GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Rent and Mortgage moratorium now


Let’s have a rent and mortgage moratorium and kill this virus off.

The Prime Minister has said she may drop the alert level from alert level 3 to alert level 2, even if the corona virus pathogen is still circulating in the community.

With these words the Prime minister has signaled that the government have abandoned the policy of elimination.

Under pressure from the business community and their right wing political representatives, the virus will be allowed to circulate in the community for the good of the economy.

How many lives are the government prepared to sacrifice for the good of the economy?

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One hundred?

Three hundred?

Chris Hipkins the Minister of health has said we will not go to level 4

Currently there are three New Zealanders with covid-19 in intensive care.

Inevitably there will be deaths.

At what level of preventable death and illness will Chris Hipkins reverse his decision?

The Prime Minister earlier said it is better to go hard and go early.

If the virus is not eliminated under the level 3 alert, and the number of preventable infections, (and deaths), increase, Chris Hipkins will eventually have to reverse his decision.

Without any sign of remission the longer he delays the worse things will get.

If we go to level 4 now, lives will be saved and deaths will be prevented, of that there can be no doubt,

Why not save those lives now?

The decision to not go to alert level 4 is based on lies and fear mongering

Despite what the right say, the country will not be better off economically if we allow the virus to keep circulating in the community.

Sweden with no Lockdown has suffered an 8.6% drop in GDP
New Zealand with Lockdown suffered a relatively mild 1.5% drop in GDP

Another lie circulated by the right, is that economic hardship caused by the lockdown have led to a rise in suicides, in fact the number of suicides has dropped.

Baseless suicide rumours caused ‘significant harm’ – experts

Joel MacManus Aug 21 2020

In New Zealand, the rate of background deaths from all causes has dropped. While the rate of background deaths in Sweden has risen.

But let’s take at face value, the Right’s contention that the lockdowns cause more harm than letting the virus rip

There is one simple measure that the government could implement that would alleviate the worst of the economic pain for small proprietors and family households.
A rent and mortgage moratorium for the period of both level 4 and level 3 Lockdown. Even with the government wage subsidy, thousands of small businesses not allowed to trade under level 3 restrictions are already struggling, a rent or mortgage moratorium on their business and homes would make all the difference in alleviating their distress.

An immediate rent and mortgage moratorium must be declared for the whole country for the period of the level 3 and leve 4 lockdown as long as they last.

“I am the handbrake” Winston Peters

The fact that that we haven’t had a rent and mortgage moratorium is down to one man,

After months of wrangling, using his power of veto, Winston Peters has refused to allow the government to legislate for any form of rent relief at all Dismissing the plight of small retailers and food vendors forced to close under level 3 restrictions, Peters was quoted as saying legislated rent relief would be using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. It has been reported that New Zealand First is opposed to rent relief because the big rich building owners, which were largely New Zealanders would lose out to foreign tenants. NZ First has expressed no such concern for poorer New Zealanders who face hunger or eviction if they are renters, or default on their mortgage if they are paying one.

All through the pandemic crisis, the New Zealand First Party in parliament has been an anchor on the government from taking the necessary progressive steps that would’ve helped everyday New Zealanders weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic and the government’s life saving Lockdown.

Without having to pay rent, (or mortgages) on their commercial premises, (and their family home), small business owners will be better placed during the various levels of Lockdown to weather the following economic downturn.
All rent and mortgage payers, including the many newly unemployed, would be hundreds of dollars better off a week. (and it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a cent, a good thing when the government are spilling red ink all over the place.)

A rent and mortgage relief measure will garner massive voter support for the government, especially from hard hard hit small business owners, (a group that traditionally vote National).

The losers would be the big foreign owned banks who hold all the mortgages, these foreign owned banks can well afford it, taking, as they have, $3 billion off shore every year for decades.

NZ First have gone to bat for the big foreign owned banks, to torpedo this relief measure, (a relief measure, which if implemented would not cost the taxpayers a cent).

If Winston Peters continues to refuse to allow rent or mortgage relief, the Prime Minister needs to relieve Peters of his portfolios disolve parliament and run the country as a minority government until the election is held on October 17

This brings up my last point; How can the government hold an election on October 17 if Covid-19 is still circulating in the community?

The fact is they can’t, (not that is, without releasing a massive outbreak of Covid-19 to dwarf anything so far).

If we are to have an election on the scheduled new date, the country has to be covid free before October 17

The election cannot be postponed again with out damaging our democratic norms.

If the level 3 lockdown is proving to have no effect in slowing the spread of the virus, to have a covid free election, instead of dropping to level 2 we must move up to level 4.

To postpone the election again will be to feed the conspiracy theorists and create more division in our country, we don’t want to go down that path.

To keep extending the level 3 lockdown will drive many small proprietors and vendors to the wall.

For the good of public health

For the good of our economy

For the good of our democracy

To be able to eliminate the virus before the election, time is running out, we need to go to alert level 4 now

Level 1: Prepare

Level 2: Reduce

Level 3: Restrict

Level 4: Eliminate


Pat is an activist, Unionist and writer.


  1. Sweden with no Lockdown has suffered an 8.6% drop in GDP
    New Zealand with Lockdown suffered a relatively mild 1.5% drop in GDP

    Why is that not in the news?
    It should be being repeated until people really understand the significance…

  2. You need to stop mixing good & bad ideas before I could fully support you. Overall your ideas seem sensible although your use of scare tactics over Covid are overdone.

  3. Facts can be stated to enhance a story but can be used to mislead. Swedens GDP needs to be held up against Europe’s figures and Swedens drop is far less than most of Europe.
    This forum often complain about the money earnt by foreign banks. We are luck to have these strong banks to help us through this time . Many NZ people have shares in these banks and get a dividend which is taxes so some of the profit comes back.We would real be in trouble if the banks fell over.

    • Can you explain why we would real be in trouble if the banks fell over?
      I don’t believe you for a moment, but if you have evidence I am willing to hear it.
      I think it is the best thing that could happen to this country. Sure not in the short term.
      But it would give the government the chance to nationalise the banks and reform the banking system, and drive down property prices with no harm to the economy.
      That is the best solution, not some moratorium on rents which is actually preserving the status quo.
      Rents and property prices will fall 70% at some time in the near future, the only question is when
      Why prolong the BS

  4. If we stay at Alert level 3 and no rent and mortgage relief is offered – even with the wage subsidy, hundreds, possibly even thousands, of small businesses will be ruined.

    Working people will fall behind with their mortgages and rents. Thousands will lose their jobs.

    On the other side of the equation if the government take us out of Level 3 and drop to level 2, on current figures the virus will run rampant. And the economy will still take a hit.

    There are no easy answers.

    If we are to eliminate the virus and protect public health, (and the economy), the only option; A Nation Wide, Rent and Mortgage Moratorium for the length of the necessary extension of the level 3 Lockdown must be declared.
    A rent and mortgage moratorium will place hundreds of dollars a week back into the pockets of ordinary New Zealanders, when they will need it most.

    Leadership is the key

    If Labour Party Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage could stare down the banks to impose a nationwide Mortgage Moratorium as a relief measure during the Great Depression.
    Labour Party Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can do the same.

    The country is in an unprecedented emergency

    As leader of the country, Prime Minister Ardern can,

    1/ dissolve parliament until the election on October 17, (something which she is constitutionally overdue to do anyway).

    2/ Declare a rent and mortgage moratorium, by executive order, backed by a majority vote in cabinet.

    3/ Extend the Level 3 Lockdown necessary to eliminate the virus before the election on October 17.
    (without elimination of the virus before the stated election deadline, the election will have to be postponed again damaging our democratic norms and feeding the Right Wing conspiracy theorists),

    There are no good choices

    Going on overseas examples; Where the virus has been left to run its course, the economy was still damaged. To claw back some stability in their health systems and economies these countries are being forced to yo yo in and out of level 3 and level 2.

    Isl this to be our future too?

    ‘No way Jose’ Rent and Mortgage relief now.

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