CGT and planners get both barrels from Brash

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Bursting the housing bubble – and making homes more affordable – will not be achieved by a capital gains tax, claimed ACT leader Don Brash.

By The Landlord

Speaking at the ACT New Zealand Housing Policy launch in Auckland Brash said Labour and Green Party claims a capital gains tax would help Kiwis with the dream of home ownership was "plain wrong."

"Australia has worse affordability than we do, and they have a capital gains tax. The United States and Canada have nation-wide capital gains taxes, yet have also had some of the most pernicious housing bubbles, especially in urban housing markets."

Brash said that for most of New Zealand's post-war history, houses typically cost three years income until the early 1990s when "prices shot through the ceiling and affordability through the floor."

He said that today, in Auckland the median house costs 6.4 times the median household income.

"As a result, the home ownership rate is falling fast. In 1936, only half of us lived in a home we owned. By 1986, it was up to three quarters. In every census since then, the home ownership rate has fallen. It was down to two thirds in the 2007 census."

Brash also dismissed other arguments around building and infrastructure costs and land availability, putting the blame squarely on planning restrictions.

"New Zealand does not have a shortage of land, only land that urban planners will let you build on," he said.

"It is they who are threatening to take the Kiwi dream away from a generation."

He said the old Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) around Auckland - a boundary that effectively prevented residential housing construction outside it - led to a shortage of buildable land, making land inside the MUL 13 times more expensive than land outside.

He said Auckland Mayor Len Brown's plan would see the MUL renamed the Rural Urban Boundary, but the results would be the same.

Brash said ACT would work for faster and deeper Resource Management Act (RMA) reform, specifically separating the planning activities of councils from consenting activities, "as letting those who make the rules interpret and enforce them is a recipe for the abuse of power."

He said ACT would also pare back the RMA to its original intention of assessing the environmental impacts on air, soil and water, "rather than being a tool for councils and other objectors to development to impose their aesthetic preferences on other people's property."

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