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Housing Crisis: The Opportunities Party's action plan

Geoff Simmons, Deputy Leader of The Opportunities Party

In the lead up to PrefabNZ's Housing Crisis panel on 7th September and the general election, we invited each political party to provide an overview of their housing action plan. Here Geoff Simmons of The Opportunities Party outlines their proposal.

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We asked for submissions to these three questions:

1. What is your party's perceived problem with the housing market in NZ?

2. What is your party's intended response post-election (not what is happening now)

3. How will your party embrace and encourage innovative housing delivery as part of the solution?

New Zealand has one of the biggest gaps of any developed country between how we tax housing and how we tax other assets. The tax-free status of housing creates demand for land and housing investment purely as a tax haven. This in turn drives some of the fastest rising house prices of any country in the world. As a result, huge amounts of investment go into bidding up the price of houses, which are unproductive assets that do not improve economic growth. Meanwhile land bankers can earn massive untaxed profits while leaving their land undeveloped. None of the establishment parties have done anything to address the tax loophole that is at the heart of our housing crisis and that won’t change post election.

The Opportunities Party (TOP) wants housing to be used for shelter, not as a get rich quick scheme. We would close the loopholes in our tax system around property and use that money to reduce income taxes, making 80% of people better off. This reform will be progressively introduced to stop speculation in housing without crashing house prices. By holding house prices steady we allow incomes to catch up and restore affordability over time. This will free up cash for investment in productive things, including businesses and building new houses.

While housing affordability improves over time, we also need to take action on the rental market. TOP would improve the rights of renters so that as long as they paid the rent and didn’t trash the place they couldn’t be kicked out of their home (even if it is sold). We would also invest in improving energy efficiency and put a rental Warrant of Fitness in place for all rental properties. Finally we want to see more of the Housing NZ stock transferred (not sold) to the community housing sector as they can provide more housing and a better service for those on low incomes.

There are a number of elements of TOP policy that support innovative housing delivery. Our fair tax reform will penalise land bankers to encourage building of new homes. This tax reform will also see a massive increase in investment into businesses, supporting an increase in local manufacturing. This will be further supported by a boost to R&D and infrastructure funding from our (yet to be released) Business Policy. Our Climate Action plan will improve the efficiency of existing homes and progressively make our new homes more efficient over time.

To hear more and compare party action plans, please come to the Housing Crisis Panel, 7 September. More information and register here

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