Around New Zealand there are a number of empty rental houses. Some of them are empty because they are not fit to be occupied. Others are undergoing renovations or maintenance of some description.
However there are also 558 houses, which were tested for methamphetamine only to possibly have the testing done improperly according to Labour Housing Spokesperson Phil Twyford. This is a number of houses New Zealand cannot afford to have standing idle whilst waiting for it to be determined whether or not the proper test procedures were carried out. If one were to assume all of the houses that were improperly tested were found to been used as a meth cook house or have had methamphetamine users living in them, testing them alone by a qualified person could have substantial costs involved.
The cost of cleaning up a house with methamphetamine contamination will vary from one house to the next, depending on the duration it was used as such. An extensively affected house may cost tens of thousands of dollars. The effects might not be limited to the physical house itself either, with possible contamination of the grounds of the property as well. The cost of not cleaning up the methamphetamine is even higher. It poses a significant environmental and health threat not just to anyone who occupies the contaminated property, but also their immediate neighbours. Meth labs are highly toxic, and at great risk of having explosions or chemicals used in meth production catching fire on exposure to air or water.
Privately owned properties are one thing, but properties owned by the Government whose maintenance is funded by taxpayers is something else. Mr Twyford wants Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett to account for the $22 million that has allegedly been wasted by her Ministry, against Ministry of Health advice as well as that of scientists. Ms Bennett should also demand accountability from Housing New Zealand and give assurances to any people that have been wrongfully evicted from their rental homes that they will be appropriately rehoused as quickly as possible. Failing that she is perhaps not fit to be a Minister of the Crown.
Where possible the cost of the methamphetamine clean up of properties should be funded by bad money that has been taken in police methamphetamine operations. The Ministry of Health and Housing New Zealand should cover the rest if the properties in question are state owned.