Key and his government will only to listen to scientists when it is convenient for them to do so. Any scientist raising inconvenient truths about the environment, climate change, poverty, education and the like, will be at best ignored and at worst attacked (just like reporters and writers in fact).
In the case of the state housing sell-off, Key is again ignoring the scientists. His own award winning scientists.
The Prime Minister’s Science Prize 2014 went to the He Kainga Oranga / Housing and Health Research Programme, led by Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman. Here’s a piece by Howden-Chapman and her team in The Dominion last year:
State housing reform welcomed, but way off target
The focus of the prime minister and three other ministers on social and affordable housing is welcome. It is a belated recognition that income inequality after housing costs has been going up. The seniority of these ministers is an important acknowledgement of the role of housing as a driver and outcome of the economy, but the Government should reconsider its view of state houses as only assets to be realised.
We have carried out a decade-long cohort study of Housing NZ households, whose incomes are a third of the national average and contain a disproportionate number of children. The rate of admittances to hospital of tenants who move from private rental into state housing drops dramatically.
Moreover, our study of severe housing deprivation, carried out with Statistics NZ, estimated there are 34,000 people in severe housing deprivation, needing between 12,000 and 24,000 houses to live in affordable, safe, uncrowded conditions.
It’s critical we ensure housing is affordable and keeps us warm, safe and healthy, regardless of whether it’s occupied by the owner, rented from the state or community groups, or from private landlords.
As with any assets, state houses need ongoing maintenance. Fortunately, state housing has been consistently shown by the BRANZ survey and our research to be in better condition than private rental properties.
There is a case to supplement our small stock of state houses with community housing. However, this should not be delivered by selling discounted state houses.
The Government’s continuing attempts to divest itself of state housing overlook the enormous benefits to society which these homes produce in alleviating severe housing shortages. They were built up by successive generations of New Zealanders, and to “sell them off” under the pretence of efficiency is a disservice to all of us, whether we’re homeowners or renters.
Thus say the winners of the PM’s science award.
For more evidence of how poorly the sell-off is being received, see also Armstrong’s rather good piece in The Herald today.