Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)



1949 state house in Taita


Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)


Bill English comes clean on National’s intentions for HNZ privatisation


TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

On 14 October, in a report on The Daily Blog, I wrote,

In his story, TV3’s Brooke Sabin raised the question,

“So a big cull of state houses is about to get underway, but the crucial question is: Will all that money make its way back into social housing or will some be pocketed by the Government? The official response is that hasn’t been worked out yet.”

Yes, it has, Mr Sabin.

The money will indeed be “pocketed by the government”.

For no other reason than their re-election in 2017 depends on it.

The TV3 story reported that up to 22,000 homes worth an estimated $5 billion could be sold off. This would make it one of the biggest asset sales in recent history – when John Key himself promised an end to state asset sales in February this year.

It is also a time when 5,563 are on Housing NZ’s ever-growing waiting list.

Three days later, on 17 October, Brook Sabin’s question was answered in full, and my prediction (once again) proved to be correct. A quote from our esteemed Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English,

‘No point’ in new state houses – Bill English

Finance Minister Bill English says the proceeds from selling state houses are unlikely to be spent on new state houses and may go into the Consolidated Account.

“I mean, if we want less stock, there’s not much point in rebuilding stock with it” …

Hat-tip: Anthony Robins

Whilst National “made noises” about some  Housing NZ properties being sold, or transferred to social organisations early in the year, there were no pre-election policy announcements  remotely resembling those made public by Bill English two weeks after the election. (See: National’s pre-election policy: 2014)

This was a radical, unannounced, policy that has taken the country by surprise.

In the Herald, columnist Dita De Boni was scathing in her condemnation of Key’s heretofore secret plan to sell  state houses,

Those conditions gave the Labour Government – elected in 1935 – a mandate to make the provision of state housing a top priority. Then Minister of Housing Walter Nash told New Zealand it could not prosper or progress with a population that “lack[s] the conditions necessary for a ‘home’ and ‘home life’, in the best and fullest meaning of those words”. It was a popular sentiment at the time, but look how far we have since regressed. We again have children and their parents living in cars and sheds. We have thousands of homeless; old diseases and ingrained misery have returned as sections of the population struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

And at this critical juncture in our history, our Government is looking, instead, to offload state housing. It is the absolute, ultimate irony: a public welfare system that bridges the gap left by market failure, that, when starved, denigrated and under-resourced, as it is now, can only, apparently, be saved by the market.


The Government has tried to slip the sell-off of state housing under the radar: I guess they don’t want to be seen to be contradicting their pre-election promise not to sell any more state assets. They focus instead on “first home affordability” – a much more pressing concern for their supporters (as long as it does not affect their other supporters, who don’t want too much new housing to depress the capital value of their property).


It is hard to understand how reverting to the Victorian solution of seeing churches and social agencies haphazardly tackle this gaping social wound will work. They don’t have the resources, for one thing. They are also not plugged into the bigger picture – the social needs of the tenants, the transport and logistics needs of new housing and so forth, all things a clever, committed government can oversee. Not ours then, which is trying desperately to shift the immediate costs of social housing elsewhere, and the benefits to a crony cohort.

One method they’ve used is to seed the idea with the public that state housing is all let to gang members and chronic social misfits who trash their properties and refuse to move out. Of course, that does describe a percentage of state house tenants – or any tenants.

Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think that housing is one of the core concerns of Government, and that the provision of state housing – as well as its proper management and upkeep – is fundamental. It is astonishing that a Prime Minister who grew up in a state house, and has gained huge political advantage from being able to trumpet that fact, can’t see why it is wrong to pull up the ladder after him.

I encourage the reader to read Ms De Boni’s full piece. It is a savage indictment of John Key’s miserable agenda to get the State out of social housing.

New Zealanders should be under no illusion:  housing in this country is about to get a whole lot worse before it improves. We can expect to see more over-crowding;  entire families living in cars, under bridges;  the rise of  the first squatter camps since the Great Depression; more poverty; and more spreading disease.

Bill English has made it abundantly clear: this government will be selling state houses. It will not be “rebuilding stock” (houses).

This may not be what New Zealanders voted for on 20 September – but did 1,131,501 voters who ticked the box for National expect better?



References – Part 3

TV3 News: State housing sell-off worth $5B

Radio NZ: PM rules out more asset sales

Fairfax media: Housing NZ waiting lists swamped

NZ Herald: ‘No point’ in new state houses – Bill English

NZ Herald: State housing shake-up: Lease up on idea of ‘house for life’

NZ Herald: Dita De Boni – State house poster boy callous to pull up ladder

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2014

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Other blogs

The Jackal: More homelessness under National (30 July 2012)

The Standard: Unaffordable housing & the culture of greed

No Right Turn:  A surprise policy

Social Groups

Facebook: Affordable Housing For All

Facebook: Housing NZ Tenants Forum

Facebook: Tamaki Housing Group- Defend Glen Innes


Irony of ironies, a National Party 1938 election poster
Irony of ironies, a National Party 1938 election poster



= fs =


  1. Funny isn’t it in the cold light of day post election what National had planned but did not mention. I might add even more ironic that we are now seeing some faux concern about things National from the Heralds political and business cheerleader journo’s.

    When National proposed to sell off power companies and Air NZ at least they went to the voters on it and they still voted for it and could claim a mandate. But this time it was hidden like the dirty little secret they knew it was. I think National were quietly concerned that the may not win a majority should they front foot the sell off of state houses but arrogance has taken over. Having said that Nationals Curia polling company will have been doing overtime on this one I assume.

    To make matters worse however is Keys subtle endorsement of apartments for first home buyers. This is dangerous to say the least. And it made me think how his endorsements must be worth gold to the right people! National is now more of a business than a political party.

    I know for a fact apartments or flats were not a good investment in this century. Shoe box sized coupled with onerous body corporates and shoddy build standards could see ones “investment” decline even if you could sell it. They are high risk. And I have lost count of how many apartments, even the high end ones, that are encapsulated in plastic bubbles after a long and horrid process to rectify the leaks, if they ever really are. Check out New Lynn or Glendene for condemned apartment blocks built within the last 20 years. And of course you need not look any further than the latest high rise in New Lynn that has special pillars strategically located in rooms! Have things really changed?

    But because ordinary homes are now out of reach because the many fundamentals of Aucklands property market are left to the free market its locking out a whole new generation of buyers. And this is far from good. So why not put them into these high risk flats and create a whole new bonanza they can participate in with their hard earned savings and debt for a few years at least and make every post a winning post.

    So not only are they gutting social housing but they are setting up a new generation of hopefuls for a high risk venture all to cover the increasing cracks in Aucklands housing!

  2. Look forward to more of it Frank. I was in Australia visiting family (I voted early) and could not believe the election result when it came through!!! My pride in being a Kiwi has taken a real bashing. Discussing the result with various Aussies I had to apologise for being Kiwi. I always thought we as a race had more brains!
    I am right down now and right now I don’t care anymore.
    A thought that I had and a question:
    Did we have an honest election?
    My wife & I voted within 4 hours of early voting opening and the person at the booth told me they had been surprising busy! If this keep up starting a fortnight before the election why was the turnout so low or were some ballot boxes lost?

    • Turnout was low because people didn’t vote. (duh.)

      People saw Labour, an infighting, incomprehensile mess with policies that that nice man John Key said would bankrupt the country and themselves, and some pretentious Unionist with a funny face called Cunliffe who apologized or being a man, wearing his party’s colours, and just about anything else he could possibly say sorry for.

      They saw the ‘loopy’ Greens, who with no Governmental experience, wanted to push their ‘socialist’ agenda and save the ‘environment’, whatever that is, after launching a weird ad campaign that many people I know didn’t seem to ‘get’.

      They saw ‘negative campaigning’ from the Left, Kim Dotcom who was an extraordinarily obnoxious prat at the best of times getting too involved in the workings of his party, a full-on multi-media orgy of love for National, and this is beautiful NZ, not a 3rd world country, so quit complaining, basically.

      So when it came to choose between a fractured, infighting Left coalition who have not the slightest clue how to use traditional or social media and can’t stop savaging each other for five seconds, and a well-oiled, well-financed, media-supported, ‘stable’, John-Key led National government, those who would have voted Left lost their nerve. And the vast majority of those who voted National don’t read blogs or even read newspapers, just watch the 6 o’clock news and take it as gospel. I know lots of them.

      There you have it. Also, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the opinions I laid out above, it’s just a ‘mainstream’ view of the situation.

      On a somewhat related note, is it just a coincidence that all around the Western world the Right-wing have got into power at roughly the same time? You have Abbot in Oz, Cameron in Britain, it doesn’t matter who’s POTUS (they’re all the same right-wing breed anyway), and Harper in Canada and Key in NZ… Im not much of a conspiracy theorist but isn’t that a bit convenient? Also how it happens as the faeces really begin to hit the fan with regards to the global economy and climate change… Something to think about.

      • John, you are not far off the mark at all.Labour is still arguing amongst itself, look at the leader wannabees still slagging each other off. Sorry for being a man, god help us. DotCom certainly didnt help.Loopy greens, yes right. The biggest coal mine in Aussie has just been given approval, Greens probably would object here, but lots of jobs for years will result in Oz.One point of difference is, I dont know that the media love National, it just seems Labour dont know how to take advantage of them.I think the world may be going right as the left has a few to many loony lefties which distracts from the sensible centre left. Anyway John, thanks for the read, great post.

      • I suggest that the reason for all the conservative governments you have listed is simply that they all have right wing media. It shows how influential the media is and how naive the voters are. Did I read somewhere that no government has won power in the last 50 years in the UK without the support of the Murdoch press. And look how many national press secretaries come from the Murdoch stable.

        • As I said on another blog read Opal File Australia NZ agenda, you will see how long media has been monopolised by big business.
          NZ has been bought and sold
          for decades ,governments all over the world are in the same hands,their agenda take from the people without conscious, hide agendas until its too late for people to react.

        • As I said on another blog read Wakeup nz Opal File Australia NZ agenda, you will see how long media has been monopolised by big business.
          NZ has been bought and sold
          for decades ,governments all over the world are in the same hands,their agenda take from the people without conscious, hide agendas until its too late for people to react.

      • You are so correct over the fractured left. I have yet to see a grouping that fights itself as much as this lot do. It even comes with its own left wing critics who are often more damaging than anything Slater and co can do. So it’s far from attractive and worse so easily exploited by the con-men of the right.

        And as for the news I think its even more limited than even the 6 o’clock thing. I have noticed the source of all information centres mainly around sound bites from the radio because its passive, in the background, its just there’s no effort required, in the car or the work place in between songs, ad’s or rugby analysis. How else could perennial favourite of our media, “The holiday weekend road toll”, be worthy otherwise?

        Can’t blame them on not reading papers though because even the Heralds owners are now referring to themselves as NZME, the E standing for Entertainment!

        I am beginning to think that “Middle NZ” just lives in a jar of dutiful meaningless existence, a daily grind with no hope of changing anything!

  3. So many State Houses sold off, so many exorbitant unafordable private rentals, so many families living in cars and garages

    Someone should properly work out the ratio of how many homeless it takes to make one property speculator a $billionaire?

  4. Walked around Auckland CBD on the weekend working on a story. Was surprised to see so many homeless on the street. Worse than I ever remember.

    • Auckland is not the only city with homeless. After living in Hamilton from 1972 to 1992 and then from about 2003-5 I was surprised to see so many in the CBD currently which incidentally is deteriorating commercially in favour of the huge shopping malls and housing developments in the suburbs. Homeless whanau are homeless because of the total lack of economic and social government support. Homeless individuals have other problems which can include the lack of mental health support. Groups are doing a sterling job of fixing these problems and providing support. I just don’t have any confidence that when it comes to affordable housing as per state housing and Housing Corp loans begun by Labour and continued by successive National governments that were less ideological and more pragmatic than the current lot the housing problem which is huge will be resolved any time this century.

  5. Indeed…we seemed to have moved from Socialism to Sociopathism. And from an aspiration of Socialism in looking out for our communitys to an aspiration of Sociopathism in totally screwing the shit out of our communitys.

    What a lovely legacy we leave our grandchildren.

    Ruthless, money grubbing, mean spirited , self righteous , disinterested , disconnected , self serving bastards.

    This is you , New Zealand.

    You are no longer the jovial , easy going , relaxed , pragmatic fair minded bloke down the road , on the farm , at the pub you once were. You can only allude to that image now….as that is all it is…an iconic image you were once proud of….forever gone and one you cannot now claim as yours.

    You will endure these things, deny them , justify them until it can be done no more. You will blindly trot out the mantra of your neo liberal spin doctors , your news media , your leaders until…..what would it take?……

    Our equivalent of the Arab spring to arrive?…..

    Or the final world financial crash that will obliterate your savings, trash your housing investments and destroy the security you thought you once had in your jobs?…..when in reality these same ruthless leaders you voted for will be using it to bring in the cashless society, and a world government , …and a redistribution of what wealth you thought you had.

    It is then you will realise just how wrong , insular , and short sighted you really are.

    Word of advice to the wise, …….every world empire builder that EVER was….has failed. Not one has endured .

    And this latest mob will suffer the same fate. And New Zealand by association will also. So you all better start looking past wanting to have a beer with Key at the barbie and stop and sniff the wind for a reality check.

    Because he sure doesnt know his history , and neither does he care about your kids, your nation, your futures. Any one can see that.

  6. Yesterday I listened to a program on Nine to Noon on Radio NZ National, and I could not believe, why they bothered to interview that UK “expert” that the Productivity Commission invited here, to present his “great ideas” on how to reform, outsource and “improve” public services:

    “The government’s ambitious targets to improve the Public Service”

    That idiot, apparently also promoted by Treasury, had nothing in figures and facts to prove the “benefits” of outsourcing and privatising that he claimed, except of some figure for mass job losses in the public service in the UK. He was wishy washy all over the place, but Kathryn Ryan let him talk and get away with all this nonsense.

    Even Radio NZ is sinking fast with their standards, prepare for public broadcasting in this country to be fully abolished, it is not far away.

    I dread the rest of the 3 years ahead.

    • On my god you are so right about Radio NZ especially Kathryn Ryan she has left my ears bleeding listening to her crap at times. I have had to drop my paint brushes and run to the radio and turn it off with a few F* words yelled out loud! And as for the panel it sums up a lot of the posts above findings, total Fucken muppets, it is embarrassingly ridiculous they mostly have their heads up their arses. Can someone please start a new radio station, PLEASE!* I can’t believe I have got to the grand old age of 41 and this is it, it seems like a joke or something, everything seems mind bogglingly ridiculous and the the powers that be are off their heads. The reason must be because lizards are the ‘powers that be,’ and they won’t let go, so people with a clue never get a foot in the door. Only the specially trained evil doers like Key are allowed into the special hand shake club, with $1500 dinner plate parties. When will a war start against these indulgent troughers. And as for T.V I have become so grossed out with the amount of food programmes never ending people shovelling food in their mouths for whole programmes, for god sakes we can’t taste it or smell it so I just don’t get it? One programme was so bad on Choice t.v my husband and I watched it like a horror show winching and face palming this particularly revolting fat guy shovelling everything he saw in his mouth and fawning over the taste, he has issue that chief, totally revolting T.V. Rant over.

      • We are subjected to cooking shows ad nauseum, celebrity non-entities and reality shows that are anything but. It’s shallow crap which is how the media dulls us into a stupor and shapes our social and political mores. I haven’t been listening to Radio NZ lately but looks like they are caught up in the fawning obsequious bowing to overseas “experts.” NZers have lost their political and intellectual independence and social concerns.

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