Meth house victims being compensated, unfathomable response from Collins, Bridges

People who were unnecessarily evicted from state houses due to extreme testing for methamphetamine contamination will be apologised to and compensated.

Housing NZ to right meth testing wrong

A report by Housing NZ into its response to methamphetamine contamination shows the organisation accepts its approach was wrong and had far reaching consequences for hundreds of people, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

“Housing NZ acknowledges that around 800 tenants suffered by either losing their tenancies, losing their possessions, being suspended from the public housing waiting list, negative effects on their credit ratings or, in the worst cases, being made homeless.

“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.

“They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.

“This is what government accountability looks like. Housing NZ are fronting up, acknowledging they were wrong and putting it right.

“The approach to methamphetamine from 2013 by the government of the day was a moral and fiscal failure. Housing NZ had been instructed by then ministers to operate like a private sector landlord. This led to the wellbeing of tenants being ignored.

“Even as evidence grew that the meth standard was too low, and ministers acknowledged it wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’, the former government continued to demonise its tenants. At any time they could have called for independent advice. Our Government is choosing to do the right thing.

“Under the helm of chief executive Andrew McKenzie, Housing NZ is a very different organisation. It has a new focus on sustaining tenancies, being a compassionate landlord and treating drug addiction as a health issue. This whole sorry saga would not occur under the Housing NZ of today.

“The meth debacle was a systemic failure of government that hurt a lot of people. Our Government is committed to putting this right,” Phil Twyford said.

It was a debacle, and good to see genuine efforts to compensate in part at least.

It is difficult to fathom the National response. Judith Collins:

In Parliament today:

2. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: Is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Methamphetamine is, of course, illegal and is doing immense damage to communities across New Zealand. Our Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere; however, the member needs to understand the counterfactual: it is not acceptable for the Government—for any Government—to throw tenants and their children on to the street and make them homeless. We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant’s problems or help people overcome addiction; it just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, their family, their children, the community, and the taxpayer.

Hon Judith Collins: Where meth testing showed residues exceeding previous standards, can this meth have gotten into Housing New Zealand houses any way other than smoking or baking meth?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No, but there was no consistent baseline testing done by Housing New Zealand over those years. There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. Frankly, I’m shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is OK. Is this the modern, compassionate face of the National Party?

Hon Judith Collins: When he said that “800 tenants suffered by … losing their tenancies,” is he saying that these 800 tenants were all wrongfully evicted from Housing New Zealand houses?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It depends what you mean by “wrongfully evicted”. Clearly, some of the 800 people—and I believe many of those people—had their tenancies terminated and were evicted without natural justice, without proper evidence of the case, on the basis of a bogus scientific standard. All of those people—all of the people who were evicted, bar some for whom the standard of contamination was more than the 15 micrograms per 100 centimetres that Sir Peter Gluckman recommended as a sensible standard—were convicted on the basis of a scientific standard that the previous Government allowed to persist for years on the basis of no scientific evidence that exposure to third-hand contamination posed any kind of health risk to anybody

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: There are many contradictory reports swirling around on this issue, but one that I’ve seen that makes a lot of sense is where, and I quote, “people were unfairly removed. If that’s the case, they should be compensated, and Housing New Zealand management should answer for it.” That’s exactly what today’s report does, and that quote is from Judith Collins.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and who, in some cases, were made homeless. Those are the people who will receive a payment under the assistance programme.

Hon Judith Collins: Will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given $2,000 to $3,000 compensation?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No.

I have no idea who Collins is trying to appeal to by highlighting a problem that happened under the National-led government.

Simon Bridges joined in as he barked at a number of passing cars today.

Alleging “compensation for meth crooks” is a fairly crooked attack.

24 Comments

  1. chrism56

     /  September 20, 2018

    PG
    Remember some people were evicted from Statehouses for running drug sales operations from them.
    Like these
    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2016/09/housing-nz-evicts-woman-over-drug-allegations.html
    If these are the people Ms Collins and Mr Bridges were referring to, then it is quite legitimate to ask if they will get compensation.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 20, 2018

      The incompetence of our politicians is depressing.

      • Griff.

         /  September 20, 2018

        It is what happens when you allow ideology to get in the way of common sense Alan.
        The level of contaminant tested for was such that you would have to lick the entire house from floor to ceiling to get any effect . A few moments on google and a simple calculation will confirm this. P or similar compounds are used as a prescription medicine without appreciable side effects. The entire cluster f was driven by an outdated war on drugs mentality at great cost to both the victims and the tax payer . Drug addiction is a health issue not one for justice to deal with. What anyone chooses to do with their own body in private should not be the government business provided it does no harm to others. Many use drugs even P on a recreational basis. Just because some enjoy use such compounds occasionally does not mean drugs take over their life’s just as many drink in moderation and suffer no ill effects.

        The punitive mentality that drives the war on drugs asserts huge costs on society for no benefit.
        There are far better ways to minimize the harms drugs do than prosecuting people for their use or possession.

    • Griff.

       /  September 20, 2018

      Try reading the story,,,,

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 20, 2018

        Sorry, my comment wasn’t supposed to be a response to chrism56. My mistake.

        • Griff.

           /  September 20, 2018

          I dont quite get why you are apologizing to me Alan.
          As far as I know you are reasonably liberal when it comes to “The war on drugs”.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 20, 2018

            Thought your comment was to me and realised mine was in the wrong place. Yes, the original policy was malevolently incompetent. Now they play politics with the mess they made.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  September 20, 2018

              It was received wisdom at the time.

              If they had let people move into a house that had been used to make P or where there were heavy users, all hell would have broken loose.

              Remember all ths stories about people being ill because of this contamination ?

              Insurance companies were jittery.

              HNZ was doing what they thought was right.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  September 21, 2018

              “It was received wisdom at the time.
              Kitty that is simply not true. What you are claiming has been widely discredited; am not sure how you could have missed this.

              e.g: Housing New Zealand has ignored repeated warnings from senior government officials that the meth testing guidelines it was using to evict its tenants were only meant for houses where the drug had been manufactured.

              The Ministry of Health has repeatedly told Housing New Zealand that its methamphetamine guidelines were to be applied only for the clean up of former meth labs, and were not intended to monitor homes where the drug has been smoked.

              Yet hundreds of tenants have been evicted from their state homes, after Housing New Zealand detected tiny traces of methamphetamine in them, and are often made to pay tens of thousands of dollars in clean up fees.
              Director of protection, regulation and assurance, Dr Stewart Jessamine, said
              the ministry had repeatedly made clear it had concerns about the way Housing New Zealand was using the ministry’s guidelines.

              “The guidelines are very clear – that they are only for use in houses where methamphetamine has been manufactured. We have pointed out (to Housing New Zealand) and communicated that these guidelines are clearly for use in houses where meth has been manufactured,” Dr Jessamine said.
              https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/316591/housing-nz-ignored-warnings-over-meth-evictions

  2. Gezza

     /  September 20, 2018

    I watched the whole video. Twyford’s definitely lifted his game.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 21, 2018

      Not necessarily … Have a squizz at the Opposition!

      • Gezza

         /  September 21, 2018

        I do.

        • Gezza

           /  September 21, 2018

          I dunno if you watched him on the video and compare that performance to when he was new to the portfolio. I just noticed that he argued well and came across as well informed on his portfolio and roading decisions since they took office. He’s more confident and was convincing that he knew what he was talking about there.

          • PDB

             /  September 21, 2018

            Yet only a few days ago he was bumbling around looking like a lost sheep getting mauled by Collins in parliament.

            I think this govt is so crap your expected standards have dropped accordingly.

            • Gezza

               /  September 21, 2018

              Collins’s performances are patchy too. She’s not impressing me much lately. Dunno what it is exactly. My point is I was surprised to see Twyford handle a Question that well, without having to read it off script. It he can do it in once he might be able to do it again. Housing is his big bete noir.

            • PDB

               /  September 21, 2018

              The meth thing is pretty much the only thing he has got right thus far hence he is on solid ground when being questioned. I think Collins has a point about most of these people being evicted anyhow for breaking the rules of their housing agreements but she made it badly and at the wrong time. Timing being everything in politics.

            • robertguyton

               /  September 21, 2018

              As I said just the other day, Twyford’s got this. The responses from Collins and Bridges revealed a sickness of spirit. Paula Bennett exposed herself as ill in that way at the time gloated over this issue when it was live. All round, a shameful, but revealing episode for the National party.

  3. patupaiarehe

     /  September 21, 2018

    Personally, I’m eagerly anticipating the first civil lawsuit against the meth testing profiteers. They have known for quite some time that the results they alleged were harmful, were well below the level of ‘contamination’ found on an average $20 note. Friends of mine lost tens of thousands on a house sale, due to a slightly positive result on one swab out of twenty. What goes around, comes around….

    • Blazer

       /  September 21, 2018

      Former National M.P Mike Sabin made a small fortune-Methcon…well named.

  4. NOEL

     /  September 21, 2018

    The main element of the assistance programme is payment of a discretionary grant to affected tenants, which is consistent with payments made to tenants in the past where Housing New Zealand believed that the tenant was not responsible for the contamination. Based on previous payments, these are expected to be in the order of $2,500 to $3,000 per tenancy. Other forms of assistance will focus on activities that Housing New Zealand can offer through its operations,

  5. duperez

     /  September 21, 2018

    I don’t think the responses from Collins and Bridges are at all unfathomable. They are playing to the gallery. Sounding tough is part of it. Creating enough noise to settle blame on the current Government is part of it.

    In a normal, sane, intelligent world something Collins said on RNZ yesterday would have people calling for her to wash her mouth (and mind) out. In a normal world someone who apparently was a lawyer would hardly consider saying what she said, let alone boldly proclaim it.

    I can’t find the exact quote so paraphrase: “Paying people that money while many are waiting for houses is inviting them back into the houses to cook up their P.”

    The epidemic of P is a scourge on the country. No more though than a would be senior leader of the country showing the qualities Judith Collins does.

  6. NOEL

     /  September 21, 2018

    Those who had proven they were not responsible for the P contamination and didn’t breach their tenancy agreement were compensated before this.
    Using the same measure we are now to compensate those who may have breached their tenancy agreement.
    Might as well remove the illegal activity clause for all future tenancies.

  7. 9 loooong years of ‘No drug reform & ZERO-tolerance’ from the Natl party, they just cant see beyond this 1940s (Reefer madness) view..
    I even question their reported ‘new found support for medicinal cannabis use’.. after they voted against the Greens bill & have now withdrawn support for the Govt. one ! 😦