1 Jun 2017

Pediatrician, student advocate back Labour rentals bill

9:33 am on 1 June 2017

A bill for heating and insulation standards in rental properties like the one proposed by Labour leader Andrew Little is the only way for the government to reach its target for healthier children, a pediatric expert says.

Labour leader Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Brad White

A Parliamentary select committee has been considering Labour leader Andrew Little's healthy homes bill - which would ensure every rental meets minimum standards of heating and insulation.

Auckland University professor of pediatrics Innes Asher told the committee yesterday it would be an absolute game changer.

"We all know in New Zealand that cold, damp houses make children sick, it's all been proven.

"We've shown that making houses not cold and damp - they're not as sick."

Learn about Regional Public Health's free Well Homes service

Prof Asher said backing Labour's bill was the only way the government would be able to achieve its new Better Public Service target of reducing hospital admission rates of children by 25 percent for a range of avoidable conditions over the next four years.

Otago University's Students' Association president Hugh Baird told the committee many Dunedin flats were simply slums.

"When students in North Dunedin are waking up in damp duvets, mould on their ceilings, shoes that are covered in mould and landlords who for the most part care more about the yield on their flat that the individuals in that flat it makes it incredible tough for students to concentrate on their studies," he said.

"(That's) the main reason that they're there and why the taxpayer pays so much money for these students to be down there."

He said the bill was incredibly important.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the government was doing its bit with its home insulation programme and free GP visits for under 13s.

"Her comments are obviously on the right track and she's an expert in her field so I don't dispute that but the government has done a lot in that field."

The select committee is due to report back to Parliament on the bill at the end of next month.

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