The monumental cock up over the former government's fanciful meth-testing standards will have far-reaching consequences – and not just for those people immediately affected.
The chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, released a report last week which found New Zealand authorities had made a leap in logic when it came to setting standards for meth contamination.
They had taken an overseas standard set for the clean-up of meth labs and applied it to the domestic sphere. Meth levels in homes are safe at 15 micrograms per 100 square centimetres but the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health and Standards New Zealand and adopted by the state housing sector are a 10th of that.
New Zealand authorities were in the grip of a moral panic over P according to Professor Gluckman.
And that resulted in people being evicted from their homes and perfectly good homes being left vacant during a chronic housing shortage. People were falsely accused of being druggies and in the worst instances, having the Tenancy Tribunal award thousands of dollars of costs against them for the remediation of the state houses.
The financial implications of insurance companies paying out millions for homeowners to have their properties cleaned will be felt by all of us, as premiums rise. And all because of faulty science.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges says that when his party was in government, they were sceptical about the advice being given by the Ministry of Health. He says they questioned the meth standard, but the advice they were consistently given was that it was unsafe for people to be in the contaminated homes.
Really? In 2015, the then Social Housing Minister, Paula Bennett, didn't sound like she had any doubts at all about the standards being applied when she endorsed the hardline approach Housing New Zealand was taking over the detection of meth and the subsequent evictions.
I guess you're only as good as the advice you're being given. Or the advice you choose to hear. Because doubts about the science behind the standards have been raised for a number of years and the former government chose not to listen to them.
Blogger Russell Brown, the team at the Spinoff, academic Dr Nick Kim, the Drug Foundation – all raised questions about the standards that were being applied by the housing ministry. The team at Fair Go found the levels of meth on bank notes was higher than the level at which Housing New Zealand was throwing out tenants and even the Ministry of Health reported that the standards were being misapplied by Housing New Zealand.
So the standards are a crock and it's cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars. But that's not the worst of it. The government's authority and those of its agencies has been badly damaged.
It's going to make it even more difficult for the government – any government - to claim it is acting in our best interests when it applies rules and regulations.
This is an age where relativism rules and where anyone with a half-baked notion can find support for their conspiracy theory. The emotive, hippy dippy voices of the Phoebes are drowning out the reasoned, fact-based arguments of the Rosses of this world.
Remember the episode of Friends when Phoebe and Ross argued over whether evolution was a "thing"? Phoebe, the dizzy blonde, said she didn't buy evolution. Ross, the scientist, said that evolution wasn't for her to buy or not. Evolution was a scientific fact, like the air that we breathe and gravity.
Phoebe says she she's willing to accept that evolution is one possible answer to how humans developed; Ross insists it's the only possibility. But Phoebe points out that the brightest minds in the world believed at one time that the earth was flat.
Only a matter of decades ago, people believed an atom was the smallest thing in the universe until it was split open. Can Ross not accept the teeniest, tiniest possibility that he might be wrong too? And when Ross concedes there is indeed the tiniest possibility, because scientists seldom deal in absolutes, Phoebe sees that as justification for debunking evolution.
The anti-vaxxers will have a field day, using the Phoebe rationale. If the government used faulty science to justify meth contamination, then why couldn't the science be faulty around vaccinations as well?
We need to have a collective faith in our institutions if society is to function. That faith has been badly shaken because of the obduracy and ignorance of the Housing Ministry and the previous government.
• Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB today, 9am-noon.