New Zealand Labour Party

Note to Bill English: this policy is a dog

New polling showing 75 of New Zealanders oppose the Government’s plan to sell-off state houses to overseas companies like Gold Coast-based Horizon, should be the final straw for Bill English to dump this failed policy, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

"Even National voters think this is a bad idea, with 60 per cent saying the Government shouldn’t do it.

"Bill English may want his political legacy to be the sale of thousands of state houses to property developers, merchant bankers and overseas companies. But it’s time he let this policy go.

"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.

"This policy has been a dog since the word go. First National said it was about building up local community housing groups. Now the Government says it only wants to sell to large interests who can buy hundreds of properties – effectively eliminating local groups.

"National initially said the Salvation Army and iwi were keen to buy the houses. But the Sallies don’t want them and iwi say they’ll only take them if they get them for nothing.

"Then they said the houses would only go to non-profit groups. However, Bill English changed his mind and now wants banks and property developers to get them too.

"National previously said community groups better understand local needs than Wellington bureaucrats. But then we find out the Government is looking to sell to Australian company Horizons.

"The Government is yet to provide a scrap of evidence that Australian companies in cahoots with property developers will do a better job of delivering state housing.

"It is time Bill English gave up this asset sale by stealth and got on with the job of fixing up state houses and building new ones," Phil Twyford says.