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Insulation scheme shows value of public assets

House insulation scheme shows huge value of publicly owned assets – Maori Party

Budget reaction 22 May 2008

The government’s state house insulation scheme has multiple compounding benefits for the whole of society – and is possible through public ownership of the houses, says the Maori Party.

“The $47 m price tag for the scheme is not a cost, so much as an investment in the future of this country,” said Housing spokesperson Tariana Turia.

“Insulation is an investment that adds capital value and slows the deterioration of the economic asset, the housing stock,” she said. “It will also cut the ongoing costs of tenants’ energy bills and doctors’ visits that bite deeply into low incomes,” she said.

“Much more than that, it is also an investment in the health of our people, especially the children of poorer families who suffer huge rates of asthma and respiratory illness. The payoff will be seen over time in better performance at school, improved education outcomes, greater employment prospects and so on.

“On top of that, it’s a saving to the environment through reduced energy use and therefore carbon emissions.

This scheme is a circuit-breaker, reversing the cycle of disadvantage that drags down so many of our people,” she said. “While it is targeted at some of the people in greatest need, the benefits will be felt by society as a whole.

“The Minister hopes the example set by Housing New Zealand, as a major landlord with 21,000 houses, will influence the market and encourage private landlords to lift their game as well.

“All this is possible because the state owns the houses. Public ownership of the asset enables the government to carry out important parts of its housing, health, education, social development, environment and economic policies,” said Mrs Turia.

“We congratulate the Green Party for pursuing this initiative, and the government for providing the funding to see it through.

“The Maori Party looks forward to similar investment in the rail system, which again will have multiple social and environmental benefits.

“Government economic theories, however, stop the principle being applied more broadly to strategic assets. If New Zealand adopted a Genuine Progress Index, to measure social, cultural and environmental performance alongside economic, the real value of publicly owned assets would be obvious,” she said.


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