ACT calls for building of 600K more homes in Auckland - and David Seymour shows his Michael Hill impression
ACT leader David Seymour officially launched his party's housing policy at the foot of Auckland's Waitakere Ranges on Sunday.
But little time was spent on the announcement, with Seymour instead opening with an impersonation of jeweller Michael Hill, then taking a swing at new Labour leader Jacinda Ardern.
The announcement also doubled as the launch of Seymour's book, Own Your Future.
Rather than providing too much detail about the housing policy, Seymour said: "If you want to find out more about this, it's in my book".
The land on which the announcement was made belonged to a group of West Auckland property owners who have been in a long battle with local government over the property.
It falls outside of the region's Rural Urban Boundary and so cannot be subdivided, he said.
In a press release put out to accompany the announcement, Seymour promised to scrap the Rural Urban Boundary, paving the way for at least 600,000 homes to be built in Waitakere, Karaka and Clevedon.
He said he would also push the Government to abolish the Resource Management Act and replace it with laws that required councils to free up land as populations increased.
"These areas are not treasured natural landscapes. They are grassy fields with the occasional barn or horse.
"Allowing housing in these areas should be a bare minimum for any Government."
The party would fund the infrastructure to service the new homes by sharing the GST on construction with councils, he said.
ACT's plan does not have the support of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.
"He's dreaming," said president John Edgar of the policy.
Edgar said the foothills are a buffer zone between suburban sprawl and the Waitakere Ranges."Sub-divisions would impact the ecology of the ranges."
Edgar said there would have to be a very good reason to change the boundary. "Our fear would be if the boundary changed for one property it would open the flood gate and the boundary would get smaller and smaller," he said.
Waitakere Ward councillor Penny Hulse said the Waitakere area Seymour proposed to sub-divide is different to the Karaka and Clevedon areas because it is protected by the Waitakere Ranges Protection Act.
"Getting rid of the RMA will not help the residents in the Waitakeres impacted by the urban rural boundary, there is a Parliamentary Act in place and unless he plans on repealing it then it won't make a difference."
Hulse points out Karaka and Clevedon both pose difficulties in terms of public transport and amenities.
As to Ardern, Seymour said she was warm and likable, but lacked substance.
He said the New Zealand public would come to the same conclusion as voters in central Auckland, who chose National's Nikki Kaye as their MP over Ardern in both 2011 and 2014.
"They'd be more likely to have a beer with Jacinda but when it came to getting things done they'd choose Nikki Kaye."
He also spoke at length about charter schools, which were introduced under a confidence and supply agreement between ACT and the National party.
Seymour quoted a study from Stamford University's education research centre, saying the study proved charter schools improved educational outcomes.
However, Seymour did not acknowledge the fact the research showed charter schools had varying degrees of success between different US states.