7 Sep 2016

Housing measures no scramble, says govt

9:19 am on 7 September 2016

The government has denied scrambling to fix the housing shortage, with the Social Housing Minister saying its announcements are part of a "well thought out work programme".

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Photo: 123rf.com

Parliament went into urgency yesterday to pass legislation allowing Special Housing Areas to be created for another three years.

The government also announced it was boosting funding for new social housing places in Auckland by $24 million.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the government had been standing back for years, letting house prices get out of control, and was now scrambling to do something.

"That is a plan of desperation, uncoordinated, they're not talking to each other. They are running out of time so they're having to put legislation through urgency.

"Even I'm surprised at how incompetent National has been over dealing with the housing crisis, because they've seen it coming but they didn't want to deal with it."

Mrs Turei said the situation was now collapsing in on the government.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the announcements were part of a plan.

"It just seems every time I do something everyone says it's ad-hoc. So if I didn't do anything I'm ignoring it and when I am doing something then I get criticisms for doing things too quickly. What I can assure you is that's it's a well thought out work programme that's been going on certainly for me for a number of months - up to 18 [months].

Nick Smith

Housing Minister Nick Smith Photo: RNZ

But Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the government's "so-called" plan was not working, as the city's average house price topped $1 million for the first time.

Mr Little said the $1m Auckland average price marked a new milestone in the housing crisis and was forcing the Reserve Bank to act by expanding home loan restrictions.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the government was trying to pull out all of the stops to ease housing pressures.

"I won't rest until that house price inflation rate gets down into single figures," he said.

He denied he was panicking to keep up with demand.

"I indicated in April that we may need this legislation out the tail end of the unitary plan process," he said.