Turei telling the truth as she saw it

Audrey Young writes that their can be harsh political lessons in telling the truth, and she thinks that Metiria Turei has been taught one, in Harsh lessons about telling truth in politics

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was telling the truth as she saw it, that in order to improve affordability of housing, house prices needed to fall by up to 50 per cent. She didn’t say they needed to fall fast. In fact she said they needed to fall gradually to prevent a crash.

But she didn’t think it through and Labour was smeared with it, less than two months into the memorandum of understanding between the two parties.

Disregarding the political carelessness of her comments, they also breached the agreement because Labour was not warned in advance that Turei was going to posit such a controversial policy. Andrew Little and John Key seized on them.

You can hear it already: A Green-Labour Government says house values must fall. It is a gift that National will return to no matter what qualification the Greens put around it and no matter how much Labour seeks to distance itself from it.

Little needed to distance himself quickly from the Green policy. The only thing scarier than the prospect of falling house values for a home-owner is a politician with a plan for falling house values – and Labour cannot be associated with that plan.

But it appears to have been a carefully planned announcement by Turei.

The Greens promote themselves as a party of principle and courage.

Turei was attempting to meet the challenge of former National leader Don Brash who told me three weeks ago that politicians of the left and right were terrified of saying house prices had to fall.

She later described her own comments in terms of political courage.

Somebody has to be “brave enough” to talk about cutting house prices so a rational conversation about how to do it could begin.

But…

Turei may have told the truth as she saw it but for someone who has been a party leader for seven years, it was careless and damaging to her party and to Labour.

Stacey Kirk: Labour and the Greens fall out over whether house prices should be cut in half

Just two months later the Greens have thrown a grenade at their cosy little home.

More precisely, Greens co-leader Metiria Turei announced (debatably on the hoof) that her party supported slashing house prices in half to fix the crisis.

Labour leader Andrew Little was never going to agree to this – he’s spent the last however many months repeating the word “stabilisation” like it’s going out of fashion.

To add salt to the wound, the first Little heard of the Greens’ plan to drop house prices to about three or four times the average household income, was when media started calling him asking for his thoughts.

Turei’s random announcement is a serious breach of the MOU – there’s no two ways about it.

What possessed the Greens to put a wedge between the two just as the Opposition was making some headway is anyone’s guess.

LabourGreenSplit

How ‘on-the-hoof’ was Turei’s announcement?

At Dim-Post, on the Notes towards a Red Queen hypothesis of New Zealand politics thread, a claim was repeated that everything the greens decide on has to be agreed to by the membership:

RJL:

The Greens are driven by their membership, so for the Greens to move to the right, their membership would need to utterly change. That is, not going to happen.

But Ximenes responded:

Strange that none of the Greens I know knew anything about the latest policy on driving down house prices. Did that ever go before the Policy section or was it just made up on the hoof? At the latest branch meeting not a single person was aware of the policy.

Turei made it sound like it was a party proposal – Greens want 50% house price drop:

“The Green Party is putting together a plan for how to reduce house prices responsibly and gradually, and that will include making sure people who’ve recently taken out big mortgages to buy a home are safe and secure.

“Nobody, including the Green Party, wants to see the housing market crash and equally nobody thinks the current situation can go on like this.

“Our plan for more affordable housing will include building more houses, a capital gains tax (excluding the family home), and restricting non-resident foreign buyers,” Mrs Turei said.

But she went further on RNZ, clearly saying that Auckland house prices should be deliberately reduced by up to 50 percent over a period of time to make the market affordable again.

Andrew Little and Labour weren’t aware of this Green target, and Little strongly reiterated opposition to any drop in house values.

It appears some of the Green membership was unaware.

Was James Shaw in the Turei loop, or did she decide to go it alone?

She may have been telling the truth as she saw it, but perhaps it wasn’t the Green truth, and it certainly wasn’t the whole truth in respect of the Labour/Green MoU.

The truth is Turei made it look like a Misunderstanding of Unity.