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Housing New Zealand Corporation—Proposed Restructuring

Thursday 15 September 2011 Hansard source (external site)

Mackey8. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) Link to this
to the Minister of Housing

Did Housing New Zealand take into account the statements made by Rt Hon John Key, when in Opposition, not to wholesale reorganise or restructure the public sector or reduce the number of frontline staff, when Housing New Zealand developed their plans for restructuring?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Housing) Link to this

I require it only to take into account my annual letter of expectations as Minister of Housing, which I trust reflects John Key’s view as Prime Minister.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

Is he seriously saying that his changes to the Housing New Zealand Corporation, which it has confirmed—and which will result in front-line redundancies, the closure and downgrading of Housing New Zealand Corporation neighbourhood units, tenancy managers being made to work out of their cars, and the instruction to staff that they must no longer concern themselves with vulnerable tenants’ “wider social needs”—are not a major restructuring and will not result in the reduction of Housing New Zealand Corporation front-line staff?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY Link to this

The corporation is yet to make a decision, but if fewer staff are able to deliver more and better front-line services because they no longer paper-shuffle but are actually out in their cars visiting tenants, then I support the Housing New Zealand Corporation.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

If making tenancy managers work out of their cars is such an effective way of getting more out of them and serving their community, will he be advising his colleague Whangarei MP Phil Heatley to close his electorate office and have his staff work out of their cars so that they can better serve their communities?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY Link to this

I think part of the reason for the success of National MPs is that they do not hide in their offices. They are out and about in their cars, visiting their constituents.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

What is he doing about the rock-bottom morale amongst Housing New Zealand Corporation staff given the lack of consultation, the fact that they have already been told to stop attending to the social needs of tenants before any other protocols are put in place, and the speed of these changes, such as in the case of one young mum who was shocked to find out that she has been fired by the Housing New Zealand Corporation while she is on maternity leave?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY Link to this

I am not aware of the member’s various allegations.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

Will he give an assurance to community housing organisations, who already see a marked increase in their workload thanks to the changes he has implemented, that they will be properly resourced to cope with the further additional workload that will fall on them, and will he at least have the decency to consult the community housing sector, given that he keeps saying it is the solution yet it has not been consulted and it has absolutely no idea what is going on?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY Link to this

The non-governmental community housing organisations I have spoken to have said to me that Housing New Zealand Corporation tenancy managers are not district nurses, are not parole officers, are not policemen, and are not mental health experts—they would prefer to do that work—and they have asked for Housing New Zealand Corporation staff to pass those concerns on to them. We say that, yes, Housing New Zealand Corporation staff will pass those concerns on to those specialist providers.

MackeyMoana Mackey Link to this

Given that social housing in New Zealand is still recovering from the actions of the last National Government, which hocked off 13,000 State houses and carried out no modernisation whatsoever, why is he not carrying on the work of the last Labour Government, which spent 9 years trying to repair the damage, instead of firing front-line staff, reducing the housing stock, and now taking the “social” out of social housing; or is he simply trying to finish the job?

HeatleyHon PHIL HEATLEY Link to this

The previous Government—and this is well-known—left the State housing stock in a serious state of disrepair. Houses were old, cold, and mouldy, and where the rats and mice did not destroy Labour’s State houses, the gangs did—and it let them get away with that too.

DalzielHon Lianne Dalziel Link to this

Has he read any of the evaluations of the community renewal project in Aranui, which has made a substantial difference in terms of the housing stock and in terms of providing the community itself with the foundation it needs for recovery after the massive earthquake, and a strengthened organisation in partnership with the Housing New Zealand Corporation, the city council, and central government?