Nick Smith. Photo: Getty
Nick Smith. Photo: Getty

OPINIONPoliticsMay 17, 2016

Nick Smith is both 100% right and a big hypocrite

Nick Smith. Photo: Getty
Nick Smith. Photo: Getty

Nick Smith was totally right to crack down on a politician who pandered to his rich, elderly voting base at the expense of sensible housing policy. Now, about National pandering to its rich, elderly voting base at the expense of sensible housing policy.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 13:  Dr Nick Smith, the Minister for Building and Housing announces the decision by the Hobsonville Land Company to bring forward the development of 1000 new homes at Hobsonville Point on June 13, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. These homes would not have been available until 2019 on the previous schedule, but will now help address Aucklands urgent housing need.  (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Nick Smith, a sentient turnip acting undercover as New Zealand’s Housing Minister, launched a stinging attack on an Auckland councillor yesterday.

Angered by Mike Lee’s opposition to an apartment development in Herne Bay, Smith mercilessly razzed the Waitemata ward councillor ancient Waiheke sea goblin for being “ironic” and “part of the problem”.

“We cannot have that sort of Nimbyism. That’s at the core of where Auckland has gone wrong. That’s why I’ve politely written back to Mr Lee and said ‘actually, you are being a hypocrite’,” he told Newshub.

He’s right. Mike Lee is kind of a sellout: a supposed leftie trying to repel poor and young people from the gates of Herne Bay, presumably to curry favour with its $2 million house-wielding residents.

His policy positions amount to moving the “leafy suburbs” of Auckland back to 1974 and keeping them there in a time jail, while developing and intensifying the places where non-rich people live.

It’s good to see him getting pwned. Smith is absolutely right to criticise politicians who abandon good policy positions to pander to their rich, elderly, property-owning voting bases.

Speaking of which, here are some things Smith and National could probably do if they weren’t pandering to their rich, elderly voting base.

Tax property investment like any other investment

This would be cool.

Implement a proper capital gains tax

National currently taxes houses bought and sold within two years. It doesn’t take Housing Stephen Hawking to figure out you can avoid that tax by selling after two years and one day.

Instead the Government could broadly and consistently tax all income generated through property sales. Con: it would probably be wildly unpopular with property-investing voters. Pro: it could help avert the housing apocalypse.

Ring-fence investment property returns


Enforce a housing warrant of fitness

This won’t be popular with some slumlords who feast on human suffering landlords. But if you can’t provide a place that’s fit for humans to live, you should probably sell up and console yourself with an untaxed three-trillion-dollar profit. We have a warrant of fitness for cars, which most of us spend an hour a day in, max. Houses are inexplicably allowed to be freezing mould boxes that make people sick.

Get Housing New Zealand to build much more social housing

Housing New Zealand only has about 67,000 houses in New Zealand. But Government spends billions providing an accommodation supplement to help people pay what are quaintly called market rents. That helps artificially inflate rent prices. A better supply of social housing – where rents are linked to income rather than market rates – would help. Then we would stop the unedifying spectre of billions of dollars in Government housing money going directly to property-investing Boomers so that they can – wait for it, whoa, guess what – buy more investment properties!

Jail all Boomers

Vital. Necessary. Good. But who has the guts to do what’s right?

Keep going!