Curbing immigration to ease the pressure on Auckland housing was an option rejected today by Housing Minister Nick Smith.
"A lot of people are interested in this," he told the Property Council's residential summit in Auckland, referring to Waikato University work which found the Government had few options on this front.
About 800,000 New Zealand residents and citizens lived overseas, he said, also referring to migrants' "positive contributions" to New Zealand's information and technology sectors and the Canterbury earthquake recovery job.
Visiting a Christchurch building site was "like going to an Irish pub", he said.
But where the Government did see some need for some possible change was around "student education programmes, making sure it's genuine students and not back door immigration."
Smith also cited the need for a balanced approach.
"We need to be careful that we don't undermine industries that generate wealth," he said.
Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford, also at the summit, says immigration is putting pressure on housing and the labour market. The Government should throw off the ideological blinkers and review the immigration policy, he says.
Smith largely rejected the state stepping in to easy boom-bust housing and building cycles: "I'm sorry, I'm a realist," he said, although he acknowledged there was some influence the Government could have.
However, Smith said that before Christmas, he would release a discussion paper on the body corporate sector which he said needed consumer confidence for people buying townhouses and apartments.
At a panel discussion this morning, Registered Master Builders chief executive David Kelly complained about the highly fragmented nature of the construction sector and how this constrained building capacity.
"We don't have the scale of developments where there's a whole lot of people. That's essentially our problem. We need multi-year larger contracts. Certainty is critical," he said, giving the example of a contractor who would expand if the business was awarded a five-year contract to build 200 places annually.
The Property Council today also launched a residential development manifesto which outlined changes needed to get more housing, examining regulations, planning systems, construction capacity and infrastructure provision.