18 Nov 2012

Labour announces major housing policy

8:01 pm on 18 November 2012

Labour Party leader David Shearer has announced a new housing policy he says would result in the largest building programme in 50 years.

Mr Shearer says it aims to put 100,000 New Zealand families into new, affordable homes within the next 10 years.

He made the announcement at the party's annual conference being held in Auckland this weekend.

Mr Shearer says the start-up cost of the building programme would be financed through issuing government stock called Home Ownership Bonds.

The money made from selling the homes would be invested back to build more homes.

Mr Shearer says the houses would be sold to first home buyers who have saved for their deposit and estimated the maximum needed to start the programme would be no more than $1.5 billion.

Housing spokesperson Annette King says the party believes it can build affordable houses for just over $300,000 and sell them with a small margin.

But she says the scheme will only be open to first home buyers.

"Some of them will be terraced housing, some will be apartments, some will be stand alone houses, some will be two, three, four bedrooms. They will be modest in terms of a first home that you would expect to own."

National standards and lowering the vote

Delegates have voted unanimously that the party should adopt a policy to scrap national standards in schools.

Several speakers on Sunday criticised the refusal of Mr Shearer and other MPs to say a Labour-led Government would abolish national standards in reading, writing and maths.

Delegates also supported a motion that if the party comes to power, it will lower the voting age by two years to 16.

Opponents argued that 16-year-olds lack the maturity to make such significant decisions. But those pushing the remit said that if 16-year-olds are old enough to work, pay tax and live independently, then they are old enough to vote.

The remit will be further considered by party members over the next two years, with a final policy position to be settled in 2014.

The proposal also includes adding a compulsory course about voting and democracy into the school curriculum.