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Housing occupation not a stunt

Written By: - Date published: 7:22 am, November 11th, 2010 - 116 comments
Categories: housing, leadership, uncategorized - Tags: ,

Matt McCarten, standing in Mana, is still writing the book on how to campaign. Last evening TV3 reported:

McCarten takes over state house in by-election stunt

The supporters of a Mana by-election candidate have taken over an empty state house as a protest at what they claim is the uncaring nature of big government.

They have installed a young couple who previously have been living in a garage and are challenging Housing New Zealand to evict them. …

“These places are empty. There are people who are living in garages; it’s real,” Mr McCarten says.

That must have rattled some cages. By 10:35pm there was this second report:

Four arrested in Mana by-election stunt

Four supporters of a political candidate in the Mana by-election have been arrested tonight after they took over an empty state house. …

Mana candidate Matt McCarten and his supporters arrived at the Porirua police station this evening after they had been told four campaigners were arrested and charged with being on a property without permission.

“People are saying they can’t get any response, that they can’t get houses but then what we have is one protest and suddenly the housing corporation swings into action within minutes and people cleaned off and stuck in jail,” Mr McCarten says. …

Housing New Zealand issued a statement this afternoon saying Mr McCarten’s action was illegal and unfair on others waiting for a house and anyone on the property would be served with a trespass notice.

They told 3 News tonight that police have taken their own action; going one step further and arresting them, which they say is entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

I think it is wrong to call this action a “stunt”. To do so is to diminish the significance of the issue to which it was drawing attention. Call it a protest. People are living in squalor while state houses sit empty. Why?

It isn’t just Mana. After it was mentioned here in comments a while back I followed up on the situation in Dunedin (original doesn’t seem to be still online but Google cached version is here):

Readers query why state houses empty

EMPTY state houses being sold while people wait for accommodation is shocking, some readers of The Star say.

City residents have reacted with surprise and anger to news 143 Dunedin people are on Housing New Zealand’s waiting list. The government department should not be letting houses lie vacant, and nor should it be selling houses while there is a waiting list, they say. …

After reading last week’s stories (The Star, May 27), which said there was a waiting list for placement in Dunedin and Mosgiel’s 1485 state homes, of which 35 were empty, some readers contacted The Star with information and comments about Housing NZ properties that were vacant or for sale.

The stories included comment from young mother Alisha Hays, who was on the waiting list and said she was willing to take any house she was offered. Rebecca Kirby told The Star two state houses next door to her Barclay St, Pine Hill, home had been empty for 12 and six months respectively. …

In the context of the government’s “review” of state houses and plans for their sale, it all looks decidedly dodgy. It looks like houses are being kept deliberately empty to make it easier to flog them off. Meanwhile people are sleeping in wet garages. Is this the kind of country that we want New Zealand to be?

Matt McCarten has done us all a favour by drawing attention to these issues.

116 comments on “Housing occupation not a stunt ”

  1. Lew 1

    While I agree with your reasoning about how important the issue is, I don’t have too much of a problem with it being termed a stunt; what I think is absurd is the notion that the protest has somehow been unsuccessful just because four of Matt’s minions have gotten arrested.

    Civil disobedience means challenging authorities to explicitly endorse or confirm their unjust policies; and making them actually exercise their monopoly right of coercive force to defend injustice. As far as I can see it, the purpose of this protest was to raise awareness of the housing issue; to demonstrate that the government is more concerned with procedural matters of laura norder than it is with housing the needy; to illustrate the government’s willingness to use force against civil disobedients; and to make a bit of a stink for the Mana campaign, boosting Matt’s profile among those who are disillusioned with the mainstream political offerings and the system which supports them. By getting arrested they’ve succeeded in spectacular fashion.

    L

    • higherstandard 1.1

      Undoubtedly a stunt, the kind we need a lot more of in this country.

      More power to ya Matt, I’d vote for you just to see the fireworks in the debating chamber.

      • travellerev 1.1.1

        Atta boy, you’re getting it.

        • higherstandard 1.1.1.1

          Unfortunately judging from your recent post you aint

          • grumpy 1.1.1.1.1

            I agree HS. Matt is the kind of lefty that us righties can relate to.

            • Rex Widerstrom 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Pity he’s not the kind of lefty that lefties can relate to, as evicenced by this post in which Eddie admits Matt is wiping the floor with Tweedle Trough and Tweedle Trougher but “I’d still vote Fa’afoi though”.

              Better that Glorious Labour Party Reign for a Thousand Years – or the Nats are spitefully denied a pointless seat (from the perspective of it making one iota of difference to what happens in Parliemanet) – than someone who truly gives a shit about the homeless and the poor gets anywhere near a seat in Parliament.

            • Fisiani 1.1.1.1.1.2

              All hail Matt. Matt for Mana

  2. Regardless of whether it’s a ‘stunt’ or a ‘protest’ it’s a welcome example of a genuine leftwing action that shows that parliamentary politics and election campaigns can be a bit more meaningful than our normal ‘business as usual’ politics. Thus it shows why we need to have Matt McCarten in Parliament representing the low income people of Mana for the next year. In the rarified parliamentary environment McCarten would clearly “kick against the pricks” and focus outward on building up grassroots momentum for real change.

    R0B’s post is an excellent celebration of what will be a litmus test for another politicians – especially the other Mana candidates and their respective parties. For example, will Kris Faafoi, Phil Goff and his Labour colleagues, endorse and defend McCarten’s state house protest, or will they condemn it? Hopefully they’ll defend it, but my prediction is that they’re make the usual 1951-style “neither-for-nor-against” statement whereby they sympathize with the sentiments of it but say that people should work through “the system” or something else equally mealy-mouthed.

    • just saying 2.1

      Faafoi was on the 10.30 news last night declaiming it as a stunt,

      As I said before: Tory!

      Labour change with a rogernome at the helm? Yeah right. Wasn’t there a post yesterday about the overpaid having no empathy. How long has the Labour front bench been troughing and hob-nobbing with the jetset? More Bolly anyone?

      Go Matt, if you start a new party I’ll be out there working for it come the election campaign.

      • STGM 2.1.1

        Re. “the overpaid having no empathy”

        Stories of Kerry Packer’s generosity towards those less fortunate, eg. donating casino winnings to a croupier so she could pay off her mortgage, may not broadly generalise – but it may be more accurate to describe them as people with an exaggerated opinion of themselves, out of touch with the lives of many New Zealanders.

        If this is Matt’s swansong, it will be a good one.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          Of course living in a society where the chance of getting a hand up wasn’t so random and capricious would be nice.

          But then I’m the kind of guy who thinks that Lotto is absurd for having a single $15M top prize; so many more New Zealand families’ lives could be transformed with fifteen $1M prizes.

        • just saying 2.1.1.2

          Yes “the overpaid have no empathy” was hyperbole on my part, but the research does show a clear correlation – very high pay – low empathy. (see post: “high pay makes elites see us as serfs”).

          As an aside I can think of quite a few potential reasons other than empathy for packer’s apparent generosity in this instance.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        Faafoi was on the 10.30 news last night declaiming it as a stunt,

        That is sickening.

        • felix 2.1.2.1

          Yeah it is. Fuck him.

          Anyone with left-wing or humanitarian values would’ve come out in support of the action.

          Fuck off back to your office job Kris.

          • Herodotus 2.1.2.1.1

            Do you think Chris’s comments were soley his or that the campaign team managed any comments that come out from his mouth?
            This is more than just a pr stunt. If is simple, cleaver and cuts to the chase. Perhaps there will be some longevity of life for this new party.
            Perhaps also now many cheer leaders from the left will see Labour of this century requires some stern analysis of what the party really stands for, and its actions give a stronger indicatio than its weak rhetoric. e.g. Requiring the govt to intervein in the NZ$:US$ as if we can really do much to a crapping out US$. Labour try and get real

            • felix 2.1.2.1.1.1

              It makes no difference if they’re his words or not.

              If they are, then he’s a useless seat-warmer.
              If they’re not, then he’s a useless seat-warmer.

              The rest of your comment, insofar as I understand it, I agree with. Labour need a swift kick in the pants right now.

              • Jim Nald

                I was planning to fly in from the future on my time machine (!) to comment on this.

                Anyone care to mull on appropriate historical progressive actions that have been taken?

                Any takers for the colonial British Govt of the day labelling Gandhi’s salt march a stunt??

      • Faafoi was on the 10.30 news last night declaiming it as a stunt

        One candidate pulls a stunt, while another acts like a…

        Way to demonstrate the real depth of his understanding of what it’s like to live the way the majority of his would-be constituents do.

  3. cardassian 3

    Good on Matt.

    He’s definately the kind of character we desperately need in New Zealand politics.

    If I lived in Mana he’d get my vote.

  4. Gosman 4

    “It looks like houses are being kept deliberately empty to make it easier to flog them off.”

    So let’s see if I have you correct on this.

    The Government has an agenda to flog off State Houses although there is yet to be any official announcement on this as far as I know.

    They have managed to convey this policy of flooging off State houses to the management of Housing New Zealand without any official record of this policy being noted or any information leaking out.

    Housing New Zealand is implementing this policy by deliberately denying people who need a place thereby keeping houses empty instead. This policy has been implemented without a murmer of dissent in Housing New Zealand or the media picking up on it.

    Matt McCarten and your good self have identified this secret agenda and have something backing up the claims beyond mere supposition.

    Is this right?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Well I won’t comment on your whole post but:

      The Government has an agenda to flog off State Houses although there is yet to be any official announcement on this as far as I know.

      They have managed to convey this policy of flooging off State houses to the management of Housing New Zealand without any official record of this policy being noted or any information leaking out.

      The Minister told HNZ to raise the bar for eligibility (or just interpret the current bar much more tightly) to keep more houses empty.

      Thats all which needed to be done, easy eh?

      All the extra stuff about selling off the houses, thats on a need to know basis and no one outside of cabinet needs to know. In fact, HNZ can be asked to empty the houses (to make it far easier to sell them), without even knowing.

      Like I said, easy eh?

      Matt McCarten and your good self have identified this secret agenda and have something backing up the claims beyond mere supposition.

      Since the NATs are so predictable in their agenda why the hell should Matt wait and leave the initiative to them? Nah mate, the fight back is starting. Good luck Matt.

      • Gosman 4.1.1

        So you have evidence that the Minister of Housing has instructed HNZ to raise the bar for eligibility recently? A Ministerial memo perhaps or something from someone in HNZ confirming this?

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Occam’s razor suggests that the conclusion is quite likely, and the scenario not as unlikely as you had tried to suggest. And that therefore, further EVIDENCE is not required at this stage.

          By the way, how exactly do you expect me to get a Ministerial Memo from my work place when Phil Goff has enough trouble accessing them? Or are you just putting up unreasonable burdens of proof for the sake of it?

          • Gosman 4.1.1.1.1

            I love how people abuse Occam’s razor to try and justify failure to provide evidence for bizarre claims.

            You claimed the Minister of Housing told HNZ to raise the bar for eligibility. You didn’t even put in the proviso that the Minister might have done so or that it was highly probable. You obviously believe this has happened i.e. it is a FACT. Where is the evidence supporting this claim?

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Yes my mistake, sorry. I was just trying to say it was as easy as that (no need to communicate a ‘secret agenda’ of selling assets off at this stage, just to get ready for it) and should therefore have added some qualifiers as you suggested.

              I don’t actually have any Ministerial Memos on hand, but if a relevant one passes across my desk I’ll be sure to fax you a copy.

              • felix

                You could just send it to David Farrar. That’s where Gos gets all his info.

                (and no Gos, I don’t actually have any EVIDENNNNNCCCCEEEE!!!11! that you get all your info via Farrar)

              • Gosman

                You don’t even need a Ministerial Memo. All you need to do to back up this claim is some sort of evidence that HNZ has tightened the eligibilty criteria recently.

                While not one hundred percent convincing, as the eligibilty criteria might be tightened for internal reasons outside a Ministerial directive, it would at least go some way to giving this view a semblance of credibility.

                Your problem, and those of many on the left, is that you have already decided what the motivations are and work backwards from that point of view. The National Party want to sell of State Houses hence they have instituted a policy of keeping State Houses empty to make this easier. The evidence for this? Well simply look at the empty State Houses that Matt McCarten and co invaded. Truly bizarre circular logic processes at work.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Gosman I already told you it was supposed to be a hypothetical. Are you going to pretend that I didn’t? Suggest you scroll up, if you can.

                  By the way it IS real easy to work backwards from where NACT is going because the Tories never change.

                  They may develop new ways of how to get to their destination, but their destination is always the same.

                • felix

                  It’s always the same story with people like Gosman.

                  Remember before the election when we all said a Nat govt would attack worfplace rights (‘cos that’s what Nat govts always do)?

                  The Gosmen of the world all cried “no, you have no proof of that, it’s not in their policy statements, there’s no right-wing agenda”.

                  And when the Nats got in they passed the 90 day fire-at-will act for businesses with 20 staff or less.

                  And we all said “Just wait, they’ll extend this to all employees”

                  And the Gosmen all did protesteth “It’s ONLY for small businesses, you have no PROOF that they’ll take it any further, you’re just making it up”.

                  etc etc.

                  We weren’t born yesterday mate. Some of us have been dealing with this shit from the Nats since before you were shitting in your pants. It’s obvious what the Nats want to do ‘cos it’s exactly what they always do:

                  * Structural unemployment to keep wages down

                  * Structural deficits to enable the shrinking of the public sector

                  * More authoritarian powers for the police to deal with the fallout.

                  It ain’t rocket surgery predicting this stuff Gosman. If you don’t follow the logic that’s your problem, not mine.

                  • Jim Nald

                    Hee …

                    Yeah, typical of parties from the right: “just a teeny weeny bit, no, it won’t hurt”

                    Yeah right, just a prick

                    Before you know it, you’ve been amputated. And consider your poor self quartered, drawn (disembowelled/dragged by their donkey) and hung.

                    We’ve seen this many times before and they don’t change

                    Hee haw.

                  • Gosman

                    Wasn’t the 90 Day trial period for small businesses in the National Party Manifesto?

                    Why would anyone on the right state that the Government wouldn’t go ahead with that?

                    Don’t you think they had a mandate for that policy?

                    • mcflock

                      I would be surprised if it was in their manifesto (where’s your evidence? right back atcha) because manifestos these days are largely a joke mix of “party … will encourage strong parental role models and social policy yadda yadda yadda” .

                      BUT even if it was explicitly described in their manifesto, the bulk of their “mandates”:

                      They had a mandate to smile and wave.
                      They had a mandate to keep students’ associations compulsory membership.
                      They had a mandate to not increase gst.
                      and so on…

                    • Gosman

                      http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleId=28271

                      “90-Day Trial Period

                      Introduce a 90-day trial period for new employees by agreement between the employer and the employee, for businesses with fewer than 20 staff. During the trial period, either party may terminate the employment relationship for performance, without a personal grievance claim being brought. Good-faith provisions will still apply, as will rights to sick leave, holidays, and health and safety provisions. Rules of natural justice and human rights legislation will apply. Mediation will be available in disputes, and
                      employers won’t be able to hire and fire the same employee every 90 days.”

                      Seems pretty clear to me that it was in their manifesto at the last election unless of course they have subsequently gone and altered it to look like it was. You know with these EVIL Tories nothing is beyond them. They eat their own babies I hear 😉

                    • Gosman

                      Where in their manifesto did they state they weren’t going to raise GST?

                      I don’t believe they made any committment around compulsory student association membership either. It is certainly against their idealogical position.

                    • mcflock

                      okay, so at best they don’t have a mandate to increase it beyond businesses of 20 staff.

                      Paul Hutchinson on VSM while campaigning: http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/nzusa-update-2-the-nats-announce-policy-kinda-maybe

                      Key on GST, just as categorical:
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SWwHX0J5bk

          • NZ Groover 4.1.1.1.2

            CV, you are undoubtedly the King (or Queen?) of blog posts in terms of the sheer volume of your posts.

            “from my work place”

            I’m feeling a bit sorry for your employer. You’re productivity must be shocking given the amount of time you spend on the blogs.

            p.s. Any jobs going there?

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Yeah if you like send your CV into The Standard and perhaps they’ll forward it on to me. Life is good eh? Cheers.

    • Joe Bloggs 4.2

      nup – it’s just another hysterical conspiracy theory from the loony left.

      The Mana state houses are empty because they have been wrecked by previous tenants. They’re waiting work orders for repairs to be completed before being relet.

      But for once I see eye-to-eye with R0B on one matter – the occupation isn’t a stunt – it’s a criminal act.

      • r0b 4.2.1

        They’re waiting work orders for repairs to be completed before being relet.

        Bullshit cover story. Houses are sitting empty for a year or more. You think in the current depressed economy that HNZ is having trouble finding workers to do maintenance?

        • Gosman 4.2.1.1

          Why don’t you submit an OIA request on HNZ policy regarding empty State Houses? While you’re at it you could also see if there has been a change to the eligibility criteria in the past two years. Nah, that would probably entail hard work and carry the risk your wacky theory could be wrong.

        • interested 4.2.1.2

          It’s hardly an issue of finding workers to do the maintenance. Do you have any idea how much money is spent on fixing up houses after tenants wreck them? And the bond they pay doesn’t come close to covering it. What about the tenants who blow up houses with their p labs? Most of those ones have to be completely knocked down and re-built.

          Also, one of the reasons housing nz are selling properties is to give low income families a chance at owning an asset. Housingnz properties tend to be the cheapest properties on the market and many tenants want to buy the house they currently live in because its been their family home for the past 30 years. This allows them to sell them off and then buy/build a new property (sometimes more than one) in an area that may be better suited. This means they have housed more than one family for the same cost. If you live in porirua you should have noticed all the work they have done in the east, with all the units that have been knocked down and nice houses built in their place. And what about the house in mungavin that was specifically built for a family of 10 who in the past had to have two units to accomodate the entire family.

          We are always quick to forget the good work that has been done and quick to point the finger.

          • felix 4.2.1.2.1

            Yes actually, I have a very good idea how much it costs to fix up houses, and it’s an insignificant amount compared to what the govt just spent paying the interest on investments for their mates who had money in SCF.

            And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the govt just gave their rich mates in tax cuts.

            It’s a matter of priorities. The money is available for spending on things they consider important. If they considered fixing these houses important then the work would be done.

            And seriously, meth labs? Sheesh, it’s not even worth reading the rest if that’s the best you can come up with. Srsly.

            Is Farrar on holiday or something?

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.2

        Sorry mate a state house in need of repair is still better than living in a garage.

        • insider 4.2.2.1

          There’s teh irony – if the govt did try that they would be accused (likely by the very same people saying not enough is being done) of putting people into substandard housing, being slum lords and treating state tenants as second class citizens.

          It’s a no win situation for a dept or the govt.

          • felix 4.2.2.1.1

            All they have to do is fix them.

            Heaps of people looking for work in the building trades.

            Heaps of time to do it.

            Heaps of money available (witness tax cuts for multimillionaires, SCF bailout etc)

            No excuses. They could fix it if they wanted to. They haven’t, so the logical conclusion is that they want it this way.

            • insider 4.2.2.1.1.1

              I’m with you in that it seems a disgrace that homes are empty for long periods. I don’t know what the reason for it is. That’s one possible conlusion. Whatever the answer, it better be good.

              • jcuknz

                I wonder if the root of the problem is that the Government is keeping the Housing Corp short of money in some way? I thought the idea of selling off state houses was so there was money to build new and better ones than the drafty ones they have inherited from the past. The fly in that argument is that new houses cost so much more these day. I wonder how many old houses have to be sold off to build one new one. In any case the old houses shouldn’t be sold off to provide private owners with a way to provide sub standard accommodation. We should be raising the standard of housing in NZ.. As long as there are people living in garages there is no possibility that sub standard houses will remain empty.
                As to if it is a stunt, protest, or illegal action doesn’t really matter … Matt gets full marks from me for creating a situation which got it on TV etc and in the public eye..

                • just saying

                  The HC funding was slashed in the budget.

                  Might “need” to sell houses to afford repairs.

            • Colonial Viper 4.2.2.1.1.2

              All they have to do is fix them.

              Heaps of people looking for work in the building trades.

              This would constitute the kind of socially based direct economic stimulus the Government would only consider if there was an earthquake.

  5. Tigger 5

    So McCarten gets credit for civil disobedience without taking the heat? Sorry guys you’re giving him too much credit. If he was actually doing the occupying with the family I’d be impressed but this is clearly a stunt on his behalf.

    • prism 5.1

      If Matt by inspiring others to do something and shame and force the do-nothing care-nothing politicians to stop playing their tactical games with each other and do something to serve the peoples needs, well he is the sort of polly I would like to see in NZ.

    • McCarten has been arrested countless times as an activist and unionist defending workers rights. So he’s hardly one to shirk any risk of being arrested.

      And being a man that holds the principle of solidarity very highly, I can imagine that McCarten will be supporting the arrestees as well as putting himself on the line to make sure that this state housing issue continues to be highlighted in this very political way. So if it comes down to an occupation situation, I can imagine he’ll be right in there.

  6. Go Matt, if you start a new party I’ll be out there working for it come the election campaign.

    count me in…

  7. socialist 7

    It is simply not true to say the houses are waiting repair orders. In fact they are kept empty because HNZ want to demolish the block of houses and are waiting for the last family to move out.

    • r0b 7.1

      There’s likely a range of reasons. The Dunedin houses vacant for 12 months reported in the OP are not part of any such block.

  8. Lats 8

    If state houses are empty for good reasons (unsafe to live in, etc) then no problems with them remaining vacant until brought back to a reasonable standard. But if all they’re lacking is a bit of polyfiller, a lick of paint and a bit of a cleanup then let someone move in, and supply the new tenants with the gear to fix it up. Most of us can manage to patch a few holes and run a roller over the walls. It seems bordering on criminal to leave state houses vacant for no good reason, and certainly demonstrates a significant lack of empathy from government.

    • Lanthanide 8.1

      As someone who is paying taxes that go to the provision of state houses, I would rather have tradesmen do this job properly, thanks.

      However there’s no reason that a family can’t move in and be slightly inconvenienced for a few weeks while the repairs are carried out – I’m sure they’d prefer that over whatever other arrangements they are currently scraping by with.

      • Lats 8.1.1

        Sure, that’s the preferable outcome, but I was assuming govt arguments would be that tradespeople were scarce. I’ve done plenty of DIY home renovation work, and so long as it isn’t structural an amateur worker can do an adequate job. Its actually pretty simple to fill and sand a few holes in gib.

  9. john 9

    In London there are many empty houses whose rich owners are living overseas, knowing what a police state the UK has become, last I heard you can squat in them and it’s not a criminal action, the police can’t throw you out until the owners go through the legal procedures first, as that happens you just move on to another empty house. I definitely think there has been a huge overreaction here by the police and authorities. In a functioning,alive democratic process such actions should be quite normal. Matt is doing a valuable service by showing that we do need State Houses, they should not be sold off, in fact we need more of them.And families living in very poor conditions must be housed quickly! Compared with the direct action going on in France we are timid,except perhaps Maori protest.

    • cardassian 9.1

      Just on this topic, my friend works for a homeless charity in London.

      She says that if you mail yourself a letter and put up a notice of squatters rights on the door the owners have to go through due process.

      As a result there is a guardian scheme in London, where people get to stay in houses for below market rent (around 60 pounds a week) on the condition they’ll move out on short notice.

      This means that squatters can’t occupy as it is already occupied (and in the meantime provides cheap accomodation to people that need it).

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Fascinating. In NZ those people could just live in a garage, apparently.

      • Carol 9.1.2

        I lived in one of those squats in London many years back, for a few months. The owners also hadn’t disconnected their phone, which was a lilttle dumb of them.

  10. ak 10

    Cunningest stunt in a long while – classic Matt brilliance.

    Simple, effective, super-resonant with the target swingers. Empty houses, people living in garages. A no-brainer.

    And best of all the follow-up: “We don’t care about that. We’re from Unite. We do what’s right”.

    Watch and learn, Labour.

  11. Lez Howard 11

    Keep the pot boiling Matt. We have generaly become too apathetic.Keep NACT on their toes.

  12. M 12

    Sadly I’m in the adjoining electorate but there Matt’s signs are up with the $15 per hour message. The interesting thing is that when I took a drive around the Raumati area last weekend there were loads of Labour signs out on fences in streets where there is some mid-range and higher priced real estate so this is encouraging.

    If I lived in the Mana electorate it would be a tough call as regards my vote because I really like Matt but would have to consider how to best send a message – would it be to vote for Matt, split the vote and maybe have National get the seat but send a message to Phil Goff, or have Faafoi a shoe-in but with no real will to change things for people living in Mana especially if he’s labelled Matt’s action a stunt.

    • Jenny 12.1

      Vote Matt, it will make no difference to National’s majority, and send a clear message to the opposition to lift their game. And if you think whoever gets in is not doing the job. Vote them out at the next general election.

      M, to me it’s a no brainer what would there be to lose?

      • M 12.1.1

        I take your point Jenny, though I would resent the ego massage, not to mention the skiting rights it would give to National if they triumphed over the left.

        • swordfish 12.1.1.1

          @ M

          Precisely my thoughts. Except, for me, the dilemma’s all too real – I live in Mana.

          Huge fan of Matt, former Alliance Party-Voter (1996-2002), would be brilliant to see him in Parliament representing my Electorate, and yet he clearly won’t win or even come second (Labour’s vote simply isn’t going to collapse like that) and I just don’t want to see a Parata victory with all the consequent disastrous media fallout over the next year or so, right up to the next general election. Still not sure, though tending slightly in Matt’s direction. Might wait to see how the polls go (I’m pretty sure there’s one being conducted in Mana at the moment).

          Interesting comment about loads of Labour signs in up-market areas of Raumati. Here’s the Party-Vote there 2008:

          Raumati Beach 34% Lab / 46% Nat / 8% Green.
          Raumati South 34% Lab / 38% Nat / 17% Green

          • outofbed 12.1.1.1.1

            17% Green?
            There is life in Raumati South after all

            • swordfish 12.1.1.1.1.1

              17% Green in both Raumati South and Pukerua Bay.

              And a whopping 28% Green vote in Paekakariki (although I suspect half are former Alliance supporters, so could go Matt rather than Jan Logie).

              I think the only urban place more Green than Paekakariki is Aro Valley, Central Wellington.

      • The Voice of Reason 12.1.2

        What would there be to lose? Any momentum gained against NactM so far, that’s all. Right now, this government is steadily losing traction. If they win Mana, the small but steady gains Labour and the Greens have made will count for nothing and a message gets sent to their voters that there is no point voting for either in the general election because National are going to win.

        But hey, it’s worth it to see Matt’s ego boosted. And perhaps if Labour and the Greens dip out in Mana, they’ll realise their folly and put their support behind the $15 minimum wage campaign. Oh, wait, they already do. Hmmmm, nah, must just be about Matt’s ego then.

  13. felix 13

    Hey Gos,

    I might have missed it but I don’t think I recall seeing your alternate hypothesis. The one which invalidates CV’s use of Occam’s razor.

    Is your simpler explanation that the govt have let houses sit empty for a year simply because they’re a bunch of useless bastards?

    • insider 13.1

      Maybe they are giving time for the meth fumes to clear… 🙂

      • felix 13.1.1

        So you have no serious ideas either? Goodo.

      • Pascal's bookie 13.1.2

        Maybe they are giving time for the meth fumes to clear…

        …if it takes this long then maybe cabinet should go back to doing business over whisky in a smokey room.

    • Gosman 13.2

      There’s plenty of more believeable options than the wacky idea that this is all part of some secret plan by National to sell off state Houses.

      A number of them have already been mentioned by others here.

      – The Houses are waiting to be repaired before reletting.

      – The Houses are waiting to be demolished.

      – The Houses are deemed unsuitable for the people in the waiting list (e.g. too many or too few bedrooms for those applying in the area)

      – Pure old fashioned bureaucratic bungling by a State authority.

      If you asked me either one of the last two is probably the most likely. However I’m not the one making silly claims about some secret plan to empty State Houses so they can be sold off at some indeterminate time in the future without evidence. This means I don’t need to worry about trying to find evidence to support this.

      • felix 13.2.1

        It’s no secret Gos.

        Anyone who wasn’t born yesterday knows that running down state assets is the standard operating procedure of right-wing govts.

        You’re the only one looking for secret plans.

        • Gosman 13.2.1.1

          Bollocks. It is only a bunch of hard core leftists like yourself Felix who actuallybelieve this nonsensical secret plan idea. Noone in the mainstream media is following this line of thinking.

          But that’s right you think everyone who doesn’t think the way you do must be stupid therefore, via that piece of circular logic, the mainstream media is stupid. Heck the only smart ones on the planet must be the rather small number of people on the planet that think like you. It’s a wonder anyone else can manage to dress and feed themselves in the morning given how stupid they must be in your version of reality.

          Your intellectual arrogance is breathtaking to behold sometimes.

          Do you ever wonder why a lot of people think a large number of members of the left are up themselves w@nkers?

          • Bored 13.2.1.1.1

            Hi Gos, would be nice to say welcome back, but as a left wing w@nker, well why would I? Felix has a point about standard right wing operating procedure, there is no secret plan. That might require intellegence, and as we observed with NACT for the last God knows how long they leak like a seive. Better the same plodding ox predictability, no surprises.

            • Gosman 13.2.1.1.1.1

              So if it ain’t a secret why didn’t the minister of housing announce it when he was speaking to the media about the changes to housing policy a couple of weeks back? Everyone knows they have this agenda so he should have had no problem admitting it publically then.

              • felix

                It must be so simple in your black & white world where rather than carbon, the basis of all life is the false dichotomy.

                I won’t be joining you there though.

      • Armchair Critic 13.2.2

        …this is all part of some secret plan…
        It’s not secret, it’s just not openly stated. I’m sure you understand the difference.
        Running with your alternative explanations, here are some legitimate (IMO) questions:
        – The Houses are waiting to be repaired before reletting.
        Why are the repairs not underway? There are people who need the house right now.
        – The Houses are waiting to be demolished.
        Why are the repairs not underway? There are people who need the house right now.
        – The Houses are deemed unsuitable for the people in the waiting list (e.g. too many or too few bedrooms for those applying in the area)
        Why can’t families be put into a house that is too big for them until a more suitable house becomes available?
        What is the government doing to build houses that are suitable?
        – Pure old fashioned bureaucratic bungling by a State authority.
        What is the minister doing to eliminate bureaucratic bungling?
        It is the lack of action that is the most telling. The government are not managing the message and we are left to draw our own conclusions.

        • Gosman 13.2.2.1

          Your questions are better suited to someone within HNZ or the Minister of Housing. I have no idea why they don’t repair or demolish houses as fast as they should or why they might have a policy of only housing families in the right sized house.

          Perhaps if the Labour Party acted as an effective opposition party in Parliament they could ask these sorts of questions instead of trying to smear the reputation of Ministers of the Crown for doing nothing untoward like the recent attack on Pansy Wong.

          As for bureaucratic bungling well that is where we differ on matters of idealogy. I think that any State run institution is going to perform more inefficiently than a private run one in the long run. It’s the nature of the beast. It is probably why the Minister of Housing is looking at getting other groups involved in managing Social Housing. But of course you think it is because they just want to sell everything and make money.

          • felix 13.2.2.1.1

            Nah, usually they want to sell everything and lose money.

            But of course I have no basis for that assertion. (Apart from watching them do exactly that for several decades, but that counts for nothing eh Gooseman?)

            • Gosman 13.2.2.1.1.1

              Foolix,

              Considering Asset sales only started in the 1980’s and completed in the late 1990’s I don’t know how you saw them doing that for several decades

              (Did you see what I did there? I took your screen name Felix and merged it with Fool. I’m so very cleaver aren’t I? ;))

              • The Voice of Reason

                Yep, you’re cleaver, all right. Mad as a meat axe in fact.

              • Colonial Viper

                Asset sales aren’t completed by a long shot; there is no way that ACC should be run as an independent insurance company when it could be sold to fund tax cuts for the wealthy; same goes for Air NZ and Kiwibank.

                ASAP please Bill and John, your record on asset sales has been pathetic so far this term.

              • felix

                I like the pun, Goose. First bit of original thinking I’ve seen from you.

                The type of asset sales you refer to are just one of the ways that right-wing govts steal the wealth of the nation. (and as CV says they ain’t finished with that either).

                Don’t you remember what Muldoon did to the superannuation fund?

  14. Lew 14

    Matt knows how to hit the spot:

    “State houses are collapsing. Tenants have to pay for repairs themselves. And the rent is too damn high,” he said. “It’s time for action.” He plans to hold a barbecue at the house on Saturday.

    “The rent is too damn high!” Now where have I heard that before?

    L

  15. The latest news story on the occupation says that the Police have essentially banned Matt’s housing activists from the by-election:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4334174/State-house-takeover-activists-arrested

    Also:

    TV3 – The Nation: Fa’afoi under siege & what McCarten is up to
    http://www.scoop.co.nz
    On Saturday’s programme: With one week to go to voting in the Mana by-election Natasha Smith reports back on the mood in the electorate, on why Kris Fa’afoi is under siege and what Matt McCarten is up to. And we look at the the surprising relationship between Hekia Parata and Tariana Turia.

    • Big Dog 15.1

      Hekia and Tari, both hardcore Tories, jeez some journalists in this country are stupid and slow.

  16. johnbt 16

    The gummint spent $145 million last year fixing up state houses after a decade of deferred maintenance and created 1,000 jobs in the process. It is only a start, I hope. Thank God for those Tories doing something to help those less fortunate.

    • swordfish 16.1

      “Thank God for those Tories.”

      Yes, I believe he created Gerry Brownlee in his own image.

    • Vicky32 16.2

      Er, you know that how? I live in a State House and have been begging for maintenance for the past two years… Kitchen cupboards without latches. Fixed? Hell no!
      Trees cut back? Only after I called David Shearer’s office because said trees were interfering with power lines.
      But will they do inspections and threaten eviction because the lawn guy was a week late and the lawn wanted doing? Hell yeah!
      Deb

    • Colonial Viper 16.3

      The gummint spent $145 million last year fixing up state houses

      Yep. Needed to be done before they were sold off.

  17. roblyn 17

    I liked the comment from McCarten – summed things up quite well for me:

    Mr McCarten’s supporters say they have counted 27 vacant state houses in Porirua so they had no problems simply opening this one up to install Ms Harvey and her husband. “We’re from Unite, we don’t worry about those things, it’s about doing what’s right,” he says.

    It is about highlighting a housing need and availability of houses. I doubt the family were ever going to be able to stay in the house but the point was made. The place would have been made habitable it seems by volunteer labour.

    The only reason I can see for the house to remain empty is if it is shortly to be removed to make way for perhaps 2 new state houses on the land or there was another family who had been promised it.

    I agree with what McCarten & co did.

    rob

  18. burt 18

    It’s big balls like this that make me hope Matt McCarten does gets his own party going. This is good grass roots stuff. Nobody got hurt, I assume no property was damaged? Effective protest and local issue.

    When I see empty state houses, and there are a few around, I always wonder why people are not squatting in them. Now I know – they get arrested.

  19. Evel Knievel does stunts…

    Matt leaps over tall building issues in a single bound !!!

  20. Jenny 20

    From the pen of Chris Trotter:

    Time for electors to ‘vote as if they were free’

    Click here for the full comment from Chris.

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