The Empty Homes Tax has zero chance of being adopted by a Labour-New Zealand First government ideologically opposed to the state decisively intervening in the housing market.

JOHN MINTO HAS BEEN thinking outside the box. His proposed Empty Homes Tax would help to alleviate the country's acute housing crisis, especially in Auckland. His proposal has been picked up by the mainstream media, which hasn't immediately shot it down in flames.

The tax is a straightforward idea. People who deliberately maintain empty houses and apartments will be taxed for the privilege of doing so. Rather than funneling more taxpayer cash into the pockets of motel owners the Empty Homes Tax would encourage property owners to rent out their empty houses. It is estimated that there are some 33,000 empty houses in Auckland alone.

But John Minto must surely recognise that this idea has zero chance of being embraced by the Housing Minister Phil Twyford and his Labour-New Zealand First government. John Minto's article is headlined 'Come on Phil Twyford – the government can do better than this!' Actually, it can't. Twyford has already dismissed the tax,

In response Twyford has insisted - again - that his market driven polices will decisively tackle the housing crisis. He told the media "The Labour-led government has a comprehensive plan to address the housing shortage including cracking down on offshore speculators and changing rules around negative gearing,"

Right, that'll fix it.

The only way that the housing crisis can be tacked decisively is through significant state intervention. But that is contrary to this government's discredited 'the market knows best' philosophy. This is the philosophy that claims that the market can deliver 10,000 new homes a year and describes houses priced at anywhere between $550,00 and $750,000 as 'affordable'.

Already Twyford has pushed out the 10,000 homes a year target to 2020. All that does is provide him with some convenient breathing space because he won't be able to deliver in 2020 either.

It's interesting to compare this government's hopeless approach to housing to what Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party plan to do in government.

It proposes to build one million genuinely affordable homes over 10 years, including the biggest council house building programme for over 30 years. it will redefine what is meant by affordable housing with genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy linked to average incomes.

To deal with homelessness a Labour government would immediately purchase 8,000 homes and it would give local authorities the power to takeover houses and flats that have been deliberately kept empty.

Maybe these are some of the polices that Finance Minister Grant Robertson was dismissing when he declared that U.K. Labour's polices would "not necessarily work in New Zealand".


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