Happy 70th, No 12 Fife Lane, Miramar

Written By: - Date published: 3:22 pm, September 18th, 2007 - 3 comments
Categories: national - Tags:

fifelane.jpgToday marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Labour Government’s first state house by Michael Joseph Savage.

The aim in 1937 was to build 5000 new homes a year in an effort to rid New Zealand of sub-standard housing. No mention of any of this over at Kiwiblog, where National Party blogger and staff member David Farrar is more concerned with sniping at Cullen’s past consideration of tax cuts.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. As was revealed at the last election, the Nats’ record on state housing ain’t that flash. Best to keep it in the closet?

While Key has claimed in the past that “I look at [having lived in a state house] as a great marketing ploy for me” it’s far from clear that he and the Nats are as keen to see the benefits shared with everyone. Key’s strident opposition to a proposed Hobsonville development that was to include 15% state housing stock spoke volumes. When it comes to the crunch apparently he’s against state housing if it’s anywhere near his backyard, describing the much needed housing development, “a potential ghetto”.

The Nats’ ‘back to the future’ policy of “allowing” current state house tennants to purchase their homes (despite the fact that most can’t afford to) drew the following response from Kevin Reilly, the Manawatu Tenants Union co-ordinator:

“.the more his party’s policies are put to the test the more they are found wanting, especially those relating to housing. With housing it’s the same old recipe, a recipe for failure.”

Hear, hear. For more on the history of state housing in NZ, there’s a good article over at New Zealand History Online.

3 comments on “Happy 70th, No 12 Fife Lane, Miramar”

  1. What?! You say: ‘the Nats’ record on state housing ain’t that flash’ – but Labour isn’t much different. In fact the current housing crisis is happening under a Labour Government! The current Labour Party is, like National, not really in favour of state housing, and has built stuff all of them. As Matt McCarten says that ‘It is outrageous that a supposedly pro-worker government manages an economic policy that tolerates a situation where workers on the average wage in Auckland would have to pay 90 per cent of their take-home pay on a medium house mortgage’ and that Labour are essentially fiddling while Rome burns.

    It is becoming obviously to even mainstream commentators that Labour and National’s reluctance to build enough state housing has strongly affected the problem. Quite simply, the market cannot provide the housing needs of New Zealanders. The current situation is very much due to Labour’s continued adherence to the discredited ideological framework of neo-liberalism. This means that even in regard to this week’s news, Labour are not even talking of state housing expansion, but only that they want to encourage more private housing in poor areas. This is low-cost option for the government so the state doesn’t have to spend money, whereby you force developers to build low-cost houses in new estates & which makes it look like the government is doing something. But in their continued blindness to market failure, Labour refuse to recognize that the private residential housing market has completely failed to provide for peoples’ housing needs.


  2. all_your_base 2

    You’re right mate. Labour looking for a range of solutions is *exactly* like National selling 13,000 state houses to developers and speculators. I’m not saying things are perfect but Labour and the Nats on state housing are chalk and cheese.

  3. But, all_your_base, how many state houses has Labour actually built during its three terms in power? Can you give us a number? Is it 60,000? Or 40,000? I think it’s probably something more like a pitiful 6000.

    Labour campaigns on being the pro-state housing party, but when it comes down to it they continue with their strongly market-based approach to housing. And even though the NZ state has received all the proceeds of National’s 13,000 state housing privatisation, Labour doesn’t even won’t to pay to build another 13,000 to replace those. That’s why Labour and National aren’t that radically different on state housing. The Government could easily afford to build 100,000 new state houses, but Clark, Cullen and co are far to neo-liberal and fiscally conservative to do that.


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