Responding to questions on the issue, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Rotorua’s population had increased but at the same time there were fewer public houses until the Labor Party came to power in 2017.
Deputy National Party leader Nicola Willis has previously admitted there has been a net loss of public housing due to National’s actions.
In 2020, as the housing party’s spokesperson at the time, Willis told Morning Report that they had sold or converted a few thousand state homes while in office, which she estimated. that about 1000 of them had gone to the community.
“Some of these homes have become community property and I don’t think that’s the wrong policy, it continues to be the policy of this government,” Willis said.
“What I would like to see is for the government to continue building more state houses,” regardless of which party is in power, she said.
However, Luxon told Morning Report today that the government has had enough time to deal with housing issues in general.
When asked if National’s actions had caused a supply problem with state homes, he replied, “That’s a load of garbage.”
“Here’s the deal, 6,000 people were on a waiting list when we left power, now we’re at over 26,000 – a fourfold increase [in the state housing waitlist].
“We have quadrupled the number of people living in cars, we have 4,000 families in emergency accommodation.”
The housing problem was linked, whether it was home ownership, renting, social housing or emergency housing, he said.
“This government has had five years of dismal failure on every aspect of housing.”
He believed that more state homes should be built through community housing providers as well as Kāinga Ora, and that removing the clear line test and interest deductibility would help alleviate housing problems.
The National Party is also calling on the Auditor General to carry out an inquiry into emergency housing in Rotorua.
In a statement, National Party housing spokesman Chris Bishop said a significant amount of public money was going to emergency housing providers and the public deserved to know it was being spent from appropriate way.
The investigation was necessary to maintain confidence in government oversight of these dwellings, Bishop said.
“While it is welcome that the police and the DIA [Department of Internal Affairs] can make inquiries, we believe it would be appropriate for the Auditor General to investigate.”
Build more houses
At a news conference today marking a milestone in the apprenticeship scheme, Ardern said this government has built more homes than any other New Zealand government since the 1970s.
“But we need to build more,” she said, adding that children shouldn’t be growing up in emergency motel accommodation.
Likewise, it wouldn’t be right if they were homeless, she said.
“Our long-term plan is to put them in safe and sustainable housing. That’s why, for example, we’ve worked so hard to have 10% of all state homes in New Zealand built.
“Motels are only meant to be transitional, the long-term goal is to have enough accommodation that no New Zealander is in this form of transitional housing for more than a short period.
“That’s where, every part of what we do, even here today, talking about the learnings that we’ve increased by more than 50% since we came into government, is having the ability to build more houses.”