Exploitation and Corruption Encouraged by National Government

Two stories struck me today that provided proof that this Government's existence within Planet Key is one totally removed from reality and morality.

Paula Bennett made the outrageous demand that community housing providers needed to be sustainable businesses. In making this claim she demonstrates her total ignorance of what social housing does and what the benefits are.

The people who live in social housing are our most vulnerable and desperate families and individuals. The reason they need housing support is because their financial, emotional or physical circumstances exclude them from being able to afford or manage the acquisition of a home from the private sector. They are not going to be able to cover the true costs of their accommodation and many will need support to live in them. A percentage of families and individuals in social housing will not be able to care for the properties well and many will damage them over the course of their tenancy for a variety of reasons. Providing social housing provides more headaches than easy profits and the fact that businesses and NGOs are not queuing up to buy them is proof of that.

Social housing will never be a sound business proposition, the value that comes from providing them is the social good and the savings in health and welfare costs. Social housing should ensure that all New Zealanders live in dignity, despite their circumstances, and could provide around 20% of our children the opportunity of a good start in life. With growing numbers of children presenting to hospitals with illnesses caused by poor housing, the need for more high quality social housing is obvious.

The Government clearly wants to wash its hands of social housing and after they sell them off Bennett has explained that the organisations buying them should not expect government grants to support them, "organisations needed to be commercial to be sustainable". There is obviously little income that can be sucked from social housing tenants who can't afford commercial rents. Those on very low wages or who have disabilities, health and addiction problems are not going to be reliable income sources. If social housing providers are to be able to maintain the houses under such constrained income streams then the quality of what they provide will be limited.

Bennett also seems to have ignored the fact that the Government will be spending almost $2 billion on the accommodation supplement this financial year (page 20 in the link). This is effectively a subsidy to landlords and ensures that market rental rates are kept at a level above what the population is able to pay. If the same amount was poured into building state houses then private landlords would have to lower rents as the housing supply increases and then everyone would win (apart from the slum landlords).

The Government is also determined to drop our ranking as the least corrupt country in the world by accepting that paying bribes overseas to progress business interests is acceptable. If it isn't acceptable in New Zealand it shouldn't be acceptable overseas and calling such transactions "small facilitation payments" is disingenuous as Green MP David Clendon explained:

"Any payment that is legitimate to a government is invoiced, if you get an official document in exchange for it, it is legitimate. We're talking about bribes essentially, call them facilitation payments if you will, but actually they're bribes."

Amy Adams explanations were a great example of hole digging and supporting a trip down a very slippery slope for our country. There is nothing "innocent" about paying unofficial payments to officials. It is clear this Government has no concerns about such "facilitation payments" and some of them could not be called small by any means as the $11.5 million facilitation payment to a Saudi businessman demonstrated. This was the mother of all bribes and I bet we have no official receipt. What is truly embarrassing for the Government, in this expensive instance, is that the payment didn't facilitate anything in the end because we got no trade deal. I wonder if we can get our money back so we can spend it on state housing?



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