The government plans to change local government legislation and the Resource Management Act to make it easier for developers to build houses.
Finance Minister Bill English wants to make more land available for housing - and to speed up consent processes.
Tomorrow, he will take a paper to Cabinet, outlining a response to a Productivity Commission report on housing affordability.
English said the cost of building is too high and there is a supply shortage, particularly of good quality, lower priced housing.
The government is looking at range of measures, he said this morning. ''There isn't just one big thing.''
But he insisted that the government will not be ''trying to tell the councils to do something they don't want to do''.
''We've got to be careful about government not blundering in here too much into council business because we don't understand all the local issues.''
''Councils have a difficult job. On the one hand, the existing homeowners don't always want new houses ... the NIMBY [not in my back yard] thing ... it's also got to co-ordinate the schools and the roads and the public transport with the new development.
''The kinds of things that we'll be looking at ... is a broader range of tools that give us more options for getting those decisions made in a way that will get the houses there.''
By making changes to the RMA he hopes to speed up the consent process for building.
''The costs of those process are really quite high,'' he said. Developers, councils and government all want simpler processes, he said.
The government also owns $15 billion worth houses, which also present ''opportunites for development.'' And community housing groups will be incentivised to build more houses.
English said the government pays around $2b a year in direct cash housing subsidies. Around 300,00 people have their rent ''effectinely paid'' by government, he said. ''So, if the housing market rises it's going to cost us a lot more.
In a report published seven months ago the Productivity Commission outlined problems in the supply of housing in Auckland and Christchurch. Auckland needs 10,000 houses a year to keep up with demand.
English said that as the economy picks up, so will demand, he told TVNZ's Q + A programme. ''We want to be in the position that by that time our building industry has been better regulated, government has been working with councils to ensure that more supply can come on stream in response to demand. Because if that doesn't happen the price will spike, rise, and we'll end up with New Zealanders borrowing more than they need to.''
However, Labour's housing spokeswoman accused the government of ''tinkering'' in the face of a housing crisis.
"Bill English seems to think the housing affordability crisis can be solved by the usual National party hobbyhorses of weakening the Resource Management Act and lowering standards for property developers,'' she said.
"Such changes will only be tinkering around the edges for thousands of Kiwis. The Government clearly doesn't realise that the main problem is affordable housing for low and moderate income earners, who just can't find houses.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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