The sum Phil Heatley has so far spent trying to get three women and their families evicted from their state houses, an effort to look tough, is the equivalent to the cost of building two new state houses. Over half a million spent on an ultimately pointless exercise – one that’s far from finished.
It all started when some Mongrel Mob members supposedly ransacked another state house and scared the occupants. Arrests were made but the charges were later dropped.
Heatley’s Housing New Zealand, as part of his new ‘tough’ policy, decided to evict not the Mongrel Mob members who weren’t actually being accused of any crime but their partners (presumably, the Mob members live in the houses where their partners are tenants but this has never been made clear).
Naturally, the women appealed their eviction on the quite reasonable grounds that they hadn’t done anything (nor had their partners been proven to have done anything), the disruption to their families was unwarranted, and they had nowhere else to go.
I’m not defending these women’s lifestyle. It’s the final point that’s most important to my mind. What’s the successful outcome for Housing New Zealand here? No private landlord will take these families now (even if they could afford private rents). Will Housing New Zealand just end up housing them somewhere else in its role as houser of last resort? Will it let all those kids live on the streets?
In fact, no matter what happens to the families if they are eventually evicted, it doesn’t solve the problems supposedly created by their presence, it just shifts them onto another community.
Tough talk might appeal to the Neanderthal-minded among us but, if the tough actions don’t actually in any way solve the problem, what’s the point?
So far, this legal battle has cost the government over $550,000 and the women still have a whole unused route of appeal on human rights grounds. They’re being evicted for having partners who are members of a legal gang – remember, Ministers in this government have met with the Mob Leaders at Parliament. Arguably, that breaches the right to free association.
Half a million dollars down the drain in an exercise that is all about shifting a supposed problem around, not solving it.
I wish Heatley had used the money to build a couple more state houses, instead.