'Homes still out of reach under Labour'

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 13:43 27/08/2014
LABOUR LEADER: David Cunliffe.
Fairfax NZ
LABOUR LEADER: David Cunliffe.

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Labour was pushing its KiwiBuild housing policy on a visit to Auckland's Hobsonville Pt this morning, but its lacklustre campaign is drawing questions about leader David Cunliffe's hunger to win.

Labour says that if elected it will build 100,000 starter homes over 10 years for first-home buyers.

Housing spokesman Phil Twyford says the party can supply 2-bedroom homes in Auckland for as little as $360,000. There will also be 10,000 modest affordable homes for Canterbury in the first four years.

The policy was launched last year, but Cunliffe was in Hobsonville to promote the package after a flagship housing announcement by National at the weekend.

Labour says it can construct similar homes to those selling at Hobsonville for $485,000. Costs would be driven down by off-site manufacturing, bulk buying of building materials, and a reduced developers margin through high-volume tendering. In some cases, the Government will be the developer, also allowing greater control of land prices.

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Twyford could not point out one of the properties he was talking about, saying they were scattered through the development.

The party could also not say how many $360,000 homes would be built.

Cunliffe and Twyford brought Auckland couple Jordy Leigh, 20 and Harrison Smith, 20, to support their policy.

With a joint income of $75,000, under Labour's plan their mortgage repayments would be $577 a week, compared with $777 under National. If interest rates remained at 8 per cent, they would save nearly $150,000 in interest and more than $110,000 on their mortgage principal.

However, Leigh, an EPMU union member, said their first home would still be out of reach even under Labour.

National's policy would help only with the deposit and she and Smith couldn't meet mortgage repayments.

"So, we haven't been looking actively for a home to buy in the near future, that's definitely not our goal," Leigh said.

"Our goal is to have a home in a few years ... not actively looking but aspiring to have our own home. We would not be able to get one next year. Under KiwiBuild we would have to wait a few years."

Cunliffe shrugged off the gaffes and told reporters he wasn't worried about Labour's campaign.

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"The campaign is going really well, we've got a great team and I thought today's couple were perfect," Cunliffe said.

"They are a genuine couple who have been locked out of the market by the high deposit rates ... what they are saying that even under Labour's policy it will take them a little while. Under National's policy it's impossible."

After the hour-long visit, he retired to prepare for tomorrow night's TVNZ debate, the first of the campaign.

"Because I'm the new chum," he explained. "This is my first time up, I think there is about a million people watching, I think I'm going to be ready for that."

Asked how hungry he was to win, Cunliffe said: "I'm really ready to take this country forward."

He confessed to taking naps in the car "as I'm driving from point A to point B, other than that no".

"It's always unequal in that the Government of the day has all the advantages of incumbency and the Opposition has much less resources," he added. 

- Stuff

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