Housing selloff – obsessive secrecy and power

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, August 19th, 2015 - 21 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, housing, national, Privatisation - Tags: , , , , ,

National’s selloff of our state houses is yet another example of its two main obsessions, secrecy and unaccountable power. In Tracy Watkins’ piece this morning:

Government’s social housing legislation passes first hurdle

The Social Housing Reform (Transaction Mandate) Bill enables the Government to transfer State housing to third party providers.

It passed its first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday to stiff opposition from Labour and the Greens, who accused the Government of doing “dirty deals” with property developers and others who wanted to get their hands on billions of dollars worth of publicly owned housing.

Labour MP Phil Twyford said the legislation gave Government ministers “extraordinary powers” to sell State houses, personally negotiate contracts on any terms and conditions and take any action to facilitate the sales process, without any reference to the Housing New Zealand board of chief executive.

It also exempted them from social, environmental and financial oversight obligations, Twyford said. “These provisions given this Government’s track record should be ringing alarm bells loud and clear,” he said. “It wants the freedom to do dirty deals flogging off billions of dollars of publicly owned land and housing.

“We know that the Government is currently having secret meetings with merchant bankers, PPP [public private partnership] investors and property developers who want their hands on valuable public assets.”

The Government was refusing to release details about who they were meeting, however. …

Of course they won’t release details of who they are meeting, we the people can’t be allowed to know these things (like ECAN and the TPP). In other coverage:

Labour resists ‘sickening’ housing Bill

Labour, the Greens and NZ First say it is another asset sale.

“This is sickening,” Labour’s Phil Twyford said during the Bill’s first reading debate on Tuesday night. “The Government is having secret meetings with merchant bankers and developers who want to get their hands on these assets.”

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Bill made cabinet ministers the sole owners of an $18 billion asset built up over generations. “They can sell anything they want to anyone they like, from anywhere, for any price,” she said. …

Obsessive secrecy and unaccountable power – the worst government since Muldoon.

21 comments on “Housing selloff – obsessive secrecy and power”

  1. Capn Insano 1

    Not one pretence of social responsibility or redeeming feature in this corrupt bunch of reprobates. Not one.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +1

      They don’t give a shit about other people or the nation. They just care about making themselves and their rich mates richer at everyone else’s expense.

  2. David Brown 2

    John Key is quietly & slowly bringing out these sell off’s of public assets & privatization of govt services now because he is required to under the WTO govt procurement agreement he quietly signed on the 29th of Oct 2014. which is here- https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/rev-gpr-94_01_e.htm

    It’s one of the cornerstones of the TPP along with the TiSA agreements which pretty much well sell off most if not all of our Public Assets and State services to foreign investment.

    The WTO GPA ascended into law on August the 1st which would have been on schedule if the TPP was signed in Maui at the end of July. That way everything could have been nicely bundled up and the Public would have been ambushed completely by so many changes hitting them at once. The TiSA agreement would have locked everything in because both the TPP & the TiSA have “Ratchet Clauses” in them which prevent future governments from undoing all of their work and allowing governments to nationalize assets & services in the public interest.

    No body is talking about the WTO Govt Procurement Agreement, but it can not be ignored for it’s important role in these trade deals. We can withdraw from the WTO GPA, but we can’t withdraw from TPP or TiSA without severe penalties due to ISDS’s cases & or economic sanctions from the other member states.

  3. New Zealander 3

    SNAP ELECTION – before there is nothing left

    • Chooky 3.1

      +100…and all New Zealand’s assets are in blind trust accounts

      …where is the Maori Party on this….?…they are a bloody disgrace …and Peter Dunn

  4. Sabine 4

    lol, no lets rather debate which of the opposition parties is the best.

    This happens, because the opposition most of the time does not work together, does not stand united against the National Party and their enablers.

    They do, because they will get away with it.

    Repeat after me

    There is no housing crisis
    There is no housing crisis
    there is not housing crisis

  5. DH 5

    I’d like to see this ‘social housing’ communicated a bit better by Labour and the Greens, if it was I think they’d get more public support.

    What the average person doesn’t seem to really know is that there is no ‘affordable’ social housing in this deal. The Govt is constantly insinuating that there is and will be after privatisation but the facts are otherwise.

    IMO people need to be made to understand that social housing providers will always be charging market rents. It is Govt subsidies which will make them ‘affordable’ to tenants and those rent subsidies will be paid out of the taxpayer purse.

    The private social housing providers will receive payments direct from the Govt at a level determined by the needs of the tenant. Actual rents will be set at market rates and subject to regular review for things like inflation, increase in property values etc etc.

    In short the private sector landlords will reap all the benefits of capital gain, rent inflation etc, while the taxpayer just forks out ever inflating sums in rent subsidies while getting nothing in return for the money spent.

    • The Chairman 5.1

      Privatizing gains while socializing costs.

    • NZJester 5.2

      My understanding of what they have said is they will use the money they receive from the sales to pay for the social housing subsidies to the tenants to help them pay their rents. The big flaw in this plan is that eventually that money will run out and in a very short time to I would say. They are setting up a huge public to private sector money sink hole that will suck more and more money out of the NZ tax payer. It would actually be cheaper for us in the long term to give away the asset to their current tenants for nothing than to sell them off to these so called social housing providers.

      These powers will give them the rights to sell of our assets to their friends for well below actual market price without any public oversight to know what negotiations took place or even if a better offer was put in and rejected. I’m guessing they hope that the money will help set up an artificial budget surplus to point to at the next election.

      They are trying to make it so that even if Labour gets in at the next election all the deals National have signed will make them nothing more that a puppet government who must do what they are told by the banks or this country will be put into austerity because of the large debts that National have burdened us with.

      National are negotiating away the rights of future governments to be able to set policy for the benefit of all New Zealanders and locking in the rights of multinational corporations and banks to be able to force policy upon us or suffer the economic consequences.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      Sounds like Nationals dream world where their rich mates get a government guaranteed income. Basically, a government protected bunch of bludgers.

  6. DH 6

    “My understanding of what they have said is they will use the money they receive from the sales to pay for the social housing subsidies to the tenants to help them pay their rents. ”

    That’s typical of the lies and obfuscations the Govt is putting out. It’s nothing like that.

    From the financial perspective it will be business as usual. Last year the Govt paid Housing NZ $667 million in income-related rent subsidies. It’s not commonly known that Housing NZ also charges market rents and that the Govt pays the rent subsidies. The average rent on state houses is over $300 per week.

    In return for the $667million the Govt received a dividend of $110 million, tax of $92 million plus an increase in value of the property portfolio of $2.291 billion.

    If they sell off all the State Houses they’ll simply pay private sector social housing providers that $667 million instead of Housing NZ. That’s the plan.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      In return for the $667million the Govt received a dividend of $110 million, tax of $92 million plus an increase in value of the property portfolio of $2.291 billion.

      Which is really just adding an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. Selling them to private enterprise will add another layer of wasteful bureaucracy. I figure that National must know this and so they’re adding the extra costs on on purpose.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Obsessive secrecy and unaccountable power

    And what you’d expect from a bunch of psychopaths.

  8. Barfly 8

    This is a gross slur on Rob Muldoon……a man who was happy with high progressive taxes direct government action in the economy and who pursued a policy of full employment…shame on you.

    • lprent 8.1

      Those he did. However he also managed to create a taxation system so full of holes for those who could afford accountants and lawyers, that they never managed to collect more than 10% of those tax rates from anyone who could.

      His way of maintaining full employment was to prop up industries and companies that should have failed long before and to overstaff state enterprises.

      Effectively in a changing world, he and his government refused to allow NZ to change. With the inevitable results. The nett effect was to create the unsustainable government debt levels over the 9 years that he imposed that stasis.

      Much the same levels of debt that John Key and his government have now repeated or exceeded. Which will continue to increase because they insisted on the old conservative policies of selling larger quantities of largely unprocessed commodities like milk powder rather than using their brains.

      Different conservatives – same stupid pattern.

  9. AmaKiwi 9

    It happens frequently that people overthrow a dictator, say they want democracy, but admit they don’t know how a democracy functions.

    Democratic principles are cultural. You grow up with expectations that decisions will be made by voting, open information, factual debate, etc., etc. No one openly violates the democratic principles because there is outrage from all quarters when they are violated.

    Democracy is NOT part of NZ culture. Secrecy, decisions under urgency, secrecy, uncritical obedience (whipping MPs so they do not represent their constituents), secrecy, and similar practices are repugnant to democratic ideals.

    Until democratic values become as much a part of NZ as rugby, we will continue flounder.

    • Chooky 9.1

      this is the way it used to be in New Zealand

      “Democratic principles are cultural. You grow up with expectations that decisions will be made by voting, open information, factual debate, etc., etc. No one openly violates the democratic principles because there is outrage from all quarters when they are violated.”

      democracy has been eroded by jonkey Nact…and I dont consider him to be a New Zealander with New Zealand values

      • Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 9.1.1

        +1000

        • AmaKiwi 9.1.1.1

          Thanks Chooky.

          But I think there is also a British “loyalty to the team” that compromises democracy here. Too often I read and hear stories of teachers and schools treating teenagers like obedient serfs to be ordered around, wear uniforms, and are punished for speaking their minds.

          The same for many employees. Too often there is an “us versus them” mentality between workers and management. I believe management can learn from employees how the company can operate more effectively. Workers must appreciate that if the company fails they lose their jobs. But the corporate and political culture of the organization ALWAYS comes from the top down.

          Democracy must begin the in the schools and must extend to all workplaces.

          Democracy is not just about “rights.” It is about working together cooperatively for the common good.

          Our political system is “us versus them.” The price we pay is inefficiency. Talented people are silenced. New governments work furiously to destroy what the previous one did.

          • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.1

            +111

            This is much of the reason why I want to replace our present business model with cooperatives. Get the workers working cooperatively rather than being told what to do by the boss and, IMO, we will see democracy spread.

  10. Smilin 10

    They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, somethings if you think ahead to the depression that is coming just should not be sold ,in the long-run the cost will be greater than the nation can afford, that cost is our sovereignty.
    Money will have no value as we know it now because its corrupt

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