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Right Talk - 4th October 2002

The Right Talk

From the Office of Bill English - 4th October

Leaky homes - time to put aside politics

Since last week the issue of leaky homes has become even more serious. The problem isn't just confined to Auckland - there are now people coming forward from all parts of the country with some heartbreaking stories.

The Government's answer of voluntary mediation isn't good enough. Their plan isn't binding, so the real culprits are hardly going to volunteer themselves. Their other answer, to take legal action, isn't realistic for most ordinary New Zealanders. Going to court can cost thousands of dollars and take years to resolve, when homeowners need a speedy solution.

This week National rung around the main Courts in New Zealand and found that the earliest they could start to hear cases by would be March next year. That just isn't good enough.

National's plan is to set up a Weathertightness Tribunal, which could make binding decisions on liability, as a practical way to help homeowners suffering losses.

The Government shouldn't be afraid to admit that National has a good idea, like other parties in Parliament have done. With support from Labour we could fast-track the law and have the Tribunal operating by the end of the year.

Most homeowners are not rich. They are ordinary people facing potentially devastating financial ruin, and they are feeling understandably let down by Labour's feeble plan.

The Week In Politics...

*Bill English, Nick Smith and Gerry Brownlee have launched a campaign this morning to get the go-ahead for the Dobson power project on the West Coast. The Government has rejected the proposal, and as a result potential jobs will be lost and the South Island is at risk of more power shortages and price rises.

And all this just to protect 0.03% of West Coast Conservation land, most of which is covered in gorse.

*National's website www.leakyhomes.co.nz has now had over 6000 hits and stories from all parts of the country are coming in.

Experts and the media are saying that National is taking the initiative on this issue, and that we are talking to the people worst affected - the homeowners. The Government seems to be more concerned about protecting those at fault.

*Helen Clark is now refusing to answer questions in Parliament about the issue, although she looks very uncomfortable watching George Hawkins blunder along.

*National MPs are organising another public meeting on the leaky homes crisis, this time for the Tauranga area. The meeting is 2pm this Sunday, St Mary's Church Hall, corner of Girven Rd and Marlin St in Mount Maunganui.

*National's Health spokesperson Lynda Scott has been pointing out the unfairness of the Government's new primary health plan. The cost of going to a doctor is now based on "location, location, location", rather than need or ability to pay. It's unfair and National wants to see the extra money spent more sensibly.

*Bill English is off to watch the Warriors in the Grand Final this Sunday, as a guest of the NRL. He is also planning to catch up with the rugby league players and personalities who were involved in the Fight for Life event with him earlier this year.

Any feedback and contributions are welcome - email us at feedback@national.org.nz


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