Labour leader David Shearer has conceded his party's
affordable housing policy will only be able to deliver small
apartments or terraced housing in Auckland for the $300,000
price tag - while standalone family homes are more likely to
cost up to $550,000.
Labour's policy to deliver 100,000 affordable homes over 10
years was the centrepiece of Mr Shearer's State of the Nation
address yesterday, aimed at setting out his new "hands-on"
approach and priorities for the year.
When he announced the KiwiBuild policy last year, Mr Shearer
said the aim was to put "Kiwi families" into their first
homes at a cost of less than $300,000. Labour has repeatedly
defended that figure despite National's attempts to say it
was dishonest because it promised the impossible.
After his speech yesterday Mr Shearer said the $300,000
figure Labour had quoted was the average price of KiwiBuild
homes nationwide rather than applying to every house under
the scheme. "In some places it will be more."
He said it was possible to build small homes for $300,000 in
Auckland, including in Massey, Papakura and Manurewa.
"They are apartments, they are terraced houses. For a three-
or four-bedroom standalone house it will be more."
He said three- and four-bedroom standalone homes were "of a
different ilk" and a lot of the homes built in Auckland would
be two-bedroom apartments or terraced housing.
He said those larger homes would still be under the $550,000
average price of a four-bedroom home. Construction companies
had advised that the costs would be dramatically lower than
the usual home because of the scale of the project.
The policy has proved popular - in a recent Herald-DigiPoll
survey there was more than 70 per cent support for it.
Yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said Labour's
policy was heading the same way as its last building project:
state houses. "They'll be the wrong size in the wrong places
and the price is going up already. It was $300,000 two months
ago, and now they're talking about $550,000, which will be a
revelation to the public."
In his speech, Mr Shearer said Labour was determined to start
building houses under the scheme as soon it got into office -
it will set up a conference of experts on housing, including
architects, builders and draftsmen to ensure the policy was
ready to go from the first day if Labour wins the election
Mr Shearer's speech was delivered in Labour's blue-collar
heartland of Wainuiomata at the local rugby club where Young
Labour had gathered over the weekend.
Prime Minister John Key this morning told Radio New Zealand
that new Housing Minister Nick Smith would produce a housing
plan which kept "that kiwi dream alive of buying their own
Mr Key said National's housing plan, which has yet to be
announced, would try to work with local councils, but if they
stood in the way of speeding up the process he was not ruling
out the Government having a greater say.
Dr Smith would look right across the sector to see where
improvements could be made.
There was two key factors in making housing affordable, he
"It's fundamentally keeping interest rates low, that's one
thing that stops consumers being able to afford their
mortgages who buy houses, and the second thing is really
around land supply in my view."
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