We expect our cars to conform to modern safety standards, so why not our homes?
That's the question posed by the Child Poverty Action Group ahead of today's reading of the Labour Party's Healthy Homes Guarantees Bill, which would ensure all rental homes are warm and dry, including a requirement for a heating source.
Leader Andrew Little has written to every MP outside of Labour asking them to back it. A similar Bill last year narrowly failed to pass, the House voting 60-60.
The National Party doesn't want it, saying it'll push rents up. Instead, it's proposed the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.
Innes Asher, head of paediatrics at the University of Auckland's School of Medicine, says it is majorly flawed: houses will only need to be insulated to standards set in 1978, and not require any kind of permanent heating installation.
"Can you imagine New Zealanders accepting having warrant of fitness for your cars on a standard that's nearly 40 years old?" she asked Paul Henry on Wednesday morning.
Labour's Bill would require all rentals to have insulation that meets the current Building Act standards, set in 2008.
"Every day, children's lives are being irreparably damaged through inadequate, substandard housing," says Prof Asher.
"This Bill is the one that's before us and we all should be supporting it. It's a much bigger step forward than the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill that the Government's pushing forward. That Bill is woefully inadequate."
The irony she sees is that the Government's 10-year health strategy, released earlier this year, singles out cold, damp housing as a major threat to children's health.
"People crowd up into the living room to sleep because they're so cold, and that spreads infection," says Prof Asher.
"We're using dangerous heating, or heating that's hazardous to your health."
The Ministry of Health warns against using unflued gas heaters, a common sight in New Zealand households.
Since the tied vote on last year's Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, New Zealand First -- which voted for it -- has gained an extra MP. United Future's Peter Dunne, often the decider in close votes, also voted for it -- but may decide to back the Government's offering this time around.
Prof Asher says more than 40,000 hospitalisations a year could be avoided if homes were warm and dry.
"I'm hoping that the decency in all our politicians will see it passed."