Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A start on odious debt

Last year, when the government finally admitted that the meth-testing industry was a scam and that they had wrongfully evicted hundreds of state housing tenants on the basis of bullshit "meth tests", it moved swiftly to compensate its victims. But that's not enough - some of those it evicted ended up in emergency housing, which heartless bastards WINZ charged them for. But now, the government is wiping and repaying that odious "debt":

The Government is cancelling up to $3.2 million of debt racked up by hundreds of people who were wrongfully kicked out of their Housing NZ homes over a flawed methamphetamine test.

But the debt write-off won't cover social welfare payments for medical or dental costs, nor is compensation being offered for any private debt that followed the evictions.

Last year Housing NZ apologised after admitting to using a methamphetamine test that had little merit and led to about 800 tenancies being shut down. The test was 10 times lower than what it should have been, and based on guidelines not meant for anything but former labs.

Its a start, and a good one - but its also obvious that it doesn't go far enough. These people incurred significant costs due to a wrongful decision by the government. And the government should pay every last cent of those costs, in addition to compensation for the wrong they did.

But even that isn't enough. Because WINZ's "debt" for emergency housing - essentially incurred because either HousingNZ or WINZ failed to do their job by providing a house - is inherently odious. Its not enough for WINZ to stop charging people for its failures - they need to wipe these "debts", and repay every dollar that was "repaid" to them. Our government agencies should not act like slumlord loansharks. it is that simple.