Election 2020: Labour and National MPs clash over who is to blame for housing crisis

Labour and National's social spokespeople have clashed over who is to blame for the housing crisis on Friday. 

Labour's Carmel Sepuloni and National's Louise Upston got into a heated exchange over housing supply during a debate on RNZ's Morning Report

They were joined by NZ First's Tracey Martin, ACT's Nicole McKee and the Green's Jan Logie. The debate covered social issues such as child poverty, benefits and housing.

Despite a mostly calm start, things got heated when Upston took a jab at KiwiBuild. 

"The focus has to be on building more houses. I think Labour will have learned that announcing 100,000 KiwiBuild houses doesn't magic up houses," she said. 

KiwiBuild was the Government's flagship policy. It promised to build 100,000 houses in 10 years. But after months of controversy, it was officially recalibrated in 2019 and the housing promise was axed. 

Instead Upston said updating the Resource Management Act (RMA) was the key to getting more houses built. 

"We need to be far more flexible in the range of housing provision to make sure we have a roof over the heads' of all people."

"Children living in a hotel for two years is not a good future for those kids and we've got to do something about it."

But that didn't go down well with Sepuloni who hit back suggesting National was to blame, not Labour. 

"Which started under the previous Government and it's very rich for Louise to talk about  housing when her Government did nothing... and left us with a housing crisis" she said. 

"That is not correct," Upston interjected. 

"The 5000 community houses and state houses that Labour have crowed about completing were all funded, planned and started under the National Government," she said. 

"No they weren't, Louise, no they weren't," Sepuloni interjected. 

The 5000 new homes were also a point of contention between National leader Judith Collins and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern in September.

At the time Collins was criticising Ardern over the number of houses her Government had built. 

"I stand proudly on this Government's record of building houses and I stand proudly on the fact that we have always been very open when a programme that we had proceeded with hadn't achieved what we expected," Ardern said at the time. 

"That does not, however, diminish the 5000 housing places that we very proudly have helped achieve whilst in Government and that is all in addressing the housing crisis we inherited."

But Collins pointed out that Housing New Zealand or Kāinga Ora houses were not included in the KiwiBuild programme, and Ardern said she was speaking broadly about the Government's housing initiatives. 

An AAP Fact Check found that the Government has built roughly 5000 public homes since the election. 

"In September 2017, at the time of the election, the total number of public houses available was 66,187, according to this Ministry of Social Development housing quarterly report," AAP said. 

"In July 2020, there were 71,524 available public houses, according to Housing and Urban Development's most recent housing dashboard.

"That's an increase of 5337, which roughly supports the prime minister's claim."

However, a spokesman for National housing spokeswoman Jacqui Dean told AAP the new public houses were made possible by the previous government.

"When Labour came into government, they were presented with a pipeline of over 5000 public houses," the spokesman said.

"National made the land available for many of those houses, got the projects consented and contracted the early work."