The Government can stop the potential loss of capacity and skills in the building sector by investing in state house construction before the rebuild of Christchurch gets fully underway, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
Dr Norman was responding to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics released today that showed a deepening contraction in the construction sector.
"Investment in residential construction is particularly concerning, declining 7.2 percent in the June 2011 quarter and is now at its lowest level since the June 1993 quarter," said Dr Norman.
"The way the National Government is currently managing the sector, they risk losing capacity and skills from the construction industry while they wait for the Christchurch rebuild to get underway.
"Losing skilled labour to Australia now would be a disastrous outcome for the Christchurch rebuild.
"A smarter way forward would be to smooth the contraction by investing in state and community sector house construction, bridging the gap between the current downturn and the Christchurch rebuild.
"Expanding the supply of state housing now would increase the stock of housing in the market, limiting the possibility of another housing price spike caused by a lack of supply.
"A housing price spike would put pressure on the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates."
The Green Party announced their plan to create 100,000 green jobs yesterday - a package that included provisions to build an additional 2000 state and community sector houses before the rebuilding of Christchurch gets underway. The initiative would cost $670 million and employ 3,100 directly, 9,300 jobs in total if indirect and upstream employment effects are included.
"There's a huge shortage of rental accommodation, especially in Auckland. The building of an additional 2000 new energy-efficient state and community sector houses nationally would help rents become affordable and give more families the security of a place to call home," Dr Norman said.
"While National sits on their hands, watching skilled labour move to Australia, we have a plan that can keep talent here, usefully employed, and providing much-needed housing for those languishing on state house waiting lists."
The Green Jobs package announced yesterday included measures to raise revenues to pay for the additional state houses including the raising of a comprehensive capital gains tax (excluding the family home) and an earthquake levy.
Link to further details of the Green Jobs package: