From crisis to catastrophe to tragedy – Labour’s state house programme


I’ve lost count of the number of times Labour Party leaders have told us they have turned their backs on neo-liberalism and are now forging ahead in a new direction. It happened first in the 1990’s when Helen Clark took over as leader and I remember a Labour Party activist telling me “Helen is turning her back on Rogernomics – she wants to rebuild the party on its old core values”.

Hmmmm. History, unfortunately, tells another story.

I was thinking of this reading Anne Gibson’s story “Sale of the Century 55% – 60% of Auckland’s large scale state land to be sold for private ownership” in the New Zealand Herald this week.

Sale of the Century indeed. So far $246 million on crown land has been sold from an expected several billion over the next 15-20 years.

Isn’t this the biggest privatisation of state assets since Labour sold Telecom (now Spark) in 1990 for $4.25 billion?

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Housing minister Megan Woods will go down in History somewhere alongside Roger Douglas.

But it’s much worse that this. Selling vast swathes of state land in our biggest city to private developers in the middle of the biggest housing catastrophe for low and middle-income tenants and families since the 1930s beggars belief.

Imagine how Megan Woods as opposition housing spokesperson would assail any National government doing this. Imagine the seething anger in her voice as the cried out for the poorest and most vulnerable living in cars, vans and shoddy motels.

But Megan Woods is the minister responsible for this economic, social and human debacle.

The latest state house waiting list numbers – only for those in very serious housing need – keeps rising at more than double the rate Labour are building state houses. As at March 2022 it stands at 26,868. When Labour came into government in 2017 it stood at just 5,844.

8,700 of those on the waiting list are in Auckland where the sale of crown land is the most intensive.

Last month Ardern told parliament this Government has built more than 9,000 public homes, “more homes than any government since the 1970s”.

What Ardern didn’t reveal was how many state houses were demolished in the same period. When Labour came to office in 2017 there were 63,204 state houses available for rent. Today that number stands at 68,765 – in other words a net increase of 5,561 houses over 4 ½ years or 1,236 per year.

Put another way – over the past year there has been a net 907 increase in state houses available for rent while the state house waiting list has increased by another 3,000.

Over the last year the waiting list has increases at three times the rate the government is providing more houses.

Meanwhile on its website Labour makes this claim under “Our achievements”

At best it’s political spin – at worst delusional. Does anyone in the Labour cabinet actually believe this rubbish? Just adding up a pile of aspirational numbers doesn’t put families into homes – the state house waiting list is 26,868 and still rising after four and half years of “kindness”.

Where are the Labour Party activists and members who stand by and watch this absolute train wreck of a policy. Once upon a time a Labour membership would have shredded a minister and a housing policy which funds just 1600 extra state houses each year (8,000 places over five years). And it’s not even meeting its own pathetic target.

Far from claims to have turned its back on neoliberalism, Labour has given it fresh impetus under a policy of mass privatisation of former state house land and “being kind to landlords”. Neoliberalism is part of the Labour Party’s DNA.

From crisis to catastrophe to tragedy. Hang your head in shame Megan Woods.



  1. Don’t normally agree with Minto, but jeeezzz this is bang on, ‘The numbers don’t lie’, spin plus smoke and mirrors is all Labour have!

  2. Couldn’t agree more.

    Unfortunately, the NZ Herald article is paywalled, and no other paper has seen fit to report on billions of dollars being looted and stripped and sold to connected bidders, in a manner that recalls the economy of the successors of the Soviet Union by connected crooks like Larry Summers.

    For those who haven’t read it, I give you this quote from a rare breed of man- the honest property developer: “All up, he says the deals have been excellent for buyers and vendors. He’s not commenting on whether it’s good for the public or taxpayers.”

    • Presumably Treasury and MBIE see the state as providing the resources, the land and labour (trained at taxpayer expense or migrant) for private sector business profit.

  3. This joke of a party has caused more pain to the poorest than any previous party. The absolute betrayal hurts the most.

    • @ Mudflap.
      Bullshit. Which is oddly appropriate since bullshit, when run over, does stick to mudflaps.
      Don’t get me wrong. Labour is an unrepentant neoliberal slip knot around our necks.
      But here’s the kicker… so are the others. national, act, the greens, the maori party and the Jekyll and Hyde Machiavellian confederate hanger-on yap and blather roger douglas’s puppet party, nz first.
      What’s happening, in effect , is that neoliberal labour are looking at swapping out the reigns over to neoliberal national, and why one might ask? To answer my own question, it’s because it’s vitally important that the institutionalised lie is maintained. Nurtured in fact. To give the impression that there’s an option, that there’s somewhere in the swamp a glimmer of hope. Well, there isn’t.
      AO/NZ is a dirty little country infested with liars and cheats at the pointy end of it’s political and financial pyramid and far more so than most can comprehend.
      In my opinion, mudflap above tries to convince us that we have choices by slagging one party off against another. We don’t. Don’t be fooled. We have no choices. There is no diligent, hard working politic to pin our hopes to. All we can do is close our eyes and make a choice ( desperate) from the least oily of the rats.

      • CB I think I would say they have been the worst, but that is because they were supposedly the party of the working class and that is still how many people see them. They have betrayed us all, we know the rest of the mob have never ever given a toss for the working class.

        I agree they all cheats an liars, holding on to their little place in parliament and the fat salary it offers. I am waiting to see some of the policies Te Pāti Māori and perhaps I will go with them.

    • Yeah sure. I guess you have a short attention span/life experience. 1984-1990. 1990-1999. 2008-2017.

      • 1984-1990? You mean when Lange let that demon from hell Roger Douglas completely destroy the country?

        • Not completely, then Bolger let his sister from the animal farm RR have a go (then later confessed his error), benefit cuts and market rents in state housing etc. All while ending estate taxation/gift duties to ensure a class system based around inter-generational wealth could develop.

        • @ john white. FYI.
          Lange resigned as PM because roger douglas’s cabinet mates voted douglas back in after Lange kicked him out over a difference of opinion re increasingly radical reforms in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash. If you must blame someone, then blame the real traitor. Roger Douglas. The most disastrous, damaging and awful politician AO/NZ’s ever had the misfortune to be a victim of.
          The responsibility for everything that’s wrong with our beautiful country, our lost youth and those living in poverty, our hungry kids and our desperately poor retired working class, the waste of our natural resources and our crippled and demonised agrarian primary industry can be laid at roger douglas’s feet.
          Lange, like most of the rest of us, got caught off guard by a deviant pig farmer with the smell of other people’s money in his snout.
          This cartoon by Tom Scott, which can be found in Te Ara, say’s it all.

    • Yes that’s just straight out crap.
      Put up the comparisons in your beliefs or fuck off.

      Increase in minimum wages during their tenure.
      Winter energy payment
      Increase in benefits yearly during their tenure.

      When Nationals immigration ponzi scheme was in full swing the country was never invested in, so in fact National caused more pain than any other party in our living history.

      • and snatch back those benefit increases with the other hand bert, they could have structured it so that the increases didn’t effect other benefits like they did with the winter heating payments….but they sat round the cabinet table and deliberately chose not to do that knowing full well the net increase in disposable income would be near as dammit zero…..deliberate cruelty covered by PR flim flam, bert

  4. I do not think Megan Woods is to blame as she’s not smart enough to think this up. She presents as a clueless unimaginative script reading drone doing what she’s told, pretty much like Robertson. I actually do not think anyone in the Ardern government apart from Willie Jackson knows why they’re there or what they’re doing. But they sure a shit can spin a good yarn!

    It reads more like Treasury has said any additional state homes cannot be funded by debt so selling the floor boards of what’s left of our assets is what’s happened. And of course Labour are too weak to think for themselves and too sold on neoliberalism to do anything else.

    And Ardern also conveniently forgot to mention under her tenure house prices have set new records of unaffordablity quarter upon quarter, year upon year with all the damage that does. Turning a housing crisis she inherited into the catastrophe it is today. No wonder her popularity is only headed south.

    • For mine that is at the feet of Treasury and the the RB. Treasury warned of a recession because of the pandemic (which income support and a successful elimination strategy avoided) and the RB applied and maintained a loose regime on mortgage lending on purchase of existing property for too long.

    • Agree completely.
      Crisis to catastrophe to tragedy.
      Ardern’s legacy and she would have us believe she is kind.

  5. Minto, you are normally a rambling muppet IMO. But you nailed this one.
    Unlike Martyn, I don’t give a shit that Adern supposedly cares more than National, she has made EVERYTHING worse.
    As the old saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

  6. Thought I saw a quick shot of Helen Clark on stage at a Davos meeting. Tells us all we need to know really.

  7. This government and I suppose any government, faces a totally inept Housing New Zealand that struggles to perform the basic tasks of a landlord. To make matters worse, Labour has tied their hands when it comes to removing violent thugs from their properties. Thugs that threaten old ladies, so brave they are.
    So what does Labour do? Reverse their policies and admit failure? Oh no! They avoid the issue by flogging the houses.
    The awkward fact is that nobody wants to live near state houses, because despite most tenants being ok people, there is a feral element that make life a misery for neighbours.
    So maybe it’s best the government gets out of the business, for everyone’s benefit.

    • Er no.

      1. The proposal is to sell state house sections to enable developers to replace a single house with multiple houses on a section. In some cases they will sell blocks of sections

      2. The money raised by these sales will be used to build state houses on the land they retain, so that state house numbers are maintained.

      The reason people are disappointed is that this shows no ambition to increase the number of state houses – when there is a 25,000 waiting list.

      Getting out of the business requires ending the provision of income related rent housing – charging market rents to those who cannot afford them is an absurdity.

      • borrowing by the state obviates the need for any sales…if they can borrow for ‘nice to have cycleways’ they can bloody borrow for ‘NEED TO HAVE housing’
        they don’t want to build state housing they want to subsidise failing developers by the back door.

  8. I see Ardern met with BlackRock recently, maybe setting New Zealand up for the queen of all sell outs? Make us all slaves to some foreign slumlord eventually?

  9. Put Jacinda from announcements on a DPB Benefit/allowance, then place her emergency apartment during winter —- without any extra money/support for a month…with the harnessing/threatening letters demanding she finds her own rental, and get a job….see how fast she fixes the housing problem.

    • now that sounds like a plan nathan

      let the princess, her ‘royal baby’ and the prince consort go without that might sharpen her up a bit.

  10. Absolutely agree. As Neoliberalism founders in its own hyperbole the essential flaws in the lie that a Capitalist-run state is better for the welfare of people than State-run capitalism is exposed. Selling land, a non-renewable asset, to private enterprise, and so thereby immediately inflating its value, is fiscal lunacy. Far better for the state to retain ownership of all its land and, if needs be, leasing it for private development. Still, as we wait for the revolution to spark our evolution, at least we’re starting to see past furrowed brows and toothy smiles.

  11. I’m just gonna say it…labours announcements often deviate from the facts….
    anyone in the labour PR circlejerk reading this…feel free to sue.

  12. ” Where are the Labour Party activists and members who stand by and watch this absolute train wreck of a policy. ”

    Held captive to neo liberal dogma. All the activists left with Jim in 1991 John and you are one of the few who actually try to report the real catastrophe’s of this most cruel economic system.

    ” Once upon a time a Labour membership would have shredded a minister and a housing policy which funds just 1600 extra state houses each year ”

    The Labour membership is mesmerised by its vaunted leadership and is totally blind to the carnage of the market economy.

  13. the really fascinating thing is they must see the neo-lib system is fucked and cannibalising itself, yet they all persist with failed ideology…whistling in the dark or desperately clinging to a cliff? I dunno but I do know the ships heading for the reef and there’s no one at the wheel.

  14. Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Million dollars annually to house people in motels may be coming to an end in the near future when the floodgates for tourism are opened.

    MSD/WINZ will start kicking out the families from the motels because the moteliers want their rooms back for the tourist.

    Where do they go then? No infrastructure has been built so no more extra bridges for people to live under let alone affordable housing.

    The IRR is being scammed by Auckland Councils Panuku by encouraging private investors to buy into developments with Panuku to then be eligible to claim the IRR.

    Recently the Chair, Paul Majurey said that Auckland Council does not do public/state housing. It’s not part of their policy, but they will provide opportunities for the private investor to invest.

    And this is why John Tamihere and Panuku have been in a Hearing at the Human Rights Tribunal. for the past two weeks.

    • That is a huge sum of public money that could go into bricks and mortar. But Labour simply use it as a never ending stop gap measure to hide the embarrassing number of people suffering because of our housing status quo!

  15. I am worried our governments will carve up what is left of the commons and sell that out to investors. A nations inheritance to its children gone, sold, poof vanished, something politicians would never do to their own.

    • Heehee yes JK, notice how Bert/Tiger Mountain/Wheel etc are missing in action on this thread.
      Guess defending the indefensible has its limits. Plus the ‘how can we blame Key/National for this?’ is too hard so best to pretend they were busy and missed it 🙂

  16. Any idiot can see this is not a NZ Labour/National issue ,,,, except to say neither has the will, inclination, decency or plans to fix the housing crisis common to all ‘average’ citizens in ANY of ‘5 eyes’ nations …

    When sub-prime-minister john key was having a dishonest wank about “left-wing conspiracy’s’ ,,,, the construction of a global system of fraud, greed and secrecy was being accelerated by pricks like him, Cameron,Harper , the aussie goldman-sachs pm etc ,,,,

    The results have been uniform for workers in ALL five eyes country’s ,,,, not a coincidence since we all share the artificial austerity neo-lib economic model.

    A corrupted one ,,,,

    Some of the largest deforesting climate change environmental vandals and Timber Mafia criminals/thieves ,,, have had no problem laundering their hundreds of millions in NZ ,,,

    It’s all rotten and all related to average people getting fucked over everywhere

  17. As someone who is a long time member of the New Zealand Labour Party let me say i am thoroughly pissed off with the betrayal, ignorance, corruption and mismanagement of the present Labour Government. The problem lies in the manifesto, the Head Office of the Party and the way the Party hierarchy interact with the general membership. It seems the general membership are treated as bums on seats. The general membership are disempowered. The Labour Manifesto lacks detail. It is just a range of broad statements with the exact interpretation left up to the Cabinet. This is reinforced by the Party Hierarchy and Yes men. Members have challenged this and are shot down because, as the Party policy is simply broad statements of intent, the Government can therefore do anything provided they are seen to be achieving x. Leaving Party members with little grounds for complaint. There is a hefty propaganda machine involved here. The Party is dominated in a top down fashion. Many members are not engaged with. It seems the Branches are just for window display. There is little membership interaction. Those considered rogue elements are blacklisted. However when the Party wants money it never hesitates to ask the members, those it often ignores. The Party upper echelons, regurgitating the Jacinda wagon propaganda display, to members. There is No critical debate over Policy. No criticism of Party political representatives. No Accountability. The Party should be separate from the Political wing. The Party should be focused on the organization and policy but it is not. It seems it is just a puppet of the Parliamentary Wing, salesmen of Government policy, as opposed to holding such to account.

    • Thanks for your honesty. My MP Duncan Webb, when I criticised his weak weak weak remit on Palestine simply said ‘join the party’. I was at a public meeting a few years back on ‘where is the left’ and someone said we all need to join the party. Change is not that simple. I was involved with the Greens and I know that the parliamentary wing and the party always had challenges around their respective rolls and the party being dominated by the parliamentary wing.

    • Same as the UK Labour party , captured after the then leader John Smith’s death in 1994 and replaced by Tony Blair.

      Corbyn tried but was taken out and the current leadership has proven how right he was to try and return ” Labour ” back to what it was formed to do in the first place before they were infiltrated by the neo libs and that was stand for all those who are victims and casualties of the capitalist system on meth ……the market economy.

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