State housing asset sale? Or stock rationalisation?

I fear National have thus far under estimated the left and the media’s ability to turn what is in fact a rationalisation of the Housing New Zealand stock, into something that looks like an asset sale by stealth.

Labour has produced documents which it says proves the Government’s been quietly planning [the sale of 22,000] for 18 months.

The Government owns around 68,000 state homes and Finance Minister Bill English appears to have signed off the sale of thousands of them on Monday at the weekly Cabinet meeting of ministers.

One of the Prime Minister’s first moves after the election was to appoint Mr English in charge of the housing sell off.

Up to a third, or 22,000 homes, are flagged as being in the wrong place or wrong size and potentially on the chopping block, but Mr English refuses to discuss it.

Labour claims the Government’s been quietly planning the sell-off for 18 months. It’s obtained a letter dated July 2013 from Housing Minister Nick Smith to Housing New Zealand’s acting chairwoman titled ‘Annual Letter of Expectations’. It says the Government expects Housing New Zealand will likely own a significantly smaller number of houses in 10 years’ time.

So it appears the Government is about to, or already has, signed off on the sale and up to 22,000 houses could be on the chopping block.

However, it may not be officially announced until Mr Key’s State of the Nation speech early in the new year, with the Government set to make housing one of its main priorities for 2015.

If the left and the media manage to pitch the idea that this is an asset sale in spite of National promising their would be no more of those, that will be another burden to carry come 2017.  Unless they can cycle it through quickly enough, the programme will be ongoing, and provide continuous opportunities for the story to be put back into the news.

Week after week some poor sod will be put out of a 5 bedroom home they lived in for 30 years, but all the kids are left and now it’s just them.

Risky stuff.

Going to need astute management of the message.


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  • David Moore

    “Risky stuff.
    Going to need astute management of the message.”

    Agree. They need to run a heavy block to prevent Labour building their usual narrative. A lot of good could come from the idea, but without the thing being clear, it’s just a gift to the left. It’s their home turf and regardless of facts, they will go bananas on it.

  • andrewo

    As a staunch National voter, even I am not sold on the state housing sell-off.
    Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying that the government hasn’t sold it to me. The election was the time to do that but the dirty politics meme took all the air time from debating actual policy.
    So Mr English, if you’re reading this, I implore you not to just bulldoze on with policy. SELL IT FIRST. Otherwise you will come unstuck.

    • James

      I have no idea why the State is involved in housing anyway? What makes the State a better landlord than, say, a charity which has its sole focus on housing; or a private individual who is investing their own hard earned capital?

      There could be some good arguments for it … but I haven’t yet heard any that I’m convinced by.

    • GoingRight

      It is crazy having one little old lady for example living alone in a three bedrooms state house on a full section and I am sure we are all aware this is happening in many areas. I think it is very sensible to rationale where the houses are and what sizes they are and also make sure no one thinks they are able to live there for life.

  • Hard1

    “Labour has produced documents which it says proves the Government’s been quietly planning …”
    Yes, evil intentions indeed. Despite the fact that planning is only ever quiet, the writer manages to assign a malicious intent. Red Book press release, again.

  • corporate refugee

    I can hear those lefty spin machines revving up right now, together with those of their wingmen the NZ media.

  • Grant

    Yes it will be a hard task. This has been doing the rounds on my FB

  • Ghost

    Heard the interview on the radio on the way to work, numbers from Housing NZ used against the sales were ( sorry, cant find the numbers,) a very low percent that were in the wrong area and a very low percent that were the wrong size. What wasn’t asked was the actual number of houses identified that fit the criteria of not being suitable by HNZ and the number up for sale by the government.

    The current argument around this “asset / liability” sale is philosophical and no actual numbers are being presented as to where, what, and why this is a good or bad idea, or how it is being managed.

    Certainly not helped by a lazy media regurgitating spin instead of numbers.

  • GoingRight

    I think Paula Bennett should drive it. She is astute and usually has brilliant responses to the lefts pathetic whinging comments

    • dgrogan

      It’s been well covered by Bennett at question time in the House, on more than a few occasions. As usual, those idiot journalists in the gallery were more interested in trying to nail Cam and the PM, rather than reporting on the detail and benefits of the policy. Now they all seem determined to report it as another conspiracy.

  • JustanObserver

    You know, this would be the absolute ideal chance to shut the left up completely.
    Pass the management of the State Houses to Labour, with the mandate that they must achieve equal or better occupancy, maintenance and ROI as National have done over the last 6 years.
    Tell them they will be responsible for reporting to NZ every 3 months on their progress.
    Measuring them against National’s performance for State Housing would be interesting, but I’m sure the ‘Top-Loader’ would be on ‘Full-Spin’ cycle.

  • BlitzkriegNZ

    They haven’t explained themselves very well but at the same time the media haven’t passed on the reasoning very well either, it’s always buried underneath the spin from labour that headlines the article and that’s all people see.
    Lucky for us I’m guessing a lot of people resent the bludgers who milk housing nz dry so there won’t be too much sympathy out there from people paying $400+ a week for an average 3 bedroom house without any subsidy.
    So yet again labour alienating themselves from the people they claim to support.

  • Samuel Plymouth

    Why are you even giving this non-story sunlight? You are directly playing into the Left’s hands by commenting on something that doesn’t warrant comment. This stuff is business as usual and what we elect Governments to do.

  • jude

    The MSM as usual over dramatise a very practical step that the government is taking.
    To improve the health and well being of those tenants surely a new, well insulated house is better than a run down derelict house built in the 50’s.
    Some people are intent on cutting off their noses to spite their faces!

  • Woody

    Perhaps National should ask Lianne Dalziel for advice on turning an asset sale into a partial capital realisation or however it was that she described the projected sale of assets to help Christchurch City out of the slump.

    Do Labour (and the Greens) people not realise that in the course of running any business, there are times when you need to take a cold hard look at at balancing your assets and your cash flow? (That was a rhetorical question, of course they don’t)

    Lianne seems to have come to that realisation for Christchurch while hypocritically remaining against doing the same thing on a national scale.

    It makes far too much sense to dispose of unwanted housing in unwanted areas and replace them with desirable properties in desirable areas for lefty socialists to be able to get to grips with it.

  • exactchange

    There’s not much in the media about the FirstHome initiative. Some of the state houses being sold are listed at the below link and first home buyers can get up to 10% subsidy to buy them. They look in pretty good condition and are cheap compared to city prices. Not many available in the South Island at the moment – though there have been more in the past. I wonder how many have been sold through this.

  • kloyd0306

    Labour claims the Government’s been quietly planning the sell-off for 18 months.

    A: I expect my government to plan ahead. Planning is a positive. When Labour in is power, they can plan ahead too.

    Up to a third, or 22,000 homes, are flagged as being in the wrong place or wrong size.

    A: Markets are not static. Auckland may be the growth area now but who is to say that 20-30-50 years from now, people will shy away from the mad-house that is Auckland city (thank you Len).

  • Neil

    I’m quite proud that enough kiwis now realise what the MSM say is slanted. This was shown in the last election. I doubt the media has the power anymore to show one side only, and expect their desired result……At least I hope not.

  • Tom

    I thought National had already stated they were going to sell some off. It should have a time put on state house aid (maybe 5 years) with the exception of retired people who should only have 1 or 2 bedroom units.