Wellington Scoop

Justin Lester offers rates rebate for first homes, free swims for under-fives


Deputy mayor Justin Lester is promising to create a rates rebate of $5000 for people building their first home.

He made this offer in a speech at his campaign launch held on the waterfront this afternoon.

…As Mayor, I’m going to offer a $5000 rates rebate to anyone who wants to build their first home here. That won’t just make it easier to afford a home. It’ll create an owner-led development market where you can save up to $150,000 when you build a home because you’re not paying the developer’s profit margin. It’ll also mean new, better quality houses, where corners aren’t being cut. Because as Mayor, I’ll do more to make sure that houses here aren’t just affordable, but they’re of a decent quality as well. Because if we’re being honest, the quality of much of the housing stock in Wellington is simply not up to scratch.

He is also promising free entry for children under 5 and their guardians at the city council’s swimming pools.

Seven out of ten kids in NZ can’t swim, and I won’t let Wellington be a city that turns its head and ignores that fact. This policy will make a huge difference for families, and it won’t break the bank. I’ve done the numbers. The cost is a paltry $55,000 per annum in a budget of $450m. That’s one hundredth of 1 percent. Giving people more from our community facilities is about sending the message that this is a community that looks after each other, and cares about the safety of our children. It sends the message that there’s a place for you here no matter how much money your parents earn. That Wellington is a place that supports you to raise your family.

And he has promised to scrap the fees businesses pay to have outdoor dining on public land, and to tackle the council’s “ingrained sexism” by having more senior female employees, if he’s elected mayor in October. He also re-stated his commitment to extending the airport runway.

Justin Lester’s campaign launch speech in full


  1. Concerned Wellingtonian, 4. April 2016, 16:43

    A lead balloon!!! Might get two votes but it will certainly lose thousands. Is this the Labour Party at work or is it a maverick?

  2. Curtis Nixon, 4. April 2016, 18:19

    As much as I support children learning to swim, I see two problems that Mr Lester’s free entry proposal for under-fives won’t solve.

    One is that the main pool at the Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre is so over-subscribed by lane swimming, aqua jogging, diving, water polo, swim schools and swim competitions that casual recreational swimmers like me and my family have mostly given up going. Of course it’s fine if the child is under about 8 years and the spray pool satisfies them. But older than that and you want the deeper water and more room in the main pool. Forget about going during the school holidays when all the regional and national meets are on. We don’t have a car, so going to Porirua or the Hutt isn’t an option for us.

    Second, learning to swim in a pool only transfers so much to swimming in the ocean, lake, river or other wilderness setting. Children really need school-directed formal open-water swimming at surf clubs to get the skills and familiarity with swimming in open water.

  3. Esjay, 5. April 2016, 8:25

    Cr Lester; perhaps you should be advocating a welfare society. First it’s the airport runway you want us to sponsor, and now it’s a rates rebate. This ratepayer cannot accept rates increases for the whimsical pipe dreams and unrealistic vote catchers.

  4. SMB, 11. April 2016, 7:38

    A mere $75k from leasing public space to cafes. What does the council earn from garages on road reserve, balcony air space? Why should business owners get cheap or free use of public land to make money when we have to pay a minimum of $103pa for personal use? And they usually have loud thumpy music playing to boot making the surrounding areas unpleasant. It’s a cost of doing business which should be factored in. This is the same candidate who is supporting corporate welfare for the runway extension, and the ‘sale’ of public waterfront land to developers. And who supports the leasing of Jack Ilott Green so a 27m high building can be built on it.