Housing plan a winner for Labour

JThe Labour Party housing policy for first-home buyers has struck a chord despite the Government's attempts to write it off as expensive and unrealistic.

Just over 70 per cent of the 500 respondents in the Herald-DigiPoll survey approved of Labour's promise to enter the housing market to build 100,000 low-cost homes over the next 10 years.

Just over one-quarter (26.7 per cent) of the respondents disapproved of the policy, which would see the Government become one of the biggest players in the property market.

The policy was just as popular outside the heated property market of Auckland, which will be first to benefit from it should Labour win government. The results for Auckland respondents and those from other regions were the same.

The poll results pleased Labour's spokesman for Auckland issues, Phil Twyford, who said there was broad support for the policy despite National's efforts to dismiss it as unrealistic in terms of cost and speed.

"That's an encouraging result. The strong support shows people believe we can deliver the 100,000 affordable starter homes."

Prime Minister John Key has scoffed at it as a "fantasyland" idea, saying the $300,000 limit would mean finding sections in Auckland for $50,000 - an impossible feat. He said homes would end up being tiny and way out of the city. National has also questioned the wisdom of the Government entering the housing market.

Mr Twyford rejected that, saying housing was now such a fraught area that it required the Government to intervene.

"The housing market in Auckland is clearly not working and it's really only the Government is big enough to tackle that. People want a Government that is hands-on and will sort out the problem."

The housing policy was announced by Labour leader David Shearer at the party's conference a month ago and Labour has promised to build 10,000 houses a year for the next 10 years for first-home buyers, aiming to sell them for less than $300,000 in high-demand areas such as Auckland, Tauranga and Queenstown. If there is high demand ballots may be needed.

In an attempt to counter the policy, National introduced more affordable housing to its development in Hobsonville.

- Claire Trevett of the New Zealand Herald

Housing

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