Things happen slowly on Planet Key.
Seven years ago at the National Party conference, before he was even Prime Minister,
Mr Key signalled a National-led government would improve housing affordability by embarking on a programme of personal tax cuts, changing the building regulatory regime, keeping interest rates lower, reforming development rules to free up land, and allowing state house dwellers to buy their homes.
So seven years later, the promises of jam tomorrow all remain the same.
All but one.
It now looks like he is finally planning a state-house sell-off worth $5 billion, but not to state-house dwellers.
That’s a mistake.
Back in 2007 he promised to “allow Housing New Zealand tenants who want to purchase the house they live in, to do so.”
And back in 2007 I said,
That's very good. That's very, very good. When Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives allowed sitting council house tenants to buy at a heavy discount the houses in which they lived it was enormously popular (indeed, her "right-to-buy housing revolution" as it was dubbed was the first enormously popular thing her Conservative Government had done) and enormously successful, and there's no reason it wouldn't be both successful and popular here.
In the UK after introduction of Thatcher's 1980 Housing Act, home ownership grew from 55 % of the population in 1980 to 64 % in 1987; by the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 it was 67 %. That's a huge jump, and it inspired a huge change in fortunes, and in expectations.
With "right-to-buy" Thatcher wanted to create a social revolution, and she did. By 1995, 2.1 million working class tenants had become members of the "property-owning democracy," changing Britain and these people's lives for the better. This is one thing I'm very pleased that the Nats have learned from the Tories (albeit twenty-seven years late) …
Turns out they never learned it all.
Instead we’re promised another privatisation in name only.
And seven years after the promise was first dangled.