During the month and as part of an ongoing contact program a number of meetings were conducted in Wellington with each of the major parties housing spokespersons, including:
The Federation took the opportunity to brief Parliamentarians on the current state of the rental property market; views were exchanged on the proposal to merge the Department of Building & Housing into the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and concerns were expressed with the current level of Tenancy Tribunal and tenancy services.
Labour’s Annette King told the Federation she was in favour of minimum housing standards and NZ First’s Denis O’Rourke was in favour of regulation of rents "immediately" (in the Christchurch rental market).
The Minister of Housing, Phil Heatley, reaffirmed his attendance at the Federation’s upcoming 2012 annual conference.
Whilst in Wellington, the Federation also met with the Hon Steven Joyce responsible for the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The Federation acknowledged that the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) is important in the regulation of one of the most significant industries in New Zealand - the building and construction industry but the DBH’s Tenancy Services and social housing functions might not be the best fit.
A separate meeting was held with the State Services Commission’s Iona Holsted who had been instructed by the Government to conduct a round of consultation and engagement with relevant stakeholders concerning implications of the DBH being merged with the ministries of Labour, Economic Development and Science and Innovation.
The Federation urged the SSC to remain mindful that the DBH does a great job for the rental industry and that services provided by the DBH should not be diminished by the merger.
The new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is to come into effect on 1 July this year and is to be led by current Ministry of Economic Development head David Smol. The position of the current DBH chief executive, Katrina Bach, will be made redundant.
As reported last month, the Productivity Commission delivered its final report into housing affordability to Finance Minister Bill English on March 23. The report was publicly released on April 11.
Of interest to the Federation there were no turnarounds on the Commission’s earlier report.
Specifically, the Commission reiterated its preliminary findings that:
Overall, the Commission does not see a case for changes to the taxation of housing.
In other commentary, the Commission noted:
The Government will provide a thorough response once the report has been considered in detail over the coming months.
As reported last month, the Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus)
Amendment Bill (designed to reform the welfare system) is currently before Parliament.
The Bill was referred to the Social Services Select Committee for examination and written submissions closed on 13 April.
On behalf of the Federation draft submission was prepared putting forward a case for the reforms to include more flexibility in the direct crediting of rent to all landlords, including those from the private sector.
The Committee has commenced the consideration of oral testimony and the Federation had been invited to speak to its submission. The Committee intends to present its report and recommendations to Parliament by 31 May 2012.