Unchained from my desk in The Standard writer’s dungeon for my ten minute exercise break in the courtyard this morning, I noticed (through a gap in the watchtowers) that it was raining. Raining hard. Must be the government’s fault – I just need to find the angle!*
Seriously though. Take care in the wet people. In particular, drive safe. Too many of us are driving like idiots.
National isn’t responsible for the lousy weather, but it is to blame for how vulnerable we are to it. Thousands of homes are leaky and rotting, a legacy of the stupid deregulation of the building industry by National (including current Auckland Mayor John Banks) in the 1990s:
The leaky homes crisis followed deregulation of the building industry, where a resulting lack of rules meant problems with design and products left thousands of homeowners with ongoing problems. Issues included flaws in design, product, cladding, workmanship, rules and checks.
The costs are enormous – estimated at 11 to 22 Billion dollars. Recently the current National government, including some who were partly responsible for creating this fiasco in the first place, outlined their model for funding repairs:
Owners of leaky homes will have half their repair bill paid by central and local government under a new government plan announced this afternoon. The plan will see the taxpayer kicking in 25% of the repair cost, ratepayers another 25% and the owner, through a government guaranteed loan, the remaining 50%. The deal is dependent on the affected councils signing up to it and they have been given until the end of this month to do so.
There are no good solutions. The current owners aren’t to blame, but they’re stuck with enormous bills. The lucky old taxpayer / ratepayer isn’t to blame (except for electing National governments!), but they’re picking up half the bill. It’s a mess. (Remember this whenever deregulation or “voluntary” regulation of some industry is proposed.)
So now it’s crunch time for councils. And the realities are starting to sink in:
$87m leaky homes threat to Wellington rates
By AMANDA FISHER – The Dominion Post Last updated 05:00 26/05/2010
Wellington City Council’s bill to fix leaky homes has blown out to $87 million more than three times previous estimates. And ratepayers, including those still living in rotting homes, may have to pay for it with a rise in their rates.
The city council will vote tonight on whether to support the Government’s rescue package in which the Government and council will each meet 25 per cent of repair costs. There are an estimated 2115 leaky Wellington homes eligible for the scheme.
Estimates have tripled? And that is in Wellington, far from hardest hit by the crisis. This is a vote that will be watched with great interest around the country I am sure, but really, what else can Wellington do? What alternative is there, but to pass on the cost to ratepayers? There are no good solutions to this mess.
[* That was “humour” by the way. Exercise break is only five minutes.]