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The Right Talk - Hawkins Must Go

The Right Talk

From the Office of Bill English - 22nd November

Hawkins Must Go

It's time for heads to roll over the leaky homes crisis, including that of Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins.

Yesterday, and today, National released papers that show George Hawkins knew more about the crisis than he's been letting on. The paper trail shows there's been a long campaign to keep the scale of the leaky homes crisis hidden from the public and the media. For a start, Building Industry Association boss Bill Porteous has to go.

BIA officials pleaded with Mr Porteous in August 2001 to seek a Ministerial Inquiry, but no action was taken. Later that month a BIA staff member pleaded for an investigation, saying "Do we wait until someone loses a life from the collapse of a balcony?"

Papers received under the Official Information Act show George Hawkins attended a September 2001 meeting of the Building Industry Association, which had been wrestling with the weather tightness issue for years. Hawkins also drafted letters to concerned groups who wrote to him about leaky homes, and there were at least 150 newspaper articles covering the problem before April this year.

Hawkins had to have known. The evidence is absolutely overwhelming, yet he still claims he knew nothing.

If Hawkins truly wasn't aware of the issue until April this year then he is an incompetent Minister who should be sacked, along with Bill Porteous. If he was aware, then he was part of the cover-up and should be sacked.

The Week In Politics...

*National Leader Bill English delivered a keynote speech in Wellington this week, setting out some of National's core principles.

"We stand for enterprise.
"We stand for personal responsibility.
"We stand for strong families and communities.
"We stand for freedom and choice.
"We stand for limited Government.
"We stand for one standard of citizenship - one rule for all."

You can read the whole speech at

*Bill English also used the speech to launch National's campaign against the Local Government Bill, which has the potential to paralyse local authorities and force up rent and rates throughout the country.

The Bill features provisions to give Maori special seats and extra consultation, privileges that won't extend to other New Zealanders. Labour had hoped to force the Bill through under urgency before Christmas, but National is launching a major campaign to change it.

National is organising public meetings in the main centres, and is writing to councillors and ratepayers throughout the country.

*Bill English's speech on Tuesday also featured a challenge to the business community to stand up and fight the Government over dangerous legislation, like Kyoto, Local Government and OSH.

The Government's back-downs in recent weeks (immigration, OSH volunteers, leaky homes) show that strong community resistance backed up by an effective opposition campaign can force the Government to buckle.

*Another example of this came yesterday with Labour suddenly announcing it will cap the number of foreign students coming into New Zealand. It's an amazing u-turn after spending years talking up the value of export education, and promoting New Zealand overseas.

It's also a potentially disastrous knee-jerk reaction - the export education industry is worth over a billion dollars, four times as much as the wine industry. Schools, families and the Auckland region in particular rely on fee paying foreign students, and this move sends the worst possible message overseas.

Any feedback and contributions are welcome - email us at

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