Rushed housing law changes made up in six weeks

The National Government rushed to change the law governing Special Housing Areas (SHAs) in just six weeks, the Green Party said today.

Responding to an Official Information Act request, Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith said that on 28 June 2016 he had received no information or advice to date about the expiry of the Auckland Housing Accord, extending the Accord, or new initiatives to replace the Accord. SHAs in Auckland have been created through the Auckland Housing Accord. Smith said the Auckland Unitary Plan and National Policy Statement on Urban Development would be sufficient once the Accord expired. Just six weeks later on 10 August, he took a paper to Cabinet’s Economic Growth and Infrastructure Committee asking for a law change to extend the SHAs.

“In late June, Nick Smith said he had received no official advice about what to do when the Auckland Housing Accord expired, but just six weeks later he asked Cabinet for permission to change the law to extend SHAs,” said Mrs Turei.

“For a Government that says it has a comprehensive housing plan, it sure looks like it’s making things up as it goes along.

“National is making a habit of rushing to make up new housing policies, with this made up in six weeks, the billion dollar infrastructure fund put together in less than a month, and Steven Joyce announcing Housing NZ changes on Twitter.

“For something as significant as the housing crisis, making policy up this quickly creates big risks of having to go back and fix mistakes later.

“Nick Smith knew all along that the SHAs would expire, but he waited until the last minute to do anything about it.

“Because Nick Smith waited until the last minute, Parliament has been forced into urgency to consider a shambolic Bill that’s raising more questions that answers.

“Instead of just fixing the issue with eight specific Auckland SHAs that were caught by the expiry date in September, the Government is trying to make all sorts of other changes under urgency.

“This looks to me like clear signs of a Government that’s completely lost control of its own housing policies,” Mrs Turei said.

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