'Reverse Jesus': Act leader slams Govt for declaring wrong crisis

ACT leader David Seymour. Photo: RNZ
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo: RNZ
Act leader David Seymour has lambasted the Government for what he is describing as a laundry list of failures, including overseeing the greatest transfer of wealth in New Zealand's history.

Speaking to party faithful in Auckland today, Seymour delivered his State of the Nation speech, taking aim at the Government for declaring the wrong crisis.

Late last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared a climate crisis in Parliament.

"This declaration is an acknowledgement of the next generation. An acknowledgement of the burden that they will carry if we do not get this right and do not take action now," she said at the time.

But Seymour said that if there is a climate crisis, then there is also a crisis in education, a crisis in public order, with productivity growth, housing and Oranga Tamariki.

He was particularly critical of the Government's housing record, especially when it comes to house prices.

Seymour pointed out that the average wage for a worker is $55,000 but in 2020, the average house price went up more than twice that, by $121,000, from $628,000 to $749,000.

"Imagine you are an idealistic young Labour MP. Let's call you, say, Grant, or Chris, or Jacinda," he said, referencing senior ministers Robertson, Hipkins and Ardern.

"You realise you've just overseen the greatest transfer of wealth from those who work to those who own in the history of our country."

Ardern has previously pushed back on suggestions that rapid house price growth was the Government's fault, saying that low-interest rates and the high cost of building materials were major factors.

But Seymour said the Government needed to take more responsibility when it comes to the supply of houses.

"We have a country that's practically uninhabited, but somehow it has a shortage of land you're allowed to build on. Only governments can manufacture famine from plenty ... they're like a reverse Jesus."

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Ardern said the Government was looking into how it could free up more Crown land for housing developments.


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Mr Seymour is clearly grasping at straws. He lists out all the problems, erroneously blames them on the current govt but has no solutions to offer, other than his standard and somewhat incongruous, "The Govt should do something."
Seems odd to me that the ACT party should be promoting socialism as a solution.
He'll need to do better than this to keep his current lot of weirdo MP'S. together at the next election.
Incidentally I notice that Mr Seymour doesn't let his MPs anywhere near a microphone, perhaps he is a little more canny than I gave him credit for.

Seymour's diagnosis is 100% correct and so is his solution — free up land for development! That, my friend, is not socialism. Far from it.

You my friend need to learn the difference between fact and opinion.
Mr Seymour's answer is the freeing up of land. That's his opinion. You happen to agree with it, that's your opinion. It does not make it 100% correct.
But speaking to that opinion I say the following. Land zoning is the responsibility of local authorities, not govt. Any capitalist can approach the council with a proposal that a piece of land be re-zoned residential and it is likely to be approved. Sure the process of a specified departure can be long and expensive and citizens have the right to object and be heard. But the point is the mechanism is there, it's in the hands of local authorities, not the govt. I suspect you and Mr Seymour would object if the govt took it upon itself and rode roughshod over the existing arrangements. The main handicap is that the capitalists are not keen to put up the money needed to push the re-zoning through. They are not prepared to take a risk in the free market. No. They want the govt to front up and cover the costs, and that is what Mr Seymour wants. And that my friend is socialism.

I think you're being too simplistic in your solution, because it assumes a number of things that likely do not hold true. The first is that the cost of building homes on freed up land will be low enough to make houses affordable. This is unlikely to be the case because NZ has a pretty tightly stitched up supply of housing materials, so the cost of building is extraordinarily high even without the regulatory costs and land costs. Second, is to assume that the cost of infrastructure to support freed up land is somehow not costed. Well, all this roading and wiring and piping has to be paid for. Development costs money regardless of the cost of the land. Third, that society doesn't care about amenity, history, ecology, etc. Fourth, that the need is for homes on the outskirts of cities. Etc etc. Freeing up land will address one problem, but it will not solve the issue of people investing in land because it is essentially tax free compared to other investments. If this was an easy problem to solve, then it would have been solved by now.

If there's an inequitable distribution of Wealth, redistribute it.

And you my friend with your opinion certainly doesn't mean people will listen to it, so instead of crying down everybody whose opinion doesn't align with yours or your party's why don't you actively listen to what they have to say...no, doesn't align with your ideology eh?.

There are many factors pushing up the price of housing but the one thing they all have in common is governance. Local government is the public face of zoning and releasing land but central government sets the rules via the Resource Management Act. They also set the building codes and Code Mark system that controls what we can build with. The cost of getting these bureaucratic system to move with the times should not be placed on the market they are designed to control as this creates the supplier protectionism that forces up material costs.
The other issue is the model of ownership. State housing sound all very nice when it comes to putting a roof over a family but it also takes way there participation in the market and makes them beholding to the State. It keeps them poor.
The Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust (www.qlcht.org.nz) is similar to City Council housing in many parts of Europe, where a personal stake in the home is required. Such a system reduces the administrative and maintenance burden on the state as well as supporting personal responsibility and wealth creation through ownership.

Socialism is the principle of central or local government being in control of a social/individual's life and actions, and that society should be subject to government will whenever possible.

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