Andrew Little put the hard word on John Key over housing in Question Time yesterday:
Prime Minister John Key implied that mould problems in some Housing New Zealand homes could be caused by tenants not ventilating them enough, something his widowed mother was vigilant about in their Christchurch state house.
He also rejected claims by Labour that the Government was making “a profit” from Housing New Zealand because it took a dividend.
This is one of those issues where John Key’s argument only makes sense if you haven’t seen what his government has done to SOE after SOE: put immense pressure on to deliver increased dividends – on the basis that they should “run like businesses” and not waste “taxpayers’ money” on fripperies like reinvestment and value-add.
The chairman of Solid Energy cited this pressure for dividends as a reason for his company’s financial issues.
And what’s been the anthem of this government since 2008? Surplus, surplus, surplus, even if it means making really bad short-term money decisions which will cost our country hugely in the future.
Meanwhile, we’ve found out that apparently Housing New Zealand doesn’t even do pre-emptive repairs and maintenance on vacant houses before offering them to new tenants.
A woman whose son’s severe health problems are being partly attributed to the mould in her state house says she has been offered a different house – but that’s mouldy too.
Health professionals said the mould in Te Ao Marama Wensor’s Glen Innes home was a contributing factor to her seven-year old’s faulty heart valve and holes in his lungs.
In a statement, Housing New Zealand said the recently offered house would have undergone a full maintenance and repair check, as would happen to all properties before a new tenant moved in, to make sure it was suitable.
Because there are some poor families for whom black mould actually conveys health benefits!
But I’m sure that inspection would have happened in a timely and thorough fashion. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been delayed, put off, rescheduled, or ultimately found to be too expensive. I’m sure that on some planet it makes perfect sense not to immediately check properties as soon as the previous tenants have moved out.
And I’m sure that getting people off the waiting list into any home available ASAP is not at all motivated by the only metric that matters: Nick Smith’s numbers.
Given how this government runs things, I have a really dispiriting suspicion that someone at HNZ figured out it was a lot cheaper to wait for tenants (who are hardly in a position of power and who definitely don’t want to be stuck back on that waiting list) to complain before fixing things.
And the result of that is that our kids are getting sick and even dying.
But hey, if Bill from Dipton gets the books into the black, everything must be going ok!