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Labour Bringing Back Unfairness And Waiting Lists

Media Statement By

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Limited

23 July, 1999

Slumming it with Labour: Bringing Back Unfairness And Waiting Lists

"State housing is going to be a major election issue, and National is going to make it an election issue because Labour's policy is so undemocratic", Housing New Zealand Minister, Tony Ryall, said today.

"Labour is recycling its tired and failed housing policies of the 1980's. Waiting lists of 200,000 people will be the result.

"Labour will heavily subsidise the 60,000 or so New Zealanders renting a State house. But, there are currently 310,000 families receiving the Accommodation Supplement.

"Labour plans to make these quarter of a million families renting from the private sector pay for the subsidies to state tenants. Labour's policy is unfair and undemocratic.

"Why should identical families, living in identical houses, in identical circumstances receive different amounts of taxpayer support?

"The last times Labour ran this policy it created massive waiting lists for families in most need. It also created an incentive for people to stay homeless and overcrowded in order to qualify for a heavily subsidised State house. In 1988 an estimated 20,000 New Zealand families were homeless.

"Another major problem with Labour's policy is what to do with tenants in State homes, whose circumstances have improved since they rented their property. Labour will now want these properties vacant so it can issue them to those people it decides should get them.

"And, because waiting lists will be so long, it will be impossible for Labour to get rid of substandard houses, or to allow sales of homes to community organisations or to tenants through the Home-Buy scheme. Under Home-Buy 2,700 kiwi mums and dads have bought their first home. Helen Clark confirmed yesterday in The Press, that Labour will stop that.

"People simply don't want to rent badly designed, out-dated houses in state housing ghettos when other more attractive options are available. We certainly don't want to force families to live in them, so this Government has been getting rid of the worst of them.

"Labour will also prohibit local communities from having any meaningful role in providing homes to low-income earners. In March this year we were witness to the bizarre scene of the Parliamentary wing of the Labour Party threatening to expel local Labour Party members in Porirua for the crime of wanting to help provide housing to their own community.

"Apparently, the Parliamentary faction of Labour believes that only they and Wellington bureaucrats can plan housing for low-income New Zealanders.

"Under Labour's policy a few people, who happen to be renting from the State, will gobble up taxpayer resources, whether they are in genuine need or not. The policy flies foul of the principles of equity, fairness and plain common sense", Mr Ryall concluded.

ENDS

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