12 Jul 2021

ACT launches suite of housing policies

4:13 pm on 12 July 2021

GST sharing, build-to-rent, and a public-private partnership for building houses are among policies the ACT Party is proposing as part of a "deep, structural" reform of housing in New Zealand.

ACT Party leader David Seymour

ACT Party leader David Seymour Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Launching a campaign of discussion documents, leader David Seymour said while no government had succeeded in fixing housing this one was the worst, and New Zealand risked "becoming a neo-feudal society with a property-owning class on the one hand, and the house-nots on the other".

It said the government's proposed RMA reforms was prioritised on honouring the Treaty of Waitangi and risked creating a regulatory nightmare.

Its proposed alternative policies included a GST sharing scheme which would share 50 percent of the GST revenue from building a new house with the local council that issued the consents to incentivise the councils to cover infrastructure costs.

Combining the Infrastructure Committee with Crown Infrastructure Partners into a new authority with a mandate to secure private investment for new infrastructure would also help fund new projects faster at a lower cost, it said.

Other policies included:

  • Removing barriers for financing build-to-rent accommodation
  • Removing land use rules such as the Auckland metropolitan-urban limit
  • Introduce building insurance
  • Change regulations to automatically approve building materials that are already approved in similar jurisdictions
  • Replace the RMA with Acts which expand the rights of property owners to build on their own land and provide "certainty and focus only on those environmental issues not addressed through other schemes"

"It's the ACT party's role to say when things aren't right, to have honest conversations. We said in 2016 that National's bright-line test would not work. We were right about that and we're being proven right about Labour's interest deductibility changes now, too, as house prices rise," Seymour said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said newer build-to-rent models were worth exploring but there had been no discussion on it yet.

"That's not something Cabinet's had a substantive discussion on," she said.

"We have a housing problem generally, we have an affordable rent problem. We need to continue to address both of those issues but do it within a principled framework that New Zealanders would be comfortable with."