory elements just a recipe for burnout, because it’s one important issue after another?

  9. The Diwali festival was held over summer in and around the Aotea Centre for 3 days. The council supports many cultural events and most at minimal cost. The Diwali festival was popular and good fun. Music in the Parks and Movies in the Parks are such good PR for Auckland.
    I have a problem with the council using leaf blowers. They are banned in California and should be here too.
    I also think we are too fussy about our roads and often not aware of the high costs involved ($2million per km of new road) So the cost of 20m of asphalt outside a house might be $40000 not including footpaths etc. A lightly used asphalt street which is well repaired should last for 20, 30 or more years. The council now repairs a strip of a road rather than the whole road with good savings.

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