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If ‘everyone knew’ why didn’t Bill speak sooner?

22 November 2002 Media Statement

If ‘everyone knew’ why didn’t Bill speak sooner?

A letter from Ian Holyoake, Managing Director of Hitex Plastering Ltd, was received in my office in August last year and forwarded to the Building Industry Authority for consideration.

In accordance with standard practice in Minister’s offices, a draft response was prepared by the BIA in response to the letter and signed out on 7 September 2001.

The response to Mr Holyoake highlights the fact the BIA was already represented on a Steering Group set up by the industry to look at issues such as those raised by Mr Holyoake.

My letter at the time highlighted that the BIA would advise me if any amendments were proposed to the Building Code.

We have learned recently the BIA knew prior to April 2002 of issues relevant to weathertightness and ought to have expressed to me any concerns they had. They did not.

No correspondence on this issue from them in 2001 characterised weathertightness problems as a crisis requiring government intervention.

At no time did the correspondence talk about numbers, or thousands of homeowners being in crisis. I repeat again that the first official advice I received of the full extent of the problem was 30 April 2001. Those officials have now apologised.

Finally, I have been criticised for failing to act sooner, with some people saying newspapers such as The Herald ran stories on the issue last year ‘and everyone knew’ there was a problem.

As Minister, I rely not on the media for direction in matters such as this. I have to rely on my paid officials.

If ‘everyone knew’, where were the written or oral questions in Parliament last year from Bill English and the rest of the National Party.

ENDS

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