Healthy Homes Bill Also Fails

Warmth and shelter “are basic human needs”

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill failed to pass its first reading in parliament on Wednesday 18 March. The house was split on the issue, with the bill receiving 60 votes for and 60 votes against. In order to pass, however, a bill needs a majority vote.

The aim of the bill was to impose a standard for rental homes in New Zealand. Effectively, a warrant of fitness would be placed on homes in order to qualify them as eligible to be leased. The Bill was sponsored by Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

Most of the opposition to the bill came from the National Government; its coalition partners Act and United Future also voted against the bill. The Labour Party and the Green Party advocated for the proposal, and New Zealand First also voted in the bill’s favour.

Green Party MP and co-leader candidate Kevin Hague argued that having an acceptable standard of living was a necessity for New Zealanders. In a speech to the House, Hague argued that warmth and shelter “are basic human needs that need to be met in order for a human being to meet their potential.”

National opposed the bill on the basis that standards are increasing and it would result in landlords being forced to take their properties off the market due to impossible standards. National MP Brett Hudson contested the proposal saying “an increase in cost to the landlord is going to be borne by the tenants.”

In response, Twyford said that rent prices in New Zealand are determined by “supply and demand” and therefore “won’t necessarily increase.” In his final speech in the bill’s first reading, Twyford said that the cost of renovations to an average New Zealand home was around $5000, which in effect would last up to 15 years.

New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations President (NZUSA) Rory McCourt has since expressed his disappointment with the bill failing. McCourt said “For thousands of New Zealand’s students living in places like Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Palmerston North, this bill would have brought hope for winters without colds, and flats without mould.”

“We’re disappointed National was more interested in political point-scoring than ensuring the next generation of doctors, nurses, teachers and businesspeople can focus on their studies, rather than being sick due to poor quality housing,” he said.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2015.
Posted 1:39pm Friday 10th April 2015 by Henry Napier.