National has also approved these private “social housing providers” to receive the same government subsidy as state house tenants. Photo / APN
If we took Housing New Zealand chief executive Glen Sowry at his word there is a bright sunny future ahead for New Zealanders most in need of affordable homes.
Gone will be the bad old days where cold, damp, run-down, three-bedroom state houses were grouped together in suburbs. Instead, Mr Sowry tells us we will see more efficient use of land and quality affordable homes in mixed communities.
Yes, there have been a few problems in Glen Innes, he tells us, where HNZ could have involved the community more, but this is just an aberration along the path to a new dawn.
What a rosy outlook – who could possibly complain?
However, the experiences of state house tenants don’t resemble Mr Sowry’s glossy picture.
After facing the closure of HNZ offices around the country, the clearances of state homes in places such as Glen Innes, the Hutt Valley and Maraenui, and the sale of state homes in already mixed communities such as Sandringham in Auckland, tenants have had to put up with a lot of hassle and frustration.
Under legislation passed last week, all existing state house tenants are to be stripped of tenure (the right to remain in their home) and thousands of existing state houses are to be transferred to private “social housing providers”.
National has also approved these private “social housing providers” to receive the same government subsidy as state house tenants.
Responsibility for affordable housing for those most in need will increasingly transfer from the Government to community groups and private sector landlords.
Housing New Zealand will no longer even assess tenants for housing needs – this will be done by Work and Income, who will send families to HNZ or private providers.
In typical neo-liberal double-speak, Mr Smith says he wants to “create a market in social housing”, but we all know what that means – the Government is beginning the process of privatising our state rental homes.
These policies will reduce housing stability and security for the very people who need it the most.
It will be tempting for social housing providers such as the Salvation Army to go along with the Government because it will mean more money and resources for them to provide housing.
However, these groups will never be able to provide quality, affordable homes for every family who needs them. Only the Government has the resources and the capacity to do so, and if social housing providers accept this approach they will in effect betray existing state house tenants as well as the thousands of families the Government had already slashed from its state house waiting list.
Social housing providers must join low-income families to fight these policies.
When Mr Smith introduced this legislation he used an exceptional situation to divert attention from the legislation’s real purpose. He spoke about the captain of a fishing vessel in Nelson who was making more than $100,000 a year but living in a state house when there were more needy families who the Government wanted to help. Never mind that the fisherman would have been paying Housing New Zealand a market rental anyway.
There are huge housing needs but turfing families out of their homes irrespective of how long they have lived there and no matter how many times they have paid off the value of the house is not the answer.
Last week Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said she was appalled at the situation of families living in a trailer park in West Auckland where they are paying huge rents for cockroach-infested caravans.
The trailer park is the logical result of leaving families to the housing market after decades of Government failure to provide quality affordable housing for its citizens.
Never in our history has the private sector provided decent housing for people on low incomes.
The National Government‘s housing policy is social vandalism and Glen Sowry’s implementation of it is heartless. The very families which need housing stability the most are to be made less secure. This can only result in thousands more families ending up in caravan park accommodation or in eight-storey vertical slums planned for other areas of Auckland.
The next Government will have to not only repair this sabotage of state housing but will have to address the crisis in affordable housing with a programme of state house building such as in the years following World War II, when 10,000 state houses were built every year till the problem was sorted.
John Minto is co-vice-president of the Mana Movement.
New Zealand products are being stripped off supermarket shelves across the Tasman because of the aggressive Buy Australia campaign, says an organisation promoting local goods.
Buy NZ Made executive Scott Wilson says big Australian supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths are “systematically removing New Zealand-produced goods from their house brand labels simply for being non-Australian”.
Mr Wilson says frozen foods, cheese and fresh vegetables are among products affected.
“We have no intention of taking a protectionist stance by suggesting people avoid products that aren’t New Zealand made,” he said.
New Zealand supermarkets aren’t copying the Australian strategy – and given one is Australian-owned, it’s unlikely to. But there’s a very fine line between saying buy Kiwi-made and don’t buy imported goods.
. . . Prime Minister John Key addressed the issue today, which he says is against the spirit of trade relations with New Zealand.
“Even if it’s legally not [a breach of CER], it’s arguably a breach of the spirit of CER, and we’re going to be raising that with Tony Abbott,” says Mr Key.
“The whole spirit of CER is an integrated Australasian market, and we feel that the big companies in Australia should actually observe that. We can always retaliate but their market’s five or six times bigger than ours, so that doesn’t help us much.” . . .
League star Wairangi Koopu has made his acting debut in Toa Fraser’s action movie The Dead Lands playing a Maori warrior in pre-European New Zealand, and he says the film – which uses authentic weaponry, dialogue and a traditional hand-to-hand combat style called mau rakau – will be a showcase of Maori history for the world.
“It was a fantastic experience to be involved in the project,” Koopu told The Diary. “I feel very spoilt and proud to be a part of it. As an emerging speaker, the language was a real treat because it’s all 16th-century te reo. It’s very in-depth and poetic, almost Shakespearian. It will showcase what Maori were like in that period of history.”
Koopu, who knows Fraser through former Warriors teammate Logan Swann, says the role called for physical endurance.
“There was a lot of fighting with ancestral weaponry. I loved it. Coming from a physical background with league, it was good to play rough.
I picked up a few cuts and bruises.”
Koopu plays a member of an elite tribe of warriors. It’s his first foray into acting, and, while he is no stranger to television studios (he’s a regular on Maori TV sports showCode), he says the movie production set with a vast number of crew is another ball game.
The film is about a Maori chieftain’s son (Rolleston) who sets out to avenge his father’s murder and bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery.
Tainui Stephens, a producer on the film, says Koopu, a long-time friend, was an obvious choice to play a Maori warrior.
“He has the right look, and the capacity with the Maori language. And he was physically capable for the role, which requires endurance. There’s a lot of running and fighting in the movie and it’s shot in a lot of external locations with the various elements,” Tainui said.
Production on The Dead Lands wraps this month with a release date expected at the end of the year.
UNDP Helen Clark meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Matt McCarten on politics:
Many jobless people seeking work do not register with Work and Income NZ.
This Government manipulates statistics to show how well the economy is doing and most of us swallow it.
The manufactured consent is the economy is booming and the number of unemployed is at record lows.
Here’s my unease with the unemployment success story. There isn’t a week I don’t meet jobless people who are seeking work yet receive no support from the state.
Many friends and extended family are hardworking people who tell me they don’t register with Work and Income NZ because they claim they are hounded by officious bureaucrats and made to feel like something icky on the aforementioned’s shoe.
The stories are too numerous to convince me there isn’t a calculated policy to make it humiliating for workers down on their luck to apply for assistance.
I expressed my doubts to my union’s director, Mike Treen, after another sunny economic report was published. Treen is one of those self-taught working-class economists who pores over business pages with the same intensity most Kiwis read sports pages. He told me he could prove statistically that due to deliberate hostile and punitive policies over the past decade by successive governments, more than 100,000 unemployed Kiwis wanting work are today denied unemployment assistance.
I was a bit dubious about such a large figure but this week he was back with his research, courtesy of the Statistics NZ website. You’ll be tempted to let your eyes glaze over, but bear with me because it’s important not to let the Government pretend there is low employment when there isn’t.
Oddly, there were 30,000 more people on benefits than measured in the Household Survey until the mid-2000s.
During Helen Clark‘s second and third terms her government took reactionary measures against the jobless on benefits.
When her government fell in 2008 50,000 more people were unemployed in the Household Survey than receiving the employment benefit – a whopping difference of 80,000 in just six years.
After Labour’s dishonourable record, National had a free hand in extending the purge and the gap exploded to 130,000 unemployed Kiwis who now get no assistance.
If you think the Household Survey exaggerates the unemployed, understand the unemployed measurement includes only those who are physically able, not training and actively seeking work.
Someone working for even an hour in survey week is classified as employed.
Here’s a really depressing statistic Mike Treen found. Using a broader definition of jobless, he says that in the late 1990s about 75 per cent of jobless received a benefit. Today it’s less than 20 per cent. He estimates more than $1billion a year is withheld from the poorest. Little surprise then that at the same time we are told the economy is rosy churches and voluntary social services are overwhelmed by the poor begging for charity.
It’s a different reality from John Key‘s smiley-faced optimism selling positive employment messages, aided by the gushing Paula Bennett supposedly responsible for getting shirkers off the dole into real work.
The nerdy genius Bill English in the engine room is hailed as making this good news possible.
The Statistics NZ charts reveal this as fiction.
The 130,000 uncounted unemployed are officially invisible.
As such, they don’t get a penny. The billion dollars they should be getting to survive keeps the government books nicely inflated.
It’s not only cynically dishonest, but heartlessly cruel.
Joined the police in 1985 and appointed to his current role in May 2010. Previously he was assistant commissioner of operations and assistant commissioner of crime and investigations. He served in both general and investigative branches before becoming part of the Police Executive, when he was appointed district commander for Northland in 2001. Other roles have included two years as district commander in Waitemata and national manager for crime and investigations.