Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said the Social Housing Reform (Flexible Purchasing and Remedial Matters) Bill allows the Ministry of Social Development to enter into more flexible and innovative purchasing arrangements for social housing.
Ms Bennett said current rules did not allow the best outcomes for tenants and this would allow for better arrangements.
It creates a ministerial direction power to enter into tailored agreements with social housing providers (Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers). Among other things, ministerial directions could allow the agency to purchase social housing places into the future, to fund vacant social housing that may be under repair or awaiting an urgent placement, to pay more or less than the income-related rent subsidy, and generally to enable arrangements that respond effectively to social housing need.
Ms Bennett said nothing in the bill would affect a tenant’s benefits or rent, nor did it abdicate the Government’s responsibilities in the area.
Labour’s Phil Twyford said the Government tried to dress up the move as compassionate conservationism but instead it was an attempt to flog off state homes to developers.
Green and NZ First MPs also opposed the bill saying, amongst other things, it was wrong to erode and shift the state’s responsibility to provide social housing and to sell state owned homes.
The bill completed its first reading by 63 to 58 with National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future in support.
Under Urgency rules, MPs then immediately began the second reading debate.