Written By: - Date published: 8:55 am, June 10th, 2016 - 52 comments
Categories: Andrew Little, housing, Media, national, newspapers, paula bennett, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: crosby textor, homelessness, housing crisis, nick smith
The Crosby Textor rule book has so far worked well for National.
The elements are now clear. Poll and focus group as much as possible. Decide what lines will work on the middle part of the electorate to retain their attention and support. Roll out John Key, the ultimate confidence politician and schmoozer, to reassure middle New Zealand that he thinks like them and can be trusted. And attack and blame Labour at every chance.
There are a couple of scenarios where the rule book does not work. Fast moving issues make the Government look flat footed because they do not know where to pitch their rhetoric. And occasionally their policies are that bad that they are not able to polish the proverbial turd so that it glistens.
The housing crisis ticks both boxes. The story is so fast moving with an avalanche of tales of despair that National has not been able to work out lines that will appeal to middle New Zealand. Every time they come up with a solution another heart breaking story of the hardship being caused appears. And National’s policies of selling off state housing while “investing” in NGOs and waiting for the market to flourish is that nonsensical and that stupid in a time of crisis that everyone is starting to notice.
Yesterday was a particularly messy day for National. As the simple touching interview of TA by John Campbell reverberated its way around New Zealand the government went into panic mode.
Andrew Little then hit National with a column in the Herald that was posted at 2 pm. Read it and weep. Particularly this passage:
National’s has failed New Zealanders on housing. Budget 2016 delivered nothing to give young families a chance to buy their own home. It slashed funding for home insulation by two-thirds. It continued John Key’s cruel policy of taking a $118m a year profit out of Housing New Zealand at the same time families are living in cars because there aren’t enough state houses.
No wonder 76 per cent of Kiwis say there is a housing crisis, and this Government has failed to fix it. Just one in four adults under 40 own their own place today. House prices are rising at 30 times the rate of inflation. 16,000 houses are year are being bought by foreign speculators. Record numbers are living in cars and garages.
The truth, as revealed by a new study from Otago University, is that 42,000 Kiwis are suffering ‘severe housing deprivation’ – homelessness, in other words.
That was up by 25 per cent in just seven years. We are a country that rightly used to pride ourselves on looking after all our people. We used to look in horror at wealthy countries that had people living on the streets. Under National, we have become one of those countries.
As a sign of how panicked National was by this it responded with this Herald column posted at 7:42 pm by Nick Smith AND Paula Bennett. I wonder who did the typing.
The column is disingenuous to put it mildly. It says that Little had made many “incorrect claims” and that in the interest of “balance” they needed to respond.
The column started off by lauding the special housing area regime and then proceeded to trot out an array of statistics to show that everything is rosy. There is no problem, let alone a crisis, at least according to Smith and Bennett.
Little’s column highlighted the difficulty of reconciling what John Key has recently said with the truth. Key originally said that MSD and Salvation Army workers had gone around, knocked on homeless family’s car doors, offered them help but this was refused. After a week of backtracks it transpired that Salvation Army workers had not been involved, nor had MSD workers and they had not knocked on homeless family’s doors. Given this it is difficult to understand how the Government could still claim that people had refused help from non existent offers and non existent knocks on doors.
Smith’s and Bennett’s response to this particular allegation was contained in these paragraphs:
Mr Little also says the Prime Minister was making up information about homeless people refusing assistance.
The Labour leader is quite simply wrong. The Ministry of Social Development has been working closely with non-government organisations, and those non-government organisations have told us that some of the homeless they have been speaking to do not want our help. That is their right, but it is important they know that there is assistance available should they chose to take it up.
I had a real temptation to type this in caps. According to Bennett and Smith Little is wrong and Key is right even though what Key said was wrong because:
Bennett and Smith spend a lot of time in the column talking about special housing areas. How many people are currently getting shelter from a special housing area? The answer is bugger all if any.
There is the cut and thrust of political debate. But there is a stage where one side’s positioning is not reality based and we are clearly there now.
The second piece of bad news for National as covered by Rob was the announcement by Westpac and ANZ that they would no longer lend to foreign individuals without a permit of some sort and a local income money to buy local houses. A similar announcement was made in Australia about a week ago.
Bankers are not stupid. Clearly they see signs of a housing bubble and an impending correction and if the Government does not do anything about it they have to. So they can protect their interests. Which they are clearly doing.
And to complete a day of utter pathos news that Maori and Pacifica rates of housing are because, according to Nick Smith, they are poorly educated. And the Government may have announced a $10,000 donation to Te Puea Marae twice. And 72% of kiwis think that the Government needs to start building homes.
To finish a few tweets capturing various aspects of the story and showing why the Crosby Textor rule book is no longer working.
It took a marae in Mangere Bridge, South Auckland to get the critical attention of the government's crisis on the growing homeless rate.
— ori.arn (@oreos_storieos) June 9, 2016
— Grant Robertson (@grantrobertson1) June 9, 2016
— Newstalk ZB (@NewstalkZB) June 9, 2016
— Mihingarangi Forbes (@Mihi_Forbes) June 9, 2016
Shit, man. You know the Government's poked when the banks show more caution than they do. https://t.co/ZEuDDH4WFu
— Rachel Stewart (@RFStew) June 9, 2016