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Govt agencies boycott leaky homes symposium

Govt agencies boycott leaky homes symposium

National Party Building and Construction spokesman Nick Smith says he is “flabbergasted” that key government agencies are boycotting a symposium on the leaky homes crisis.

The ‘Leaky Buildings Symposium: Causes and Solutions’ has been organized by Professor Geoff Duffy of Auckland University’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, and will be held this coming Monday and Tuesday.

In a letter to the University of Auckland dated 7 June, The Chief Executive of the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), Peter Robertson, said ‘BRANZ is involved in a variety of ways in various legal proceedings relating to the weathertightness issues. For that reason it is important that we refrain from entering into public discussion and debate concerning the historical problems and responsibilities associated with leaky buildings.’

In an email to the University, a BRANZ research scientist said the decision was ‘a pity from a technical point of view’.

Dr Smith says homeowners, who fund BRANZ through the building levy, will be disgusted that the association seems to be more interested in protecting itself from liability than getting to the bottom of the leaky homes problem.

The Department of Building and Housing also declined to participate, stating ‘this is because as framed, part of the symposium seems to the Department to present weathertightness as a new and possibly sensational issue’. The letter also cites concerns that the symposium ‘contains references to commercial products’.

On Friday the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service, the body charged with resolving the problem of thousands of leaky homes, cancelled the registrations of its Chief Assessor, Tony Minchin, and Technical Advisor, Neil Mettrick.

“These government agencies seem to be taking a lead from Helen Clark who described the leaky homes debacle as a ‘media beat-up’,” says Dr Smith.

“The legal and commercial excuses for not participating do not wash. The Labour Government and its agencies have their heads in the sand about the seriousness and scale of the leaky homes debacle.

“In part, the leaky homes scandal was caused by a culture of arrogance among officials who refused to heed warnings from respected building experts and ignored international experience.

“The most worrying part of the refusal of government agencies to participate in this symposium is that that culture of arrogance has not changed,” says Dr Smith.


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