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Housing a barometer of tensions within National

2 September 2005

Housing a barometer of tensions within National

The fate of income-related rents in National’s soon-to-be-released Housing policy will be a barometer of the tensions between the Business Round Table clique led by Don Brash and Murray McCully and the more moderate voices within National, Housing Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"Income-related rents benefit 57,000 low-income households, including 86,000 children, who are better off by an average of $35 a week as a result of the policy," Steve Maharey said.

“Back in 2002 Murray McCully clashed with his more moderate leader Bill English over the latter’s willingness to retain income-related rents in state houses, as reintroduced by Labour in 2000, rather than reverting to National’s market-rents policy of the 1990s.

"McCully even refused to launch the finalised policy and his rightist colleague Maurice Williamson publicly mocked those within National who sought to court ‘the state house vote’ (Sunday Star-Times, 25 August 2002).

“There is a pressing need to rescue John Key’s capsizing budget, or National simply won’t be able to fund its policies. Key has already raided $10 a week family assistance from the 86,000 children in state houses to pay for tax cuts.

"Scrapping their income related rents as well would save around $100 million a year to fund, say, the return of ‘work for the dole’.

“But it is also clear from the leaked emails that some the moderates in the party are fighting a rearguard action against the Round Table’s dominance. Will McCully and Brash be willing to aggravate these tensions by such a calculated slap in the face to English?

“If, on the other hand, McCully swallows his personal convictions and allows a Housing policy that again commits to keeping income-related rents, it will be a sign that tensions with the party have reached boiling point."

ENDS

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