- Date published:
4:35 pm, July 27th, 2017 - 22 comments
Categories: housing, labour, national, paula bennett, phil twyford, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up, youtube - Tags: homelessness, housing crisis
Today in Parliament Paula Bennett was shown up big time by Phil Twyford who asked her a series of questions about the housing crisis.
It was almost too painful to watch, almost.
And it showed how badly this Government is handling the issue.
It started off with Twyford asking Bennett to confirm that as of 30 June the Government has delivered only 323 of the additional 1,400 emergency beds that were promised at the start of November last year.
Her answer involved providing different statistics but essentially claiming that the Government had met its total.
Then Twyford asked her to confirm that the Government had budgeted $2 million for emergency special needs grants to put people up in motels but spent $8 million in the first quarter, $9 million in the second quarter, $13 million in the third quarter, and at current rates would spend $50 million over the year. Wow. That is a real blow out. And the crazy thing is that there are no new beds created. The Government is essentially paying money to retain existing beds for
Bennett’s response was to put it mildly nonsensical.
As was said about June last year—and, actually, by the member’s party itself—it was quite distressed that there were people who were going into motels, which had been happening, by the way, for decades in emergency situations and those beneficiaries themselves were expected to pick up the bill, yeah? So we did do something about it. We are picking up the bill for those who go into those motels. Because we were the first Government to actually do something about people who needed emergency places, we did not know how much it would cost in total, but we are picking up the bill for those who are most disadvantaged.
Call me stupid but I don’t think there ever has been a time where the mass use of motels to house the homeless has ever been necessary.
Twyford then laid a trap. He asked Bennett to confirm that when the Government came into office in 2008, it owned 69,173 State houses and it now owns 64,068 which is a reduction of more than 5,000.
Bennett replied by talking about how social housing community provided beds have increased.
Twyford then asked:
Will she confirm that according to the Ministry of Social Development’s latest quarterly report, there are only 66,068 social houses, including those provided by community providers, which is some 3,000 fewer than the number of State houses when her Government came to office?
I am not sure where Twyford’s figure came from as the report indicates that there are 66,332 social houses, although the principle is still the same. And of those 1,794 were vacant.
Bennett’s response was again nonsensical, claiming there were more social houses but then conceding that she did not have the figures. She also talked about the Tamaki Regeneration project which is really odd because as far as I am aware not one house has been completed there.
It got worse. Twyford then asked:
Will she confirm that her briefing as the incoming Minister said that the Government has, since 2008, taken 1.8 billion out of Housing New Zealand in dividends, tax, and interest payments?
The figures are from page 41 of this document.
Bennett replied by talking about how the Government is putting billions into social housing through capital spend and income related rents. She clearly does not get it though. At a time when all indications are going backward the Government is treating the Housing Corporation as a cash cow AND it is reducing the number of social houses available.
Question time then descended into pathos.
Why will she not admit that she is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless people up in motels because her Government has sold off so much State housing, has failed to build enough new ones, and has allowed the housing crisis to get totally out of control?
Bennett’s response was to talk about how the Government had housed two, yes you read that right, two people with long term housing needs.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I know that that member would like to pretend that we have only had homelessness in the last few years, but, actually, just this week we look at the gentleman who is on the streets and says he has been there for 26 years—which, by the way, was through your Government’s time as well—and, unfortunately, he thinks he will be there a lot less. He is a man who has now got a home but was homeless for three decades. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think I am being quite generous in giving my answers, and I would appreciate it if I could at least do that without being constantly—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! That is not an unreasonable request. There is one particular person, who should know better, who continues to interject at a very loud level. If the member Phil Twyford is going to take the opportunity to ask a supplementary question, I think his own colleagues owe him the decency of allowing at least Phil Twyford to hear the answer.
Hon PAULA BENNETT: As I was saying, we have a man who has actually been, unfortunately, homeless for three decades but has now found a house under this Government. We also have another man who has been homeless for 33 years but, thanks to the help of this Government, now has a home. The reality is that we have had to pick up those who were left behind under a Labour Government many years ago.
Watch it here for a full sense of how bad Bennett’s response was.
At a time when we have the most appalling housing crisis imaginable and potentially 40,000 homeless we have a Minister claiming credit for housing two, yes two, people and trying to blame a Labour Government 30 years ago for one of them.
This Government is out of touch, out of ideas and totally lacking in compassion.
Time to change the Government.