Labour seeing sense

Patrick Smellie writes at Stuff:

What’s really interesting is that peace has broken out not only inside the Party, but also between and National in some fundamental policy areas.

In part, that follows party leader Andrew Little’s finally euthanising some old policies he had long judged political poison, irrespective of their merits in a perfect world.

Behind closed doors and with very little fuss, capital gains tax, a higher pension entitlement age, and that complicated electricity policy that everyone worried wouldn’t work, were formally ditched.

Also behind closed doors and with even less fuss, housing spokesman Phil Twyford also got sign-off on three new legs to Labour’s housing policy, two of which have all but been announced by the government.

He announced a National Policy Statement would be used to dictate to city councils on urban densification and on removing urban boundaries that create a massive distortion between the price of land inside the boundary and land just outside it.

Twyford has concluded, along with everyone apart from anti-sprawl advocates and Nimbys, that a big part of why Auckland’s are so crazy is the web of rules that drive the construction of costly homes.

I’m really pleased to see Labour seeing sense on this issue. For the past few years they have insisted that you can “fix” house prices by taxing capital gains and having the state build more, ignoring the unavailability of land in Auckland. And every independent report has said the availability of land was by far the biggest issue. So it is good to see Labour having changed its stance.

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