National must explain who is right in the Housing NZ dividend debacle, after Bill English said no decision had been made on a payment for the next two years, in direct contrast to Steven Joyce, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.
“Mr English contradicted Steven Joyce this morning saying there has been ‘no formal decision yet’ on Housing NZ foregoing dividends for the next two years.
“This is in direct contrast to Mr Joyce’s tweet that the corporation was not paying a dividend for the next two years. His tweet was clearly a panicked response to Labour’s policy. Time for Bill English to tell Steven Joyce, ‘delete your account’.
“National is in disarray over housing. Mr English this morning said the discussion about the dividend has been going for a year; Mr Joyce claimed it had happened only over the past few weeks.
“This is the latest in a series of panicked responses, including mythical flying squads, $5000 ‘get-out-of-town’ grants that, yet again, the Finance Minister was out of the loop on, and finding $1b for infrastructure loans that wasn’t in the Budget.
“The reality is that National has taken over $664m out of Housing NZ in dividends since it’s been in government, at a time that waiting lists have gone up and nearly 3000 state houses have been sold. If National had wanted to fix up state housing they should have foregone a dividend years ago.
“While we welcome the apparent adoption of Labour’s no dividend policy, there is a lot more that needs to be done to fix the housing crisis.
“National should adopt all of our comprehensive housing policy, including stopping the state house sell-off, turning Housing NZ back into a not-for-profit public service and building thousands of state houses until demand is met.
“If not, they should get out of the way and let the party with the ideas take over,” says Grant Robertson.