Labour’s biggest privatisation since the 1980s

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There was no fanfare when the latest figures for the state house waiting list were revealed this week. The figures are published quarterly with the latest numbers showing 26,664 tenants and families in serious housing need.

Meanwhile TVNZ reports that last month 480 people applied for social housing and gave their car as their current accommodation – that’s up from 108 in 2017.

The waiting list is not just people who’d like to have a state house. These are people with serious to desperate housing needs. When John Key’s National government came to power they gutted the waiting list so that only those with the most serious housing needs could even get on the list. Despite Labour bitterly opposing National slashing the waiting list when they were in opposition, Housing Minister Megan Woods has NOT CHANGED the criteria.

When Labour came to power there were just over 5,000 on the list. That number has increased by five times but Labour has no plans to tackle it. Labour’s policy settings for building state houses have not changed in the past five years.

Labour is still sticking to a net increase of 1600 state houses per year – keeping state houses at just 3.6% of the total housing stock – the same proportion as National.

Interestingly when Labour came to power Kainga Ora suggested to the incoming government that the net number of state houses built could increase from 1600 per year to 2,000 per year. Labour rejected this suggestion. Yes, you read that right! Labour rejected the idea.

When Labour gets questioned about the state house waiting list there is a flurry of smoke and a flash of mirrors followed by obfuscation, denial and a veritable plague of red herrings (no apology for the mixed metaphors). The Prime Minister’s stock response is “Labour has been building state houses faster than any government for decades” or variations on that theme. What the PM or Housing Minister never say is that the government is demolishing state houses almost as quickly as it is building them – so much so that for six months last year they demolished more than they built, worsening the housing crisis for low income tenants and families.

The crude truth is the government is not spending a penny on building new state houses. Instead it is demolishing state houses and selling vast swathes of crown land to big corporate builders and then using that income to fund the building of piddling numbers of new state houses.

This is a bonanza for corporate builders as areas such as Glen Innes, Point England, Panmure and Porirua (and a host more) are “redeveloped”.

It’s scandalous of course. This land should be used for an industrial scale state house building programme, not to line the pockets of the corporate sector.

Labour hasn’t changed its spots. This is the biggest privatisation of state assets since the 1984 Labour government came to power.

9 Responses

  1. Why not invited the Egyptian Government to help us out. They are building 45 new cities. One new city would solve all of New Zealand’s housing needs. Why are New Zealand’s political class so incompetent and unable to solve simple problems!

  2. On TV1 news tonight the PM said when questioned about the large increase in the numbers living in cars. Ardern said they are working hard and had built 10,000 social homes. Alas she did not say how many her government had been responsible for bulldozing at the same time.

    This is the woman who campaigned on child poverty!
    This is the woman who spoke with such angst about anyone in the land of plenty living in cars let alone families.

    State housing has not really increased at all under Labour’s 5 year tenure. It is all about playing the numbers.

  3. kia ora. Smoke screening by Jacinder all the time. Like Helen, the international stage is best while she sends the Maori soldier boys to fight another yankee led war as her best home shot. Maori whanau sharing houses better solution to poverty and housing shortage. No motels feed corporate greed more. Sleeping on floors maori know.Is Te Puia the only marae. No keep them as slaves in town Dont let them leave even if they are starving. Homeless right???

    1. Concentrate on another party frankly. Neither of the major parties are going to actually do anything about it. They are both shits and Te Pati Maori has the best climate change policy of any political party.

  4. Bulldozing sub standard housing to be able to afford to build many more healthier ones. Hmmm seems sensible and practical to me.
    Putting the money from any land sales back into developing social housing. Sounds good to me.

    1. I don’t know about this, Chris. My own post earlier in this blog about Coronation Street housing outlines some of my fears about the impact of high density housing on low income communities. People living ultra-stressed lives in small spaces seems like a recipe for disaster.

    2. The point is Chris that the government has only provided a net extra 5,556 state houses after five years in government
      Total state housing stock at September 2017: = 63,209
      Total state housing stock at June 2022: = 68,765

      And this is for a waiting list of over 26,000

      We need this crown land for an industrial-scale state house building programme

    3. I lived in an ex state house for 5 odd years (2 bedroom) There was nothing substandard about it. Of course the latest houses will be better, and a lot more expensive but not that much so. Likewise I’ve spent years in the standard concrete block flats and they were ok, then nice and cheap relatively. Those are what I would be building heaps of at the moment, as they would help with the low income desperate people and , I suspect, bring a lot of empty houses back on to the market as price gains became less certain. Cheers

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About Insight Aotearoa

Most of the blogs published here will either respond to initiatives elsewhere or will be ‘newsmaking’. Some will also be reflective in more general terms. The blogs will be topical and interesting. I like to inject some humour into my blogs.

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