Nick Smith

Will National privatise the RMA process?

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Somehow this slipped past the radar because most journos seems to be calling it in at the moment, but it just popped back on.  Corin Dann reports

The government wants to let other providers compete with local councils for the issuing of property consents.

The government blames council red tape for a lack of housing development. Read more »

More talk about Auckland’s housing problems

Nick Smith, housing, environment, building and construction minister, vowed Resource Management Act reform. Deputy major Penny Hulse revealed plans for a new Auckland Development Agency, understood to be a merger of council-controlled Auckland Council Property and Waterfront Auckland. They would become one new more powerful urban transformational unit. But she said she did not want to reveal details before the announcement.

[NZIER principal economist] Mr Eaqub said foreigners were not responsible for driving up prices and at maximum, only 8 per cent of house sales were to non-residents. New Zealand investors and movers dominated new house purchases, he said citing CoreLogic data showing investors made up 45 per cent of house purchases, first-home buyers only 19 per cent and movers 28 per cent.

There are a lot of misconceptions of who are the active participants in our housing market,” he said.

These three form the ‘expert’ panel. ¬†So far I’m underwhelmed. ¬† Read more »

Term 1: do nothing. Term 2: Asset sales. Term 3?

As right-of-National supporters, the best we’ve gotten out of the the last 6 years is stability and tighter fiscal control. ¬†Not that we should be ungrateful – under the dark shadow of the GFC and numerous earthquakes, it’s been good enough not to go backwards.

But there continues to be a feeling of opportunities missed.  Some of the evil social engineering care of Clark that needs undoing has remained sacrosanct.  And instead of being a National Party, National continue to gobble up Labour policy in a move to deny them oxygen.

Such is the price for pragmatism. ¬†We vote for National because ¬†at least it isn’t Labour. ¬†Lovely.

So what can we expect for the 3rd term?

With his third-term Cabinet sworn in, Prime Minister John Key is gearing up for a push on housing, education and employment laws.

The official swearing-in ceremony at Government House yesterday saw some new faces take the place of some old ones, such as Judith Collins, once National’s most powerful woman, now relegated to the back benches while Paula Bennett shoots into Key’s Cabinet top five.

Read more »

Now this is a game changer policy

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Many politicians have claimed that this policy or¬†that policy or this person or that person is a “game changer”.

Yesterday National delivered up a definite game changer.

They have created two massive recreational fishing reserves and banned commercial operators in those zones.

This is a massive policy, one where John Key and Nick Smith have backed the hundreds and thousands of fishers vs the few companies that are commercial fishing in those areas.

It is pure realpolitik and middle New Zealand will rejoice.

Commercial fishing would be banned from the inner Hauraki gulf and the entire Marlborough Sounds if National creates new recreational fishing parks for those areas.

Prime Minister John Key announced the creation of the new parks while at Westhaven Marina in Auckland this afternoon. ¬† Read more »

Let’s talk policy: National announces help for struggling first home buyers

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After Pam Corkery stole the lime light yesterday, you might be forgiven for forgetting:  the National Party also had an election launch.

Prime Minister John Key has kicked off National’s election campaign in South Auckland with a boost to Government assistance for low and middle income first-home buyers.

Grants under the Kiwisaver First home deposit Subsidy will be doubled, the house-price limits increased and scheme renamed as the Kiwisaver Homestart Grant.

At present eligible first-home buyers can get a grant of $3000 after three years in Kiwisaver, $4000 after four years and $5000 after five years.

Under the Homestart changes, those grants will be increased to $6000, $8000 and $10,000 respectively.

Mr Key said that was expected to double the number receiving a grant from 10,000 to 20,000.

The new package will cost $218 million over five years. Read more »

Nick, stop being a dick

Nick Smith is getting all pus-faced and threatening legal action.

It shows he has been got at…and very unbecoming of a minister to resort to throwing around threats of legal action.

You either sue or don’t sue, you don’t whine about thinking about suing.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has rejected allegations of political interference, after he was accused of “bullying” Fish and Game into pulling an advocacy campaign for cleaning up rivers and lakes.

Smith said he was considering legal action against Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes, who made the allegations.

Haynes said Smith was highly critical of Fish and Game over the course of a Fish and Game Council meeting, held in Wellington this month.

“Nick Smith is very good at talking at and over people I think, and he was wading into them and they sat very quietly and listened to what he was saying,” Haynes told Morning Report.

“From my perspective they were very clearly being castigated, it could be construed as political interference – this was about telling Fish and Game to wind their neck in.”

The allegations were centred on a series of billboards, which called for greater protections to keep rivers and lakes clean.

Fish and Game is an independent organisation, which collects its funding through fees for fishing and hunting licenses.

It has statutory obligations to oversee fish and game management and ensure effective management of the country’s sports fish and game resources.

[...] ¬†¬† Read more »

They might have Cunliffe’s blessing but did they follow the rules

David Cunliffe says he gave the two renegades his blessing for crossing the floor.

Two Labour MPs crossed the floor yesterday to vote in support of a bill allowing the recovery of native timber felled in a cyclone.

Parliament went into urgency to pass the West Coast Windblown Timber Bill through all its stages.

Labour opposed the legislation after its bid to have it heard by a select committee was rejected by National. However, South Island MPs Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene broke ranks to back the new law.

Leader David Cunliffe gave them his blessing. “Damien and Rino are acting as local MPs and as such the Labour caucus and I support them,” he said.

O’Connor, the West Coast Tasman MP, asked the Government to amend the bill to ensure locals would get preferential access and the major benefits of the extraction of windblown trees.

“While I am disappointed Conservation Minister Nick Smith will not amend the legislation to guarantee West Coasters get much-needed jobs and revenue, I still believe this timber should be utilised,” he said.

I’m told that the “blessing” was really rather something else indeed after a massive fight erupted in caucus on Tuesday.¬† Read more »

Cunliffe has lost control of his caucus, O’Connor and Tirikatene to cross the floor [UPDATED]

David Cunliffe’s parlous poll ratings for the party have seen the first MPs to buck the whip and cross the floor to vote in favour of the¬†West Coast Windblown Timber Bill.

When your party polls so low the sitting MPs retrench back to their electorates and that is what you are seeing here as Damien O’Connor knows Labour’s opposition to this is death for his own electoral chances.

Labour’s MP for West Coast Tasman Damien O’Connor and Labour’s MP for Te Tai Tonga Rino Tirikatene will vote for the West Coast Windblown Timber Bill in their capacities as local MPs.

Damien O‚ÄôConnor says: “While I am disappointed Conservation Minister Nick Smith will not amend the legislation to guarantee West Coasters get much needed jobs and revenue, I still believe this timber should be utilised.

“The West Coast lost almost 1000 well-paid jobs after the National Government ran Solid Energy into the ground by forcing it to increase debt and pay out dividends at a time when coal prices were unsustainably high. This almost crippled the company and the West Coast community along with it.¬† Read more »

Greenpeace not a political lobbying group? Go on pull the other one

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Greenpeace claims they are a charity, the Charities Commission disagrees and says they are a political lobbying group.

Greenpeace maintains they don’t engage in that stuff, and yet almost every week they are campaigning and so it is this week too.

Greenpeace has collected 23,000 signatures from people who want Energy Minister Simon Bridges sacked for allowing oil exploration in a marine mammal sanctuary.

The petition is a response to fears that Maui’s dolphins, the world’s most endangered species, will be threatened with extinction.

There are only 55 left and they live off the west coast of the North Island.¬† Read more »

Auckland Council likely to fail on first year of Special Housing and blame government

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Auckland Council are widely expected to ramp up their public relations in the next few months leading up to the October deadline that marks the first year of the Housing Accord. ‚Äč

There is a lot of pressure on the Council to perform to Minister Smith’s expectations – the delivery of 39,000 consented houses in 3 years. The question is – will Council genuinely be able to deliver consent approvals under the SHA or will they fall short and start to cover their backsides with PR spin and rhetoric.

‚ÄčSo far it looks like the latter is more likely.

Housing project office director Ree Anderson told the council‚Äôs Auckland development committee yesterday ‚Äčthat ‚Äčthe ‚ÄčHPO anticipated 3 district plan variation applications being lodged in the next 3 months for development in 3 of the 63 special housing areas approved under the accord so far.

She then went on to report that‚Äč net consents for homes & sections in the first half of the first year of the accord totalled 5134 and that 3417 homes had been consented so far and 6834 were anticipated for the full year to September. 2763 section consents had been granted and 5526 were anticipated for the full year.

‚Äč‚ÄčAt first glance that would appear to suggest the housing office has been busy granting consents but the trickiness of Council is ever present and the figures quoted by Ms Anderson are for consents in general – nothing at all to do with Special Housing Areas.

The Housing office has officially received¬†2¬†consent applications. Yes that’s right folks – two! ¬† Read more »