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Smith and National responsible for BIA decisions

10 March 2005

Nick Smith and National responsible for BIA decisions

Claims by National MP Nick Smith that the government is being heartless in its handling of families caught up in the leaky buildings saga are ridiculous, Building Issues Minister Chris Carter said today.

"It is extraordinary for Nick Smith to cry crocodile tears for families affected by the leaky building problem, when all of the Building Industry Authority (BIA) decisions he claims were unlawful were made while he and his National Party colleagues were in government," Mr Carter said.

"Nick Smith put on a performance at a parliamentary select committee this morning about decisions the BIA took in 1995 around insurance arrangements for building certifiers. What he omitted to mention was the decisions were made under a National government, which remained in power for a further four years.

"Smith also criticised a BIA decision to allow use of untreated timber in housing. That decision was taken by the BIA at the start of 1998 when Nick Smith was in Cabinet. National should have been monitoring the BIA's decisions and failed to do so," Mr Carter said.

"Its a bit rich for National to call the Labour-led government heartless when we have had to overhaul the entire Building Act to fix up a systemic failure National created in 1991 with a slack approach to regulation.

"The government is only too aware of the strain the leaky buildings problem is placing on some families," Mr Carter said.

"That is why we have significantly enhanced the level of consumer protection in the new Building Act, and paid for a Weathertight Homes Resolution Service to provide home-owners with a means of establishing whether their house has a leaky building problem, who is liable for it, and what compensation will be paid.

"Legal advice to the government is there is no legal liability for the Crown in the leaky building saga. As such, it would be completely inappropriate for the government to accept liability, and put at risk taxpayers money. If parties wish to test this situation, then the Court is the appropriate place to do so given the complexity of the legal arguments," Mr Carter said.


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