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$22 Billion minutiae

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 pm, July 6th, 2011 - 131 comments
Categories: housing, john key - Tags: ,

There can’t be many Kiwis who don’t know about the leaky homes crisis. The last National government deregulated the building industry. Bad idea. Cowboy companies used bad materials and bad designs to build thousands of houses that leak and rot. It’s a problem worth up to $22 Billion (in the words of Nat MPs “simply ginormous” or the “elephant sitting in the room”). Taxpayers and ratepayers (that’s most of us twice) are going to be paying huge bills for many years.

Like I said, pretty much every Kiwi knows all this by now, right? Or not. Buried at the end of a piece yesterday on a new TV documentary on the crisis was this little snippet:

One of the defining moments in the documentary is an on-the-fly interview Gray wrenched from PM John Key that concludes with an ill-conceived comment from the Prime Minister about solving some leaky homes claims by getting people off benefits.

It caused ripples of mirth and incredulity from the special screening, in large part because it shows even the country’s leader is struggling to grasp the enormity of the problem.

“It was most unfortunate that we had to resort to standing him up in that way,” concedes Gray. “And in fairness to him it’s a complex subject and as a Prime Minister he’s not expected to know the minutiae of every topic that the Government is dealing with.

So in some cases Key thinks that the fix will be “getting people off benefits”. What? How many beneficiaries own these comparatively modern homes? How will a (probably modest) change in their income suddenly fix tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage? Unbelievable.

That goes beyond showing that Key is “struggling to grasp the enormity of the problem”. That goes beyond not knowing “the minutiae of every topic”. That response is simply formulaic drivel that has nothing at all to do with reality. It would be laughable from any MP. From the PM it is genuinely disturbing.


131 comments on “$22 Billion minutiae”

  1. tc 1

    Add to this the posturing keys attempting over pike river mine tragedy and it’s a very sad and self serving hollowed out human being we have leading us.

    He struggles to keep his prejudices to himself and express his real feelings which would make him unelectable……oh for a media that sought the truth.

    • felix 1.1

      But but but he’s rich, tc, richer than an astronaut. And he drinks beer.

      Isn’t that enough?

      What more do you want in a PM?

      • stever 1.1.1

        Thanks, felix.

        That comment

        “But but but he’s rich, tc, richer than an astronaut. And he drinks beer.”

        is the closest anyone has ever come to explaning, for me. why the PM is so popular. I’ve asked loads of people, and no one can explain (even those that adore him), but this pins it down well!

      • Blighty 1.1.2

        classic simpsons

        “We’ll be rich! Rich as astronauts!”

      • higherstandard 1.1.3

        Well if you’re talking about the last election it’s fairly clear that a majority of the electorate just wanted anyone other than Helen Clark.

        I suspect it’ll be the election after this one before a clear majority of the electorate just want anyone other than John Key.

  2. Chris 2

    Ah… the politics of envy.

    • felix 2.1

      Yep, I envy the citizens of countries with leaders who can speak in sentences…

      …while you just envy John Key’s money, and that’s why you vote for him.

    • Blighty 2.2

      yup, a post that says ‘hey, shouldn’t the PM have some basic understanding of a $22 billion problem?’ is just dripping in envy.

    • lprent 2.3

      So you’re ignoring the PM making a total dork of himself? Yet again! He is just incompetent at running the country.

      I finished fixing my leaky apartment in 2009 after 4 hellish years of raising enough money to do so, nearly going bankrupt in the process, and eventually getting a settlement six weeks before we went to court. It was a total pain in the arse to work at home (which i had done for the previous 7 years) whilst there were reconstructors grinding the walls off outside. I wound up having to change jobs and start commuting again.

      Consequently I would have to say that it is a topic that I really don’t find amusing. Just as you acting as if the misery that so many are going through getting their homes fixed is something to make smartarse remarks about also irritates the hell out of me.

      Indirectly that lead to this site being set up. I had time to do it. It would have probably got setup anyway, but I suspect would not have been able to cope with the demand.

      • Battleheed 2.3.1

        Sorry to here about your troubles lprent, businesses like fletcher made so much money building houses and then when they sell shoddy crap they run for cover, the whole construction industry should hang its head in shame.

        • Chris

          Pretty sure Fletcher Building just supply materials they don’t build the houses. So not sure why you are blaming them?

          Also just to make it clear I’m a different Chris to the one who posted the original comment, may have to change my name, actually by original or something…damn it

          • framu

            my memory might not be correct here but…

            Fletchers werent building anything – true. But they were supplying and reccomending products that played a significant part in the leaky homes saga.

            Thats why they shoulder some of the blame

          • Drakula

            Juat add a ‘t’ at the end of your name !!!

        • lprent

          It wasn’t the materials that were the basic issue in our building (or for that matter in most of the ones I have looked at). It is from water ingressing into the building structure and not being able to drain. This is either from a design flaw or in the implementation of the building. In our case, if the timber had been fully treated, it would have still gone rotten. It would have merely taken a few years longer.

          The design of the building made it expensive to fix because it was a monolithic coating – to see behind to fix things you have to pull it off. It wasn’t a matter of pulling a weatherboards off.

          The basic problem was the lack of effective building approval and inspection that was meant to pick up these types of issues (and that we paid for). The secondary issue was that the building design was not multiply redundant. When a flaw happened there was no secondary protection (for instance cavity wall drainage). That was because councils decided to relax the building standards in their area.

          • Chris

            Yeah I admit that I have never had to go through this kind of thing but this was what I understood the main problem was.

            The untreated wood which Fletchers sold made the problem evident faster but I really don’t think people can be too angry at someone for selling untreated wood. The house building practises and inspections etc just were not up to scratch.

            • Colonial Viper

              The untreated wood which Fletchers sold made the problem evident faster but I really don’t think people can be too angry at someone for selling untreated wood.

              Fletchers commitment is to their shareholders and their customers (builders and developers), not to the poor saps who bought the houses.

              Good ol private sector dynamic – the end user is not the paying customer so don’t worry about them.

              • Chris

                What are you talking about? I definitely think the end user should be worried about. I just don’t think they should be aiming at Fletchers or other suppliers. They should be looking at the builders and inspectors who missed this problem.

                Why should these building suppliers have to do anything for the end user when its not actually their fault at all. Even with untreated wood if the houses had been built properly i.e. with cavities this wouldn’t have really been a problem.

                What exactly would you have them do? Give everyone free wood etc because the builders were shit?

                • KJT

                  The material suppliers are just as responsible if not more. They specified their products were OK to use without flashings, on flat roofs etc. They did not say anything about cavities. They must have known about the problems overseas as they supplied to those markets also.

                  No one in NZ was building with cavities (Except for brick veneer houses) until after the leaky building scandal. It was not necessary before the monolithic Mediterranean style came here.

                  Some older, experienced builders were not caught out, because of our nasty suspicious minds. Water always gets in somewhere.

                  It is too much to expect that cheap labourers working for development companies would have had any idea.

                  Architects and project managers should have though.

                  If you used the claddings and fittings as specified by the suppliers and BRANZ you were almost bound to build a leaky house.

                  Even some very conscientious builders were caught out.

                  The 1990 National Government should be held personally responsible, along with the materials suppliers, designers, private building certifiers and project managers who allowed this to happen.

                • sdm

                  Back up the truck fella. The Builders built according to the code/manufacturers specifications/design requirements. The products that were supplied, in many cases, failed. The code permitted no cavity. The cladding systems, approved by thr BIA. failed. Why blame the chippy?

      • mickysavage 2.3.2

        I also feel for you lprent.  I had a leaky home problem too but it was in the low 5 figures so it was a headache rather than a nightmare.
        My personal list of entities to blame in order:
        1.  Feckin 1990s National Government who allowed such inept building standards to be implemented.
        2.  Material supply companies for allowing such clearly inappropriate materials to be sold and used.
        3.  Cowboy builders and con artists who built cheap rather than quality.
        4.  Less so Architects who should have designed taking into account the characteristics of the materials.
        5.  Finally local authorities whose responsibility was primarily to make sure that construction was in accordance with the ludicrous standards that were imposed.  Unfortunately they are the ones picking up much of the financial responsibility.
        Finally a question, why is this a New Zealand only problem?

        • vto

          nutshell micky. spot on.

          similarities with the mining industry, its safety regulations, its operators and overseers, and the resultant Pike River 29 dead men should be disturbing. Result was shoddy mine as opposed to shoddy house. Exact same causes.

        • lprent

          It happened in Canada as well in the early 90’s for much the same reasons.

          I think that the basic problem was that they allowed the building inspectors to be privatized. The other problems could have been constrained if the inspectors had enough control to say that the combinations of workmanship, materials, and design were inadequate and refuse to certify until corrected. As it was the worst areas were where there were a lot of private inspectors around with inadequate insurance and wanting to collect business. That meant keeping the developers onside.

          Fortunately for me and the people in our block, the council building inspectors did the actual inspection so they were definitely in the legal gun. That is why we eventually got a settlement. There was certainly no-one else that was in the gun had the wherewithal to make the building right.

          It was also fortunate that the building only had a few actual flaws and hadn’t gotten that rotten. Most of the cost of the restoration was bringing the building up to the revised building standards so it didn’t happen again.

          • grumpy

            I think there was a Class Action in Vancouver and the Government was found liable. One of the contributory factors in the decision was the allowing of untreated timber.

            • Colonial Viper

              the allowing of untreated timber.

              It’s a bizarre phenomenon that each generation thinks it is smart enough to ignore the advice and experience of the previous generations. Until it find out the hard, expensive way that it isn’t.

              Reminds me of the engineers who told NASA that the Challenger should not be launched but everyone else said “meh, we have a schedule to stick to”.

            • lprent

              Yep. Once you have leakage that definitely speeds up the rot. But the problem is allowing moisture to access wood that hasn’t been treated to handle it.

              But if you have most grades of treated timber with resident moisture you’ll find that it goes just as gooey over time – it just takes longer. That includes most grades of treated timber that have traditionally been used for interior structural work. There was quite a lot of lower grade treated timber used in some areas where we had water issues (from poor plumbing that wasn’t picked up during building inspections) in bathrooms. It was rotting pretty well when they were opened up.

              The only stuff that has a reasonable life span in high moisture is the stuff that is made for sitting in the weather

              • gareth

                Spot on. It’s doesn’t matter what you use in your framing, if the exterior is not weather tight you will have issues. Be it mould or water seeping into other surfaces like gib or hardie. All treated framing does is delay the inevitable. The root cause was and is a lack of weather tightness due to design flaws, bad materials, badly applied materials and building inspectors not catching the problems before sign off.

                Perfect storm really.

                • lprent

                  You can get away with a lot of moisture if the moisture drains and there is air circulation to dry everything out. I was amazed when we were tearing down old bungalows around morningside for their wood in the 70’s (they were being replaced with a parking lot!). Wood was completely untreated but basically had virtually no rot. It was a harder wood, but had been there for more than 40 years and wasn’t exactly weather tight. But it had so much air circulation that it dried out fast.

                  Would have been a cold hole to live in though….

                  • gareth

                    My grandparents house was the same untreated native timber but rot free. It was however cold and full of drafts I guess that’s why they had two log burners.

                    Unfortunately once you start insulating walls you loose your air flow. Hence weather tightness is so important these days.

                    I understand that the insulating foam that they retrofit can be diabolical in houses like those mentioned above. People all of sudden people have damp issues and these are blamed on lack of weather tightness. nothing to do with the fact that it fundamentally changed the way house worked/breathed.

                    I do know a few builders that have kept the documentation and written instruction to proceed as per plan/spec when they raised potential problems. It certainly covered them when people come back looking for answers, doesn’t do much for the company name however.

            • mik e

              untreated timber is fine most of our old buildings that are still standing are made of such materials and are still in good condition requiring only regular maintenance. Pine does need treatment but even treated pine will rot if the building is not built and sealed and painted correctly with good quality paints, just spraying inferior paints over a building doesn,t seal it. Idiot proof roofing and flashings are also required. What flabbergasts me is that National are only paying out on the last 10yrs and not on the first 8yrs of leaky buildings that their legislation or lack of i.e laissez fair was responsible for.

        • peter

          MS, it also caused huge problems in Vancouver some years before it happenend here.. same problems, a very wet climate, and homes not designed to deal with this.

        • KJT

          Not to mention house owners and developers that just wanted the cheapest.

          The engineers who allowed untreated framing.

          I would not mind a dollar for every time a house owner has said. “Just bodgy it up. We will have sold the house within 5 years, so we do not care if it lasts 50 or not”.

          Voters who vote for Governments who are obsessed with privatisation and de-regulation.

          And building material suppliers who made a fortune out of monolithic materials they must have known were problematic. They supplied to the other markets who had problems before we did.

          If you followed the instructions they supplied for fitting and waterproofing the cladding you were bound to build a leaky house.

          When I was building, being suspicious old codgers, we still used treated framing and flashed properly. Of course the cheap partly trained labourers most developers used would not have known any different.

        • uke

          There are possibly several other groups who should have provided better checks and balances in the process of signing off on crap houses:
          – Engineers doing reports on crap houses
          – Property valuers incorrectly valuing crap houses
          – Real estate agents selling crap houses
          – Insurance companies insuring crap houses (although not really insuring them)
          – Property developers developing crap houses
          A perfect storm (sorry for cliche) of buck-passing by professionals and experts. If people took the trouble to build their own homes, I doubt there would be the same level of systemic dysfunction.

          • Colonial Viper

            Yes and each of those private sector buck passing professionals and experts had money to make off the scam as long as it lasted, and no money to make off being the bad guy who blew the whistle.

            And a weak public sector who refused to do its job due to a hands-off ideology.

            Regulators who don’t believe in regulation, ho ho ho.

            • uke

              Besides the bad faith, cynicism, greed, fraud, and sheer incompetence among these expert groups, another factor led to this debacle:
              Over-complexity of the system
              I mean, how hard is it to build a good house? You wouldn’t think that humans had been constructing dwellings for thousands of years (some of which are still around). In our “advanced” “modern” society it has somehow become a very difficult task. As the Christchurch earthquake has shown, also, there seems to be a remarkable level of fragility built into our hi-tech lifestyle.

              • felix

                Not that hard, uke, but you’re asking the wrong question.

                How hard is it to ensure a profit at every stage of the house-building process?

                Used to be that a trade was a good honest living. Now it seems every builder, plumber, roofer, tiler and sparkie these days feels entitled to become rich just from working at their trade.

                • uke

                  “How hard is it to ensure a profit at every stage of the house-building process?”
                  Including how to externalise all risks and costs at every stage. Yet again the defects of limited liability become blindingly obvious.

                • KJT

                  It is not the good tradesmen who get rich. It is actually very hard to make a living as an honest and careful trades-person who pays taxes and does not cut corners.

                  Lack of regulation, in building as in anything else, just allows the crooks to prosper.

                  You get competitors giving quotes so cheap, you know there is no way they can use good materials or do a proper job.
                  Including some who own large building/developer outfits who just declare bankruptcy when the chickens come home.

                  Regulations to put all building work under the control of a qualified builder with personal responsibility for the job would be a good start in cleaning up the industry.
                  The difficulty in getting insurance cover if you are dodgy would soon clean out the cowboys. It works well with electricians and plumbers.

                  Don’t see why shoddy developers, Designers, builders, Materials suppliers, or home owners who specify a substandard job, should be able to escape responsibility for negligence, especially by limited liability and/or company bankruptcy. In many cases these people just pop up again under another company name.

                  Homeowners are their own worst enemy though. They are the first to take the cheapest quote and the first to bleat at having to pay the real costs of doing a proper job with long lasting materials. They do not see a problem in passing on the extra costs to the next owner of the house.

                  • felix

                    That all squares with my observations too.

                    I’d add that qualification is no guarantee of competence, since the abandonment of the traditional apprenticeship system the market has been flooded with qualified carpenters who have very little experience.

                    It’s not uncommon for young chippies to serve their time building the same structure over and over, which only teaches them to solve the same set of problems over and over.

                    • KJT

                      Yes. Qualifications just give a baseline.

                      However the new system of apprenticeships is not much different from the old one. Some apprentices spent their entire apprenticeship sweeping up. At least with modern apprenticeships the employer has to take responsibility for signing off the apprentice as capable in the various areas.

                      One of the main problems, now,is provider capture by tertiary institutions, who like to tell us that time in the classroom can replace years on the tools.

                      Builders either need to by monitored by efficient inspectors or have a self certifying regime where they are personally liable for their own work.

                      As happens with plumbers and electricians now, under the self certifying regime, a poor tradesmen cannot remain in business because he can no longer get liability insurance.

                      You already see that with the Master builders (Who allowed any cowboy who paid the fee to join). Insurance companies cut the time to 7 years, off their warranty cover, because of too many claims.

                      I can still get 10 year cover, as can any Certified Builder.

                    • felix

                      Yep, pretty much all the sparkies I know take their responsibility very seriously.

                  • rosy

                    We had a learning experience when considering building in Ak. We went to a builder/developer who was associated with a reputable company with a plan we wanted, and an alternative plan offered by the company if ours was too expensive. We were told there was no problem with the plan we wanted and went forward with consents etc. Over the period of months that it took (with developer delays) to get this done, and after a small deposit was paid, all of a sudden the costs escalated and cheaper materials were suggested – monolithic cladding et al. We pulled out, took the developer to the disputes tribunal for the deposit and won but of course the company had claims for leaky buildings and had gone bankrupt. In the end it was a relatively cheap lesson in shady practices. I can imagine a lot of people in similar situations would have gone ahead, being unwilling or unable to give up their dream and deposit.

                    • KJT

                      I suggest anyone building, talk to builders previous customers, have a good look at the workmanship, materials and quality of previous jobs, and have a written contract to protect both themselves and the builder.

                      Builders suppliers often have a good idea of which builders are here to stay in their area.

                      Make sure the grade and type of materials are written down in a detailed spec.
                      Some cheaper materials or finishes may be OK when they just change the cosmetic finish, not the functionality, of the building.

                      Find a builder you can trust and make him/her responsible for the whole job.

                      Remember someone who has spent years building up their skills can/ and should ask for a reasonable wage. This will usually pay off in quality of the building and your resale value.

                      If the quote is very cheap it is because the builder is going to cut corners to get the work.

                      Using designers or project managers just makes it harder to pin down responsibility if anything goes wrong. They often clip the ticket for management tasks, which any good builder will do anyway.

                      Try and decide on everything before building starts. Changes can be very time consuming and expensive for the builder and customer.

                      A good builder should be able to offer extended guarantee cover (from a reputable insurance company) in case he goes out of business for any reason.
                      Expect to pay extra for this.

                    • rosy

                      All good advice and a reason why we went with a nationally known company. I’m not sure they realised the franchise holder (we didn’t know it was a franchise) was such a conman. One more piece of advice – don’t rely on the Master Builders Association membership for anything, including sanctioning a member who tries to take you for a ride.

        • davidc

          Micky, No 1 on your list should be clients (the person paying the bills) that uses the lowest tender irrespective of the quality and reputation of the contractor. All the lowest tender provides is the contractor that failed to read the plans/specifications and then hides shoddy work to try and make ends meet.

          • grumpy

            Pure gold!!!!

          • Puddleglum

            Maybe, but we are in a society that is constantly being told that things get cheaper and cheaper not because of shoddy work and cut corners but because of the efficiency of the market in implementing new technologies, etc., etc..

            It is also often argued that it is regulation that is preventing goods and services becoming cheaper and cheaper through competitive markets.

            I guess you could blame consumers for being so gullible as to believe that markets deliver in that way.

          • Colonial Viper

            All the lowest tender provides is the contractor that failed to read the plans/specifications and then hides shoddy work to try and make ends meet.

            In the free market the race to the bottom is a very common occurrence

            Particularly if the paying customer of the contractor (property developer) is not the end owner (read: chump family who bought the home)

            WTF does the property developer care if the home falls apart with mould 5-10 years down the track? Not his problem, and the cheap shoddy contractor did his bottom line a favour after all.

        • Tel

          While I agree with the general tenor of your list of the guilty, I’d put Architects/Designers at the top of the list, and leave the rest of the list to argue over who’s next. The reason is simple. Everything more or less starts from an inappropriate design choice. Standards have been and still are blunt instruments, that need to be used as a guideline, and do not take place of common sense. If clients make unreasonable requests that compromise the potential outcome Architects just need to refuse the work.

          Unfortunately the LBP scheme will make no allowance for the abhorrently obvious: Architects that have been successfully sued for leaky buildings will not, and have not been impeded in obtaining a licence and continuing to practice. No insurance scheme has been put in place to protect consumers and ratepayers, and the LBP scheme is basically just another form of taxation, that will drive up the cost of construction, and cause clients to pressure people into making short cuts to save money… sound familiar?

          BTW: If you’re young and looking for a career path that pays well, is full of human drama and work variety? Become a lawyer specialising in leaky buildings. The way I see it there’s at least 30 years worth of work ahead of you, care of the LBP scheme.

          • KJT

            The first thing Architects do, just like Lawyers and Accountants is make their customer sign a piece of paper saying they will not hold the said Architect, Lawyer or Accountant responsible for their “advice”. Which, to me, makes a mockery of their claim to be professionals.

            Every plan I have received from an Architect says “the Builder” is responsible for checking all measurements, ground conditions and standard of work comply with the applicable codes, regulations, good practice and standards”. or something to the same effect.

        • rosy

          My personal list of entities to blame in order:

          and 6. Companies structured to go bankrupt after a development is completed only to start-up with a (usually) similar-sounding name for another development. Although the new company has the same owners it has no liabilities for the previous development.

          • KJT

            Like the guy who took the Christchurch city council to court to be able to develop dodgy land in Christchurch.
            Now in Australia while we are all paying too fix the houses on that land.

    • Colonial Viper 2.4

      Ah… the politics of envy.

      No my friend, you are playing the politics of envy and greed.

    • KJT 2.5

      The rich who are so envious of the little they have left us, they want to grab that too.

  3. It is a Crosby Textor instruction, if in a tight corner link issues to either crime or welfare bludgers.
    Melissa Lee failed during the Mt Albert by election when she tried to link crime to the construction of a motorway.
    It is also instruction 5 of Fox News’ 14 propaganda techniques used to brainwash Americans.
    To quote:
    5. Scapegoating/Othering. This works best when people feel insecure or scared. It’s technically a form of both fear mongering and diversion, but it is so pervasive that it deserves its own category. The simple idea is that if you can find a group to blame for social or economic problems, you can then go on to a) justify violence/dehumanization of them, and b) subvert responsibility for any harm that may befall them as a result.”

    • Gosman 3.1

      Why do you do tend to do this mickeysavage?

      You try and claim that many of the views expressed that are not in agreement with the leftist attack line put forward here is actually inspired by some instruction from the Crosby Textor PR agency.

      You seem like a smart enough guy, well I know you are a lawyer so aren’t completely stupid. So how come you keep bringing up this fantasy about how opposing views to yours are being fed by a shady third party organisation?

      • felix 3.1.1

        Simple observation, Gos.

        If you know how CT operate then you know their handiwork when you see it.

        On a related note, no-one cares whether you think the sky is blue or not.

        • Gosman

          Amazing that you feel you can answer a question directed to someone else there felix.

          Have you got some sort of leftist mind meld going on with mickeysavage?

          • travellerev

            God, your such an annoying little cowboy hat boy. Why don’t you go back to your little debating club to practice some more debating “tricks”.

            You are so about nothing it’s debilitating.

            • Gosman

              Why don’t you go back to spreading your little conspiracy theories around the web travellerev? You know like how the rulers of the earth are actually reptillian aliens or that the moon landing was faked by Elvis.

            • Draco T Bastard

              You are so about nothing it’s debilitating.

              Hah, I like that. And it perfectly describes Gosman as well. He comes in here, makes a lot of noise but says bugger all.

          • felix

            Weirdly, I don’t think of these threads as q+a sessions moderated by you, Gos.

          • mickysavage

            Gman re felix

            Have you got some sort of leftist mind meld going on with mickeysavage?

            Aye, we are twins. Our mother was abducted by aliens and impregnated and ever since then we have this weird mind reading stuff that happens.

            I still can’t get him to even vote Labour though …

      • mickysavage 3.1.2

        When I look at Key’s comment above and Melissa Lee’s South Auckland criminal comment (for instance) the only logical explanation is that there is an understanding that when in a tight corner they bring up crime or beneficiaries.

        They are not stupid people.  It does appear to be a pattern rather than some random brain explosion.

        • Gosman

          Melissa Lee wasn’t put in a tight corner when she spouted that nonsense. She was just being plain idiotic.

          If you actually think that is some kind of Crosby Textor inspired plan to deflect attention then I’d suggest anyone who uses it should request their money back from them.

          • mickysavage


            Melissa Lee wasn’t put in a tight corner when she spouted that nonsense. She was just being plain idiotic.

            That might be the reason but is she that stupid?

            I thought her brain must have been working like this at the time …

            “Remember talk about crime, remember talk about crime, remember talk about crime as much as possible and blame Helen.”

            Then she was asked a question about the motorway and she started off with a crime angle that was, well, weird.

            This is the only rational explanation for it, unless you are right and she is idiotic.

            But don’t you think Key’s comments are about as sensible as Melissa Lee’s were?

  4. Blue 4

    Phew. For a moment there I actually thought a Kiwi journalist had asked John Key a hard question.

    I’m relieved to find it was actually asked by a non-journo and that the msm completely buried Key’s idiotic response where it will never be found.

  5. Optimus Prime 5


    Sad to hear of the pain you have gone through with your apartment – an all too familiar story unfortunately.
    I would be interested in your thoughts on the role of the local bodies in all of this because it appears they got off scot free when it came to the apportioning of blame.
    A builder whom i was acquainted with some years ago warned me off a new development near me owing to what he described as poor design, substandard materials and most daming, building inspectors who were turning a blind eye.
    This turned out to be the ground zero leaky home development in East Auckland.
    The councils have a huge culpability in all of this mess and they know it.

    • lprent 5.1

      The council didn’t get off lightly with us. That was because their inspectors did the inspection and therefore they were directly liable.

      The real problem happened where the building inspection was done by private building inspectors that were let into the market by some of the most stupid privatization legislation that the National government did in the early 90’s. They were not forced to also carry anything like the levels of liability insurance that they should have had – mostly I suspect because it would have made them noncompetitive against council building inspectors.

      The free market is usually inefficient when it comes to services that require long-term support. Buildings are typically certified for 80 years and that is long-term support.

      • mik e 5.1.1

        under our laws their only guaranteed for 10yrs hence National are only paying out for houses less than 10yrs old

        • lprent

          Yes. After that it gets more difficult (not impossible though, just the standard of proof goes up a lot). It isn’t a guarantee either.

          We found our rot in 2004 or 2005 (some rather large fungi growing out of a balcony). The place had been built in 1997-8. We laid the complaints in 2005 after we’d had some engineering work done.

          So we were well into the decade.

          But the certification of the building inspector is typically that the building should remain ok for 80 years. It on the nice wee docket we have to display.

    • gareth 5.2

      There is a retirement village i’m familiar with that’s getting repaired now. The flaws in the buildings are blatant, They are Mediterranean style single story dwellings with flat roofs and internal gutterings completely unsuitable for a wet environment surrounded by deciduous trees. In winter some of the roofs had 200mm of water sitting on them. This eventually forced it’s way in through the water proof coatings. Also the floor was at the same height as the surrounding wet ground so water came in through the slab and traveled up the masonry exterior. (i’m sure that you’ve always needed 300mm? clearance from top of slab to ground) This is something that architects still aren’t picking up in large commercial developments Im involved with where they draw garden against the building.
      There are patios which are same as floor height so wind driven rain would force it’s way in under the ranch sliders.

      How a design like this, built the way it was, where its situated could ever get either planning approval or sign off if is beyond a joke.

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        Architects should never let any of those drawings even leave their offices.

        Since the Ministry of Works stopped training up young architects, the level of professionalism and competence seems to have slid and slid.

  6. Have to remind you people again that Key can get away with this because it IS THE REALITY.
    He redefines the reality via the media which is that the country is being dragged down not by big business scams to boost profits (leaky houses) but by the underclass (breeding for profit).

    Its a classic neofascist demonisation of the poor, Maori, women and youth, to justify eugenics and workfare and divide the working class to prevent resistance to his banksters agenda. The dogwhistles over Mana, attacks on basic rights over RWC, ChCh, etc are designed to rally the neofascist white racist, sexist elements and empower the police to smash any worker resistance that does arise.

    To cap it off Key is presenting India as the neoliberal posterboy of the modern world to prove that the NACTs are leading the world to the promised land where the 100s of millions of untouchables can be saved like his ‘underclass’ by free trade.

    All this means another managed election all circus and no bread. Do you think a guy who has speech writers, the MSM, and ruthless advisers like Lord Aschroft etc on tap doesnt say what he means?

    All this stuff about him being an idiot, vacant smile etc is delusional. The smiling assassin is much more accurate. Behind the smiles is the mounting body count of his class destructive policies. The left are idiots if they can’t see they are being comprehensively screwed.

    • mik e 6.1

      yeah Key takes all the photo ops from bollywood but back here in NZ everybody associated with bolly wood hasn,t been paid typical.just smile and wave.

  7. vto 7

    I listen intently to John Key whenever I can to try and gauge what he is actually like (does he have a strong intellect? is he well versed in society’s issues? Can he pronounce his words ploply? does he answer the question and is he good at it? Even, is he good at being a politician and diverting the interviewer?)

    The view I have come to is that he is good at only one area and that is the world of money money money. When he talks money you see his eyes light up, his sentences flow thick and fast, and he clearly does know all things money.

    But that is it. He flounders on every other subject. I see no strong intellect. No appreciation of wider society. No detailed understanding of ANY other subject.

    He is a one-hit wonder. This post confirms that again.

    I see the same in various people in our own world from time to time. They don’t talk business or work or society, they talk about the money involved in each and every subject. So shallow and such a waste of space. And potentially frighteningly damaging if in control of the wrong levers..

    • Gosman 7.1

      Yet he is one of the most popular Prime Ministers of modern time. That must rip your leftist undies.

      • Lanthanide 7.1.1

        No, not really. Asbestos, DDT and thalidomide were all popular products in their time too. History will judge John Key similarly, especially if he gets a second term and sells off our power companies.

      • felix 7.1.2

        Hear that, v? You’re a leftist lol!

      • lprent 7.1.3

        Umm.. I think that vto isn’t exactly ‘leftist’. Before the last election he sounded like an old testament prophet against the tyranny of Labour….

        He is definitely more of the centrist plague on all of your houses right now – that is what National gets for the ECan debarcle.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.4

        Yet he is one of the most popular Prime Ministers of modern time. That must rip your leftist undies.

        And Justin Bieber is one of the most popular teen idols of modern time.

        Your point?

        • Ianupnorth

          The sad thing is that in 10 years Justin Bieber will be on a reality show about how he was a teen idol – maybe dancing on ice…. in 10 years we will still be fixing the issues created by this current shower of shit government.

      • vto 7.1.5


        lprent has it – a plague on all them houses. I guess I’m just reactionary with no guiding principles or morals. But in actual fact that aint the case at all – some left and some right will do just fine. It’s various politicians and their antics that wind me up. And Key and his antics are just that.

    • felix 7.2

      Yeah I’ve noticed that too, v.

      He’ll be going through the motions, blank stare, dead eyes, mumble the lines, yada yada, thinking of Waikiki Beach…

      …and then the subject of hedge funds or margin trading comes up and the little wooden boy springs into life!

      All of a sudden he’s animated, gesticulating, eyes afire and speaking comfortably.

      It’s like he… becomes… …


      • bbfloyd 7.2.1

        it’s not just when he talks about money that key lights up… have you noticed him wax lyrical whenever he talks about his clothes? watched a bit of an interview of him while he was in the uk for williams wedding.. he mumbled on, dropping the names of the french politicions he had managed to buttonhole, but when the subject of the suit he wore to the wedding, he lit up and got very animated and excited…

        does anyone here remember j edgar hoover?

        • Gosman

          Sad, so sad.

        • Lanthanide

          “but when the subject of the suit he wore to the wedding, he lit up and got very animated and excited…”

          That’s only because it was the “greenstone wash” that everyone kept crapping on about like it was the second coming of christ. It was the first suit to be made from the new material and was clearly kiwi made. No doubt Key wanted to repeat the women’s mag lines to promote how in-touch he is with the common man by buying a $6000 NZ made suit.

        • uke

          “…does anyone here remember j edgar hoover?”
          Excuse me, are you suggesting that JK is a closet cross-dresser?

          • travellerev

            Well… He does love his yearly outings to the gay pride thingy doesn’t he dancing between a couple of raging queens? (no offence to the queens, some queens are my best friends, raging or otherwise)

    • VTO what’s your point. That he’s a money man so a shallow individual? OK then what?
      He’s frontman for NACTs who are getting away with murder. ‘One hit man’? Its a pretty big hit.
      This focus on Key as an individual may as well be a rightwing bait and switch attack line. Hate the bait and swallow the shit that if Key is exposed as a weak personality, somehow the whole international finance class is defeated? Delusional!

      Worth a read tho what it really says is that the NACTs now ‘own’ the debate as ‘national’ so Key can appear as ‘non-ideological’.

      • vto 7.3.1

        Mr brown, I saw your comment just after I posted mine. What you say makes sense and is another highly relevant issue to Key and his terribleness.

  8. Lanthanide 8

    The silver lining of the earthquakes is that a lot of leaky buildings will be demolished and paid for via EQC or insurance, whereas they’d normally not be covered for structural water damage by insurance policies.

    I guess the dark cloud on the horizon is that the massive rebuild may be done shoddily on the cheap and just produce a 2nd wave of leaky buildings.

  9. Once again I would like to regale you with a quote of one of the great political lecturers of our time Michael Parenti:

    “They’re not stupid.  You’re stupid if you think they’re stupid.  You’re stupid if you think your enemies are stupid.  All of North America is full of liberal intellectuals who love to say how stupid their leaders are.  In the U.S. I can tell you, everybody is making jokes about how stupid George Bush is.  I tell my fellow country men and women, I say, you know, we keep electing these stupid leaders, does this have any reflection on our intelligence?”  […] “You hear this all the time… ladies and gentleman, it’s time we give less emphasis to how stupid these people supposedly are, and give more attention to how vicious and relentless and uncompromising they are.”

    You can watch the full talk here.
    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Jonkey is an idiot. His handlers aren’t, but he is. Unfortunately, nobody sees the handlers.

      • MrSmith 9.1.1

        Draco: off subject, but was just wondering if you chopper crashed in a lake? or you have retired by the lake? or an impostor, a (Greenie) has stolen you identity ? 

  10. randal 10

    skip the minutaie and get down to the real issue. leaky homes occurred when the National in its infinite wisdom allowed the building industry to self regulate.
    now they dont want to pay for the unregulated misery their stupidity occasioned after they caused it.

    • jackal 10.1

      A similar thing is happening with the mining deregulation that may have contributed to the Pike River disaster. National comes in and deregulates, their mates make a shitload of money, something goes wrong and the public is expected to pay for it. Previous privatization is another case in point.

      Most people can see John Key is a complete idiot, and therefore I think the polling is bullshit! Just look at National’s complete failing in handling the Christchurch Earthquake situation. They are clearly a bunch of bumbling fools! I would hate to think what would happen in the event of a war or something similar that requires real leadership. We’d be fucked with John Key running the show.

      • Reality Bytes 10.1.1

        I would vote for any party – that as their primary policy would promise to establish a facility whereby citizens could initiate a vote of no confidence at any time if numbers were sufficient, and trigger a COST EFFECTIVE early election/referendum/by-election, this SHOULD be incredibly easy to do. There is no barrier but lack of willpower.

        Be it Greens, Act, Winston’s party, Labour, the Nats, even Dunne (shudder). Any party with the guts to push for this tooth and nail as their primary policy will definitely get my vote.

      • Reality Bytes 10.1.2

        I would vote for any party – that as their primary policy would promise to establish a facility whereby citizens could initiate a vote of no confidence at any time if numbers were sufficient, and trigger a COST EFFECTIVE early election/referendum/by-election, this SHOULD be incredibly easy to do (Cough cough, Internet, unique identification technologies like passports/ird numbers/drivers lic/credit cards etc etc). There is no barrier but lack of willpower.

        Be it Greens, Act, Winston’s party, Labour, the Nats, even Dunne (shudder). Any party with the guts to push for this tooth and nail as their primary policy will definitely get my vote.

  11. just saying 11

    More expensive minutaie Key says he is unaware of: The gender pay gap. Though it’s probably more like doesn’t care and/or doesn’t care to talk about it. After all he can’t have been unaware of the furore over his friend, Tampon-Man recently, in regard to this very subject.

    From the Pm (and co) press conference yesterday: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1107/S00024/pm-infrastructure-pike-river-dunno-about-pay-equity.htm

    Quote: “The Human Rights Commission’s proposed pay equity bill, which Mr Key had not seen. Nor was he aware whether there was a gender pay gap”.

    • ianmac 11.1

      Good question today for the PM: Question 1:
      “CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement about equal pay for women: “The law at the moment actually provides quite clearly that it’s against the law to discriminate on the basis of gender”?”

  12. freedom 12

    there seems to be a definite disparity between the historical responsibilities of being a Nation’s Leader and the present Smile and Wave marathon. Do you want a glimpse of just how NOT seriously people take the current Prime Minister of NZ?

    this is a comment i just copied off a faceBook page discussing Paul Henry’s return to broadcasting

    ” i Love Paul Henry’s attitude to live and the world itself. Pippa shes so sweet and funny and stylish. I wouldnt mine him and PRime minister having radio talk show that would be interesting!l be funny.”

    i find this attitude more than a little disturbing

  13. MrSmith 13

    The problem comes down to 2 simple things.
    1) Good Regulations and accountability.
    2) and strong enforcement of those regulations. (fines and jail time for people, directors, executives, not just the companies and corporations they can pay compensation)
    Blaming the builders, supply companies, architects, engineers or even the councils is just a cope out, if it’s not against the law, people will sell there morality very quickly for a few dollars (I should Know). This is a great example of a market supplying the lowest price! but the lowest price normally ends up being a “piece of shit”.
    So I here the Right’os saying ‘people should be able to make up there own mind’, well unfortunately a lot of people, haven’t enough education, or just trusted the professionals, but most just look for the lowest price “Piece of shit”, thats suits the Right’os as they just want to sell the suckers (us) more worthless shit, and on it goes.

    • Huginn 13.1

      ‘The problem comes down to 2 simple things.

      1) Good Regulations and accountability.

      2) and strong enforcement of those regulations. (fines and jail time for people, directors, executives, not just the companies and corporations they can pay compensation)’

      You’ve put your finger on it there.And it’s a pattern that’s going to be repeated because neo-liberals either don’t understand what government does or are actively hostile towards the function of government.

      Here are two other examples of disasters resulting from the relaxation of regulation and the neutering of inspectorates, often in the name of ‘cutting back red tape and bureaucracy’.

      The Slump Goes On: Why?
      Paul Krugman and Robin Wells
      New York Review of Books
      Sept 30, 2010

      Editorial Comment The shameful state of UK care homesFinancial engineering claims another victim: care homes
      Published: May 30 2011 15:39 | Last updated: May 30 2011 15:39

      This article can be found at:

  14. gareth 14

    Thinking about it, the next generation of shoddy buildings have already been produced under the auspices of ‘green star’ certification. The materials required to meet the criteria for a 5 star building are not up to NZ conditions. The tradies at the two greenstar builds I have been involved with swore black and blue that there would be major problems especially with adhesives, paints and some sealants as they weren’t rated to cope with nz temperature ranges as they were designed for centrally heated climate controlled constant temperature buildings in Europe. Coatings that wouldn’t stand the type of wear they were going to experience etc.

    These products were used anyway as the single most important thing was to achieve that 5 star rating.

    • MrSmith 14.1

      Yes Gareth, the show goes on, the Blue Greens have arrived with bucket loads of Green wash to sell there rubbish.

  15. Least we forget it was Nick Smith who signed off on the new building rules that lead to leaky homes.
    Is he planing to do the same to ACC as he did for NZ home owners?
    Oh and “Peak oil is a load of crap” http://www.youtube.com/user/oilcrash1#p/u/55/KIMiKUxCY4U

    • vto 15.1

      Don’t know, but he is with regard to water in Canterbury and wider dry parts South Island.

      I guess leaky homes, Pike River, etc will have Canterbury water added in a few years. Great news.

  16. Drakula 16

    The leaky homes was and still is a nasty business but from what I gather the ultimate blame should be on the last National Government who de-regulated the building industry. What has it lead to?

    A Pandora’s box of blame the suppliers blame the architects who blame the builders who blame the owners and on and on.

    I can see a repitition of this in Christchurch it took me all morning to locate plumbers supplies a few suppliers were damaged in the quake and the place that could locate were charging nearly $50.00 for a ball-cock valve for my header tank!!!! This is after my retired plumber friend told me they were only $20.00!!!!!

    Is one company taking advantage of other companies being struck out? and upping the price?
    Isn’t this the sort of thing that the government claims CERA should address?

  17. Jenny 17

    The only reason that Key doesn’t concern himself with the “minutiae” of the Leaky Homes Crisis. Is that it is not a Leaky Mansions Crisis. If it was, I am sure he would be all over it.

  18. jaymam 18

    There’s a leaky homes doco in TV1 right this moment.
    I can’t believe what I am hearing.
    Treated timber framing is NOT the answer. Old houses in NZ have untreated timber that is not rotting.
    I just heard that silcone sealant was approved to bog up the joints. Anyone with a brain would know that will never last.

  19. Martin 19

    Had a Herald letter that didn’t make it, bit scattered probably trying to make too many points- main one being the amazement that incredible failures of policy don’t actually seem to be linked to the Nats in the public’s mind and the media don’t seem to remind them:

    Dear Sir,

    Recent National governments have made a habit of rushed, ill-considered policy which benefits companies ahead of all New Zealanders or is short term political marketing.

    The Finance Minister described the prison system as a “fiscal and moral failure”. It is a failure of National’s policy as well.

    In the rush to mine Schedule 4 land would the Government have allowed safety standards “illegal” in Australia? Are we risking US oil spill off the East Coast?

    There are taxpayers, ratepayers and homeowners who still liable for and still living in leaky homes who wish more care had been taken.

    Legitimate and well-researched opposition is too readily dismissed with scorn by those in this cabinet or through the overuse of urgency simply not allowed to be considered.

    The swift decisions to change the law first for Warner Brothers and then as part of a deal with casino owners Sky City are worrying.

    If the Sky City concession turns out to be a moral, fiscal and social failure causing disruption to families and a spike in problem gambling will the current Prime Minister admit his failure? Or will he have retired in style, leaving those relying on Kiwisaver or the Government pension and their children to count the cost?



  20. Frank Macskasy 20

    So much for de-regulation.

    De-regulating the building industry in 1991 has left us with a multi-billion dollar mess.

    It is bizarre that, after Rogernomics, we ended up with a dumbed-down buildimng industry. We can’t even build decent housing now?

    And of course,. pointing this out to the Nats on Trademe messageboard evokes the same old answer: it is someone elses’ fault.

    Gotta love the New Right. They are very big on Personal Responsibility – except when they themselves f**k up big time.

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      It is bizarre that, after Rogernomics, we ended up with a dumbed-down buildimng industry. We can’t even build decent housing now?

      A lot of our A-Team in terms of experienced managers, public policy specialists, trades people, entrepreneurs, IT people, professionals, and plain old hard workers have simply left this country.

      The dregs of the B Team and the wannabe C Team seem to be in charge of this country now.

      A country full of inward looking planners and self interested individualistic players with extremely reduced capacity and capability to execute.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.2

      We can’t even build decent housing now?

      Could we ever?
      NZ housing is cold and draughty which is something we need to fix. Obviously, leaving it to the “free-market” is only going to make things worse.

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    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
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    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
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