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Backdown whiff in state house leasing option

Bill English’s admission that the Government is looking at leasing large numbers of state houses to non-government providers has the whiff of a backdown, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“This is an acknowledgement by Bill English that he has failed to make this deeply unpopular policy work. 

“Seven months ago the sale of thousands of state houses was the centrepiece of John Key’s State of the Nation speech. Now Bill English admits there’s still months of work to do – and the Government’s looking at leasing instead of selling.

“A recent poll showed 75 per cent of New Zealanders opposed the sale of state houses to an offshore company. Kiwis don’t want billions of dollars of publicly owned land and housing flogged off to overseas landlords. And they don’t buy the line that an Australian company like Horizon is more in touch with the needs of Kiwi state house tenants than locals are.

“Bill English’s handling of this policy has been a dog’s breakfast. First he said the Sallies and iwi were lining up to buy the houses, but the Sallies don’t want them and iwi say they’d only take them if they get them for nothing.

“The Government must explain why it’s considering leasing to offshore interests. Why not lease to New Zealand’s own community housing providers who are keen to build up their operations?

“Bill English’s state house sell off policy is a dog with fleas. He should drop his ideological experiment, and get on with the job of building more state houses and fixing up the ones that are cold and damp,” Phil Twyford says.