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Finance Minister Bill English again focused on Auckland’s housing issues at Finance 2016, an annual event co-hosted by Massey University and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. The Auckland business community, academics and media turned out in force to hear the Minister’s first major speech of the year, which outlined the government’s priorities midway through its third term, including some of its longer term thinking.
Mr English talked about the positive economic outlook for New Zealand but highlighted rising house prices as a key issue to be addressed.
“The government is focused on rapidly rising house prices for three reasons – they can have a significant effect in the macro-economy and financial stability; they can drive inequality, as high prices favour current owners; and they are a fiscal risk for the government,” he said.
He told attendees there was no quick fix to the Auckalnd housing shortage, but that it was clear the city’s urban planning system wasn’t working properly.
“We want a planning system that recognises the consequences for all current and future residents, and for the country. One that coordinates these interests, but does not restrict growth.”
Despite Auckland councillors voting to withdraw plans to increase housing density in some areas earlier this week, Mr English said he was confident the process would lead to a sensible plan for growth, but would not rule out central government intervention.
Auckland Council will have to respond to the Independent Hearings Panel on the Auckland Unitary Plan this year, he said.
“It is critical that the plan provides enough scope for increasing housing supply to meet the demands of this growing city. Exactly how that is delivered – the combination of up and out – is something that Auckland should decide for itself.”
Mr English also said he hoped local government elections would not derail the process.
“It is my hope that election year in Auckland won’t affect the positive relationship between central government and Auckland city, developed in recent years.
“I hope mayoral and councillor candidates will feel the same pressure we in central government feel – the need to solve obvious problems faster.”
Finance 2016, now in its seventh year, provides business leaders with an update on the state of the New Zealand economy, as well as an opportunity for the business and academic communities to engage.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey said Massey’s Auckland campus intends to play a part in building the new 21st century economy New Zealand needs.
“It will be a major part of the development taking place in the north of Auckland, it’s an innovation-focused campus, it’s an international campus.
“We are about to begin the first stage of our Sciences Innovation Precinct. Over the next four or five years it will become the heartland of that very innovative, smart corridor that’s building in the north of Auckland.”
Massey University and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce use any profits from the event to provide scholarships to top finance students at Massey’s Auckland campus. The 2016 award winner was Charlotte Newson, the top student in the first-year Fundamentals of Finance paper.
Created: 25/02/2016 | Last updated: 26/02/2016
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