Jacinda Ardern says we need to address the housing and rental crisis "within a principled framework New Zealanders would be comfortable with". That phrase is still bothering me.
For a start, it makes it sound like it's not that the Government doesn't know what needs to be done, it just doesn't want to upset some people while doing it.
It's a far cry from the Government which last year quickly jumped into action, locking up New Zealand when Covid-19 hit. Things needed doing, so things were done.
Now, things need doing, but instead of doing them, we're musing over "principled frameworks", whatever that means.
The thing about the New Zealand's Government efficiency at the start of the pandemic last year is that it showed us what can be done when we put aside bureaucracy and bulls**t to address the immediate needs of people. The country was lauded for its quick, decisive action the world over, and we revelled in the pride of that recognition. At home, we fail to live up to it.
This cannot be unseen, it cannot be unlearnt. We can't go back to pretending hard things can't be done, that tough decisions can't be made. We saw that they can - that big, bold action can be taken, almost overnight, to protect people when they need it.
Sorting out the housing crisis and the state of renting in New Zealand cannot be harder than it is to completely close off the country from the rest of the world and from itself. We did something really complex last year - we did it fast, we did it well.
A report yesterday said that eight in 10 young New Zealanders have given up on the dream of home ownership - which wouldn't be such terrifying news if we lived in a country where renters are protected.
People are struggling to save up ridiculous amounts for house deposits while paying skyrocketing rental prices for houses that make them - and keep them - sick. People can't even afford rents, let alone dream of a mortgage. Those who can afford their weekly rent have no way to save up for a deposit on a forever home.
Renters are constantly at risk of having to suddenly uproot their lives, at their landlord's whims. Houses are cold, damp, mouldy and, worst of all, out of reach. Children of renters have no security, always at risk of being uprooted and having to change schools and communities. Hell, many don't even get to hang family photos on the wall, one of the hallmarks of making a house a home. We've got an embarrassing rate of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, because of our children breathing in damp cold air at home.
Worst of all, we have no hope that things will get better within our lifetime. Maybe not even that of our children. Tell me, what's a country without hope?
I can't even go into the statistics of it because the numbers are heartbreaking, especially for a country that is seen as one that cares about its people.
We don't have time for "principled frameworks", for political jargon and "we're working on it" idleness. It might not be a deadly virus, but this is still an emergency.