The wrong message

Audrey Young blogs on the Housing NZ’s executive conference today, making some good points.

First, she had the same response that I did on hearing National MPs speaking up for the poor and the homeless. Incredulity.

As she notes, Heatley and Collins weren’t there when the Nats were bleeding the poor and making them homeless, all in the name of Bolger’s “Decent Society”. But hands up anyone who thinks that the Nats will give two figs for the poor should they win the election? Thought so.

Young also provides a useful balance to some of the attempts to beat this story senseless, redeeming herself for last week’s OTT response to Goff’s admission that Labour could possibly lose the election.

Young went to the website of the putative “luxury” (Heatley’s term) lodge and found something “thoroughly comfortable and picturesque, lovely, homely, but luxury? Sorry, Tongariro Lodge, no.” I’m inclined to agree. Judge for yourself.

And it looked to be a good deal. Housing Minister Maryan Street was quite correct in pointing out that the cost, per person, per diem, was not immodest. And certainly nothing like what one would pay for “luxury”. (It also pales into insignificance when compared to WINZ’ extravagance under National.)

However, Young gets to the real import of the affair with a succinct summary of the politics of it all: “It is not Street’s – or my – idea of what was a good deal or what constitutes luxury that matters but what the person in the street or the state house thinks.”

Then we learn that Helen Clark advised Street not to defend the supposed extravagance. Street seems to have ignored this advice.

Remember, it was the voters of South Auckland — many of them state house tenants — who put Labour “over the top” at the last election. The same conservative working-class supporters who, Chris Trotter argues, were angered at the anti-smacking bill and the “lofty condescension of a childless politician who clearly believed she knew more about raising kids than they did.”

On the surface this appears little more than another media beat-up, but try explaining executive retreats to decide “where we go from here” to state house tenants and their neighbours, struggling with sky-rocketing food prices and low wages.

Update: We wake up Friday morning to learn that the CEO of Housing NZ is having her pay docked, the Minister has “escaped”, and National’s Heatley is desperately trying to sqeeze the last drop out of this non-story. But, did the state house tenants get the message?

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2 Responses to “The wrong message”

  1. Sconehead Says:

    Taking the lead from dear old Mrs Thatcher, the Nats have declared war on poverty. They throw rocks at poor people.

    And thanks to the Labour government, there’s plenty of poor people (i.e those receiving some sort of benefit) around, including middle income families.

  2. jafapete Says:

    Scone: “And thanks to the Labour government, there’s plenty of poor people (i.e those receiving some sort of benefit) around,…”

    The Standard has a nice graph that will show you how wrong you are on this one: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=2068

    Enjoyed the “war on poverty” though.

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