Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Housing

  • Murray McCully

Housing Minister Murray McCully has told his Labour counterpart, Graham Kelly, to learn some basic arithmetic.

Figures used by Mr Kelly in a press release yesterday portraying high numbers of vacant houses in some provincial cities are riddled with arithmetical errors. He quotes a figure for Wanganui of 248 yet the real figure used in the response to the Parliamentary Question is 124, also he says New Plymouth had 142 empty but the number is 71, and he says Glen Innes has 148 empty homes but the figures supplied to him show there are only 74.

Mr Kellys poor arithmetic is matched by his inability to understand how housing policy works.

What Mr Kelly fails to understand is that lower income New Zealanders now have some choices. Because we pay them the Accommodation Supplement they are no longer forced to live in the least desirable state houses.

Obviously the company has offered the vacant properties to those on waiting lists. But it is not uncommon to have people reject a number of tenancies offered to them.

If Mr Kelly did his homework he would know that significant numbers of vacant Housing New Zealand properties are in less populated areas, for example as at 15 March:
Westport / Greymouth 25
Timaru 41
Invercargill 57
Levin 42
Wanganui 150
New Plymouth 60

In addition, some older suburbs in which Housing New Zealand is totally dominant, have higher vacancy rates:

Porirua (Mana) 295
Taita 54

The irony is that when we move to sell these vacant properties, it is the same Mr Kelly who accuses me of selling a national treasure.

Now Mr Kelly appears to want me to round up people on Housing New Zealand waiting lists in central Auckland, and truck them down to Invercargill to occupy the vacant houses.

He wouldnt even be able to sell that sort of policy in Eastern Europe.