Mood of the Boardroom: Split over how to tackle the housing crisis

Politicians have clashed over the best way to solve the housing crisis - one of the top three concerns of business leaders in the Mood of the Boardroom survey.

Finance minister Bill English blamed ''dumb planning'' for exacerbating the housing shortage and contributing to poverty while Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson said poor planning was just part of the issue and reiterated that his party would tackle property speculation by changing tax rules and banning foreign buyers from existing houses.

''Leadership from government in this is also part of the issue,'' Robertson he told the Mood of the Boardroom breakfast event.

Soaring prices have been blamed on property speculation fanned by the favourable tax treatment of rental property and the lack of restrictions on foreign buyers.

Robertson said Labour was working on ways to tackle negative gearing - where investors can write off interest costs on loss making properties.

''We do believe that part of what has to happen here is that speculation in our housing market has to be dampened down and negative gearing is a big part of that, we've also got our policy around foreign buyers only being allowed to come here and build rather than purchase existing houses.'' he said.

The Herald's annual Mood of the Boardroom CEO survey, published today, collected information from more than 100 business leaders throughout the country. Seventy-two per cent said they were concerned that younger New Zealanders were being priced out of Auckland's residential market.

On average, executives ranked housing affordability 6.69 out of 10, on a scale where 10 was extremely concerning.

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English said the housing problems in Auckland were good problems to have.

"We are happy, in a sense, to be dealing with the pressures in Auckland because it has been created through population pressure.

"This pressure of population has, as its biggest factor, Kiwis not leaving," he said.

Four years ago a net 39,000 New Zealanders left the country.

''This last year, the net inflow from Australia was plus 2000. From minus 39,000 to plus 2000 means that a lot of houses did not empty out."

While the government had announced plans for housing schemes that could provide 6000 houses in East Tamaki and Northcote, he acknowledged problems building them.

Auckland's broken housing market is creating a city where the tradies and salespeople who make our businesses tick can't afford to buy their own home.
Metiria Turei, Green Party co-leader

''You just can't pick the people off the trees or the council planners who know who to wave through multi-billion dollar urban developments,'' English said.

More tools and innovation were needed to match social housing to demand. Too often the number of bedrooms wasn't what was needed in some areas.

English would not put a figure on the ideal median income to house price ratio.

''We focus on the supply,'' he said.

Robertson said: ''I notice Bill studiously avoided giving you a number there - the rule of thumb would be you want one to four or one to three to one for - to be blunt that's going to take a lot of work to get there when you've got Auckland around nine or 10 to one.''

Chris Gudgeon, chief executive of Kiwi Property, said in the survey that the Government had lost sight of the crucial social role played by affordable housing, saying it had been "lazy, naive and negligent".

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said it was notable business leaders were so concerned about housing.

"Auckland's broken housing market is creating a city where the tradies and salespeople who make our businesses tick can't afford to buy their own home," she said in a statement following the event.

- NZ Herald

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