28 May 2014

Govt 'still focused' on housing supply

10:25 pm on 28 May 2014

The housing market continues to dominate Parliament, with the Government saying it remains focused on housing supply, not foreign ownership.

The Labour Party says the two issues are interlinked - and the Government needs to accept the fact that foreign buyers are part of the problem.

Nick Smith at the select committee on Wednesday.

Nick Smith at the select committee on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ

Housing minister Nick Smith told Parliament's social services committee on Wednesday that foreign buyers are having no substantive impact on house prices.

But Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says foreign buyers and speculators are contributing to rising house prices - and it's time that the Government faced up to that.

Later during Question Time in the House, Labour leader David Cunliffe criticised the Government for its "itsy-bitsy housing policy".

But Prime Minister John Key replied that thousands of new building consents have been issued.

Pre-quake level pledge

Nick Smith told the committee on Wednesday that pre-earthquake housing level of Canterbury would be restored by 2016.

Dr Smith said more than 11,000 homes were lost and 30,000 damaged in the recent quakes but is satisfied with the rate of the rebuild which is going as fast as it can.

Mr Twyford questioned the minister over reports that foreign buyers were contributing to a housing crisis but Dr Smith said those reports were rubbish, as officials have found no evidence of that.

The minister said data from the Inland Revenue Department showed the level of foreign buying of properties has been flat-lining since 2008.