Sound clip: debate on market rent policy

Hear the debate on the Kim Hill show about National's market rent policy. Kim Hill interviews Major Campbell Roberts and John Luxton, Minister for Housing (c.1991)


Kim Hill: More concern from people who work with beneficiaries. The social service agencies of six major churches have called on the government to stop its plans to change the state house rent system. The government is introducing market rents and plans to meet the needs of low-income earners by the payment of accommodation supplements. The churches' call is based on a paper by Salvation Army Major Campbell Roberts, who's joined us in our Auckland studio. Housing Minister John Luxton is in our Wellington studio. Good morning to you both.

Major Roberts, are you simply saying that the accommodation supplement will not be high enough to compensate for increased rents?

Campbell Roberts: We're saying that, but also saying that the policy itself is ill-founded. It's ill-researched. It's not a delivery mechanism that in fact has proved to be a satisfactory one standing alone as it does.

KH: Why not?

CR: Because it doesn't address any of the supply issues of housing. It doesn't do anything to provide any more houses. It is at a level that will make it very difficult for people to actually access housing. It will most probably result in increased homelessness and it certainly doesn't address issues like discrimination, and we found that in the private housing market there is already a high level of discrimination.

KH: So you're saying it's all very well to give people accommodation supplements but if they haven't got anywhere to live to use the supplement then it's no use?

CR: Yes, I mean it theoretically gives them access to housing but doesn't in practice do it.

KH: Mr Luxton, how do you respond to that issue of supply?

John Luxton: I don't think supply is a problem. In fact, in my first year in office I've had considerable correspondence from the private sector saying that what we've been doing in the state house sector is actually dragging people out and leaving many vacant houses in the private sector. So, I don't think we have a supply problem in housing at this stage.

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