National is today set to pass a law giving its Ministers extraordinary and unprecedented powers in a bid to salvage its disastrous state house sell-off, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.
“This charter for corruption will exempt Ministers from normal legal requirements and leave the sale process wide open to dishonesty.
“The Social Housing Reform (Transaction Mandate) Bill gives Finance Minister Bill English and Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett the power to personally conduct negotiations and sell state houses on any terms they choose. And it exempts them from Right of First Refusal provisions for local iwi.
“This bad legislation will put Ministers above the law. There is a good reason they are supposed to be at arm's length from such deal, and that checks and balances are in place.
“National is giving itself the power to flog off billions of dollars’ worth of land and housing without having to be bothered with pesky public servants and the normal safeguards.
“Its plan to sell off billions of dollars of taxpayer assets has been a disaster from the start. First the Government said the houses were the wrong size and in the wrong place, then it said community providers could better manage them, then that it would open up the sales to international companies.
“Now Bill English is floating the idea that retirement village-type companies could own and manage state housing for profit.
“It has become brutally clear that this whole exercise has nothing to do with improving the lives of tenants. It is all about hocking off billions of dollars in assets to National’s mates with the promise of ongoing taxpayer subsidies.
“Meanwhile John Key is dismantling the same system of social support that gave him and generations of New Zealanders the Kiwi dream of a roof over their heads and a decent start in life,” Phil Twyford says.