Labour slams Govt's 'hare-brained' housing plan

Phil Twyford (Simon Wong / Newshub.)
Phil Twyford (Simon Wong / Newshub.)

The Government says it's a waste of time, but Opposition parties are pushing ahead with an inquiry into homelessness.

Labour, the Greens and longtime National ally the Maori Party will be meeting at Te Puea Marae today to kick it off.

At this point all Labour housing spokesperson Phil Twyford's promising to come out the other end with is a report, but is also hoping the two-week hui will come up with some solutions.

"Something is seriously out of whack," he told Paul Henry on Monday morning.

In the past he says homelessness was limited to those suffering from mental illness or addiction - but now it's affecting "a whole layer" of New Zealand society, including full-time workers, pensioners and entire families.

"We've got Government agencies routinely referring people to slum landlords, paying hundreds of dollars a week to live in unconsented garages. Paula Bennett, her idea of a solution to the problem is to pay people $5000 to get out of town," says Mr Twyford. 

"We wouldn't be seeing this sort of hare-brained response from the Government if they did have all the answers and they did have a plan."

Ms Bennett, Social Housing Minister, says the Government's already figured out how to solve the problem, and is now in the "action" phase.

"We've done what they're doing already, and now is a time for action," she says.

"We're a long way through the work plan and we don't see the need to go right back to that inquiry, trying to assess the problem."

Whatever efforts the Government makes, Mr Twyford says its refusal to consider putting the brakes on immigration shows it's "completely out of touch".

Record immigration saw New Zealand's population increase at a record pace in the year to June

The Opposition inquiry starts in Auckland today, and will visit Tauranga, Wellington, Kaitaia and Christchurch. There have been about 500 submissions made.