Housing a key focus for National-led govt this year, PM English says; Targets KiwiSaver fees, overseas investment & trade

Prime Minister Bill English has kicked off the Parliamentary year with promises to increase the supply of land for housing, increase transparency on KiwiSaver fees and reduce the time for Overseas Investment Act applications.

In a tabled speech (English is set to speak more off-the-cuff in actual delivery) to Parliament Tuesday afternoon, English outlined a range of policy initiatives for the National-led government this year.

Comments include:

On Housing:

Housing will remain a key focus for the Government this year, and work will continue to increase the supply of land for housing.

Legislation to reform the Resource Management Act will be progressed, to reduce costs and delays for homeowners and businesses, and the Government will also proceed with reform of the Building Act.

This year, the Productivity Commission will deliver its final report on the urban planning system. This will consider options for the long term replacement of planning legislation.

The Government will work with Auckland Council to ensure the successful implementation of the city’s unitary plan. Additional special housing areas will be established, and more underutilised Crown land will be made available to support an increase in residential building.

The Government is reforming the social housing sector to grow supply and get better outcomes for people and families most in need of housing assistance.

The Government will this year build and fund additional social and emergency housing places, having last year provided permanent funding to the emergency housing sector for the first time.

The Social Housing Reform Programme will progress this year, with the transfer of up to 2500 Housing New Zealand properties in Christchurch to Community Housing Providers. The reforms aim to drive more diverse ownership of social housing, engaging providers who can support tenants with additional social services, and redevelop social housing to better match tenants’ needs.

On Kiwisaver and financial advisors:

Regulatory changes will be made to increase transparency around fees in KiwiSaver annual statements, and legislation will also be progressed to strengthen the financial advisors regime.

On Trade and Overseas Investment:

The BGA is focussed on the six key inputs for businesses – exports, investment, innovation, skills, natural resources and infrastructure. It also captures three important cross-cutting themes – Māori economic development, sectors and regions, and regulation.

The Government will continue to support, update and implement the BGA this year.

This includes the Regional Growth programme, working with local communities to develop and implement economic growth Action Plans in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui, Canterbury, Southland, Gisborne and the West Coast.

It also includes implementing the Investment Attraction Strategy to attract more high-quality foreign business investment to New Zealand.

Improvements to the Overseas Investment Office’s processes will continue, reducing the time it takes for applications to be processed while ensuring the rules are vigorously enforced.

The Government will continue to show leadership and make the case for open markets, and closer trade and economic ties. This year, the Government intends progress a range of trade negotiations, including with the European Union, the Gulf States, India and China, and complete the PACER-Plus Agreement.

The Government will work with Trans Pacific Partnership countries to explore options for advancing closer trade ties in the Asia-Pacific, including through the TPP. The Government will continue to look for opportunities to build closer economic ties with the United States, and discussions with the United Kingdom about a post-Brexit trading relationship will also be progressed.

More to follow…