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Back To The Drawing Board - Ryall

"National's former Housing Minister Tony Ryall has finally admitted his Government's housing policies failed thousands of New Zealanders," Housing Minister Mark Gosche said today.

"National's heartless housing policies drove thousands of low-income families into poverty, their market rents experiment was a social disaster."

"Mr Ryall admits that in terms of housing – National's heading back to the drawing board."

Mr Gosche was responding to a Radio New Zealand In Focus news report in which Mr Ryall revealed National would be overhauling their housing policies and focusing on social need and family cohesion. Mr Ryall also confirmed National would not return to the party's housing policies of the nineties.

"Their housing u-turn is too late to get back the 11,000 state houses Mr Ryall sold off since 1992."

"But thanks to this Government we've stopped their plans to sell 10,000 more."

"It's an incredible turnaround from someone who has often said the state should not be involved in housing provision," said Mr Gosche.

Statistics New Zealand revealed last year that National's market rents saw state house rents rise 106% between 1992 and 1999. Private rents rose 23% over the same period.

The Labour-Alliance Coalition promised to restore income-related rents prior to last year's November election. The start-date has since been fast-tracked to December 1, 2000.

From then all state house rents will depend on a tenant's income. Those on low incomes will pay no more than 25% of it on rent – all other rents will depend on incomes. Private renter's Government-funded accommodation supplement will not change.

"More than 40,000 Housing New Zealand tenants have already applied for an income-related rent."

"To date figures show that 55% of all state tenants will be $20 to $60 better off each week."

"Income-related rents are fair and reflect our belief that decent, affordable housing is fundamental to health and wellbeing,of New Zealand families and communities" said Mr Gosche.

"For now the priority is restoring income-related rents. We have also been left with a huge maintenance backlog because the previous Government refused to maintain thousands of homes."

RNZ 8.10 AM “INSIGHT” SUNDAY 15 OCTOBER 2000


RYALL: WELL, WE’RE NOT COMMITTED TO RESTORING WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 1990’S, WE’RE WORKING ON A POLICY FOR THE NEXT DECADE. SOME OF THE STUFF THAT WE’RE PARTICULARLY LOOKING AT IS A REAL FOCUS ON AUCKLAND. I THINK THAT STATE HOUSING IN THE FUTURE IS GOING TO BE EVEN MORE AUCKLAND-CENTRIC THAN IT IS AT THE MOMENT. WE’RE ALSO LOOKING AT HOW WE CAN BETTER USE HOUSING TO SUPPORT SOCIAL NEED AND FAMILY COHESION. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE NEED TO DO IS MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE STABILITY FOR MANY OF OUR FAMILIES AT THE LOWER END OF THE INCOME LEVEL, AND MAYBE CHANGES IN THAT POLICY WILL HELP. SO WE’RE BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND WE’RE OUT CONSULTING AND TALKING TO A LOT OF PEOPLE.


TONY RYALL (NATIONAL’S HOUSING SPOKESMAN): WELL, NATIONAL WAS TAKING THE APPROACH WHEN WE FIRST CAME INTO OFFICE, THAT ALL TENANTS SHOULD BE TREATED THE SAME, REGARDLESS OF WHO THEIR LANDLORD WAS, AND WE THOUGHT IF YOU HAD FAMILIES IN THE SAME CIRCUMSTANCES WITH THE SAME INCOME, SAME NUMBER OF KIDS, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD TREAT THEM FAIRLY, SO WE BROUGHT IN MARKET-RELATED RENTS. I THINK THAT THE CRITICISM THAT WE HAD IN THE MID-NINETIES THAT HOUSING NEW ZEALAND WAS PROBABLY AT THE TOP END OF THE RENTS WAS VALID, AND THAT IS WHY TOWARDS THE END OF OUR TENURE IN GOVERNMENT, HOUSING NEW ZEALAND WAS GIVEN A VERY CLEAR INSTRUCTION TO CLEAR OUT THESE.. CLEAR UP THESE VACANCIES, AND THAT’S WHEN YOU SAW THE RENTALS COME BACK. I THINK IT WAS A GOOD SYSTEM, IT WAS GOOD FOR THE NINETIES. HOWEVER, WE’RE NOW MOVING INTO A NEW SITUATION, THE GOVERNMENT HAS A POLICY AND WE WILL HAVE TO REVIEW WHAT WE DO.

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