Labour Leader Helen Clark said today that a new housing report damning the government's market rents policy has again highlighted the linkage between poor quality housing, poverty and ill health.
"The New Zealand Christian Council of Social Services should be congratulated for this report. Once again we see clear evidence of the hardship from those people who work at the front-line picking up the social deficit caused by this National government's failed housing experiment.
"The destructive effects of the free market state house rentals policy are numerous.
"Health officials have reported diseases like tuberculosis and measles, which spread easily in populations living in damp, overcrowded accommodation, re-emerging in areas like South Auckland. That the rates of these diseases are increasing in New Zealand as we enter the 21st century is a damning indictment on nine years of National maladministration.
"Housing is a key determinant not only of health but also education status. Overcrowded living conditions help spread disease and leave children poorly motivated at school.
"If the mark of a decent society is how it treats its most vulnerable, then New Zealand in 1999 measures poorly.
"New Zealanders face a clear choice this election: they can vote for a Labour government which will tackle poverty and get rid of state house market rents, or they can vote for National's tax cuts for the rich and see low income New Zealanders continue to live in squalor," Helen Clark said.