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Government Must Come Clean On State House Sales

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Moana Mackey
Moana Mackey

Housing Minister Phil Heatley has today confirmed up to 40,000 state houses will be made available for sale, but has given no guarantees that each house sold will be replaced, says Labour's Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

"He must give a detailed assurance that we're not heading back to the fire sales of the 1990s, which saw National sell off 13,000 state houses.

"Mr Heatley has previously made broad statements that houses sold will be 'replaced'. But he's always refused to assert that there will actually be a replacement for each one that is sold," Moana Mackey said.

"Today's announcement offers even less comfort. His Q&A on the Beehive website is completely evasive on this question. 'When will we replace a house?' Mr Heatley asks. 'It depends' is his answer!

"On the face of it, this creates the impression National has no intention of maintaining the size of the current housing stock at a time when it is under extra pressure because of the recession.

"Mr Heatley must give an immediate guarantee that all houses sold will be replaced promptly. I'm calling on him to release all the relevant Cabinet papers - including financial estimates around the plan - straight away.

"The Minister also needs to give an immediate guarantee that the Government is committed to mixed communities and that this is not simply another revenue gathering exercise which will result in the Government selling off state houses in more affluent areas, such as central Auckland, and replacing them in areas such as South Auckland," Moana Mackey says.

"Provincial regions will also be seeking guarantees that they will not face reductions in their housing stocks as a result of his sale plan.

"Mr Heatley now appears to be concerned about on-sale to developers, but he needs to explain how a three year ban on reapplying for a state house, in the event of a purchase, will prevent this if the tenants are on markets rents and therefore wouldn't be eligible for a new state house anyway.

"While he's at it, it would be great to hear whether the Government has actually developed any affordable housing plans - because if this is it, and if it actually results in a reduction in the number of state houses available for our most vulnerable families at a time when they need it most, we're going backwards fast."

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