National leader Simon Bridges is adamant that those Housing NZ tenants found to have used or produced methamphetamine in their homes should not be compensated, saying “what sort of message does that send?”
As many as 800 current and former state house tenants will be eligible for some form of assistance, following a report released by the agency yesterday acknowledging it was wrong to evict them on the basis of P contamination.
That could range from an apology from Housing New Zealand, to cancellation of meth-related debt and repayment, to a grant for household items and moving costs.
Mr Bridges said he had no issue with re-housing or showing compassion on a case-by-case basis.
In cases where it could be proven that tenants had caused the harm to the Housing NZ property by using or producing meth however, he could not go along with compensation.
“I just think where it’s been established that there is illegality, where there is a breaking of the tenancy agreement, re-housing one thing, compensation is a step too far,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.
“I’m sorry, it is not right to compensate those people for what is illegal, what is against their tenancy agreement, what sort of message does that send?”
Asked if the majority of the 800 cases were not people who had used or supplied meth, Mr Bridges said you couldn’t downplay the numbers.
“Ultimately methamphetamine is a scourge on our society, you’re talking about small amounts, I wouldn’t downplay that, the truth is we’re talking about smoking meth, about cooking meth, we don’t want to send messages about those things.”
“I’m not here arguing, saying we shouldn’t re-house, we shouldn’t have compassion on those things, but to write off debts where houses, in some cases, have been wrecked and ruined, and then to compensate for those things, I cannot go along with that.”
Mr Bridges said there was nothing wrong with the test for meth residue that the previous government had used, but it was a matter of standard having been set too low.
“The actual test to establish whether there was methamphetamine there in the house in a level they could pick up, no one is disputing that, not even (Housing Minister) Phil Twyford, he used to try to, he doesn’t now,” he said.