Political party promise to improve unhealthy homes ‘could swing the election’


Promises to improve the woeful state of New Zealand’s unhealthy homes could be enough to swing the vote of over a million voters, according to a recent poll.

Asked in a recent ConsumerLink survey ‘Would you be more likely, the same or less likely to vote for a political party that promised to significantly and urgently improve the state of unhealthy homes in New Zealand when in government’, one in three said they would be more likely to cast their vote for a party making such a promise.

In what looks like a tight election year, the Green Building Council, who commissioned the survey, said any party pledging to fix poor quality homes could swing the election in their favour.

“Every winter thousands of New Zealand families are living in cold homes that are impossible to heat. Our hospitals are inundated with respiratory illness and our electricity grid struggles to keep up with the surging energy demand. Something has to change,” Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles says.

The survey comes hot on the heels of the launch of a vast, unprecedented alliance of business, health, sustainability, environmental, consumer, anti-poverty, building and housing organisations calling for all political parties to prioritise a ‘pollution busting home reno programme’ for hundreds of thousands of homes if elected.

The alliance has now soared to over 150 organisations, including the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, Consumer NZ, Bayleys, Bunnings, Greenpeace Aotearoa, Child Poverty Action Group, Lawyers for Climate Action, JLL, Pure Advantage, Vector, Sustainable Business Network, WSP, Green Building Council, and many more.

“We’re set for a tight election this year, and a third of Kiwis are saying their vote could be swayed for a party that promises to improve New Zealand’s infamously unhealthy homes. This hot button issue could swing the election later this year," Andrew Eagles says.

“Coupled with the huge and growing alliance calling for political parties to make an election promise to fix hundreds of thousands of cold, damp homes, the pressure is surely growing on politicians to act. Doing so would slash carbon pollution and household bills – particularly important while the costs of living are rising. Plus it would improve the health of thousands of Kiwis, and provide thousands of jobs for a slowing construction industry. And on top of all that, we now know it would also make sound political sense.”

The survey took place just before the recent devastating floods struck New Zealand. Scientists have since found that climate change made the rainfall from ex-tropical cyclone Gabrielle heavier. Since Gabrielle, more than half of Kiwis now want the government to act with greater urgency on climate change, a 1News Kantar poll found.

The most recent census discovered that over 300,000 homes in New Zealand were always or sometimes damp, more than 250,000 homes had visible mould larger than A4 size at least some of the time, and that Māori and Pacific peoples were more likely to live in homes affected by dampness or mould than other ethnic groups. Over two in five Māori and Pacific peoples lived in damp housing.

Ambitiously renovating New Zealand homes would make a fully renewable, fossil fuel free electricity system easier and cheaper to achieve by dramatically reducing electricity demand for heating – while also helping to alleviate the so-called ‘dry year problem’, recent research has found.

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