Political parties were fighting for the hearts of New Zealanders on Sunday, less than two weeks out from the election. With early voting opening today, Labour and National's leaders outlined policies targeted the housing market while the Greens launched a climate change policy aimed at environmentally-conscious voters.
GREENS' NEW CLIMATE FUND
Kiwis would get a $250 annual dividend from a "Kiwi Climate Fund" set up under the new Greens climate change policy launched on Sunday.
That money would provide a guaranteed payment to people who plant trees and recycle remaining revenue to an annual dividend to all Kiwis aged 18 and older.
Leader James Shaw outlined a swathe of climate-related policies including plans to plant 1.2 billion trees on land at risk of erosion.
He said the Greens would pass a Zero Carbon Act binding future governments to the goal of net zero emissions by 2050, and establish an Independent Climate Commission to advise on climate targets and emissions prices.
Charges would expand to cover all agriculture, not just dairy. They are expected to be $40 per tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, $6 per tonne of nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture, $3 per tonne of methane emissions from agriculture, and $40 back for each tonne of carbon sequestered by planting trees.
Dairy pollution charges would be about the same under the new policy, after a nitrogen levy is factored in, the Greens said.
Previously the Greens had called for an initial price on carbon of $25 per tonne on CO2 equivalent emissions for all sectors except agriculture, which would pay $12.50.
Shaw said a proper price on pollution would raise the living expenses of an average household by about $90-100 a year - more than offset by a reduction to the bottom tax rate and the annual dividend.
NATIONAL UPS HOMESTART GRANTS
National has promised to make it easier to pull together a deposit, by doubling its Home Start grant for first home buyers purchasing an existing house.
The Home Start grant would also be increased for new builds. PM Bill English said the extra grants would cost about $74 million a year and were aimed at helping those who were struggling to save a 20 per cent deposit. It was enough to help about 20,000 into a home each year.
The changes mean a couple could get an extra $10,000 of Government HomeStart Grants, taking the grants to $20,000 for an existing home or $30,000 for a new build.
The latest QV average for the Auckland area, in August this year, was $1.014m. But English said last year 18 per cent of house sales in Auckland were below $600,000 - the cap for existing homes in the Home Start scheme.
When English was asked at the announcement if a couple on the average wage could afford the mortgage for a $600,000 house he said the risk was if interest rates increased.
Although National could not guarantee interest rates would not go up under its watch, he claimed there was more of a risk under Labour, saying its proposals to spend more and borrow more risked pushing interest rates up.
The cost of the new policy would be included in the 2018 Budget.
LABOUR'S URGENT BAN ON FOREIGN BUYERS
Labour would ban foreign, non-resident homebuyers from buying property in New Zealand through an urgent law change before Christmas.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said the move would stop foreign speculators from shutting first-home buyers out of the market.
In August the party's Land Information spokesman Raymond Huo said overseas people wanting to own property in New Zealand will have to build new houses, "adding to our housing stock and supporting growth in the construction sector".
The ban would come in the first 100 days in government, along with new urgent standards to make rental properties warm and dry and stopping the sell-off of state houses.
Ardern made the announcement as part of a discussion about housing, which Labour has said is its top priority. She did not accept that nurses or teachers should have to give up on owning a home and outlined Labour's three-pronged housing policy that she said would make "all the difference".
"We will remove speculators' unfair tax advantages, we'll stop foreign buyers who have no interest in New Zealand buying existing homes, and we will just get on with building more houses."
Labour would also ensure renters had secure tenancy and had warm, dry homes.