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.
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.
Dunedin is finally getting new hospital, much to the relief of locals! Current estimates put the cost of the new hospital at $1.4bn, with construction scheduled to take place over a six-year period from August 2020 to mid-2026. It will be the largest project in the area in living memory and will require different approaches to get the right mix of workers. In this article we draw on our construction sector and local labour market to examine the opportunities and challenges in store for Dunedin.
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.
Despite increasing storm clouds and general concern about the New Zealand economy’s prospects, Infometrics’ latest economic forecasts show GDP growth holding up well throughout the next year. The economic consultancy predicts 3.1% growth in the year to June 2020. A recent resurgence in residential building consents, particularly in Auckland, is pivotal to that outcome.
New Zealand is at the mercy of international economic trends more than at any time since 2011, according to Infometrics’ latest economic forecasts. On the domestic front, net migration is slowing, the housing market has softened, and the tight labour market means that capacity pressures are inhibiting further growth.
New Zealand’s domestic economy remains in a similar position to where it was 12 months ago: prospects of middling growth, somewhat hampered by capacity constraints and a tight labour market, and with some of the most significant potential shifts being driven by government policy and rule changes. In contrast to this largely unchanged domestic picture, many question marks have appeared during the last year over the international economic environment.
Infometrics’ new estimates of regional GDP show that Auckland was the fastest growing region in the year to March 2018, expanding by 3.9% (see Graph 1). Auckland has regularly been towards the top of the regional league table throughout the last seven years. Its growth during 2018 was underpinned by a strong services performance, with industries such as professional, scientific, and technical services, financial and insurance services, and retail trade all expanding by more than 5.0%
Stephen Barclay’s departure as head of the KiwiBuild unit makes it even less likely that the scheme will be able to progress at the rate hoped for by the government. Mr Barclay was appointed in May last year, when KiwiBuild was a largely autonomous unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. But the unit’s transfer to the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has led to an employment dispute and, ultimately, his departure.
Infometrics Christmas Carol 2018 – sung to the tune of Happy Xmas (War is over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.