Chris Bishop has had to face the media in a car-crash interview with Jack Tame defending the National Party's U-Turn on housing that he admits he had no idea about it until his leader said he was tearing up their policy when answering a question at a community event. Allowing cities like Auckland to develop outwards into "greenfields" goes against all advice given by academic economists, who recommend going high, very high, not out. Bishop told Jack Tame that a "lot of academic research" and "economists" who he has consulted support their new urban policy. Not true.
What is the point in us flying out to NZ at enormous cost folks like the world's leading urban economist, sending them to Wellington to meet with Ministers and top civil servants, giving them world-class advice and then for those people to turn around and throw that advice in the rubbish bin. I'm talking, of course, of Harvard Professor Ed Glaeser's visit to NZ that I helped organize about 7 years ago. For goodness sakes, his visit was even sponsored by an old friend of the National Party, beer baron Sir Douglas Myers, who knew you had to scour the world for the best when making important financial decisions. We could only convince Glaeser to come out to NZ because he was a friend of an acquaintance of mine, Dave Mare, the Kiwo founder of Motu. They met each other at Harvard University. It wasn't the money - it was the friendship that was the ultimate reason for his trip.
Glaeser makes the economic & environmental case for building denser, higher cities, backed with ample evidence. One of his papers is called, "How Skyscrapers Can Save the City". On Bishop's argument that cities need to have the option of going out, not just up, bull. How about this fact: Singapore, where 5.5 million people live, has an area of 728 square km - Auckland is far bigger. The Singaporeans went high because they can't go up. It is one of the most prosperous, high productivity countries in the world.
Urban economists, engineers & architects are excited about the new frontier of green, livable, skyscrapers that bring people together in exciting, vibrant spaces. New technologies are allowing cooler than ever, amazing high rises to be built. Who cares what Bishop says about politics, but when he says "academic economists" support going out not up, he's talking nonsense. Why should we bother bringing out to NZ big names in world economics, when every bit of advice they give Members of Parliament is treated like a joke?