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National's state housing lie

7 September 2005

National's state housing lie

Don Brash and John Key's claims that no one will be worse off under market rents is a lie that reveals how far National is prepared to go to buy the election, Housing Minister Steve Maharey said.

"Don Brash and John Key's claim that scrapping income related rents would be both revenue neutral, and leave no one worse off, can not be true and they know it," Steve Maharey said.

"Either state house tenants will be worse off or they will have to extend the accommodation supplement at a cost of $455 million a year – nearly $2 billion over four years. With a $3.7 billion hole in their budget already it is clear what their preferred option would be.

"Everyone knows what market rents led to in the 1990s - tens of thousands of children pushed below the poverty line and foodbank queues growing as the poorest New Zealanders struggled to make ends meet.

"Rents for state house tenants rose 106 per cent in the 90s, while the cost of the accommodation supplement ballooned to $1 billion a year.

"Key is choosing to disregard the facts as long it suits him. He doesn't care what his policy will do, he doesn't know what it will do, he just wants to push it out past the election. He's shown he's willing to say whatever it takes to do that.

"Key told the New Zealand Herald that he and Brash had not been closely involved in the housing policy because it did not have 'financial implications'. This was repeated by Brash on Radio New Zealand today. This confirms they have no regard for the people their policies would hit hardest.

"National is revealing its willingness to drive through tax cuts at any cost."

FACTS BEHIND NATIONAL'S HOUSING PLANS

- Rents for HNZC tenants rose 106 per cent between 1992 and 1999. Private rentals increased by only 23 per cent and inflation rose only 12 per cent for the same period.

- In the 1990s National choose profit over people and ran Housing NZ at a profit, which was $122m in 1997/98 – made off low-income families.

- The Salvation Army labelled National’s housing experiment as disastrous and linked increasing market rents to an increase in food parcel demand.

- Of the 13,000 state houses National sold off in the 1990s only 3000 were to HNZ tenants through their home buy scheme.

- Market rents led to a dramatic rise in reliance on the accommodation supplement. Before Labour introduced income related rents, National was budgeting $1billion per year for the accommodation supplement for 2003 alone – almost 50 per cent more than occurred under Labour even with a strong housing market.

ENDS

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