Bill English is just “feeling his way around” social housing reform. Wait. What?

This week, Finance Minister Bill English was dealt a blow by the Salvation Army, which rejected his suggestion it buy Housing New Zealand stock.

Like his colleagues he is adept at rolling a turd in glitter, and laughed it off like no big thing. He then said something quite flabbergasting: “We’re all learning about this.” As we go, was the inference.

Is this man for real? The largest change to the provision of state housing since it was first built in the 1930s, and he’s telling us the Government is feeling its way and isn’t bothered by the fact the most obvious partner in this half-baked scheme has given it a giant thumbs down?

When this policy was first mooted I wrote several posts that it was poorly communicated. ?It’s sad to see that hasn’t changed. ? It appears that Bill thinks it’s such a good idea that the rest of us, the public, other housing providers, will simply see the obvious. ?

A more honest response would be the Government isn’t worried yet – it needs to find a convenient non-profit cover for the inevitable transfer of public housing stock to private concerns.

If that sounds harsh, consider how Bill English and John Key have described the performance of Housing New Zealand over successive years. As far back as 2013, Mr English was describing it as performing poorly, and saying the nationalised housing industry was a “disgrace”.

Shortly thereafter, Housing New Zealand beat six Australian social housing providers to scoop a major prize for “leading innovation”. No matter. What was said could not be unsaid, and changes were afoot. John Key chimed in, saying the experience of countries like Australia and the UK is that having non-government organisations involved in social housing alongside the government is a “better way of doing things”.

Nobody wants deadbeat tenants. ?Only the government is going to put up with the feral class gutting properties, refusing to leave, turning the gardens into scrap metal yards, and so on. ?Organisations like the Salvation Army simply can not take that one and break even. ?The government on the other hand has the ability to hide this among the numbers.


– Dita De Boni, NZ Herald