12 Apr 2015

Cross-party housing talks

11:45 am on 12 April 2015

Auckland's deputy mayor wants to include Christchurch in discussions about a cross-party accord to solve a housing shortage in both regions.

Higher density and townhouse developments are part of Housing New Zealand's new Auckland focus

Higher density and townhouse developments are part of Housing New Zealand's new Auckland focus Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Penny Hulse said the Housing Accord signed by the government and Auckland Council in 2013 had dramatically reduced consent times for developments in the region's special housing areas.

But it had not solved the problem of how to fund the developments, boost the construction workforce, or help people buy the houses that would be built, she said.

Christchurch shared many of the same problems, Ms Hulse said.

"So I'd like to talk to Christchurch, I'd like to talk to the Government, to the other parties in Wellington ... about what some kind of non-partisan approach to this issue would look like."

Quake damage has left Christchurch with a chronic housing shortage.

Quake damage has left Christchurch with a chronic housing shortage. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

There would have a chance to raise the idea when she and Auckland mayor Len Brown meet with the Housing Minister Nick Smith in the coming week, she said.

There were good ideas across the political spectrum, Ms Hulse said.

"My hope is that we can actually share those ideas and put some of them into action.

Penny Hulse

Penny Hulse Photo: RNZ

"There's an awful lot of talking, there's an awful lot of hand-wringing, and ... the sooner we all get around the table and have a bit of a discussion, the better."

But Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford scotched the suggestion, saying it was not Labour's job to step in and save the Government from its own problems.

"It's not up to Penny Hulse, and with respect, it's not up to me to be calling for a bi-partisan approach.

Phil Twyford.

Labour's Auckland spokesperson Phil Twyford Photo: RNZ

"Come back and talk to me if Nick Smith or Bill English say that they want a bi-partisan accord on housing."

Massive government investment into building affordable homes was needed, Mr Twyford said.

Nick Smith did not respond to a request for comment.

Christchurch's deputy mayor, Vicki Buck, said political issues were standing in the way of developing a closer relationship with the Auckland Council to solve their respective housing crises.

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