How many prospective state house tenants hate birds chirping?

Written By: - Date published: 8:19 am, November 26th, 2015 - 46 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, housing, making shit up, national, paula bennett, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

John Key Paula Bennett

I posted previously about the apparent crisis caused by existing or prospective state house tenants turning down state houses because of the chirping of birds or the particular colour of some doors. Paula Bennett made a big song and dance about it. The results were such that senior Ministerial time was expended on this problem and a paper was taken to Cabinet. From the reaction I thought there must be thousands of these sorts of cases and the complete lack of sensitivity by those being offered Government assistance was causing the cogs of Government to grind inefficiently.

So I decided to use the OIA to ask how many prospective tenants turned down state houses because the local birds chirped too loudly or the back yard was too small or the door colour was too bright.

Since then I have been led down different garden paths, subject to very strange clarification requests and then refused an answer on the basis that the Government had already told Phil Twyford. But I can tell the good people of Aotearoa New Zealand with some confidence the numbers of these strange people who are threatening the social fabric of our society.

The story starts on October 23 when I wrote to Housing New Zealand using the very efficient fyi.org.nz website in these terms:

Yesterday Paula Bennett gave a speech and talked about actual or
prospective housing corporation tenants who had turned down houses
offered to them. The speech is at http://beehive.govt.nz/speech/opening-co…

She talked about prospective tenants complaining about birds
chirping, the back yard being too small and the door being the
wrong colour.

She mentioned 414 refusals in the past 12 months.

Please advise:

1. How many refusals were because of birds chirping?
2. How many refusals were because of the back yard being too small?
3. How many refusals were because the front door was the wrong
colour?
4. How many refusals were because the house was damp or cold or
mouldy?
5. How many refusals were considered appropriate.

I received a polite response and was told that a reply could be expected by November 21 which according to the law was the last date on which a response should be provided.

Then on November 5 clarification was sought.  I was asked “[d]o questions 1 to 5 relate to the 414 refusals or all refusals in the past 12 months?”

I guess this was not an unfair question although the context seemed to be pretty clear.  The Minister had referred to 414 refusals so whatever the period was these refusals were the data I wanted to understand.

So on November 9 I decided to make it clear that I was talking about the data the Minister had referred to.  I emailed this response:

Let me rephrase the request slightly. There is data suggesting that
in a 12 month period before Ms Bennett made her statement there
were 414 refusals of state houses. Of that data set of 414
refusals:

1. How many refusals by actual or prospective state tenants of offered state houses were because of birds chirping?
2. How many refusals were because of the back yard being too small?
3. How many refusals were because the front door was the wrong colour?
4. How many refusals were because the house was damp or cold or mouldy?
5. How many refusals were considered appropriate.

Then I was told that “[a]n extension of time is required to 27 November 2015 to allow for consultation.”  I was also asked to consider the environment before printing the email which was the most sensible response I had received during this process.

Then yesterday I finally received a response.  Twenty two working days after my original request I was told this in non searchable pdf:

Paula Bennett OIA response

The responses to Phil Twyford’s questions were given on October 28. Getting me to redefine my request after that, seeking “consultation” and then telling me politely to go away seems to be business as usual but they could have said on October 28 that these are the answers.

If you wade your way through all of the waffle the answers seem to be:

  1. At least one applicant for a state house did not like the birds chirping.
  2. At least one applicant for a state house wanted a bigger back yard.
  3. At least one applicant for a state house did not like the colour of the front door.

Given the trauma that many people go through in trying to find somewhere to live and given the added trauma caused to existing state house tenants when told they have to leave an area they have regarded as their home slightly unusual responses should not be unexpected.  That three responses in a 12 month period should cause shock waves to the body politic and result in Ministerial speeches and Cabinet Papers suggests that this Government is fixated on bashing poor people at every opportunity for political advantage.

Shame on them.  Of course at a superficial level they will maintain that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  But on Planet Earth it is clear that they will hold up for ridicule any individual to justify complete inaction in the face of a crisis.

46 comments on “How many prospective state house tenants hate birds chirping?”

  1. Paul 1

    Paula Bennett declines again to appear on Radio New Zealand.
    Undemocratic, unaccountable, disgraceful.

  2. thechangeling 2

    More of the same from the narcissistic sociopaths that call themselves ‘Government’ in New Zealand.

  3. Sabine 3

    Have you send this to Phil Twyford?

  4. Karen 4

    I don’t think there is any evidence that even one of these examples is true. Graeme Edgeler’s tweets suggest Paula could be making it up (read in reverse order)

    Graeme Edgeler ‏@GraemeEdgeler 18h18 hours ago
    Housing NZ instead referred me to the Minister’s responses to written questions where she said HNZ had told here these things.

    Graeme Edgeler ‏@GraemeEdgeler 18h18 hours ago
    Housing NZ declined to confirm that these events ever occurred, and did not say that they told the Minister the events occurred. (cont.)

    Graeme Edgeler ‏@GraemeEdgeler 18h18 hours ago
    It seems Housing NZ do not know in which year such refusals occurred, or even what city the house was in.

    Graeme Edgeler ‏@GraemeEdgeler 19h19 hours ago
    Housing NZ have responded to the OIA over the Minister’s bird chirp, door colour, and trampolining claims.

    • Sabine 4.1

      mhhh, once upon a time our dear Welfare Queen Paula Bennett herself was depended of the benefit. May these be the reasons she refused state housing?
      Would it be ok to think it was her? Would it be rude to speculate?

      • tracey 4.1.1

        That photo with this thread is priceless… Could make a good hoarding when the time is right.

        When we don’t care enough to vote. This is who we get.

  5. Tracey 5

    Second to last paragraph. This suggests that having done the exercise, in order to furnish the Minister with said information, it is no longer capable of being used to answer your question, because the individual file numbers were not retained??? That’s bizarre, cos you didn’t ask, and couldn’t obtain, the individual file numbers anyway… They kept the information they extrapoloated though, right? Cos the Minister had to read it?

    Help me, I am confused.

  6. Adrian 6

    PAULA Bennett was being driven driven thru Auckland in her crown car when at an intersection she saw a family on their hands and knees on the grass verge, ” Driver, ask these people what they,re doing”
    ” We,re eating the grass because we,Ve got no money and nowhere to live”
    “Eating that grass is terrible, get in the car, I,m taking you to my place”
    When the mother was in the car she started crying,” You,re so kind thank you,thank you ,thank you, we are so desparate”.
    ” Think nothing of it” says Bennett ,” You,re going to love my place, the bloody grass is knee high”

  7. Tracey 7

    I wonder if any MPs have ever declined a housing situation (supplied as part of their package) for spurious reasons?

    • infused 7.1

      I believe they have. Auckland based MPs in Wellington, or something. Was a few years ago.

      • alwyn 7.1.1

        Not many would get the chance these days. There are, I believe, only 3 crown owned ministerial houses left in Wellington.
        They are Premier House, for the PM and Vogel House in the Hutt and a house in Bolton St. I think Brownlie is in Bolton St. I don’t know who is in Vogel House.
        All the other Ministers are treated like any other MP and get an allowance for their housing. It is about 50% more than an out of Wellington backbench MP gets. Of course they spend a lot more time in Wellington than does an ordinary MP.
        Since you can do what you like with the money there won’t be a lot to complain about.
        It was different when all the ministers were supplied with crown-owned properties. Then they got to choose in order of seniority and the people well down the food chain might not like what was left.
        if you were PM things were a bit different. They would buy a new one for you if you didn’t like any of them. Long time ago though, as in Holyoake and Kirk’s day.

  8. M. Gray 8

    Absolutely disgusting making bullshert up to justify policy changes this is the nasty tactic currently being used by this National Government and it appears to be working as too many NZers are either politically naïve or very selfish. For example Tolley who recently used false stats about gang crime. National paint a bad picture to their constituents and any other fools that believe everything they say by denigrating vulnerable groups in society in order for them to justify changes often leading to cuts in services and a kick in the guts to the poor .

  9. tracey 9

    The MP for Epsom hates this stuff. He hates secrecy and lack of transparency and accountability. Expect him to break ranks today when he calls Bennett an dher Department on this.

    • Sabine 9.1

      bwhahahahahahahaha , what a pathetic lot. Its ok to build crappy apartment blocks in the “poor” suburbs but not in leafy Mr. Eden and the likes. Seriously these guys are suckers.

      And also, if yer don’t like it, move out of Auckland….bwhahahahahahahaha

      Karma, gotta love that one. 🙂

      • tracey 9.1.1

        YUP!

        A school tries to change zones but HORROR it might affect Hooton et al’s property values, so they hire Russell McVeagh Law Firm and hey presto problem disappears. BUT there is no law for the rich and another for the poor in NZ

        • Smilin 9.1.1.1

          Yes its called totalitarianism, state control, rulin without a majority and all the other insidious abuses of our democracy backed by whom I wonder TPPA, Donald Trump The monarchy international corporate raiders ? OR JUST Keys money mates
          Key is a dictator thats for sure “The sellout PM”

    • BM 10.1

      Why aren’t suburbs such as Manawera, Otara, Manakua,Mangere included?

      Seriously wouldn’t that be were the demand for cheaper housing would be?

      This looks more like a bunch of developers are the driving force behind this plan, think of all the million dollar town houses that can be built in these areas.
      They must salivating.

      I don’t live in Auckland btw.

      • crashcart 10.1.1

        You are probably very correct. This seems to be a case of one group of people who are well off fighting against another group who are well off.

        The reason it is different is that intensification is happening in those area’s you mentioned but they don’t have as many owner occupiers. If anything a lot of the owners out there are seeing opportunities to subdivide and increase the rental value of the land.

      • North 10.1.2

        Where the hell are ‘Manawera’ and ‘Manakua’ BM ? Try ‘Manurewa’ and ‘Manukau’.

        You understand maybe how residents of said localities get hoha with people who mouth off about them ? From positions of startling ignorance.

  10. Tc 11

    Dog whistle politics enabled by the absence of journalists doing actual journalism by investigating these claims and exposing the BS distraction spin while they flog more state assets.

    • AB 11.1

      You mean our vigilant 4th estate won’t publicly eviscerate Bennett for this dishonest and cynical manipulation of the public mind?

  11. Chris 12

    Bennett and her hatchet people would’ve decided on the policy then asked HNZ for all of the reasons people turn down houses. They would’ve then cherry-picked reasons that suit their objective without any context seeing “one bird chirping – great, one wrong colour door – great”, then spouted off about it. No context, no mention of it happening once only or whether it involved someone with severe mental health issues, nor of how HNZ responded (which may even have been quite positive for the individual, but we’ll never know). It would’ve been “get me examples now” and that’s it. What’s the alternative Bennett would have us believe? That houses are being turned down so often for stupid reasons we need to crack down on these fussy homeless people? Because that’s what she’s peddling. And it’s a sad indictment on our freedom of information laws that we’re likely to never know the truth without battling and battling and battling to a point where you get accused of being a crazy obsessed dog with a bone and an axe to grind so get sidelined as a nut case. That’s how the OIA works now while Key, Bennett, Brownlee, Parata, Collins, Joyce et al, all of those lying fuckers, quite happily give the Ombudsman the finger.

  12. mpledger 13

    Ask for all the work product and information that was used to calculate the number of people who dislike houses because of bird chirping etc. The number is in the public domain (which means they can exlcude it) but the way of calculating is not. Or ask for it broken down by female or male applicants.

    If I was offered a house next to a gang house in a small town than I’m not going to say “I can’t live there because of the gang” because than the gang might give me a hard time if I come across them (because these things get around in a small town) and make up some excuse off the top of my head to refuse e.g. the birds are too noisy, the colour of the door means death in my culture etc. A (potentially) unreasonable rejection might be hiding something that isn’t unreasonable at all, just private.

    • Gosman 13.1

      The only way the gang would find out if the HNZ person you told this to breeched confidentiality and passed on your reason to them. That would be illegal. Better to be upfront than lie.

      • mpledger 13.1.1

        In the main I agree that truth is the best policy but there are cases where it’s not – the person in the house next door/in the street/in the area raped the applicant – the applicant might not want to divulge that info to some random civil servant.

    • Jeeves 13.2

      YEs- it seems to me that if it was ‘manually extracted” whatever the fuck that means, and then ‘cross referenced’ then it must be on a document somewhere- unless they’ve mislaid/destroyed etc.

      WE should put the wedge into the crack and keep on whacking it- eventually it will split.

    • draftcopy 13.3

      The wrong colour door in a gang neighbourhood is an entirely reasonable objection. Can you imagine have a bright red door in the heart of Black Power territory? Or a bright blue door in a Mongrel Mob town?

  13. Smilin 14

    Dickey and Bird smile, weve done it again BS you to the max

  14. Koko 15

    When will people in this country realize where the growing smell of shit is coming from?

  15. weka 16

    Great work on this micky!

  16. greywarshark 17

    Thanks Mickey for following up on the OIA on this one. A rather tortuous process, even kafkaesque.

  17. Tautuhi 18

    Sick society we now live in with MSM State controlled, our State Broadcaster TV One is no longer objective and any reporter worth his/her salt has been removed from public broadcasting.

    JK has brought Dirty USA politics to NZ, the smiling assassin is doing his work as instructed by his masters here and offshore.

  18. Kiwiri 19

    Comment on small point regarding non-searchable pdf.

    You realise that, with the ‘pro’ version, you can turn the pdf back into Word (although a few strange symbols might appear) that can make it searchable .. or near searchable if the awkward symbols are taken into account when doing a search.

    Anyhoo, and you may already know this, the point is that the pdf is not to make it difficult to search but really to cover ‘tracks’ to prevent the recipient from uncovering the potentially many other versions of the documents and the editing from being discovered.

    Some government departments here began to take careful steps to cover their tracks after news broke of Tony Blair’s government being caught redfaced over early ‘unrefined’ versions of documents being revealed. See stories like:

    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/07/02/1056825430340.html

    I have thought that pdfs can’t reveal earlier edited versions at all but I could be wrong. Maybe, it is just that pdfs are less easy to dig into.

  19. Treetop 20

    I’d like to know a bit more about why the person declined a state home because of birds chirping.

    Do they wake up frequently in the night to use the toliet, or wake in pain or attend to a sick family member?

    Some mornings loud chirping wakes me, I have severe hearing loss in one ear so I have a 50/50 chance of being woken up by the loud chirping. I also wake at least once in the night, sometimes twice and occasionally three times.

  20. Ross 21

    I’d be inclined to complain to the Ombudsman.

    That response is appalling, and late.

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