Sure, Hosking can grill party leaders - if the focus is on the real issues.

Instead of debating Mike Hosking's suitability to moderate the political leaders' debates, let's instead debate the questions he could put to National's Bill English and Labour's Jacinda Ardern.

1. Do you favour a correction to the Auckland housing market? If so, what will your Government do to help orchestrate it?

Politicians hate direct questions on this issue. No-one wants to be seen to kill the party and the "wealth effect" that has sustained the national mood. The leaders will instead lament the current state of housing unaffordability in Auckland and pledge new house building programmes to better match demand and supply. English has already introduced a quasi capital gains tax to slow speculation by investors in the Auckland market. Ardern will highlight Labour's plan to crack down on negative gearing.


But is that seriously enough to deal with the issue?

Former National leader Don Brash and former Reserve Bank chairman Arthur Grimes are among the few who have said that house prices in Auckland have to fall if they are to get back to affordable levels. "I cannot see how indefinitely we can continue in cloud cuckoo land. That's where we are now," Brash said a year ago.

He said then that it was impossible to go from the current situation in which Auckland median house prices were 10 times the median household income, to a more affordable ratio of three or five, without a fall in prices.

Predictably, the real estate industry is now bleating over the fact that house sales volumes have dropped by a quarter in the past year. Instead of simply telling their clients to drop prices to get a sale, the Real Estate Institute was reported yesterday as making a desperate call to end the Reserve Bank's stringent lending restrictions for first-home buyers.

The Reserve Bank is not going to do that. It believes that house price inflation is continuing to moderate due to loan-to-value ratio restrictions, affordability constraints, and a tightening in credit conditions.

"This moderation is expected to persist, although there remains a risk of resurgence in prices given continued strong population growth and resource constraints in the construction sector," the bank said.

Someone needs to take a lead on this. And a moderator who stays on the political leaders' case and forces them to give direct answers to tough questions could do this.

2. Will you commit to solving NZ's growing homeless problem within one year of taking office?


No pressure here, but for a country that prides itself as sporting one of the fastest-growing economies in the OECD, the level of homelessness is a national disgrace.

Mayor Phil Goff labelled Auckland's growing problem with homelessness as a "crisis" at a recent council meeting. Recent figures estimate that around 24,000 people across the city don't have adequate housing. "We're not building enough houses; we're not building enough social houses, and of course we've got a growing problem such as mental illness that leads to more people sleeping rough," Goff was reported as saying.

Central government (and the mayor) need to own this issue.

But it's not just Auckland. Napier and other provincial cities have problems.

I have no truck with Metiria Turei's misguided altruism which cost her - and the Green Party - considerable credibility.

But some of the issues she highlighted deserve action and answers. They are not going to go away.


3. Would you commit NZ to play a role if war breaks out again on the Korean peninsula?

With nuclear ping pong now being played between the White House and Pyongyang, it is easy to overlook that New Zealand is a party to the armistice that halted the war between North and South Korea.

As the New York Times reports, President Trump escalated his war of words with North Korea by declaring that his provocative threat to rain down "fire and fury" might not have been harsh enough, as nuclear tensions between the two nations continued to crackle.

"Rejecting critics at home and abroad who condemned his earlier warning as reckless sabre-rattling, Mr. Trump said North Korea and its volatile leader, Kim Jong-un, have pushed the United States and the rest of the world for too long." the NYT reported.

New Zealand is not immune to these international tensions. Our nearest neighbour, Australia, has already invoked Anzus. Where does NZ now stand?

Our next Prime Minister will have to deal with these tough questions - my hope is they are asked.