North Shore Times : February 7th 2013
www.northshoretimes.co.nz 6 NORTH SHORE TIMES, FEBRUARY 7, 2013 OPINION 2degrees Albany Westfield Albany 2degrees Glenfield Westfield Glenfield 2degrees Takapuna 94 Hurstmere Road 2degrees Wairau Park 16 Link Drive Visit your local 2degree y: 2DEG5040_H *Fair Use Policy applies. Carryover Minute Plan conditions and early termination charges apply. Standard national minutes, data and person to person texts only. Premium rate numbers excluded. Enabling Shared Data on your plan is free until 6 January 2014. Shared Data conditions apply. Calls rounded up to the nearest minute. 3G coverage required for 3G services. Handset offers end 3 March 2013, or while stocks last. Handset prices based on using your Plan Bonus. For full terms and conditions and Fair Use Policy visit 2degreesmobile.co.nz. More Value? No worries. New Carryover MinuteTM Plans are packed full of value. LG Nexus 4 Handset only RRP $799 upfront on a $89 Carryover Plan, with a 24 month term. $0 1.5GB Shared Data All You NeedText* 600 Carryover Minutes 3G msung axy S Duos Handset only RRP $449 1GB Shared Data All You NeedText* 0er s Vii l Sam Gala 300 Carryove Minutes 3G upfront on a $49 Carryover Plan, with a 24 month term. $0 Samsung Galaxy S II Handset only RRP $599 upfront on a $69 Carryover Plan, with a 24 month term. $0 1.25GB Shared Data All You NeedText* 450 arryover Minutes Tk es store today SG$4 Ca M 3G NEW Mortgages and memories CONTACT US To contact Pat Booth email firstname.lastname@example.org or write care of this newspaper. All replies are open for publication unless marked Not For Publication. It was about the time that British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told Brit- ish voters in a speech in Bedford: You ve never had it so good. It was 1957 and he was summing up Britain s recov- ery from the cash-strapped years of war. In the language of our time, that sentence went viral -- from the Conserva- tives of those days who believed it implicitly, through to a sceptical work- ing class in thrall to the trades unions. In the end that slogan defined Macmillan s era -- that, and a very prophetic line about the winds of change sweeping Africa , which he used in a speech to the South African Parlia- ment in February 1960. Ah, 1957 -- I remember the process then that took thou- sands of New Zealanders like us through the wonder- ful system which delivered our first house in our mid to late 20s. That s how we felt too. We had never had it so good. Remembering the experi- ence, my heart bleeds for young people in this gener- ation now that that oppor- tunity is beyond them -- they must often feel that those opportunities have gone for- ever. Apparently our ratio of house prices to income is among the highest in the world. Certainly thousands of young New Zealanders can t see their way to save enough for a deposit, much less covering the high interest and mortgage repayments in the years that follow. (As well as paying off student loans.) Those who followed my generation into first homes didn t have it anywhere as good as my generation. The real facts of home-owning struck home to them when those simple mortgages around 3 per cent soared to a crippling 16 per cent. This was the stage when a young family member called on his bank manager asking for his advice when his mort- gage shot up to an interest rate even higher than that. Feeling hopeless, he asked the man behind the desk: What would you do if you were in my situation? The manager s cold reply: I would never have allowed myself to get into that pos- ition. The young man sold up and took his young family to Australia. Apart from being forced into substandard houses at high rentals, young families are being deprived of a pat- tern of life I believed was not only possible for all but also something which was some- how an unwritten entitle- ment. The first family home I remember buying was in Matipo Rd, Te Atatu, one of a group of three spec houses with a long empty space between us and the largely pre-war homes of an earlier partial development. Unlike young people of today, we had never been forced to slum it. The flats we had lived in had been clean and tidy, though admittedly some- what tired. But this house was some- thing again, with its smell of fresh paint, the smooth surfaces of the walls and no chipped doors, no dripping taps or grub in the bath- room, all the windows open- ing easily to let the country- like scene in. And it was ours! Of course there were some unforeseen hazards. I came home from the Auckland Star one after- noon and there were diggers and tractors going about their business on the open land behind us -- which the agent had told us was to be a park for the children . But when I inquired from one of the drivers when the first swings and slides would be arriving, he gave me an indulgent smile, an old- fashioned look, and waved: Not here, mate. That s right up there. There s 300 Neil houses going in here. And they did. Not to worry. This place was ours. We were free to repaint it as we liked. I can still remem- ber the night I did, the jade wall I produced in the sitting room, and the Tretchikoff print of a Zulu woman I hung on it. (You ve got to get your eye in sometime!) More than 50 years later, I shud- der a little at the remem- bered result. But after all, the place was ours. Then they bulldozed the old shed in the distance and dozens of rats made a run for it. But not far. As far as our new garage where they gorged themselves on the first bag of seed potatoes I had ever bought and then tunnelled themselves into a new home in the dirt floor. WhichIhadtodiguptoget rid of their stinking bodies after they dined in on my poison. Then there was our ver- sion of cricket with neigh- bour Bill White -- bowling and batting in the twilight on the new footpaths around the empty loop down to the stream. The first morning I woke in the house, I looked out the window and there was a smallish boy walking along with his fishing rod over his shoulder and a big fish in his hands. Very Huckleberry Finn. All this was ours! How? Brace yourself. In those days, the Govern- ment paid parents a family benefit of 10 shillings a week per child. You could apply for, and get hundreds of those pounds in advance for a home deposit. It was called capitalisation, and you could only do it once. Loans were available from State Advances at around 3 per cent. More than that, companies like the Auckland Star with a welfare ethic came to the party with more cash if needed for a second mort- gage for staff at around 4 per cent. There is something of the same social thinking in the Greens plan which would have up to $300,000 basic houses to be rented or rented to buy. Odds on new Minister of Housing Dr Nick Smith -- back from the political cold -- won t endorse it. But he should. He needs to do some- thing and fast to meet a serious and debilitating social crisis. As it is, he may feel he s been given a poisoned chal- ice with the housing port- folio. Well Nick, prove them wrong. Thousands of the homeless as well as the country at large want you to get it right. Build the houses, and change the lives of chil- dren and their parents who will then have memories to match mine, of a first home they ll never forget.
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