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Hawkins: Timid Adoption Of Labour's Housing Plans - Minus $1 Billion Fund!

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
George Hawkins
George Hawkins

11 February 2009 - National's decision to fast-track state housing construction work is a timid reflection of the economic stimulus initiatives outlined by Labour last year - except it's dumped the major $1 billion home insulation plan, says Labour housing spokesman George Hawkins.

"The $1 billion fund, designed to insulate non-state homes, was announced by Labour and the Greens last year. Aside from the significant environmental and health benefits and reduced household power bills it would have delivered, it was also a job-rich initiative ideal for stimulating employment during a recession.

"National's decision to axe the fund would be a retrograde step at any time, but is particularly so in the current climate and demonstrates how poorly thought-out some aspects of the Government's response to the recession is.

"Labour does welcomes the fact that a number of the remaining measures it outlined late last year are being adopted by National - but believes the Government should have been bolder," Mr Hawkins said.

"Labour announced plans to fast-track upgrading and modernisation work on existing state homes and to bring forward construction of new state homes, but would have invested on a more significant scale than National is doing. The economic climate demands a more decisive and determined response.

"Increasing the number of state houses to be built by July from 450 to 519 is just too timid - it's one house per electorate extra. Labour invested $220 million into upgrading the Wellington City Council housing stock alone last year, which also puts the current spending plans into perspective.

"This is underscored when you consider National has ditched Labour's HOPE (Homeownership on the Public Estate) programme, also designed to stimulate construction of affordable homes," Mr Hawkins said.

"Housing Minister Phil Heatley also needs to provide clear information about where the money being used to fast-track the planned investments is coming from. It appears the bulk of the money, if not all of it, is reprioritised spending and it is important to know what other spending may have been cut," Mr Hawkins said.

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