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A profitable housing policy? The privatization of the New Zealand Government’s residential mortgage portfolio.

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Regional Studies, 34(4), 395-399

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Murphy critically examines the privatisation of the New Zealand government's residential mortgage portfolio, a significant policy shift that occurred in the 1990s.

The study focuses on the economic and social impacts of this privatisation, questioning its profitability and effectiveness as a housing policy. Murphy analyses the historical context of housing finance in New Zealand, the rationale behind the shift towards privatisation, and the subsequent consequences for homeowners and the broader housing market. The author presents a detailed critique of the neoliberal ideology driving the privatisation, arguing that it had complex repercussions on housing affordability and accessibility for average New Zealanders. By scrutinizing government and financial data, Murphy provides insights into how the policy affected home ownership rates, housing market dynamics, and the distribution of housing wealth. As the paper argues, while the housing policies of the 1990s have secured considerable short term benefits for the state, to the tune of $4 billion, the long term implications for home ownership remain problematic, particularly for Māori and other marginalised peoples. There are several other references to Māori in the paper, though this is not the main focus. Firstly, it is noted that a Māori women legally challenged the sale on the basis that the Department of Māori Affairs, who she had her mortgage with, had a commitment to promote Māori wellbeing and the sale contravened this. It also notes that the mortgages from the Department of Māori Affairs proved difficult to sell. The paper also discusses the broader socio-economic implications of this shift, including its impact on social inequality and housing stability. Murphy provides a good overview of this significant change that marks part of the shift in the state’s role in housing provision.

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