It seems almost too outrageous to be true. An event that lends credence to the claims of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters that New Zealand is being sold off to the highest bidder, in the most literal sense, will happen if Parliament pass legislation to permit the sale of state owned housing to Australians.
The New Zealand Government says it is going to be selling state housing, bypassing the agency nominally responsible for such activity – Housing New Zealand – completely. In the most literal sense, the National led Government of John Key is selling off New Zealand. The arrogance is astonishing. But right before our eyes in the New Zealand Parliament, the Minister of Social Housing is bringing legislation that will seek to permit exactly that. But not only is the legislation proposing to do that, it is also proposing that land acquired under the Public Works Act cannot be sold back to the original owner.
The Minister of Social Housing, Paula Bennett, claims that the rights of refusal held by Iwi still exist. She says that it simply clarifies that the provisions of the Public Works Act have never permitted the handing back of state housing properties to the original owner. Ms Bennett insists that it is quite difficult to arrange the transfer of specific properties.
But why is she wanting to arrange a transfer, and of what properties?
To me this is a Ministerial power grab. It is not about clarifying provisions in an Act of Parliament. It is not about improving the regulation of the New Zealand state housing stock in any way. It is about the growing housing crises caused by a combination of the Government not wanting to intervene in the market, the market being overheated by outside interests to the point it might soon have a meltdown and no long term plan for the sustainable development of the residential market.
An old Garrick Tremain cartoon depicting an earlier Government letting investors tunnel their way into New Zealand without the public’s knowledge comes to mind….