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Not so fast Minister!

Phil Heatley MP National Party Housing Spokesman

14 June 2006

Not so fast Minister!

"When did Housing New Zealand chairman Pat Snedden tell his Minister that he'd misled the public over the recent hush money allegations?"

National Party Housing spokesman Phil Heatley is asking the question after yesterday's embarrassing admission by the Minister that he had handed out misinformation about when the corporation became aware of the allegations.

"Chris Carter told Parliament that the HNZ board chairman found out about the allegations at the same time as he did. The Minister later confirmed the answer in a written question.

"But now it has emerged that HNZ knew about the allegations a fortnight before they broke in a Sunday newspaper.

"Mr Snedden and Mr Carter were locked in a 'please explain' meeting for hours shortly after the media broke the story. Today, we're expected to accept that the chairman never told the minister he found out two weeks earlier and that, during the lock up, the minister never asked.

"Who is responsible for Mr Carter's misleading answers in Parliament? When did Housing New Zealand tell the Minister he was wrong?

"Was this a deliberate deception? Did the Minister check his facts before answering questions, including questions in writing?"

Mr Heatley says the acid must be put on both the Minister and the HNZ chair after the latest blunder.

"This is a serious mistake. The public expects Ministers to provide honest reliable answers. Yet again there seems to have been a serious break-down in communication between the Minister and his department.

"It's just not right that the Minister can high-tail it overseas with these unanswered questions," says Mr Heatley. "Will anyone be held to account?"

ENDS

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