Five weeks ago John Key appointed Paula Bennett as Associate Housing Minister, putting her alongside Nick Smith and Tariana Turia in a housing team to emphasise National’s commitment to tackling the crisis of unaffordable housing.
Problem is Ms Bennett still has no responsibilities – “to be advised” – according to the Government website. She doesn’t even have ‘general duties in the portfolio’ as others have.
She has no housing staff in her office and has been unable to answer written questions about her priorities. In fact a written question about her goals as Associate Minister of Housing was referred to Housing Minister Nick Smith’s office and then back to Bennett, and then back to Smith again.
Smith claimed in a written answer he has “formal and informal” meetings with Bennett on housing issues. It’s hard to imagine these will be much use if Bennett doesn’t know what she is doing!
National’s response to the housing affordablity crisis is all about creating the appearance of activity: a three member housing team, blaming Councils, threatening to tinker with the RMA. Meanwhile with Kiwibuild, Labour has a robust, achievable plan that will get 100,000 Kiwi families into their own homes over the next 10 years.