Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages

The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position will help the thousands of Aucklanders desperate for solutions to the housing crisis. But the Government needs to be clear about where it stands.

“Does it or doesn’t it support getting rid of the urban growth boundary? Or do they go along with Auckland Council’s position that it is enough to simply inject a bit of new land every few years into a highly speculative land market. Neither Bill English nor Nick Smith have been clear about this.

“On the one hand Bill English said Labour ‘is right’, and at the same time we have Nick Smith saying it would be counter-productive to abolish the urban growth boundary.

“Bill English and Nick Smith are also at odds over Labour’s plan to reform the financing of infrastructure. Bill English said Labour’s proposal was ‘interesting and constructive’. Nick Smith earlier ruled it out as ‘creative accounting’ and ‘nothing more than fool's gold’.

“We also need clarity from the Government on the other vitally important aspects of Labour’s policy proposal:
• freeing up density controls that stop the building of affordable medium-density housing in town centres and on transport routes,
• front-footing transport provision to support new developments; for example a rapid transit busway to service the massive developments in Auckland’s North West,
• more intensive spatial planning in the growth corridors that sets aside land of special value, and acquires land for transport, public space and utilities, and
• committing to new ways of infrastructure financing that ensure new developments pick up the tab for the cost of transport infrastructure and utilities without relying on a taxpayer or ratepayer subsidy.

“Without these elements of a new smart integrated housing policy, the Government’s rhetoric about the urban growth boundary will be hollow. If they are serious about a solution to rampant land banking they must adopt a whole new approach to managing the city’s growth.

“Bill English and Nick Smith have been caught flat-footed after years of playing politics with the housing crisis but they now need to rapidly reconcile their respective positions to provide much-needed hope and certainty to Aucklanders,” Phil Twyford says.