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Housing too important for Brash's secret agenda

6 September 2005

Housing too important for Brash's secret agenda

Don Brash not knowing that his party would reintroduce market rents for state house tenants is further evidence that he is not ready to lead his caucus, let alone the country, Housing Minister Steve Maharey said today.

"National's plan would send tens of thousands of children into poverty," Steve Maharey said. "Yet in this major policy area, Don Brash is once again out of the loop and in the dark."

National's housing policy appeared on their website yesterday. When questioned about the policy by TVNZ political reporter Guyon Espiner, Brash seemed unaware that the policy existed, let alone had been released by his housing spokesperson David Carter.

"Don Brash said last month that he is 'not involved in the detail of policy making.' Unfortunately for Brash, state housing is not an area that can be taken lightly.

"You can't have junior members of your caucus making announcements that have a huge impact on the livelihoods of 200,000 state house tenants. State house families may be outside Don's vision of 'mainstream New Zealanders' – Maurice Williamson has already said that National will never win 'the state housing vote' – but these tenants are real people, with real children.

"We know David Carter has no respect for low income New Zealanders – he recently referred to a part of the electorate he's campaigning in as 's**t town.'"

After National's housing policy appeared in news reports yesterday, David Carter began to muddy the water about what National's policy actually meant. He told the New Zealand Herald that market rents would be introduced.

By the 10:30 pm news this had changed, with Carter instead talking about the expansion of the accommodation supplement.

"Nationals' policy was clear on the website yesterday and remains clear today – they will scrap income-related rents and start the sell-off of state houses. National is desperate to push this issue past the election to keep internal caucus divisions on the policy from publicly boiling over.

"Don Brash has added to the mix by telling Paul Holmes this morning that National's housing policy is designed to eliminate waiting lists. On that point, Don and I agree – National's policy will eliminate the waiting lists by pricing low income New Zealanders out of the state housing market.

"National wants the government out of social housing, but knows the public disagrees. These policies caused a lot of pain in the 90s in communities right across the country and New Zealanders don't want to see that repeated."

ENDS

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