4 Nov 2013

Labour's housing plan for Christchurch questioned

12:03 pm on 4 November 2013

A group representing social service providers in Christchurch is questioning the Labour Party's plan to build cheap housing exclusively for first home buyers.

Labour leader David Cunliffe announced at the party's annual conference on Sunday plans build 10,000 affordable homes in Christchurch in the first four years of its KiwiBuild policy.

Sharon Torstonson from the Christchurch Council for Social Services says more cheap housing is desperately needed in the city, and is welcoming Labour's building plan, but says it's not only first home buyers who have limited means.

Ms Torstonson says elderly people forced to move after the earthquakes are particularly disadvantaged because they often can not get loans for more expensive properties.

Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says its policy will benefit others in the market by increasing the overall supply of cheaper housing.

Gender quota

Meanwhile, Mr Cunliffe is defending a move by the party to introduce a gender quota for its caucus.

At the conference in Christchurch, the party voted to support the introduction of a quota that will eventually lead to half its caucus being made up of women. It would mean a target of 45% women by 2014 and 50% by 2017.

Mr Cunliffe says male candidates will not be forced to stand aside if the party doesn't quite reach the target.

He says women have been missing out for a whole lot of reasons and the caucus will be stronger for the change.

"What we're doing here is moving towards normality. Women are at least half the talent, they're going to have half the places on the list and we're going to have a stronger better caucus."

Mr Cunliffe told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the policy is not the same as the women-only selection candidate policy the party had to dump earlier this year.

"The so called man-ban was a specific idea that in some seats you would only allow women candidates to stand. Now that has been rejected by our conference and vetoed by me."

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams says the move to introduce a gender quota for its caucus is a mild measure that most voters will support.