It’s always refreshing when a member of parliament admits their party made a mistake – not just a wee mistake but a big mistake which threatened the wellbeing of thousands of low-income New Zealanders.
New National Party spokesperson on Housing Nicola Willis deserves congratulating for her frank admission that National was wrong to sell so many state houses when it was last in power. She appears to think it was OK (It wasn’t!) to sell over 1000 houses – all the state houses on Tauranga – to Idea Services (formerly IHC) but says it was wrong to sell so many other state houses which left a net loss of state housing in National’s last term of government.
It’s worth remembering it was none other than Paula Bennett who led the charge to sell state housing. This policy was adopted after Bennett had softened up the electorate to accept the sales through a despicable campaign of denigration of state house tenants. The most egregious part of the campaign was in linking state house tenants with P use and then wasting $120 million in government funding on a cowboy industry of meth testers who were paid handsomely for unnecessary cleaning and remediation of thousands of state houses. Bennett victimised the victims. She gave us a masterclass in gutlessness.
Willis is also right to criticise Labour for its pathetic response to the state housing crisis. While the waiting list for state houses has more than trebled over this term of government, Labour has been building a piddling number of extra state houses.
Of the 17,982 households waiting over 16,000 were “Priority A” – meaning they had been identified as being in urgent need.
The wait list has ballooned in recent years, trebling from the 5844 households on the wait list when the current Government was elected in September 2017.
The current Government had boosted the construction of state houses. The latest housing dashboard showed that 2813 state homes had been built since June 2018 and a further 2596 were under construction.
State house building under Labour has averaged just 1400 per year. In other words, the waiting list is increasing at more than twice the rate of new state house building. This year’s budget changed nothing. Labour Housing Minister Megan Woods promised to build 8,000 new state houses over the next five years – that’s just 1600 per year – pathetic in relation to the size of the problem.
However, the media narrative is that while Kiwibuild has been a disastrous failure the Labour-led coalition has been very successful in building more state houses – total bullshit.
It would be great to see Housing Minister Megan Woods speak as frankly as Nicola Willis and admit this government’s record on building state housing is pitiful.