NZ Election 2020: Jacinda Ardern says it would be 'fantastic' if National's false housing claims were true

National says its housing spokesperson "made a mistake" when she claimed the party built 30,000 state houses during its previous term in Government.

Jacqui Dean, new to the portfolio, made the false claim during an interview on The AM Show on Monday which social media users have described as a "fiasco", "cringy" and a "clusterf**k".

"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," Dean said at first, when asked about the growing number of Kiwis requiring emergency housing. 

"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 the pipeline under National."

Dean was given a number of chances to correct the figure but doubled down, before reluctantly admitting she might have been wrong.

"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." 

National told Newshub the figures were wrong. 

"Jacqui Dean made a mistake when she said the last National Government built 30,000 state houses," a spokesperson for the party said. "She meant to say National built more than 3000 state and community homes during our previous term in Government."

Statistics released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development show Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) built 2670 new homes during National's last reign, and community housing providers built 95. The most productive year was 2015/16, when 724 were constructed. 

But they sold more, the data shows - 2728. Overall, the number of state houses fell during National's nine years in power - something previous housing spokesperson Nicola Willis said was a mistake

The same document says since the Labour-led Government took the reins in 2017, 3064 have been built by Kāinga Ora and 507 by community housing providers. Stuff reported earlier this month they've sold 146

Jacqui Dean.
Jacqui Dean. Photo credit: The AM Show

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday said it would be "fantastic" if Dean's claims were true.

"Unfortunately, as many will know, we've spent our time in Government trying to rebuild the lost state housing stock that we have."

Asked if she was concerned about politicians spouting "blatant falsehoods", Ardern said "most New Zealanders can sniff that one out". 

Coincidentally, the Government announced a $500 million investment in upgrading 1500 state homes the same morning Dean made her "mistake".