Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Housing, hope and ideology

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    I very much doubt NZ is ready for self-sacrifice to ensure social housing, including those at the most benevolent end of the political spectrum.

    It well and truly is our version of G7 farm subsidies - like a cartel that's too big for the Commerce Commission to unpick. Sadly it may take something of Icelandic proportions, or American subprime proportions, to get things moving.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    The idea that the government cannot build enough housing for everyone is garbage. Of course they can. What it will mean is that the public deficit will explode, but it can be done. NZ is a sovereign nation with its own currency.

    As I understand it, the issue isn't the cost, but the availability of building materials and adequately-skilled labour.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not because people are hard hearted here but because they really have no idea of the scale of the problem, or the amount of money actually required to solve it. When posed with the real costs, they would be shocked, because people just don’t realize how much of our wealth is actually tied up in property. Essentially, it’s almost all of it.

    Chase, Equiticorp, Goldcorp, Judgecorp and Brierleys were also big factors in driving said people to the property market.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    The idea that the government cannot build enough housing for everyone is garbage. Of course they can.

    It's probably worth defining what we mean by "housing for everyone". Because it's pretty wide. It certainly is possible to house everyone right now just by putting more than one person per bedroom. Also, the cost of all that housing could be way less if we opted to build it all in the middle of nowhere, and if it was very high density at that. But that's probably not what people mean.

    Didn’t Labour have their decade-long building programme fully costed as part of their detailed election policy?

    Presumably their plan contains such definitions?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    It's rather ironic that you say cost isn't the issue. Anyway, the supply of building materials exists (think Sekisui) and the world is awash with skilled labour if it doesn't exist in NZ. But once again, these are non-issues, and without any political will, don't expect anything to change, whether they wear red or blue pajamas.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    It’s rather ironic that you say cost isn’t the issue. Anyway, the supply of building materials exists (think Sekisui) and the world is awash with skilled labour if it doesn’t exist in NZ. But once again, these are non-issues, and without any political will, don’t expect anything to change, whether they wear red or blue pajamas.

    There was a RadioNZ story not too long ago – and I forget when exactly – which reported that a guy imported all his materials from Europe. Even accounting for shipping and customs duty, it still worked out much cheaper than sourcing the materials locally.

    Further to my points above, I may have mentioned it before, but who needs to bring back the Legislative Council upper house when we have property speculators instead?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The world is indeed awash with skilled labour, but bringing in migrant labour to solve the problem brings its own challenges – apart from anything else, there’s the question of where to house them…

    But yes, I shouldn't have said cost wasn’t an issue, rather that it’s not the only issue. And I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it’s complex, and even if the political will were there, there would be a bunch of issues to figure out besides just where and what to build.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I thought that's what he told me, but I just looked it up, and it's not, so maybe it's just uncomfortable. The few times I've tried it it certainly was.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to ,

    Even the guy at work who goes barefoot all the time out of choice has a pair of shoes that he keeps in his car because it’s illegal to drive in bare feet.

    I did not know about that law.

    Neither did I, nor I suspect, did the women I've been driven by who kicked off their high-heels to drive in (stocking covered) bare feet since that was safer...

    edit: Ninja'd by Lucy

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce, in reply to ,

    Pretty sure it’s an urban myth

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 504 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    just that it’s complex

    Sorry not picking open you Lucy but this is a phrase we see trotted out a lot by our elected leaders and each time I see/hear it I cry bullshit

    Its not a complex issue if there is a will and desire to solve the problem, as already mentioned, but that just isn't the case

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    Driving in ski boots is ill-advised. Or stilts.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    Pretty sure it’s an urban myth

    As far as I know the goofyfoot gas pedal is still legal.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I often drive barefoot in the summer when I'm walking in jandals. It's ok for short distances.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    It's not illegal to drive barefoot in New Zealand

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    It’s not illegal to drive barefoot in New Zealand

    What about picking your nose while driving ?

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • AndrewH, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    And even the labour issue could be mitigated by employing some 21stC construction materials and techniques. Solid panel prefab in large factories (China if necessary) to be knocked together at site. Use of internal cladding that isn't Gib, ie doesn't require a vast amount of fussy finishing only to be easily damaged.
    I strongly suspect that even a Lockwood-style construction would be far quicker and cheaper when purchasing the material in volume (from offshore if necessary - our local stock is vastly overpriced).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to bob daktari,

    Its not a complex issue if there is a will and desire to solve the problem

    I agree but real solutions to complex problem don't always sync with political desires.
    eg The 3 Strikes policy , simple ( dumb) solution to a complex problem but I bet it pulled in the punters ( um voters) .

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to AndrewH,

    And even the labour issue could be mitigated by employing some 21stC construction materials and techniques

    +1 Andrew , that would be more creative if Govt looked at different and more efficient ways to build houses. Off shore maybe but pre fabricated in NZ factories would create a lot of jobs and not require fully skilled master builders .

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to AndrewH,

    Yes, of course, which is why I made reference to Sekisui. I believe they are at the forefront of building materials for residential housing. But if this publically funded, there is no need to deal with the private sector middleman in NZ. Go straight to the source in Japan. As the yen disintegrates further, the cost benefits are huge right now. Furthermore, Seksui already possesses the housing design and can construct on a huge scale far more effectively than NZ companies can.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • AndrewH, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    in addition - as is fairly common for buildings of significance - run an open design competition. There are a vast number of people with skills and talent who don't happen to be in the GETS process or wherever these things would typically get done.
    The guy I sit next to at work won a design competition for a super-yacht as an amature designer and the boat has since been constructed to spec and sold (I kid you not). There is that level of untapped skill and ability (which could have been applied to Christchurch as well). But jeeze mate - cutting out Fletcher Building? Hell, that's practically socialism..

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to AndrewH,

    All the talent exists in spades and it's best to follow where the materials are cheaper and superior, but surely the time for action has already passed with little sense of crisis. NZ cannot expect Asia to swallow our exports, yet ignore their expertise to better the future for young people. But of course, the prevailing mindset is all about public debt, yet we cannot keep shoveling private debt onto those who have not been able to benefit from the politico-FIRE complex. It's time for a shake up at local and national government, but it's unlikely to happen. Nothing has happened since the GFC; it's actually got worse.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    German Housing Policy....

    Although conventional wisdom in the English-speaking world holds that bureaucratic intervention in prices makes for subpar outcomes, the fact is that the German economy is by any standards one of the world’s most successful. Just how successful is apparent in, for instance, international trade. At $238 billion in 2012, Germany’s current account surplus was the world’s largest. On a per-capita basis it was nearly 15 times China’s and was achieved while German workers were paid some of the world’s highest wages. Meanwhile German GDP growth has been among the highest of major economies in the last ten years and unemployment has been among the lowest.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Cheaper construction is useful, but the main cause of skyrocketing prices is the land underneath the houses. That's the thing that's actually changed for the worse - construction itself has only become better.

    The causes of land price inflation are many and various. Basically they go to our entire way of life, how we're organized economically, what we prioritize, what we allow and don't allow, and also what the general world economy is like too. We're barely in control of it at all.

    So a conversation about social housing can only be avoid being totally fruitless if it becomes highly specific. There's no way that any government is going to be able to engineer circumstances in which the general price of property is brought down by any fraction that could make a difference to actual poor people trying to get onto a property ladder.

    So really, the conversation about housing people in NZ has to be a bit more targeted, so that incremental progress of any kind could be made, or it needs to be widened because this room doesn't just have one elephant in it. Solving unaffordable housing is a macroeconomic issue, and only macroeconomic solutions could possibly work. But such solutions get no look at government in this country, apart from the one solution we already have, which is to let capital decide. That's the only form of economic organization the bulk of the country has the stomach for. They'd sooner slide one by one into poverty than suffer any kind of radical reorganization.

    Which leaves us with managing that slide, softening it for the poorest, while we can still afford to, and still have any will to. It's visionless, but that's the way our country has been for a long time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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