Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Labour vows to crackdown on property speculators

Labour leader Andrew Little says his party will take aim at property speculators if successful at the election. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader Andrew Little says his party will take aim at property speculators if successful at the election. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader Andrew Little will announce policies aimed at spoiling the party for property speculators in his keynote speech at Labour's election year Congress today, including tightening tax loopholes for property investors.

Little will use statistics which show one in seven houses sold in Auckland are bought by investors with more than five properties. He will also tell how he bought a house to illustrate the problems first home buyers now face in Auckland and increasingly in Wellington.

The main announcement is expected to be around the tax breaks for landlords on rental properties which have long been seen as an incentive to invest in residential property. The International Monetary Fund has recommended New Zealand move on negative gearing to try to dampen demand.

Little will tell the 400 delegates about his own "typical Kiwi story" - he and wife Leigh bought their first three-bedroom home in Wellington 17 years ago for $315,000.

"That wasn't a small amount of money for us, but it was manageable." It was estimated that same house would now cost $830,000 - almost triple the 2000 cost and had gone up by 20 per cent in the last year alone.

"Whose pay packet increased that much? Families' incomes haven't tripled since 2000. Nowhere near."

Housing is one of Labour's big election year planks, and Little has already set out plans to boost supply with KiwiBuild policy for 100,000 homes over 10 years as well as restrictions on foreign buyers. Labour also proposes increasing the 'bright line' tax to apply to houses which are sold on within five years - up from the current two years.

Today will be all about election year business.

But Saturday was his deputy Jacinda Ardern's time to shine in her first conference as deputy leader.

Ardern delivered a speech on her own upbringing in Murupara and Morrinsville. She spoke emotionally of the trauma that went through the community when her best friend's 15-year-old brother committed suicide and set out new policy to roll out on-site nurses to all secondary schools.

There were also lighter moments, including a self-deprecating tale of public speaking when nerves made her mouth dry and her lip stick to her teeth. "When your teeth provide this much surface area, it literally meant I couldn't talk."

She also took on Prime Minister Bill English, who showed off his rural credentials by shearing a sheep earlier this year. Ardern had her own rural tales to tell, of docking lambs tails and working a cherry picker. She said the first vehicle she drove was a large red Massey Ferguson tractor: "And the first thing I crashed was a large red Massey Fergusson, straight into a nashi tree, another nashi tree and then into my father. He's ok."

Afterward she would not say how old she was at the time "in case Dad gets in trouble."

- Herald on Sunday

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