[Sitting date: 02 August 2012. Volume:682;Page:4242. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai) to the
Minister of Housing: Does he stand by all his comments on housing; if not, why not?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Housing)
: Yes, as long they are taken in context.
Hon Annette King: Do the statements that he made over 4 years ago about mouldy, old, damp State houses apply to any State houses now, almost 4 years after he became the Minister of Housing, promised to rid the land of slum State housing, and said that upgrading State houses was a high priority?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: Yes. As I said yesterday, in fact—more recently than 4 years ago—of our State houses that we inherited about one-third were of the wrong size, in the wrong place, or in a serious state of disrepair. We are insulating every State house that we can by the end of next year. We are very proud of that. In fact, we consider that, as a State landlord, this should have been done decades ago, and the previous Government should be a bit embarrassed about it.
Hon Annette King: Can he recall his visit to the flats at 44 Symonds Street, Auckland, early this year, and did he notice the mouldy, old, damp walls, the broken windows, the peeling paint, and the one laundry for 45 flats; if so, what action has been taken to address these slum-like problems after his visit?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I have visited a number of State houses, both in Opposition and in Government. I confirm again in this House that the State housing stock was left in a serious state of disrepair. There are a large number of State houses even today that are in a serious state of disrepair. I look forward to the Labour Party and the Green Party supporting this Government upgrading them—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Does the member need a new prescription for his glasses?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: Are you offering, Mr Speaker?
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I was on my feet and the Minister just kept going. I was very impressed by the passion in the answer; the only problem was I do not think it said anything about the question asked. There is a lot of licence with that kind of question but there should be some reference to the question. It asked whether the Minister had visited a certain block of flats, I think, or apartments in Symonds Street, in Auckland. There is nothing wrong with the Minister giving a little more information than necessary, but there was no mention made of those flats whatsoever. If the Minister could assist the House in that regard, I would appreciate it.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I may or may not have visited them. I have visited a lot of State houses in my time. I can let you know, though—and the House—that there are a large number of State houses that we want to demolish and subdivide, and we would appreciate the support of the Labour Party, instead of its members stopping every development we are trying to do in this country. On the one hand they want them fixed—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! That is sufficient.
Hon Annette King: Has he been told that the only maintenance that has been done at 44 Symonds Street in 4 years occurred a few days before he visited, when the entrance foyer got a new piece of lino, which is now called the ministerial lino; if so, does he intend to visit again, so that they can get another piece of lino?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I always suspected I was a very effective member. I notice that member never gets a red carpet laid out for her. What I can say is simply this. There are a large number of State houses in this country that need repair. Every time we try to subdivide a section and move someone else to a new State house, that party’s members object. The State housing stock needs upgrading. I want their support.
Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table a photograph taken by Jacinda Ardern on our recent visit at 44 Symonds Street, showing the ministerial lino.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. I call Jacinda Ardern. [Interruption] Order! The House has had some fun. I must be able to hear the supplementary question.
Jacinda Ardern: Is he planning to demolish or sell the flats at 44 Symonds Street, as he implied in his earlier answer?
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: I am unaware of any moves to do that. It would be a matter for the Housing New Zealand Corporation. What I can say is that there is a large number of State houses across New Zealand that we wish to either upgrade, subdivide, or demolish and rebuild, and every time we do it the Labour Party members oppose us. Yet they want them upgraded. What do we do? Well, we get on with the job.