Housing New Zealand will spend $2 billion to build and buy more than 4000 new state houses after an apparent Government backtrack.
At least 3200 of those properties will be in Auckland, the state housing corporation confirmed today.
It comes as the Government decides to forego its dividend from Housing New Zealand, which would have be worth $92 million over the next two years.
The dividends were included in the May Budget, but ministers revealed yesterday that they would no longer be paid.
Finance Minister Bill English told Radio New Zealand this morning that a dividend was less important than the corporation expanding its housing stock.
“That’s the bit that matters. If we are going to have over $1 billion in investment, the $50m dividend is neither here nor there.
“When they’ve got a big capital investment programme, you don’t take the dividend because they keep those earnings and use them, in this case, to build more houses.”
Great, if it happens and these guys don’t end up paying the money to a generous donor in exchange for a thousand pillow-forts in a muddy field (‘I haven’t actually looked into it Guyon, but I actually think most kiwis think pillow forts are actually really suitable accommodation’).
But assuming it goes through, privitising Housing New Zealand was supposed to be National’s big accomplishment this term, along with the ‘social investment model’, which the housing debacle completely blew out of the water. Now they got nothing. There’s an entry in Alan Clark’s diaries, during Thatcher’s third term when he realises that the government isn’t actually doing anything meaningful, anymore, and that they have nothing to show for all the work and stress and sacrifice but ‘the passing of time and intrusion of age’. It must feel a bit like that in the Beehive these days, which I suppose is why they’re announcing policy reversals on twitter.