Written By: - Date published: 1:21 pm, June 6th, 2018 - 84 comments
Categories: bill english, crime, drugs, housing, national, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags: benedict collins, radio new zealand
The methamphetamine scandal continues day after day. I almost feel sorry for National waking up to the same bad news of incompetence, lack of understanding and anti poor people belligerence their handling of the issue clearly displays.
And unlike days of yore where they had Crosby Textor assistance to finely hue and calibrate their responses and an adept surefooted leader to deliver those responses now they have Simon Bridges and it feels like the Keystone Cops are providing them with advice.
Yesterday was not Simon Bridges’ best day.
Opposition leader Simon Bridges has apologised to those affected by meth contamination evictions and clean-ups, but says he didn’t know the tests weren’t fit for purpose.
Mr Bridges told Morning Report that it was an “incredibly frustrating” situation.
“I’m sorry that the advice we got was wrong and has made this situation what it is,” he said.
“We got the wrong advice, we’re not technical experts, we thought we were asking the hard questions.”
During the interview Bridges admitted what everyone in New Zealand apart from the reality challenged have known for years and started to talk about the Housing crisis.
Guyon Espiner: “It is interesting you call it a housing crisis now. Man you avoided that term for a long time.”
SB: “I’m leader of the opposition now, I get to decide on how we phrase things …”
GE: “So it’s a crisis when you are no longer responsible for it?”
Then things became worse as news of possible privacy breaches were identified by Economissive and became part of the public discourse. He discovered a Tenancy Tribunal decision which continued this passage:
“During Mr Bradley’s tenancy Housing New Zealand were advised by the Auckland District Health Board to test his tenanted premises for methamphetamine contamination. This was because Mr Bradley was attending drug and alcohol detoxification at the Auckland District Health Board.
… Housing New Zealand duly arranged to have the test done and the evidence presented today shows that the premises were indeed contaminated.
Radio New Zealand followed this story up last evening on Checkpoint and talked to Mr Bradley. And provided a very human perspective of what is an unmitigated disaster.
A former state house tenant who was allegedly dobbed in by an Auckland DHB says he is still paying back Housing NZ for a meth test three years after his eviction.
A tenancy tribunal order, dated June 2015, ordered Jesse Bradley to pay Housing New Zealand more than $2200 for a meth test.
The ruling said Housing New Zealand was advised by an Auckland District Health Board (DHB) to test his Hobson Street flat for contamination after he sought drug and alcohol treatment.
But Mr Bradley said he did not know that and he denied ever smoking meth there and said none of his friends did either.
“Maybe the people that lived there beforehand smoked methamphetamine. Maybe they just tested the walls after I moved out just to make a statement.”
What is really appalling is that the level of contamination was that low there was no need for any remediation.
As for the source of the information relied on:
Mr Bradley had sought treatment for his addiction from the Waitemata DHB. In a statement the DHB said it was not the practice of the Community Alcohol and Drug Service to share confidential patient medical information with Housing New Zealand.
Housing NZ has not responded to requests for comment.
If disclosure of this information was actually made then the Health Board has a lot of questions to be answered. And if it was not then Housing Corp has a lot of questions to be answered.
Getting back to the issue of the policy a brief look through the documents and analysis of the timing shows how badly Housing Corp and the last Government got things wrong.
As noted in Peter Gluckman’s report the original Health Ministry document everyone relied on was this document, with the title “Guidelines for the Remediation of Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Sites”. Note that in the title it mentions “Methamphetamine Laboratory Sites”. Not much chance of missing that.
And Housing Corp knew about it. The Corporation’s document “Policy for managing Methamphetamine (P) in Housing New Zealand managed properties” with a publication date of March 30, 2016 mentions the Health Ministry report by its full name on four different occasions.
Note the date of the policy. Just two weeks after Paula Bennett had talked about terminating tenancies of contamination was discovered.
And it was only four months before Bill English conceded that the policy was not working.
From Radio New Zealand on August 8, 2016:
Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English last week admitted to Morning Report the tests being used to evict tenants were not fit for purpose.
“No (they’re not), and Housing New Zealand have said that,” Mr English said.
“They’re operating to a Ministry of Health guideline which is internationally standard but it’s regarded as not quite appropriate for dealing with use of P in houses.”
This directly contradicts Bridges’ claim that National did not know.
Benedict Collins deserves huge praise for the work he has done on this story. And National should collectively bow its head in shame for allowing anti drug rhetoric to influence policy and cause distress and hardship to some of the poorest amongst us.