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Mayor: Gov't Plans to Profit with Hoax

18 November 2009

A government rescue package to help leaky homes victims get their homes fixed and get on with their lives will actually make the government a profit of over $300 million, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“After years of berating the previous government for its heartless denial of responsibility for leaky homes and failure to provide hard cash to get the leaky homes fixed, this government has come up with a ‘claytons’ deal that will see local councils paying their full share and the government running away with a multi-million dollar profit,” said Mayor Williams.

“Building Minister Maurice Williamson was roundly congratulated when he announced his rescue package, and despite his steadfast refusal to release the working papers and an independent report to back up his plan, in reality if you do the sums, the figures that have been released reveal a cruel hoax committed on thousands of vulnerable and desperate families.”

“The time has come for Prime Minister John Key to step up to the plate, honour the promises made to these families, dump the woefully inadequate Williamson deal and present local government and leaky homes victims with an honest proposal from central government to help them avoid lengthy and costly litigation, get these homes fixed, and let the victims start putting their shattered lives back together.”

“If this was any other national disaster of this proportion, the Prime Minister and Ministers would be queuing up for the photo opportunities with a big cheque in hand. But because this is a slow burn disaster, the government now seems to believe it can abandon the high rhetoric of their pre-election promises and cover up their deceit with a ‘claytons’ doomed to fail rescue package,” Mayor Williams said.

“Local government is willing to accept its fair share of the responsibility for this disaster and front up with a significant contribution, however the government is offering 10 percent – a $777 million package over 25 years plus $150 million finance funding to councils – when it knows full well that it will recoup more than this amount from the GST alone on the building products and services needed to fix these houses.”

"$37 million per year for 25 years is not a serious government rescue package in the eyes of the New Zealand public, when we have a $6 - $11 billion disaster on our hands." says Mayor Williams.

“It should not be necessary for us to have to shame the government into honouring its promises and into coming to the table with a serious contribution to the rescue package, after all it was only a few months ago that Maurice Williamson was telling New Zealanders that “I’m not a bloke who resorts to crying a lot, but I’ve sat in a room where I’ve nearly found myself in tears when I’ve seen the circumstance that some people are having to go through” and “I think we should move on as a nation and forget about which one of the responsibilities was but make sure we get things in place to fix it”.”

“If Maurice Williamson cannot deliver on these sentiments, then we hope the Prime Minister himself has the best interests of these victims and of New Zealand at heart,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said the major city mayors of those cities most affected by the leaky homes disaster – Auckland, North Shore, Waitakere, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch –are ready to meet with the Prime Minister any place, any time, to thrash out a deal that will finally put this long and sorry saga to rest for leaky homes victims.

“Personally, I feel there is merit in the proposal put to both to the Labour government and National opposition not long before the last general election by Auckland Mayor John Banks and Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast for leaky homeowners and councils to each pay 25 percent of costs and the government the other half, less anything recouped from the builders and architects who profited enormously from this disaster and are now largely getting off scot-free.”

“The percentages proposed by John and Kerry seem to be fair, but if we could get the government up to 25 percent from their derisory 10 percent offer, leaving the other half for the leaky homeowners to pay, at least we will be making progress,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams noted that then opposition building and construction spokesman Dr. Nick Smith told Parliament in July last year that Local Government New Zealand had estimated the cost of litigation over leaky homes to be $800 million and that an Otago University report estimated that over $474 million will be spent on health costs associated with leaky homes. He also noted that former opposition associate building and construction spokesman Bob Clarkson confirmed only last week that National had a secret pre-election policy which bound the government to meeting 25 percent of the repair costs for leaky homes and offering 10 year interest-free loans to leaky homes victims.

"I invite the Prime Minister to step in and take leadership on this issue, do the sums on both the costs and the revenues to government in a properly structured fair deal, and let's strive to have a workable solution in place before Christmas in order to help put tens of thousands of worried New Zealanders minds at rest."


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