The number of new homes consented in Auckland for the year to November has topped 10,000 for the first time in 12 years, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The 1156 consents issued in Auckland during November makes it the strongest month in more than 10 years. It is more than treble the 325 consents issued in Auckland in November 2008, when National became Government. We need to consistently achieve more than 1000 consents per month in Auckland to match population growth,” Dr Smith says.
“It’s great to see such strong growth in our area of greatest need but this isn’t just an Auckland story; 30,303 consents were issued nationally for the year to November 2016 – up 13 per cent on the previous November year and the second consecutive month where we’ve topped 30,000.
“The value of residential construction nationally increased 23 per cent for the year to $12.45 billion, and all construction increased 15 per cent to $19 billion. In Auckland, residential construction is at $4.8 billion, up 32 per cent, and all construction is worth $7.2 billion, up 30 per cent.
“This is the fifth straight year of strong growth in construction, with growth averaging more than 20 per cent per annum. This is as fast as you can practically grow a sector as large and as complex as construction without compromising quality,” Dr Smith says.
“This ongoing strong growth shows the Government’s programme to increase housing supply is working. We have aggressively increased land supply with Special Housing Areas in the short-term, changes to Auckland’s planning in the medium term, and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity and Resource Management Act reforms in the long term.
“We have complemented this with the Crown Land Programme and a record level of direct Government projects to build homes, such as Hobsonville. We’ve also provided record levels of assistance for first-home buyers with the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme, which has helped more than 20,000 people into their first home with about $500 million in KiwiSaver withdrawals for a deposit.
“This Government is step by step, development by development, getting on and addressing New Zealand’s housing challenges.”
Labour Leader Andrew Little's idea for a law change to give Solid Energy a legal exemption to any liabilities that might arise out of a re-entry to the mine is hypocritical and unsafe, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith said today.
“It would be extraordinary to make an exemption from the Health and Safety at Work Act from the very place where 29 workers lost their lives from inadequate standards that triggered the new law. This is a bid by Mr Little to outplay Winston Peters politically rather than a principled stand about the importance of a consistent approach to workplace safety,” Dr Smith says.
“The Government’s position is that the mine should only be re-entered if it can be done safely and complies with New Zealand’s updated workplace safety laws. We do a disservice to the memory of the 29 miners who lost their lives by not learning the lessons of the tragedy that you cannot play fast and loose with underground safety of methane rich coalmines.
“Based on the advice I have received, I remain very doubtful of claims that the mine can be safely re-entered. The mine has 100,000 cubic meters of methane and is likely to have residual heat sources capable of triggering an explosion if there was a source of oxygen. There is the added risk of rock falls from unstable strata fractured by the 2010 explosions.
“The fundamental flaw of the mine having only one egress route remains. The Government has already spent more than $5 million trying to find a safe re-entry method. Over 600 pages of reports commissioned by Solid Energy analysed the risks and concluded it could not be done safely. There is a significant difference between someone saying re-entry might be possible compared with company directors taking legal responsibility.
“Exempting the Pike Mine re-entry project from New Zealand’s workplace safety laws would set a dangerous precedent. Labour argued these laws were not tough enough and is now being hypocritical in wanting, for political purposes, to exempt the Pike Mine re-entry project. Either the mine can be safely entered under existing law, or it should not occur.”