Ode to Phil Twyford

Written By: - Date published: 6:08 am, June 6th, 2013 - 22 comments
Categories: capital gains, economy, infrastructure - Tags:

I was impressed by Phil Twyford’s analysis of the Government’s housing policies announced in the budget. I thought his best point was that only this Government could announce a housing affordability policy with the eviction of 3000 state housing tenants as its centre piece!

I know there are some that support these evictions on the basis that there are people on the waiting list that are “more needy” than some of the existing tenants. My view is that the income related rents policy (market rents apply to those that have improved circumstances since moving into a house), is the fairest way to treat these families.

Those on the “eviction” list are likely to be paying near to market rents but that does not mean they will cope in the over inflated private market. Pushing these people into the private market will increase housing pressures, cost Government money through housing supplement grants, and fails to recognise that a house is more than shelter – it is a home around which families join communities, enrol in schools, support neighbours, grow gardens etc. Tenants should be protected from unilateral eviction from any rental housing including state housing.

The threshold to qualify to get on the waiting list for a house is very high – in fact only 4,500 families are on the list under the Governments current policy. Building additional houses for all these families is achievable and would be a significant investment in both renewing the housing stock and taking some heat out of the housing market – evicting tenants is the cheap and nasty option!

Phil’s second good point was to recall why Labour developed the concept of state provided housing in the first place, and why it built the first state house. This was done at the time to deal with the widespread slum housing, and in recognition of the social problems associated with poor housing. It recognised that the State was the only institution in a position to do this work in the interest of the New Zealand community. This reasoning has not changed.

Phil’s description of the current housing crisis facing thousands of Kiwi’s shows the policies are still however incomplete. Continued housing un-affordability entrenches inequality. Lack of sufficient State supply (exacerbated by the Governments undercover selling policy) has seen poverty related diseases grow. Over 900,000 homes remain without insulation and also tenants find themselves with very few protections against eviction, few rules for rental property standards and as we have seen in Christchurch, little redress for profiteering. These factors combined makes renting a precarious exercise!

Phil has a good analysis of the Government Budget announcement regarding the policy to shift thousands of state houses to the community sector and what the transferring the job of assessing eligibility to the Ministry of Social Development means (I know now I am sounding sycophantic to Phil but it really was a good presentation – stay with me!).

Basically this will be the end of Housing NZ as we know it. In this new model Housing NZ will be just another tenancy manager competing with the NGOs. Obviously the long term plan is to move Government out of housing provision altogether.

The Community Sector is being used as the dumping ground and will be left with the unpalatable eviction job. Those groups that traditionally support the most vulnerable will find themselves with a conflict of interest – they will have to do the Government bidding (kicking out families they are supporting). And there is no guarantee they will have any funds to maintain these houses or in fact that they will be compelled to retain them.

Housing provision based on low rental charges requires long term planning and investment. It is unclear what if any, community organisations will manage this. As we see with much community provision primarily contracted to Government, they are often caught up in under-funding traps being forced to offer services with compromised standards or underpay their workers. For even the most competent groups that take on this task they run the risk of reputation damage as they compromise their principles and as their purpose is distorted.

The last good point Phil makes is that the policy announced in the budget regarding house ownership is based on the premise that it is really a planning regulation failure causing the shortage and driving up the price, rather than, as the research suggests, a problem that includes incentives to speculate in the market (no tax on capital gain, huge government subsides towards rent), high cost of building (monopoly practice here?), and low wages in relation to the cost of houses.

The budget announcement of increased house building on the outskirts of Auckland does not say why or how these houses will be affordable or what that means? The reality is this land could be being simply freed up for the speculators to build houses at market rents. It is all very shonky. In fact the legislation to implement this policy which fast tracks housing consents (have we learned nothing from the leaky homes?) simply says “Developers may be required to give consideration to affordable housing.”

These polices on housing combined will not address the housing issues in this country. We as a community need better solutions and some of these are contained in the Labour and Green housing, economic and industrial relations policies and I hope more is to come particularly in relation to state provision. But at the moment National is in power and the policies they have announced will not only have extremely negative impacts on the issue, making it worse for many families immediately, but it will see long term damage again done to the State housing system and see Council and Government owned land sold off to property developers making home ownership polices harder to implement in the future. And all of this done under a banner of “increasing housing affordability”

22 comments on “Ode to Phil Twyford”

  1. Richard 1

    A very good analysis.

    But I do take issue with this:

    “Pushing these people into the private market will increase housing pressures, cost Government money through housing supplement grants,…”

    It doesn’t cost the Government money, it costs the taxpayers money. The housing supplement grants are a transfer of wealth from the public purse to private hands. Housing supplement grants are particularly cunning in that they subsidise two private sectors:
    1. Landlords who receive the money directly
    2. Employers who are able to pay their employees less.

  2. Lefty 2

    Phil Twyford combines genuine ability and experience in getting things done, enough economic understanding to differentiate between social democrat and neo liberal economic policies, and a classic set of left values.

    There are only a handful like him between all the parties in parliament.

    It probably means he is politically doomed.

    • Blue 2.1

      He voted for Shearer, so he’ll be fine.

      • Anne 2.1.1

        Phil Twyford and David Shearer are personal friends, and it goes back well before either of them entered politics. It stands to reason he’s going to back his friend. That doesn’t alter the fact he is universally liked, and those of us who have had the opportunity to get to know him well see a very bright political future for him. I just wish some of his colleagues (young and older) had the same breadth of vision and maturity.

        Lefty said: It probably means he is politically doomed.

        The Nat’s ‘Dirty Tricks Brigade’ will certainly try. As his star rises, they will do everything in their power to try and stain his reputation in broadly the same way they did with Helen Clark.

  3. karol 3

    Great analysis, Helen. Spot on. Well done Phil for addressing so well the whole sham of the government’s housing policy, and it’s attack on state housing. There attacks on low income people are a crime against the poor.

    Now, will the Labour Caucus/Leadership commit to increasing and improving the state housing stock when in government?

  4. just saying 4

    I’ve noticed that the Greens have started to contrast their citicisms of National policy with what they would/will do regarding the situation at hand and linking this in with their wider relevant policies and world view.

    Until Labour starts doing the same I will be taking any criticism they make with a grain of salt.
    Subsidising the children of the comfortably off into new houses is not a public housing policy, or a vision of anything more worthy than puffing up the cushions of and massaging the shoulders of the comfortably off and actively collecting their urine and their crumbs for maximum ‘trickle down’.

  5. Tom 5

    As some one that knows a person that earns 160K a year has been in a state house for years has only his partner living with him, runs 2 cars im all for getting him kicked out of his statehouse. Hopefully he will be one of the 3000, someone else can have better use of it than him.

    • xtasy 5.1

      Tom – that person will be paying market rents! Housing New Zealand have for years been charging market rents to those that have incomes that enable them to afford private rental homes. There may be reasons for the persons still being in that Housing NZ house you know nothing about.

      And while you may have a point in questioning whether such a person and his partner should still be in a Housing New Zealand home, his situation seems to be quite different to the ones that have been evicted in many cases.

      Evictions happen not just because some earning good incomes may no longer qualify for social housing under the new regime brought in by National only last year (3-yearly reviews for those having had changed circumstances), they also happen in many cases, simply, because Housing NZ wants to sell the homes or land they are on to developers. It has been, and is happening, all over Auckland and in other places.

      Homes are forcefully vacated to make room for development of housing complexes, where in some cases NO social housing is built there to replace existing homes!

      Such a case was the one in Haverstock Road in Sandringham/Mt Albert in Auckland:

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10877991

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10868433

      And in a strange, bizarre twist of developments, Housing NZ are even driving up bidding prices for homes they intend to buy in lower cost areas:

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10881566

      So Housing NZ is now a “market player” operating in a totally out of control housing market, where many struggle to get the money together to pay a deposit for homes in Auckland, let along pay the due credits off.

      Housing NZ should start building proper, affordable homes and increase its supply, rather than join speculators in flawed market operations.

      This government is doing little to solve the housing issues, it is just participating by letting their developer mates rake in great capital gains free profits, in the process continuing driving up prices.

      Sadly with your ill founded “envy” of that person you claim to know, you seem to support this madness.

    • bad12 5.2

      i beg to differ, lets see if we can change your perception a little, at present the taxpayer directly subsidizes HousingNZ to the tune of 600 million dollars a year, that of course is small change of course when compared with the 2 billion dollars annual subsidy paid to private landlords as a direct transfer of wealth which essentially subsidizes both landlords and private banking profits where mortgages are held,

      In an ideal world it would be the Government who in all cases was the builder of note constructing the majority of housing in New Zealand,

      If instead of the historic fits and starts of State house building in New Zealand such construction had been a continuous unbroken process we would today not have any ‘crisis’ of affordibility nor any ‘crisis’ of supply either in social housing or the private sector,

      If instead of the historic fits and starts of building activity we as a nation had continued such State house building activity all those who have the greatest need to be housed at the ‘agreed’ subsidized rate of 25% of income would be housed and those like the people you know occupying a State house whilst earning 160 grand a year could also be housed at ‘market rent’,

      My point here being that if we had sufficient Housing NZ stock for every tenant housed under the social provisions at the agreed rental of 25% of income we could have a tenant housed at the market rent and thus a cross subsidy would be created where the Government would have no need to directly subsidize Housing NZ,

      To broaden the point, Housing NZ could and should be a direct competitor with the private sector, not only in the provision of ‘social housing’ but in the provision of all rental housing and the greater the provision of Housing NZ rental housing there is the greater the downward pressure would be on all areas of housing costs,

      A committed Government could in a decade double the provision of the number of Housing NZ rentals providing a mix of social and market rentals, this would in effect ‘solve’ the problems in the housing market currently being exhibited in Auckland, severely reduce the taxpayer subsidy of an annual 600 million dollars to housing NZ, reduce the annual 2 billion dollar subsidy annually provided to private sector rental housing providers and double the 50 billion dollar asset value of the Governments housing stock,

      That’s a blunt analysis of the gains in the area to be made by markedly increasing the provision of State owned rental property and having Housing NZ provide a mix of social and market rental accommodation which doesn’t take into account the large gains to be made in both health and education outcomes such a provision has been shown to engender….

      • Balanced View 5.2.1

        Great points. Totally agree.

        [lprent: I realise that it was inadvertent and you are unaware of it, but this comment looks like botspam. I very nearly threw it into the spam queue. The only thing that stopped me was the lack of link in the comment or a home webite link.

        For instance this is one from the spam queue today…

        What’s up, everything is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s actually excellent, keep up writing.

        As you can see whilst shorter, your comment has a familial similarity to the casual glance.

        I’d advise against making general encouragement comments in this particular style because while I might not toss it (unless I was tired), the anti-spam engine might ]

  6. This is all about the capitalists attack on the social wage which for them is interfering with the market.
    Since state spending is a drain in taxes and since taxes are a drain on gross profits, capital opposes social spending.
    What they leave out of the analysis is that profits are a drain on value, notably the value produced by workers over and above the value of their own wage.
    This is the advantage of the parasite who convinces the host of its indispensability.
    We need to defend all social spending and reject the parasitic capitalist arguments since all value originates from our surplus labour in the first place.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.1

      I agree. Let’s attack the parasites.

  7. xtasy 7

    Helen, thanks for your excellent post, highlighting the National led governments attack on social housing. Yes, Phil has raised valid issues, and he is one of the few within the present Labour caucus, who actually take a firm stand on social issues, especially housing. Phil will know what he is talking about.

    I quote from your article above:

    “Phil has a good analysis of the Government Budget announcement regarding the policy to shift thousands of state houses to the community sector and what the transferring the job of assessing eligibility to the Ministry of Social Development means (I know now I am sounding sycophantic to Phil but it really was a good presentation – stay with me!).

    Basically this will be the end of Housing NZ as we know it. In this new model Housing NZ will be just another tenancy manager competing with the NGOs. Obviously the long term plan is to move Government out of housing provision altogether.

    The Community Sector is being used as the dumping ground and will be left with the unpalatable eviction job.”

    Housing New Zealand have been delivering homes for many over decades, and using consequences of some neglect over more recent years, in maintaining homes, and in having some “mis-allocated”, to outsource and in the long run abolish social housing, is a cunning, ideological and totally unsocial agenda, that the Nats follow.

    Social housing has been provided in many countries, and New Zealand can count itself to the list. One such great success story of building and maintaining social housing for generations can be seen in the Austrian city of Vienna:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Vienna
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemeindebau
    http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/architecture-design/social-housing

    When the last article on this is claiming it was “not a success”, then this is not honest, as it was stopped getting support only due to the reactionary bourgeois forces in Austria taking over Vienna, and then the Nazis marching in soon after.

    Social housing is essential to offer affordable homes to those that cannot pay deposits and house prices, or increasing market rents here in Auckland!

    We have the Natzis wanting to gradually abolish it, that is the truth.

  8. Seen this?

    (OIA reply 9.25am Thursday 6 June 2013)

    Dear Ms Bright,

    On behalf of Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, I acknowledge receipt of your email dated 5 June 2013, requesting information under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).

    As you will be well aware Members of Parliament, unlike Members of the Executive (Ministers), are not subject to the OIA.

    However, in response to your query, I am happy to answer (IN BOLD) with the following in respect of your written question submitted:

    “Please provide the following information which confirms whether, in making your (arguably arbitrary) decision to close submissions for the above-mentioned ‘Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill’, you were advised by, consulted with or lobbied by any of the following parties:”

    1) Simon Lusk.

    NO

    2) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the Tamaki Redevelopment Company Ltd, in particular – the Chair of the Board – Mr Martin Udale.

    NO

    3) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the NZ Property Council.
    NO

    4) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the Committee for Auckland.

    NO

    5) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the Auckland Council
    (either elected representatives or staff).
    NO

    6) Any Board member(s) of, staff, or anyone associated with in any way, the Auckland Council Property Ltd Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

    NO

    7) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the NZ Treasury.

    NO

    8) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the MBIE.
    NO

    9) Any person(s) associated with the Salvation Army.
    NO

    10) Any person(s) associated with the Auckland City Mission.

    NO

    11) Any person(s) associated with the NZ Housing Foundation.

    NO

    Thank you again for contacting our office with your query and I trust this information will be of assistance to you.

    Kind regards,

    Mark

    Mark Nicholson | Executive Assistant to Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga | MP for Maungakiekie
    __________________________________________________________________________

    MY OIA REQUEST:

    5 June 2013

    “URGENT ‘Open Letter’ / OIA request to the Chair of the Social Services Select Committee – National Party MP Peseta Lotu-Iiga Sam”

    Dear Sam,

    I am scheduled to address the Social Services Select Committee, of which you are Chair, on Monday 10 June 2013, from 4.10pm – 4.20pm at the hearings on the ‘Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill’, which are to be held at the Ellerslie Novotel Hotel.

    I have also just been requested to give evidence in support of my following petition, from 4.20pm – 4.30pm at the same hearing, which I have agreed to do.

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Presented/Petitions/5/0/5/50DBHOH_PET3157_1-Petition-of-Penelope-Mary-Bright-requesting-that.htm

    Petition of Penelope Mary Bright

    Requesting that Parliament declines to proceed with the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill until the lawfulness of the reliance of Auckland Council on the New Zealand Department of Statistics”high”population growth projections, instead of their “medium” population growth projections for the Auckland Spatial Plan, has been properly and independently investigated, taking into consideration that both Auckland Transport and Watercare Services Ltd, have relied upon “medium” population growth projections for their infrastructural asset management plans.

    Petition number: 2011/64
    Presented by: Holly Walker
    Date presented: 30 May 2013
    Referred to: Social Services Committee

    It concerns me that the submissions for this arguably very significant Bill, which potentially affects so many people, were closed after a mere 13 days.

    Please be reminded of your stated reasons, as outlined in the following Hansard record:

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/5/7/8/50HansQ_20130530_00001001-1-Housing-Accords-and-Special-Housing-Areas.htm

    1. Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill—Closing Date for Submissions

    [Sitting date: 30 May 2013. Volume:690;Page:19. Text is subject to correction.]

    1. HOLLY WALKER (Green) to the Chairperson of the Social Services Committee: When do submissions to the Social Services Committee on the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill close?

    PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA (Chairperson of the Social Services Committee) :Submissions on this bill close today: Thursday, 30 May 2013.

    ……………………………………………………………………….

    Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: After the bill was referred to our committee on the night of Budget night, I made—in my own decision—the decision to set a 13-day period for submissions.
    ………………………………………………………………………….

    Mr SPEAKER: I am going to ask the member Holly Walker to ask the question again, and let us hope that on this occasion we get a simple answer to a simple question.

    Holly Walker: Did he consult with the Minister of Housing or his staff before making the decision to close submissions on this date?

    Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA: The bill was referred on the night of Budget night, 16 May, and I did not consult with the Minister. I made this decision on my own.

    Mr SPEAKER: Thank you for that answer.

    Please provide the following information which confirms whether, in making your (arguably arbitrary) decision to close submissions for the above-mentioned ‘Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill’, you were advised by, consulted with or lobbied by any of the following parties:

    1) Simon Lusk.

    2) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the Tamaki Redevelopment Company Ltd, in particular – the Chair of the Board – Mr Martin Udale.

    3) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the NZ Property Council.

    4) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the Committee for Auckland.

    5) Any member(s) of, or associated with in any way, the Auckland Council
    (either elected representatives or staff).

    6) Any Board member(s) of, staff, or anyone associated with in any way, the Auckland Council Property Ltd Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

    7) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the NZ Treasury.

    8) Any person(s) associated with, in any way, the MBIE.

    9) Any person(s) associated with the Salvation Army.

    10) Any person(s) associated with the Auckland City Mission.

    11) Any person(s) associated with the NZ Housing Foundation.

    Under the URGENCY provisions of the OIA, given that I wish to use any information I may gather from this OIA reply when I present to the Social Services Select Committee on Monday 10 June 2013, can you please provide this information before 5pm, Friday 7 June 2013.
    ________________________________________________________

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

    Maiden Speech National Party MP Peseta Lotu-Iiga Sam

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Debates/Debates/Speeches/6/6/5/49HansS_20081209_00000294-Lotu-Iiga-Peseta-Sam-Address-in-Reply.htm

    I stand before members today because of the hard work of my campaign team under the disciplined leadership of Mark Thomas, the shrewd counsel of Simon Lusk, and the industry of Josh Beddell, and with the support of many, many supporters, many of whom are here today to be with us. Finally, to the National Party president Judy Kirk, regional manager Alastair Bell, and their respective teams, I say thank you for putting your confidence and trust in me as a candidate in this year’s general election.

    http://www.lotu-iiga.com/index.php?/categories/8-Press-Release/P3.html

    Maungakiekie MP welcomes significant milestone for Tamaki
    Maungakiekie MP, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, welcomes the first neighbourhood-based renewal programme in New Zealand that was launched today at the opening of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company in Glen Innes.

    “This is exciting news for Tamaki. The Tamaki Redevelopment Company (TRC) is exactly what is needed to bring together the local community, Government and Council agencies, businesses, social services and public and private sector investment,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

    The new company will ensure a coordinated approach to create measurable improvements across four key components over time.

    A social component will support Tamaki residents and their families to get the skills, knowledge and employment opportunities they need. An economic component will strengthen the local economy, creating new jobs and business opportunities.

    A housing component will optimise land use and existing housing stock, including progressing private housing development and delivering better social housing options in Tamaki.

    Meanwhile, a spatial component will create safe and connected neighbourhoods and spaces that support the social and economic development of Tamaki and its community.

    “Ultimately, the TRC will bring all the current and future initiatives and projects together into a single strategic framework and will lead a single voice that will deliver Tamaki’s transformation,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

    “I look forward to seeing the vision of a thriving and self-reliant Tamaki turn into a reality._______________________________________________________

    Penny Bright
    ‘Anti-corruption /anti-privatisation’ campaigner
    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.1

      You’ve just expended over 1,000 words for the sole purpose, so far as I can see, of exposing yourself as a numpty.

      • handle 8.1.1

        And exercising the scrolling fingers of hundreds. Thanks, Penny. Whatever would we do without your copying and pasting of information already available elsewhere?

        [lprent: Links please.

        I don’t check every time, however my previous google searches on Penny’s comments have not revealed serious duplicates of phrases (just quote the phrase when searching). That means that either the sites are so obscure that google doesn’t see them or they are covered by the policy on own comments, linking and quoting. That is why bliP and others can publish original comments here. Penny is no different. ]

        • handle 8.1.1.1

          Penny already posted most of that in another comment on this site – /open-mike-05062013/#comment-643959

          Eveything after the first horizontal line is redundant.

          In general, pasting the full content of what is on the other end of a link is taking the piss.

    • xtasy 8.2

      Soooo, 13 days for making submissions??? That is disgusting!!!

      Democracy can be found laid to rest at Waikumete Cemetery, out west, I suppose.

  9. karol 9

    Nice. /sarc

    Housing Minister Nick Smith today announced he had accepted the resignation of board chairman Alan Jackson.

    Jackson’s role as a director at Fletcher Building had become an issue because of the building work HNZ was undertaking.

    “Dr Jackson wrote to me earlier this week to let me know he would be stepping down as chair to avoid a potential conflict of interest with his role as a director at Fletcher Building,” Smith said.

    Why was the chair someone who had a role in a private house building company? Surely a conflict of ethos even before lining up Fletchers’ for house building?

  10. Yes 10

    Housing for the needy yes agree. Could the union fees be redistributed back to workers who are state tenants or rent and the unions lead the way by providing relief on fees?

    • xtasy 10.1

      Squeeze, prick, brain-function check, perhaps????

      What have union fees for union services and protection of their members to do with state housing for f***s sake?

  11. aerobubble 11

    Key come lately to housing crisis, now claims victory.

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