GOLDEN RULES

North Harbour News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

The most ex­tra­or­di­nary bat­tle over prop­erty rights is tak­ing place in the cur­rent elec­tion cam­paign.

In the blue cor­ner are the land­lords and home­own­ers.

They’ve ben­e­fited for years from light-handed reg­u­la­tion, poli­cies con­tribut­ing to a fail­ure to build enough homes in our big cities, and a su­per-friendly tax sys­tem.

These poli­cies have helped house prices and rents reach very high lev­els.

In the red cor­ner are the renters.

These have seen their rents rise, some­times by dou­ble-dig­its in a sin­gle year. They’ve seen their chances of own­ing homes spiral out of reach.

They have a higher chance than home­own­ers of liv­ing in damp, un­healthy and cold houses.

They also live with the threat that their land­lord can evict them with just 90 days’ no­tice, for no rea­son at all.

In pre­vi­ous elec­tions, no Be informed

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politi­cians were re­ally try­ing to woo the renters.

But now they have cham­pi­ons. Labour, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First, and Gareth Morgan’s The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party (TOP) all ad­vo­cate poli­cies de­signed to im­prove their lot.

These in­clude poli­cies to tax home­own­ers (TOP) and spec­u­la­tors (Labour, Greens), longer ten­an­cies (Greens, TOP), and war­rants of fit­ness for ren­tals (Labour, Maori, Greens).

The Maori Party would even ex­plore caps on rent rises, and laws to en­sure ten­ants are not left out of pocket if their land­lord forces them to move.

These politi­cians are pledg­ing to in­crease renters’ rights, and de­crease land­lords’.

I make a point of not thrust­ing my po­lit­i­cal opin­ions down read­ers’ throats.

I’m go­ing to leave you to the ‘‘democracy thing’’ and de­cide for your­self whose hous­ing pol­icy is best. They are all on­line.

But the red cor­ner/blue cor­ner hous­ing fight does prove one thing: Vot­ing mat­ters for your wealth.

Who has been en­riched by the hous­ing poli­cies in cities like Auck­land and Welling­ton?

Older peo­ple, home­own­ers and peo­ple on higher in­comes.

Who are the peo­ple most likely to vote?

Older peo­ple, home­own­ers and peo­ple on higher in­comes.

Who has been rel­a­tively im­pov­er­ished by high house prices and rents?

Younger peo­ple, lower-in­come peo­ple, un­em­ployed peo­ple.

Who are the peo­ple least likely to vote?

Younger peo­ple, lower-in­come peo­ple, un­em­ployed peo­ple.

Some peo­ple claim to be­lieve their vote has no value. This is sim­ply not true. Just ask the rich home­own­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to the UK’s Econ­o­mist mag­a­zine, New Zealand is one of only 19 true democ­ra­cies.

The world has its hud­dled masses. Choos­ing not to vote is de­cid­ing to hud­dle down and join them.

De­press­ingly, the rea­sons peo­ple ac­tu­ally give for not vot­ing are all piti­ful.

After the 2011 gen­eral elec­tion, the big­gest rea­sons were: ‘‘didn’t get around to it, for­got or were not in­ter­ested’’, ‘‘did not reg­is­ter’’, were ‘‘over­seas or away on elec­tion day’’, and ‘‘did not think their vote would make a dif­fer­ence’’.

Work­ing hard, work­ing smart, sav­ing, in­vest­ing: All these things are im­por­tant if you wish to pros­per. My firm con­clu­sion is that so is vot­ing.

JARRED WIL­LIAMSON/STUFF

It shouldn’t need say­ing, but sadly it does. Youth ad­vo­cate Keziah Parata with a clear mes­sage.

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