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National must come clean over REINZ deals

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Associate Minister of Justice

12 June 2008 Media Statement

National must come clean over REINZ deals

Associate Justice Minister Clayton Cosgrove says the National Party should come clean over any deals it has done with the Real Estate Institute (REINZ) to wind back the government’s new legislation to overhaul real estate law.

The Real Estate Agents Bill, which has now been reported back from Select Committee, proposes an end to the real estate industry’s self regulation and will instead set up a fully independent body to manage the sector and handle complaints and discipline. The Bill also ends compulsory membership of the Institute.

On June 3, Mr Cosgrove received a letter from a member of the Institute which indicates that deals have been done between some senior industry members and the National Party to wind back this consumer protection legislation. “The letter said the REINZ president Murray Cleland recently told members at a regional AGM that if the National Party won the election it is likely to change the legislation to suit the Institute,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove said this raises serious questions over what deals have been done. “The National Party has confirmed it has met with REINZ representatives so now it needs to come clean on when this happened, who was present and what promises were made. National should tell us if any election campaign funds have been solicited or received by the Party, its MPs and/or its candidates, and whether any contributions have been made by REINZ and/or its member companies,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove said the fact that the National Party cannot come up with any concrete reasons for opposing the Bill adds to the murkiness around its motives.

“National Party leader John Key has admitted that reform of the sector is needed but he opposes the Bill because he doesn’t like my “tough guy” approach. If protecting consumers from getting ripped off and supporting honest real estate agents is being tough, then I am guilty as charged. But that is no reason to oppose this Bill,” Mr Cosgrove said. “The only excuse his colleague Simon Power has come up with is that it doesn’t cover property managers, but Mr Power was on the Select Committee and knows that property managers were ruled outside the scope of the Bill and will be reviewed separately.”

Mr Cosgrove said National Party needs to tell the public if it is simply putting petty party politics ahead of consumer protection or if it has a hidden agenda.

“Either way, it seems the National Party is happy to put home buyers and sellers, plus good honest agents, out on a limb with less protection to keep the REINZ happy.”

"This is standard slippery National Party behaviour. Just like the deals National did with the Insurance Council over their plans to privatise ACC before the last election. They tried to brush it off then and it didn't work and it won’t work this time.”


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