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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Government – Release/Statement

Headline: Point England Development Enabling Bill: Third Reading Speech

I move, That the Point England Development Enabling Bill be now read a third time. This bill is part of the Government’s comprehensive housing plan, where we are pulling every lever available to get more housing built. It is the sort of pragmatic legislation that shows we are serious about resolving the problem. It also provides the benefits of enabling the settlement with Ngāti Paoa and a plan to enhance the amenity and recreational value of this long-neglected reserve.

Let us be clear about the housing problem in Auckland. It fundamentally comes down to a lack of housing supply and particularly the supply of land. Labour choked off new housing developments with its 2004 changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that legally locked in Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit. That saw new home construction plummet, from 12,000 a year to just 4,000 a year. We have been systematically opening up that new supply, through special housing areas, through the Auckland Unitary Plan, through reforms to the RMA, and through the Crown Land Development Programme.

We have achieved strong growth in new home construction for 6 straight years running—the longest and strongest construction boom in the history of Auckland. But we need to keep doing more, because New Zealand is continuing to succeed and continuing to grow. Today’s America’s Cup success will just add to Auckland being successful and attracting additional people.

Opposition parties’ response to this growth challenge is to say that it is all too hard. Mr Little has even said that we should just take a breather. Our Government is focused on the solutions that will build the houses and infrastructure to support that growth, and this bill is part of that plan. Three hundred additional homes, just 10 kilometres from the city centre, are another contribution alongside Hobsonville, alongside Tāmaki, alongside Three Kings, and many other scale developments.

The initiative for the scheme came from Ngāti Paoa, in the course of their Treaty settlement negotiations. This is ancestral land that is recorded as having one of the largest Māori settlements anywhere in New Zealand in the 1820s. They fairly argued that given 18 hectares of this reserve has been grazed by cows for over 40 years, would it not be a better use for it to be for housing and a marae? The proposal is very straightforward. We send the cows packing and we free up 18 hectares. We use 2 hectares of that for a Ngāti Paoa marae, we use 12 hectares for this housing development, and we add 4 hectares for additional space for recreation and amenities.

We have further committed that all of the Government’s revenue from the housing development will be reinvested into the reserve. The toilets and the facilities on this reserve are currently a disgrace. The Ōmaru Creek through the reserve is one of the most polluted in Auckland. The playing fields have poor drainage and no lighting. This is why this is such a great opportunity—300 more homes, a 2 hectare marae, enhanced facilities, and the guaranteed retention of the 8.4 hectares of playing fields. The only downside is the loss of cows.

The part I do not get, from Labour members’ opposition to this bill, is why they love cows so much in the centre of Auckland. In other parts of New Zealand their policy is that their numbers must be capped and they must reduce their numbers. But in Auckland, Labour members say that cows come before families needing housing. Actually, Labour’s position on this bill so aptly illustrates the identity crisis within the Labour Party. They oppose foreign students in low-value education, and have bad-mouthed low-value education programmes and then run their own one, so they can get some free campaign workers. It has now even become clear that they broke immigration laws.

They put students up in accommodation that would knock the very standards they promote and demand that landlords must meet. They demand that we build more houses and then on every single housing development that is proposed, they come out and oppose it. They have a policy of limiting cow numbers, but then defend the grazing of cows on prime land in Auckland. They pretend that they support Treaty settlements, and then they try to wreck the very important Ngāti Paoa initiative.

It is these constant contradictions in Labour’s position that leave New Zealanders completely dumbfounded as to whether the once-proud Labour Party today stands for anything.

Let me conclude by making plain the plan forward, after the passage of this bill this evening. The 12 hectares of land that will be freed up for housing will be added to the Crown Land Development Programme and negotiations will get under way with Ngāti Paoa on the detailed housing development. We are committed to 20 percent of the 300 homes being reserved for social housing, and a further 20 percent for affordable housing, with 60 percent being set aside for market use. All of the funds generated from the housing development will be reinvested into the Point England and surrounding community facilities.

The bill requires that the cows must be gone within a year. The playing area must be retained and enhanced with lighting and proper drainage. The creek will be cleaned up. We have also committed to enhanced habitat for the local seabirds like the New Zealand dotterel. We are committed to working with the local community, Ngāti Paoa, and the Auckland Council to deliver on this vision.

The opposition from the Labour Party members to this bill is truly pathetic. It shows that they are far more interested in politics than actually getting on resolving the issue of housing. The Opposition spokesperson has continuously challenged me to think pragmatically and imaginatively—as he has the community—on the issue of housing. This bill delivers on real gains in terms of additional housing. It gives real gains for amenity and recreation, real gains for the environment, and, fundamentally, it is about an area that has been grazed by cows to which the public have had no access for more than 40 years being used for housing.

I, finally, must note this in terms of the history of the reserve because some have suggested that somehow it is council-owned reserve. This reserve was bought and paid for by taxpayers, by all New Zealanders, and we in this Parliament have a duty to ensure that our land is used effectively and, quite frankly, having recreation reserve grazed by cattle for 40 years, 10 kilometres from the centre of Auckland, is not effective land use. That is why the pragmatic answer put forward by Ngāti Paoa is a very sensible and pragmatic solution for this beautiful part of the great city of Auckland. I commend the bill to the House.