Barry Soper: Labour's housing announcement not an easy fix

The Labour Party celebrated its 100th birthday and to mark the occasion Andrew Little announced the first tranche of its housing policy. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Labour Party celebrated its 100th birthday and to mark the occasion Andrew Little announced the first tranche of its housing policy. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Let them eat cake, and there was plenty of that being cut around the country yesterday as Labour celebrated its 100th birthday.

For Andrew Little it was a more sombre occasion, and rightly so for the leader of the party that brought our first state house.

He was lending a sympathetic ear to the sort of people that a former conservative, drunken Prime Minister Gordon Coates once told to eat grass.

Little couldn't have chosen a better venue to unveil his proposal to spend sixty million bucks on putting a roof over the heads of the homeless, 42 thousand of them, according to recent Otago University research.

It was 14 years ago when Helen Clark posed for the cameras and unveiled a plaque at Monte Cecilia House which sits on a street surrounded by former and current state houses in Mangere.

The photograph's been immortalised in the entrance foyer which caters to the homeless, and it's been chockablock since it and its predecessor opened their doors back in 1982 to cater for homeless families.

Monte Cecilia's obviously proud of its history because there's a much earlier photograph that forms the same narrative, of Phil Goff standing beside a Maori lady propping up a placard that reads: Do your children have a home? Hundreds don't.

Andrew Little seemed oblivious as he walked past both photos to unveil the first of three announcements he's making on housing in the coming days.

And he too posed for the photographers and will no doubt become part of that narrative posted in that entrance foyer at the complex for the homeless.

Two women currently in situ with their kids were paraded before the media, exchanging the tales of their sad and desperate lives with the sympathetic Labour leader. As her story came to an end the second of the two raised her arm, turning her thumb and forefinger into an L, and booming out the word "Labour."

In Mangere, Labour is clearly seen as the saviour but as the photographs on the wall would testify, saving those who fall through the cracks as the population rapidly expands and house prices rise, is not and never will be an easy fix success story, regardless of which party is pulling the purse strings!

- NZ Herald

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