Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I alone, as the sharer of their way of life, presented a replica of childhood

This is a first for me - Minister of Housing Phil Heatley commenting on the veracity of a story on the NBR website... in under three hours!!!

I'm not sure how I feel about this - on one hand, it's impressive that Mr Heatley is willing to engage (so far) with the Jazial Crossley's article on National's plan to open up Crown-owned land for the development of low-cost housing, but on the other, he goes to great lengths to refute the points that he's not particularly fond of.

Whether he continues (via his proxies) to engage with commenters on the NBR website remains to be seen, and I honestly hope he does.

If not, well, it'll be another case of Juli Clausen's ill-advised foray into commenting on Colin Espiner's blog a while back, and a pretty cynical (and early) attempt to shut down any critique of the government.

Unfortunately, I'm inclined to think the latter.

He sticks well to the party line, rattling off low interest rates (for which I find it quite concerning that he's trying to tie monetary policy to the whim of the guvmint), lower taxes, and RMA reform, but he opens with:
As Housing Minister I’d like to take a few moments to comment on some of the points and assertions raised in this article, not the least with the headline, which obviously misrepresents National’s intentions with the release of its Gateway Housing product later this year.

and closes with:

Certainly it’s my view that the assertion in the headline is both incorrect and unfair.
Yet, he only makes one attempt to explain why the headline "Why does National want to create poor-people ghettoes?" is incorrect when he says they will be "providing cheap land for first home buyers in places like Hobsonville alongside million dollar homes, in the same suburb, with the affluent living alongside the less well off", but doesn't go into more detail, and doesn't rule out the concentration of low-cost housing that could (and often does) lead to the creation of ghettoes.

He may well be right (and I hope he is), but the hint that there will be some low-cost housing in affluent suburbs and the assertion that the development of low-cost housing in specific areas is not going to lump together impoverished people together seems to me to be a flawed argument.

I'd suggest quizzing the minister and seeing if we can get a decent thread going on the story... that's what I'm doing...


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