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Auditor-General to investigate KiwiBuild

The Auditor-General’s office has confirmed it will investigate concerns raised by National about taxpayer cash being used to underwrite KiwiBuild houses, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“I’ve discussed with the Auditor-General several concerns I have about the way KiwiBuild operated under former Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. I’m glad his office agreed my concerns were worthy of further examination.

“In my view, serious questions need answering about the way taxpayer funds were used to prop up Labour’s flagship housing programme. My main concern is the suspicious-looking deal to underwrite houses already under construction in Canterbury and Auckland.

“KiwiBuild’s Cabinet paper made it clear the taxpayer underwrite – which guarantees developers a minimum price for houses that don’t sell – was for homes sold “off the plans” and offered for sale “in the first instance” to KiwiBuild buyers.

“But KiwiBuild underwrote a development in Otahuhu where all of the apartments were already complete. Council documents show the apartments were built to plans approved before the last election, and construction started before Phil Twyford became a Minister.

“The apartments were also unsuccessfully offered for sale at the same price KiwiBuild later underwrote them for.

“All of this runs contrary to what Cabinet had approved funding for. There was absolutely no benefit to taxpayers by underwriting these already complete apartments.

“Houses underwritten in Huapai, north of Auckland, and Canterbury fall into the same basket. They were under construction and unsuccessfully marketed well before KiwiBuild.

“What’s worse, the houses in Otahuhu, Huapai and Canterbury are all struggling to sell and the Government has been forced to step in and buy them with taxpayer cash.

“Phil Twyford committed to underwriting $660 million worth of KiwiBuild houses during his time in charge, leaving taxpayers with plenty of reasons to be worried.

“I’m very concerned that money has been appropriated by Cabinet and then used for a purpose that was not exactly agreed to. That is a serious issue and one for which Phil Twyford and any other Minister involved should be held to account."

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