National's new housing spokesperson has falsely claimed her party built 30,000 state homes when they were last in power, and claimed her party now backs rental standards they voted against and recently promised to scrap.
Jacqui Dean made the bizarre claims while talking to The AM Show on Thursday morning, at the same time acknowledging they could have done better in their nine years in Government.
"Judith Collins, our leader, has acknowledged that we could have done better in our last term in Parliament and we certainly endeavour to do much better than that when we do become the Government.
"Having said that, in our last term of Government we did build 30,000 emergency housing, state housing homes. We had a number of state housing homes in the pipeline, ready for when Labour came into office. Roughly half of those that they have built were already in pipeline under National."
In fact, the state housing stock fell by 2000 between 2009 and 2017. Statistics show in 2008, when National defeated Helen Clark's Labour, there were 65,324 state homes. In September 2017 when National lost power, there were only 63,209.
Figures from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development show National actually built 2670 homes in its nine years - only 9 percent of what Dean claimed - and sold 2728.
If Dean's claim was to be believed, it would mean National built nearly half the country's entire state housing stock - of which construction began in the 1930s - in just nine years.
AM Show host Duncan Garner challenged Dean on the claim.
"To have a politician... come on the programme and say that you built half of New Zealand's state housing stock in nine years - Jacqui, you know that's not true."
Dean doubled down.
"We built a lot of state houses in our time, in nine years... It's true to say that we built half of the housing stock that Labour inherited when they came into Government... Well actually we did quite a bit around the state housing stock. We built a number of state houses. Now, I'm saying it was 30,000.. We built 30,000 state houses. And we left 2015 state houses in the pipeline for this current Government to inherit.
"Thirty thousand is not correct," Garner said. "I'm contesting the truthfulness of your statement... It's not true. You did not build half of New Zealand's state housing stock in nine years."
Asked where she got the incorrect figures from, Dean gave two explanations - one, that she was given the figures by someone else she didn't name, and two, that she found them through her own research."
"If I've got my number wrong... then of course I apologise to you and I will correct what I've said. I may have picked the numbers up wrong."
The number of state houses dropped in the 1990s when National was in power, falling from 69,000 in 1993 to 59,300 in 2000. The Labour-led Government which followed increased that by about 5000, not making up for the loss in the 1990s even as house prices in the private sector boomed.
Dean went on to claim new legislation requiring homes have heating and insulation has pushed up rents, forcing tenants into state housing.
"As a consequence of that, the cost of rental housing has gone up in the private market, which is why people have turned to the state housing market. There are no tenancy reviews happening in the state housing market now - this is why people are turning to emergency housing."
She claimed her party "broadly" supports the standards, even though National and ACT actually voted against the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill which brought them in. As recently as March, National said they would scrap the standards as part of a "regulation bonfire".
National later clarified it would keep the insulation standards, but remove regulations around heating, such as the position of the heat source and standards "that are either replications from the Building Code or establish higher standards than the building code are also unnecessarily burdensome". The party would also remove standards that require "advanced mathematics" to understand.
Dean once fell for a hoax which led her to ask then-Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton whether he had plans to ban water.
National told Newshub Dean had "made a mistake", and meant to say 3000 homes, not 30,000.