Winston Peters says, "New Zealanders have been sold out by the Greens big time." Really? Given the Greens have never been in government, and in a position to sell-out New Zealanders, I wonder how?

The charges continue. According to Peters, "Kiwis are living in cars, garages and slum-like boarding houses, but that's no matter to the Greens." Strange, I would have thought of all the major parties they cared the most about these things.

It seems though that Winston has had a revelation. The blame for the housing crisis and the widening gap between rich and poor should be laid at the door of the Greens and their modest policy to raise New Zealand's refugee quota.

Our yearly intake of refugees is currently 750, low by international standards. The Greens want to raise it to 4000 over the next six years. That's 0.08 per cent of our population. Supporting these people into our communities should be easily done.

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Winston, however, wants us to see dangers and threats in a party that's never tasted political power and in people forced to flee their home countries. It's an absurd idea to put forward when you think about it.

If we are going to lay blame for the wrongs in New Zealand society, and the housing crisis specifically, then let it be the powerful, not the powerless.

A massive government-driven building of new state houses offered to people at rents well below market levels is the only solution, says Vaughan Gunson. Photo / File
A massive government-driven building of new state houses offered to people at rents well below market levels is the only solution, says Vaughan Gunson. Photo / File

Helen Clark's Labour Government and today's National Government can be blamed for the laissez-faire attitude that the market will sort things out for the betterment of everyone - a faith that's proven disastrously wrong.

Both governments were happy to see house prices rise, refusing to put in place tax laws to discourage property speculators. They've sold us the illusion of growing affluence, but really only for those who were in a position to capitalise on the housing boom.

The net immigration increase experienced since the 2008 global financial crisis has played its part, but mostly this increase is the result of Kiwis returning and not leaving in the same numbers, as job prospects in other countries have worsened. On top of this we have cynical immigration and investment policies that favour the wealthy, who will of course add to house price pressure if they're in the market for a property or two.

Now that the mess has been created there's only one way to address the housing crisis and that's to embark on a massive government-driven building of new state houses offered to people at rents well below market levels. These houses should utilise the best innovations in eco-friendly community living. Building them will provide jobs.

This can be financed by phasing out the accommodation supplement (effectively a subsidy to landlords) and getting speculators, big business and the banks to pay a far greater share of tax.

When house prices fall the Government needs to make sure it's the Australian-owned banks which bear the cost. The mortgages of single property owners must be recalculated so it's the banks that take an equity hit, not ordinary working New Zealanders.

We can do something about the housing crisis, but that means coming out fully on the side of grassroots people of all cultures and ethnicities. Listening to Winston lay the blame in all the wrong places will only distract us from the real enemies of a fair, decent and sustainable society for present and future New Zealanders.

■ Vaughan Gunson is a writer and poet interested in social justice and big issues facing the planet.