High Court sides with the government over the sale of state houses in Tauranga

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On 9 November 2016 Justice Simon France of the High Court delivered his decision on the Judicial Review proceedings brought by State Housing Action Incorporated against the Ministers of Housing and Finance with regard to the proposed sale of virtually all of the Housing NZ houses in Tauranga.

Unfortunately, the application was denied and the decision of the Ministers upheld.

One of the key reasons for the decision is that the High Court Judge rejected the argument that the Ministers should have considered whether the transfer of the properties would have solved or even improved the chronic shortage of social housing in Tauranga. In the end, the High Court Judge considered that the Ministers did not have to weigh up this issue.

SHA is currently considering legal advice as to whether or not the High Court Judge was legally correct in this aspect of the decision. We will decide whether or not to appeal the decision by early next year.

However, at this stage from a wider public policy perspective SHA wishes to emphasise that the information obtained during the course of proceedings clearly indicated that the transfer will detrimentally affect the ability of the government to provide for Tauranga’s state housing needs in the future.

In this regard, the information revealed that IHC, through its subsidiary Accessible Properties, as the successful tenderer, will be allowed to carry out an intensive redevelopment of the HNZ houses for its own benefit. For example, if it demolishes a house on a large section and builds four town houses on it then three other properties will be released from having to be provided for social housing and Accessible Properties can do what they like with them.

The sum of the result is that future redevelopments of properties by Accessible Properties will not increase the amount of social housing in Tauranga. This can be contrasted with the current objectives of HNZ in Auckland where they intend to leverage on the existing stock of HNZ property by having more intensive development and increasing the number of social housing units available.

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This has been identified as a key way in which HNZ can realistically ramp up social housing’s plight and meet increasing demand.

Under the proposed transfer to Accessible Properties this will not be an option in Tauranga and the chronic shortage of social housing in the city will continue well into the future.

This clear detriment to social housing in Tauranga has in our view not come with any discernible other improvements and delivery by Accessible Properties. For all intents and purposes they will slot into the same role as HNZ in being a landlord providing social housing for MSD.

There will also be the additional risks of the yet to be formed company to be nominated by Accessible Properties to own the Tauranga state houses (despite the fact that the government had announced that Accessible Properties themselves would own the properties) financially failing and having the properties sold up in a mortgagee sale. They have also put at risk the effective second mortgage which the government has invested in the properties so that full purchase prices did not have to be paid at the point of sale.

All in all SHA considers that the transaction is an exercise in implementing free market ideology irrespective of the clear social detriments and the serious financial risks.

Irrespective of the court case outcome SHA Inc will continue to fight the proposed sale of thousands more state houses across the country.

In the meantime we are considering appealing the High Court decision.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Spot on in particular

    “All in all SHA considers that the transaction is an exercise in implementing free market ideology irrespective of the clear social detriments and the serious financial risks.”

    Good luck with the appeal. Slow if down and hope a new government gets in to stop our taxpayers assets being given away and enriching an organisation for their benefit.

  2. This is a crazy decision by the High Court Judge, just shows how biased, complicit and corrupt our judiciary has become under the Nats. There are a number of judges that shouldn’t even be near the courts. Our justice system needs to cleaned up.

    • +1 Words – Natz have also been changing the laws too, in particular RMA law to make exploitation easier, legal and social good not a aspect that has legal relevance.

      They are also making redundant key court staff. They are ‘modernising’ the court system.

      All part of the master plan of neo fascist neoliberalism.

  3. IHC is run by a bunch of sociopathic right-wingers with not one ounce of moral fibre. They need to be boycotted right now for doing the government’s dirty work when no other community organisation wanted a bar of this.

    • IHC is now charging it’s intellectually disabled clients for their SUPPORT WORKERS’ transport. Yes, that’s right, if an IHC client needs to travel somewhere, they must pay for both their their own travel costs AND for their support worker. IHC is cost cutting and shifting costs onto disabled people. Support workers are scared to complain for fear of losing hours, as many are on zero-hours contracts.

  4. Well, to be honest, I had feared this would be the outcome.

    Parliament (government with support partners have a majority) can pass laws as it sees fit, and the laws they have brought in, they allow the government, its ministries, agencies and corporations (HNZC) to do what they are doing now.

    That is the whole agenda. We can go on about social justice, ethics, the morals of it all, and ask, whether it will actually bring the results they say it will, but in the end, a judicial review against decisions that are allowed under the law, seems rather futile.

    An appeal will most likely not succeed, as the application appears to have been denied from the start.

    So rethink your strategy, in this case, taking the legal avenue, that seems to not be working.

    Back to protesting, picketing, lobbying and recruiting supporters, and carry on the battle for the weakest in this society, that is what needs to be done here.

    Having observed new PM English in the House, I sense, he is a vulnerable beast, not one nasty beast that shouts and yells, and who uses backroom strategies, as Key was, English is already looking and sounding defensive.

    Add that silly idiot Bennett, embarrassed beyond belief again by John Campbell on Checkpoint tonight, and this government will be house of cards next year, they will be blown over and lose the election, that is now my prediction.

    Labour and Greens just need to get a little bit smarter, follow a firm strategy, present solid, convincing alternatives, and they will be in government by November 2017. Wait and see, my friends!

  5. Take your pick from these RNZ Checkpoint audio recordings on how “successful” our new Deputy PM Paula Bennett and her “boss” Bill English (the new PM) have so far been in addressing desperate housing needs of the poor and vulnerable:
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201827713/auckland-caravan-park-gets-472k-in-winz-payments-in-two-years

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201827562/winz-is-paying-dollar2-300-to-house-family-in-motel

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201827714/tuaine-murray-and-family-move-to-another-hotel

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201827725/budgeting-service-outraged-at-families-living-in-winz-funded-mo

    And here is one, that reveals to us the prioritiy concerns of ACT leader David Seymour, perhaps our David See (No) More who pipes up here on this blog at times? The poor are simply not tidy enough, and may therefore to be blamed for their own predicament:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201827727/david-seymour-on-why-motels-are-reluctant-to-rent-to-winz-clients

    • I heard Seymour bleating on about the poor messing up motel rooms. Yeah, because when you’ve got no home, no job, no prospects, and are at the mercy of state institutions that don’t give a shit about you, keeping a tidy house should be high on your priority list.

      David Seymour, a selfish, entitlement-seeking, right-wing drop-kick who has zero understanding of how real people live their lives.

  6. Does the IHC have Charitable Status? If they do is it applicable in this “Commercial” transaction? If not. How does this work if the ongoing operation & development is a commercial development a commercial venture to generate revenue?

    • NO, that is not true. The courts are independent, as far as the judges are independent, but we know of some having some personal bias, which is hard to prove, but that must be considered.

      What is the challenge the courts and judges have is the fact, that they are there to simply interpret and apply the law as it stands. And it is of course the government, technically Parliament with the government majority, that makes the laws.

      That is where the problem lies, the courts apply the law as it is, that is their duty, the government can with its majority in Parliament make and pass laws. The judges are simply bound by that, whether they consider the law fair or not, they have to apply it.

      So we must change the government to be able to change the law and make it fairer.

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