Secret meetings to sell-off state houses

The Government is having secret meetings with groups interested in buying state houses and refuses to release the names of these organisations, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“Bill English has admitted meeting with 10 organisations who want to get their hands on these assets but is refusing to say who they are. These organisations are most likely merchant bankers, private/public partnership investors and property developers – so it’s no wonder National wants to keep them secret.

“This comes as a Bill giving the Government extraordinary powers to sell-off state houses gets its first reading in Parliament. This legislation allows Ministers to take direct personal control of selling these homes, exempts them from normal legal requirements and leaves the sale process wide open for corruption.

“Instead of working through public servants in the normal way, this Bill will give Ministers the power to personally conduct negotiations and sell state houses on any terms they choose.  It exempts them from Housing NZ’s obligation of ‘social responsibility’ and ‘good financial oversight and stewardship’.

“This Bill puts Ministers above the law. There is a good reason they are supposed to be at arm’s length, and that checks and balances are in place.

“The Government’s plans to sell off these state homes are deeply unpopular. A recent poll found 75 per cent of New Zealanders – and 60 per cent of National voters – oppose selling off state houses to overseas companies like Gold Coast-based Horizon.

“Kiwis believe state houses are there to ensure the most vulnerable get a roof over their heads. They don’t want to see them sold off to offshore landlords. Instead of doing dodgy deals to sell off state houses, National should just focus on building more to ease the shortage and fixing up the ones it owns,” Phil Twyford says.

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