With local elections in full swing, there’s a greater focus on the direction that our councils are moving towards and how much is it going to cost. Wrapped up in these discussions is the the fact that right across New Zealand we need to address our infrastructure deficit after decades of neglect. Planning to address this deficit will not be easy, or cheap, but is critical to aiding growth and fixing our housing issues.
The long-awaited reset of KiwiBuild confirms that the government still doesn’t grasp why the policy went so spectacularly wrong. When KiwiBuild was conceived back in 2012, it was easy to blame the unaffordability of housing on a lack of supply – new dwelling consents the previous year had plunged to a 58-year low of 13,236. But with consents now at a 45-year high of 35,472, it no longer makes sense to suggest that high house prices are due to a lack of construction activity. KiwiBuild remains a policy that has been formulated to treat the symptoms of a problem that the government has failed to properly diagnose or understand.
Plastic packaging is being talked about more than any other time since it was first invented. With single-use plastic bags now banned, and our ability to outsource soft plastic recycling overseas becoming less viable, there are some fundamental shifts occurring for New Zealand. With more efforts to switch to reusable alternatives, and a rethink about plastic recycling, we need to focus much more on how we manage our waste.
The July 2019 Infometrics forecasts show a long, slow, slowdown is on the cards for the New Zealand economy. With lower growth on the way, it’s worth highlighting some of the options that are available to New Zealand to combat the slowdown along with the opportunities and challenges of these options.
Households could go into their shells over the next year as economic conditions worsen, with little to support spending growth in the near-term, according to Infometrics’ latest economic forecasts. The stagnating labour market and the potential for house prices to fall both threaten to drag consumer confidence further below its long-term average.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins recently appeared before the Education and Workforce select committee to face a barrage of schooling related questions, but with little focus on tertiary education. However, just before his appearance, tertiary education data for 2018 and updated tertiary education forecasts were released, casting some light on the tertiary sector.
Lifting the skills and opportunities available for Māori has been one of the key priority areas of the government’s Wellbeing Budget. Plenty has been written about the socio-economic, health and other challenges facing Māori over the past couple of decades, yet many of these interrelated issues remain.
A new report from economic consultancy Infometrics highlights the stark divide in wellbeing between urban and rural New Zealand. Regional Wellbeing marks the first attempt to comprehensively report on wellbeing at a local level around New Zealand. It covers 30 indicators and draws from Infometrics’ online Regional Wellbeing Framework.
Fixing New Zealand’s housing affordability crisis was one of Labour’s key policy goals going into the last two elections. But KiwiBuild has been conspicuously absent from the government’s vocabulary in recent months, and yesterday’s Budget was no different. The government might not have given up trying to improve housing affordability, but it seems to have realised that KiwiBuild is not the answer to the problem.
Today’s Wellbeing Budget is a significant departure from previous budgets. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has laid out an ambitious spending plan for the economy based around the government’s five wellbeing priorities. The test will be how achievable this plan is.