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Hawkins: Infrastructure 'Smoke And Mirrors' Game Confirmed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
George Hawkins
George Hawkins

12 February 2009 - Housing Minister Phil Heatley must explain why he told the public he was increasing the number of state houses being built this year to 519, when Housing New Zealand was appropriated the money to build 650 homes, says housing spokesman George Hawkins.

"Mr Heatley appears to have misled the public yesterday by claiming National would build an extra 69 state homes, on top of the 450 already planned to be built this year. Instead what Mr Heatley has actually announced is a cut.

"Mr Heatley's claims were made as part of the Government's so-called 'Jobs and Growth' infrastructure package announcements yesterday," Mr Hawkins says.

"But Labour appropriated money for 650 new state houses to be built during this financial year in last year's Budget and Housing NZ's Statement of Intent also reflects this.

"The SOI notes Housing New Zealand would seek ministerial approval to reduce the number to 530-550, which was not agreed to by the Labour government.

"Even if Mr Heatley subsequently agreed to this, he is still now proposing to build fewer houses that Housing NZ had planned," Mr Hawkins says.

"It's very hard to understand how building fewer houses than planned and budgeted for will create jobs and growth. It's also difficult to understand why Mr Heatley claims to have had to inject another $20 million into the construction budget when he's now building fewer homes.

"This deceptive charade underscores the concerns Labour has been raising about the smoke and mirrors game National has been playing with the public over its infrastructure plans. Finance Minister Bill English says this is the 'most significant economic crisis in 90 years', yet he and his colleagues are busy rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic," Mr Hawkins says.

"Aside from the 650 additional state houses Labour planned to build this year, it was also to begin building 500 new state homes in Hobsonville which National has canned because John Key doesn't want state houses in his electorate.

"As unemployment rises, it is inevitable that the demand for state housing will increase. National has already done a u-turn on its pre-election statements it would cap state house numbers, it's about time it now came clean on what it is actually doing."

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