On Monday, the Prime Minister had a chance to do the right thing and announce a date when the trans-Tasman safe travel bubble will be open. She chose not to. Instead, she announced that she will soon announce an announcement of a date.
Her Ministers don’t appear to care either. Damien O’Connor said COVID-19 had taught the tourism sector to ‘not be so cocky’. Rather than apologising, he doubled down. Stuart Nash told tourism businesses that were finding it tough to visit their accountants or close.
Our tourism sector, which employed more than 400,000 people, has been pleading for help for a year now. Kiwis have been separated from their families for far too long and the Government has had months to work out the complexities of a trans-Tasman bubble.
More than 45,000 people have backed National’s call to open a trans-Tasman safe travel bubble with Australia. Tell the Prime Minister to get on with it by signing our petition here.
Kiwis are ready, Australia is ready, and our local businesses are desperately ready.
You can read more here from Judith Collins, Chris Bishop and Todd McClay.
Robertson dumps fuel on housing fire
This week the Government rushed out their latest attempt to intervene in the housing market. The sad reality for Kiwis struggling to rent or buy a home is it will most likely make the situation worse. So, let’s breakdown the likely consequences of the core parts of their plan:
Tax deduction changes for landlords are likely to increase rents, meaning Kiwis currently renting will be able to save less for their first home. Treasury and IRD warned the Government about this in their advice, but it was ignored. When asked about increasing rents, Grant Robertson said he “can’t predict exactly what will happen” and renters can “go looking elsewhere”. The question for Grant is, where?
The repeated extensions to the ‘bright line test’, now 10 years, have effectively turned it into a Capital Gains Tax. It’s a broken campaign promise by Labour and will likely see property owners hold onto property longer (lock-in effect), make compliance more complex, and won’t deliver more houses into the market. Treasury and IRD concluded it was “worse than doing nothing”. According to Grant Robertson, mum and dad investors, with one rental, are now considered 'speculators'.
The support for Kāinga Ora to borrow $2 billion risks pushing up land costs for the rest of the country as the state developer competes with private sector developers for scarce housing land. National would have liked to see: measures to require Councils to release more space for development, a more transparent approach to funding infrastructure for housing and support for Community Housing Providers who are desperate to get in and build more houses.
The $3.8 billion infrastructure fund announced by Megan Woods contains no agreed eligibility criteria, targets, start dates or an actual tangible plan. That detail will apparently be available by 30 June. To be clear, National supports more funding for infrastructure needed to support housing. But Labour's fund looks unclear, and Megan Woods admits it will be at least 18 months before it results in any new housing being built.
We call it as we see it. It was a rushed and poorly thought through package of announcements to make the Government look like it was doing something. It’s a great idealistic soundbite for the voting base to talk about ‘loopholes’ and ‘speculators’, but, beyond the Labour spin machine, it won’t help renters and families get into houses.
National will repeal the tax changes and return the ‘bright line test’ to two years to specifically target rampant speculators trying to make a quick buck. As it was originally intended to do. We’ll focus our efforts on policy that will actually move the dial on the supply of new land and housing, and not punish renters and the vast majority of landlords trying to do the right thing in a limited market.
We’ve asked the Government to work in a bi-partisan way to deliver:
- A strengthened National Policy Statement on Urban Development.
- Urgent temporary legislation to rezone Council land, and not wait four years for RMA changes.
- Funding from Kāinga Ora to Community Housing Providers who have land and consents for housing projects ready to go.
- Removal of the Auckland Urban Boundary, as Labour promised in 2017.
- Implementation on new finance models leveraging the Accommodation Supplement and Income-Related Rent entitlements.
We also have proposals on the table from Gerry Brownlee to reform Maori Land (27,000 blocks of land or around 1.4 million hectares), changes to the Unit Titles Act from Nicola Willis to make it fit for purpose for apartment owners and buyers, and more innovative solutions to deliver better long-term infrastructure funding from Andrew Bayly through a National Infrastructure Bank.
You can watch more from Nicola Willis here.
Labour votes against National’s proposed law to notify schools of sex offenders
Labour has failed to ease the minds of parents across the country as it voted down a law change, proposed by Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey, that would have required the Department of Corrections to notify school principals of sex offenders placed in their communities.
Too many times we have heard Corrections has released sex offenders into areas close to schools and vulnerable children without those schools being informed of this placement.
Newtown Primary School principal Mark Brown found out through social media that a convicted paedophile at ‘high risk of reoffending’ had moved in up the road from his school, 100 metres from a day care and near a playground.
Had Labour voted for this legislation, this would not have been allowed to happen.
You can watch more from Matt Doocey here.
Mallard proves himself unfit to be Speaker of the House
Further revelations this week regarding Mr Mallard have solidified our position that he is unfit to continue to hold the position of Speaker, after he used legal threats to try and silence a Parliamentary staffer who he falsely accused of rape.
National has received the statement of claim by the plaintiff, lodged in the High Court as part of defamation proceedings, which alleges Mr Mallard repeated his false allegation against the staffer in public even after he was told by Parliamentary Service that it was incorrect.
The document also shows Mr Mallard, who has admitted he knew within 24 hours of making the initial claim that he made a mistake, informed the staffer, through lawyers, that he would not apologise, would not pay damages, did not accept the staffer had been defamed, would prove what he said about the staffer was true, and would defend any claim “vigorously”.
Trevor Mallard has lost the confidence of the Opposition over his handling of this matter and should not continue as Speaker of the House. Judith Collins has written to Jacinda Ardern on this matter, and National has sought the leave of Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in Mr Mallard on several occasions this term, but they have been continually blocked by Labour.
You can watch more from Chris Bishop here, and read more here.