Compensating Housing NZ tenants who were evicted for using methamphetamine or allowing its use in their homes is a “disgrace,” National’s Judith Collins has said.
Mrs Collins said it was unacceptable that taxpayer money was being used to compensate former tenants who were evicted because of their "criminal activity".
“People were evicted from their houses by Housing New Zealand based on the standards of the day which was all around the health testing for methamphetamine contamination,” Mrs Collins said.
“Government had to take the advice of experts which were Housing NZ, Ministry of Health, MBIE, all the people who are the experts on this.”
“To now compensate people, 800 people, who were evicted from homes because they were smoking methamphetamine or allowing their houses to be used for it is an absolute outrage.”
“They’re being compensated with taxpayer money because of their criminal activity and that is not at all acceptable.”
This morning, Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the meth contamination scandal was a failure of the previous government and National had already paid for it because “they are no longer ministers”.
“Housing NZ is committed to redressing the hardship these tenants faced. This will be done on a case by case basis and the organisation will look to reimburse costs tenants incurred, and make discretionary grants to cover expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement,” he said.
Mrs Collins stood by the policies of the ministers in the National government, saying they were acting on the best advice at the time.
“Housing NZ made their decisions based on the evidence at the time and I absolutely support the fact that the ministers had to do what they had to do based on that evidence.”
Certain tenants should not be let back in, including those who had sold P from their homes, Mrs Collins maintained.
“Some people should not be back in state houses because they were using their state houses for criminal activity, not just in some cases smoking methamphetamine or allowing their houses to be used for it, but actually for cooking it and selling it and these are now people who are apparently going to get compensation.”
Mrs Collins rejected the view that addiction was a health issue for those tenants who had manufactured the drug at Housing NZ properties.
“I don’t believe for a moment that using your house for methamphetamine consumption, cooking it up, and selling from it is something that is a health issue, that’s a criminal activity.”
When Jacinda Ardern arrives in New York next week for her first United Nations General Assembly meeting, she's under no illusions she'll be able to focus solely on issues of national significance without fielding multiple questions about motherhood.
"Are you comfortable with pictures being taken and used in newspapers around the world?" 1 NEWS political editor Jessica Mutch McKay asked the Prime Minister in a one-on-one interview today.
Ms Ardern will be taking her daughter with her and plans to juggle responsibilities just like any working mum would, she said. But her schedule, which will include multiple keynote addresses and media appearances, will be more rigorous than an average business trip.
"I accept that by being in office and being the second woman to have a child in office that that's interesting, that's unusual," she said.
"There will be a day when it's not anymore, when it won't be seen as an extraordinary thing, and I look forward to that day. But for now, it is what it is."
Ms Ardern says she will try to keep Neve in her vicinity while working and be "discrete" while caring for her between engagements in an attempt to protect her privacy, as she has done in New Zealand since returning from maternity leave in August.
She said she hasn't given it much thought as to whether her unique situation has given her a larger platform on the world stage.
She suggested she won't be surprised if motherhood comes up during her scheduled media appearances, which include the Today Show, Late Night with Stephen Colbert and an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
"It's hard for me to quantify how much of that (international attention) is based on the interest in the fact that I'm a mum now," she said.
"I certainly make sure that when those opportunities arise, though, I come squarely back not to my personal issues but to the role that New Zealand can play on the international stage.
"The values we advocate. The things that are of New Zealand's interest, not just mine."