Kate Hawkesby: How long can you blame previous governments?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Jun 2021, 8:21AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: How long can you blame previous governments?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Jun 2021, 8:21AM

I note the Deputy Prime Minister was yesterday blaming yet more things on the previous government.

Here’s the thing about that approach. It’s relevant when you’re literally just into office, or in your first term, but these guys are onto their second term. At what point are they going to start taking accountability?

Mental health? Previous government’s fault. Nurses underpaid? Previous governments fault. Housing? Previous governments fault.

Latest QV figures yesterday show house prices are still up – and by quite a lot – compared to last year.

This government has taken action, but the question remains; is it working? Well not yet.

Though I note they’re pointing at ‘trends’ in the right direction.

But in the same breath, Robertson is quick to shift blame to previous governments.

If we’re going down that track, you could go back to actually every government, because in reality, no government has fixed housing. And Grant Robertson at least acknowledges that by saying not enough houses have been built over the past 10-15 years, which encapsulates both Labour and National governments.

And here’s where his new job as Minister in charge of delivery kicks in – he has to deliver.

By blaming previous governments and alleging that your government will now fix the problem, you’ve set yourself up with a huge goal and a big expectation.

Labour claims to be doing more for housing in terms of building houses, ‘at a faster rate than any government since the 1970’s’.

They’ve also introduced new tax changes, brought in the foreign buyer ban, all these tweaks in the hope of shifting the dial on housing in a meaningful way.

So if the numbers aren’t changing yet, but the ‘trend’ is there, when do we start measuring progress?

And who can take the credit for it?

Is housing in all reality, purely cyclical? Is it bigger than governments and their tweaks; is it bigger than political rhetoric and tax fiddles? Or can a government tangibly carve a new path for housing?

I’m all for it getting sorted, if that’s possible and do-able, who isn’t?

But it requires those at the helm to own it, to deal with the reality of the here and now, not chase shadows, or blame previous governments. They need to put up some tangibles and some hard and fast numbers, not wave vaguely at trend forecasts.

To truly own a solution, you have to first own the problem.

Only by acknowledging where their own government has gone wrong on housing, will they be able to get to the bottom of any real solutions.