Housing blame game flares up in Parliament

The Finance Minister has taken aim at ASB Bank, saying it has let its customers down after cancelling thousands of pre-approved loans to people wanting to buy houses.

Bill English says there was plenty of warning the squeeze was coming on low-deposit lending. But that didn't stop the Government coming under fire itself in Parliament.

"It looks like the ASB Bank wasn't listening. They seem to be the only bank that has got themselves in this position," said Mr English.

In the three months to June, ASB had a 73 percent net increase in low deposit loans, compared to BNZ's 47 percent, ANZ's 3 percent and Westpac's just 1 percent.

3 News understands thousands of ASB customers are affected.

"The people who are caught up in this right now have an argument with their bank, not with the Government," said Mr English.

But the blame game raged on in Parliament today, with seven MPs on their feet over just one housing question.

"Why does the Prime Minister blame the Reserve Bank, the retail banks, the Opposition, the general public, everybody else other than his own Government for his five years of failure?" said Labour leader David Cunliffe.

The Government was also forced to reveal it asked the Reserve Bank if it could exclude slow-growing regions with slow-growing house prices, from the low-deposit limits.

"The Reserve Bank governor is independent. His independence has been a pillar of New Zealand's economic policy for years. He made the decision," said Mr English.

Mr Cunliffe says as Prime Minister he would change the policy. 

"We will be giving an exemption for first-home buyers," he said.

So the housing war rages on. Labour's blaming the Government on this one; the Government's blaming ASB.

Today, ASB didn't want to comment.

3 News

source: newshub archive