Last night, The New Zealand Initiative held the Next Generation Debates Grand Final in Wellington.
With a moot that high house prices make us poorer as a nation, there were bound to be many views and suggestions on whether this is the case, and what we can do about it – and there were. Teams from Victoria and Auckland universities went head-to-head in this sold out debate.
It was suggested that maybe it’s time for us to give up the Kiwi dream of owning a quarter-acre section, and that there’s nothing wrong with living in apartments, or living outside our largest towns.
Is home ownership all it’s made out to be, anyway? Renting gives you the ability to move around, without being locked in to a property. But on the other hand, it’s not ideal for families who are looking for stability, and you’re paying large amounts of rent for nothing in return.
The Resource Management Act was identified as being a barrier to home ownership, with consenting processes and land supply being key issues.
We were also fortunate to hear from two guests, Phil Twyford MP and Andrew King of the NZ Property Investors Federation (NZPIF).
Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford started his presentation by stating that we do need to talk about China. He asserted that foreign buyers are purchasing too many of our houses, and called for controls on non-resident buyers.
Andrew King from NZPIF noted that it’s always been hard to buy a house, and years ago interest rates were around the 20 percent mark. He emphasised the importance of saving for a home deposit as soon as you get a job, and after a few years a sizeable sum will have accrued. With the help of KiwiSaver and first home buyer grants, home ownership should be more than a mere dream.
Both teams argued brilliantly, and it was a very close debate. Congratulations the negating team from the University of Auckland, who won the debate, and best speaker Paul Smith.
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