Advocacy in Action: 2021 Round Up

The advocacy team have had a very busy 2021.

In February we undertook a Property Industry Impact Report, which confirmed what we already knew – Property is New Zealand’s largest industry. The report also indicated that property makes up 15% of GDP.

Throughout the year we’ve had a record result of 300 external meetings (24 with cabinet ministers), we wrote official submissions on 30 different topics, we had 100 member responses to our advocacy member survey to determine our 2022 priorities, sent dozens of direct lobbying letters, emails and calls to Mayors, MPs and Ministers on matters of importance, and threw in a few publicity campaigns (like that on build-to-rent) along the way.

We have had some wins, some losses and some draws. But ultimately, the team have shown to Central Government, Local Government and industry that Property Council is a premier organisation, full of industry knowledge and solutions to the challenges currently facing New Zealand.

We have enjoyed advocating for our members over the last year and are looking forward to continuing to make meaningful change for you in 2022.

Read on for this month’s update on:

Fire and Emergency funding changes

Cabinet has approved two key changes to Fire and Emergency’s funding regime: 

  1. The Fire and Emergency levy will be charged on insurance policies for fire damage instead of policies for any material damage, for example, flood or earthquake damage.
  2. The levy will be calculated on the ‘sum insured’ rather than the ‘amount insured’ in a contract, to align better with how insurance policies are written in New Zealand.
While these recommendations do not align with Property Council’s position of abandoning the insurance-based model altogether, it appears the Government were unwilling to spend time considering alternatives to the status quo.

Our core concerns are that there is a distinct lack of modelling or data to demonstrate impact and incidence of the levy regime and that data we have repeatedly requested regarding the size/nature of government’s contribution has never been fully divulged. Government has also chosen to ignore a reasonable alternative to the current model which involved funding via motor vehicle registration fees, an idea which had the support of both the Insurance Council and PCNZ.

More information

The Department of Internal Affair’s press release can be found here, and their updated webpage here.

Next steps

An exposure draft of a bill to amend the Act will be shared with the FENZ reference group in the new year. Property Council is part of the FENZ working group and will be actively engaged with this project next year.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving

Property Council recently submitted on the Let’s Get Wellington Moving (LGWM) 2021 consultation.

We recommend that the LGWM team consider a whole-of-system approach to reducing emissions, rather than the current piecemeal approach of solely focusing on reducing private vehicle use within the city centre. This would see solutions such as introducing electric vehicle charging stations, T2 and/or T3 lanes, congestion charging and developing a freight transportation plan.

We also recommend Wellington City Council re-evaluate the infrastructure required for density and halt work on the car parking levy. Instead, we would support investigations into alternative funding mechanisms such as congestion charges and targeted rates over the lifetime of the proposed infrastructure to better support a user-pay system and intergenerational equity.

We wish to see LGWM undertake an economic impact study to better understand the impact and disruption that the removal of car parks will have on the city centre alongside proposals to mitigate.

Lastly, we wish to see option B adopted – namely, bus rapid transport as it is a more flexible and affordable option with less potential disruption to Wellington.

Auckland Council Development Contributions Policy

Auckland Council’s proposed 660% increase to development contribution (DC) fees in ‘investment priority area (IPA)’ Drury certainly sent a shockwave to the development community.

We promptly swung into action to interrogate the data justifying this precedent-setting move as we know other IPAs* will follow suit, possibly even other Councils across the country! The problem is, we don’t have access to the real data and neither does anyone else.

We are pleased our lobbying and submission resulted in a delay in decision making and a commitment from Council to release their modelling and re-engage with us.

In addition, we asked for no change to payment timing schedules for developers and indeed, Councillors voted to retain the status quo.

Expect updates from us in the new year as we investigate more fully Council’s rationale and work with them to suggest constructive ways forward.

*Other IPAs include: Inner Northwest, CRL stations, Tamaki, Mangere, Northcote, Oranga, & Mt Roskill.

Wellington City Draft District Plan

Earlier this week, we submitted on the Wellington City Draft District Plan

We recommend futureproofing the Draft District Plan by incorporating a whole-of-system approach to the reduction of emissions. This would see plans for private vehicles within the city (such as electric vehicles and hybrids), a freight and transport movement strategy, and encouraging sustainable building designs. 

In relation to density, we recommend increasing the wind test requirements slightly to allow for a buffer to the newly proposed minimum building heights and residential maximum heights. Increasing the wind test slightly will help avoid any unintended consequences related to new proposed building heights to encourage density. 

We also recommend an incentive-based approach be adopted in relation to assisted housing developments. 

Vector electricity introduces development contributions to new connections and upgrades

Vector has changed the way it recovers the costs of overall electricity network growth, so that those who are driving the need for investment in network growth will now cover the costs of doing so.

From 1 December 2021, when a new connection is added to the electricity networks operated by Vector in Auckland, the entity requesting the connection will need to pay the full cost of the connection at the point of supply, plus a contribution towards the future costs of supplying electricity to the connection as overall demand increases over time. For example, as new connections are added to a section of network, Vector may need to upgrade a distribution transformer, or zone substation, and this contribution will cover those costs. Previously, these costs have been recovered from all customers on the network through lines charges.

This change provides greater equity and affordability across all customers on the network, ensures Vector’s pricing is more cost-reflective, and is consistent with other infrastructure providers in the region.

Vector remains committed to supporting Auckland’s growth, and this approach helps ensure Vector can continue to deliver a safe, resilient, and reliable network, keep pace with housing development, and avoid constraining the uptake of carbon-reducing technologies (such as electric vehicles), as the demands on electricity networks become increasingly complex.

For more information on getting a new electricity connection through Vector, click here, or read Vector’s policy on capital contributions here.

Author | Katherine Wilson

As Property Council’s Head of Advocacy, Katherine is tasked with leading our advocacy campaigns at both a regional and national level.

Level-headed and engaging, Katherine has both a law degree from Otago University and an arts degree (majoring in politics) from Auckland University. With solid experience as a policy analyst and advisor in Wellington and Auckland, she has extensive networks and solid analytical skills.

Katherine is hugely dedicated, highly intelligent and committed to ensuring the voice of our members is heard at all levels of governance. She’s also relentlessly positive and enjoys a good chat.

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