8 Sep 2016

Labour talks housing after hijacking bill

9:38 am on 8 September 2016

A legislative blunder has allowed Labour to tack their housing policies onto a government bill.

Phil Twyford

Phil Twyford said it was refreshing to have some debate on housing policy. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Labour MPs seemed delighted to talk about the housing crisis, and homelessness, for several hours yesterday, as they filibustered the government's legislation extending the life of special housing areas.

Parliament had gone into urgency to pass the legislation - and continued in urgency after opposition parties hijacked the government's legislation.

When the government attached two separate pieces of pending housing legislation to the same bill, the Speaker declared it an omnibus bill, which allowed Labour to tack on most of its housing policy, from building affordable houses to banning foreign buyers.

Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford seemed particularly pleased.

"And I must say, how refreshing it is to finally have some good housing policy to debate.

"And for those of you who take an interest in #changethegovernment this afternoon in the House is a little opportunity to get a feel for what it's going to be like after the election next year," he said.

His Labour colleague, Kelvin Davis, enjoyed hearing what his fellow MPs had to say.

"It's a great day to be in opposition I have to say, a great day for the opposition, this has been a day where the opposition has been able to talk at length, non-stop, about our suite of housing policies."

But Housing Minister Nick Smith made it clear what he thought of their tactics.

"Because it exposes, for everybody to see, what a bunch of flakes they are when it comes to housing policy."

One after the other, the government voted down the opposition's housing policies last night.

ACT party leader David Seymour accused Labour of hypocrisy, as it had earlier criticised the government for debating housing legislation under urgency.

The legislation, which allows special housing areas to be created for another three years, finally passed shortly before 11pm.

The Labour, Green, New Zealand First and Māori parties opposed the bill.

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