Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Peters condemns move to sell state houses

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo / Alan Gibson
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo / Alan Gibson

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has condemned the Government's decision to sell state houses just after the election as "an extraordinary exercise in duplicity".

He said Prime Minister John Key promised that the sale of 49 per cent of Genesis Energy in April would be "the last asset sale under his Government".

But this week, his deputy, Bill English, who has just become Minister for Housing NZ as well as remaining Finance Minister, said the Government would sell state houses "to anybody" in a bid to encourage faster redevelopment and better care for tenants through community providers.

He said he "didn't care" about owning houses, because his goal was to get the 5600 people on the social housing waiting list out of garages and other temporary accommodation into homes with an income-related rental subsidy, regardless of who owned the houses.

Mr Peters said the country's 68,000 state houses had been built up by successive Governments since the 1930s and he would not support any bulk sale of them.

"There's about 600,000 people who didn't vote at the last election," he said.

"If those people are sitting in state houses, they will have good reason now to reflect upon their inertia."

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford, who has previously supported state house sales to community groups and iwi as long as total social housing numbers increased, attacked a statement by Mr English that the proceeds from state house sales might go into the Consolidated Account.

"He won't commit to increasing the number of state and social houses even though he admits we have '5000 people living in garages'," Mr Twyford said.

"Whether social housing is owned by Government or by the community housing organisations it doesn't really matter, but we do need more houses."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 25 Mar 2017 00:48:29 Processing Time: 309ms