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Policy Stands The Test Of Time

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Bereft of angles to attack the government's announcement that state house tenants will have the opportunity to buy the homes they're living in - such is the policy's commonsense - Labour has gotten itself in a frightful tangle trying to oppose it, says Housing Minister Phil Heatley.

For starters there's the mere fact Labour opposes the idea at all, given that Labour leader and former Housing Minister Phil Goff once saw great virtue in practically the same policy.

"If Phil Goff's mana and judgment sees him deserving of the role of party leader, why is an almost identical state housing policy he once proudly sold to the public suddenly considered to be without merit?" Mr Heatley queried.

He was referring to an Evening Post story in October 1986 about Mr Goff's initiative to allow sales of state houses to the tenants living in them.

"Lifting the ban is designed to give long-standing tenants whose houses have become their homes the opportunity to buy the properties," Mr Goff told the paper.

"The sale of those houses and the purchase of replacement properties will assist the Housing Corporation to house more applicants off the waiting list," he continued.

Sound familiar? Yesterday National announced state house tenants will have the option to buy the house they are living in from Housing New Zealand Corporation from mid September.

The response from Labour's housing spokesperson Moana Mackey was absurd on the one hand and confusing on the other.

First she claimed "the average state house now has a value of around $350,000" and on that basis tenants would be stretched to raise finance.

Then she said Labour had serious concerns that some of the increasing state housing stock would be made up of long-term leases from private property owners.

"While National never suggested huge numbers of state tenants were likely to take up this opportunity, the reality is far less frightening than Ms Mackey would have them believe, given that the average value of a state house is actually $220,000.

"And Labour's sudden aversion to the state landlord leasing properties from the private sector is surely one of the most violent u-turns in political history.

"Not only is Moana Mackey thumbing her nose at her leader's ideas and getting her sums wrong, after just six months in opposition she seems to have forgotten that as recently as 2007 Labour oversaw the acquisition by Housing New Zealand of 268 new state houses and the leasing of 420 - a whopping 56 per cent more leases than purchases.

"I look forward to Labour clarifying that it no longer supports Housing New Zealand leasing homes for needy state tenants from the private sector," Mr Heatley said.

"It will be quite a come down given that between 2003 and 2007 Labour was happy for Housing New Zealand to acquire 1864 additional state homes but also lease 2110 from the private sector."

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