More Government backdowns needed to end housing crisis

The Government’s backdown on forcing Housing New Zealand (HNZ) to pay a multimillion-dollar dividend shows that the Government can take measures to help end the housing crisis if it really wants to, the Green Party said today.

“Reinvesting HNZ dividends to build more houses just makes sense and I’m pleased the Government is finally showing some flexibility on this,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“It was perverse that National was forcing HNZ to pay a dividend back to the Government when there are so many New Zealanders who have no place to live, and while there are 4,500 people waiting for a state house.

“The idea National has so-called comprehensive housing plan is a joke, when there’s obviously no coordination between Ministers’ offices about that plan.

“First Paula Bennett announced $5,000 cash grants for people to move out of Auckland without Bill English knowing, then we had imaginary Ministry of Social Development homelessness ‘flying squads’, and now it looks like Steven Joyce has rewritten HNZ’s dividend policy on the fly.

“National is clearly in panic mode trying to respond to the housing crisis. They’ve basically torn up their latest Budget.

“Just a couple of months ago Bill English said HNZ needed to pay a dividend to stay ‘disciplined’, so I’m pleased National’s recognising that the most important thing HNZ can do right now is build more houses.

“The Government is welcome to borrow the Green Party’s other ideas for fixing the housing crisis too, like a Warrant of Fitness for rental homes, building more affordable homes, cutting down on property speculation with a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting overseas buyers,” Mr Shaw said.

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