Release of leaky homes advice to government may "cause homeowners undue concern, stress and worry."

Tuesday 15 December 2009, 8:03AM
By North Shore City Council


The Department of Building and Housing, the government’s principal advisors on leaky homes, has denied a leaky homes victim access to reports and advice to the government on the issue because it “may cause homeowners undue concern, stress and worry,” North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.

“This is an astonishing admission by the Department, made in a letter to the leaky homes victim denying them access to the information requested under the Official Information Act, which goes on to suggest that “media speculation to date on what the policy issues and options are” around the rescue package is fuelling victims’ current concerns,” Mayor Williams said.

“The letter also confirms that neither the Department of Building and Housing, nor any other government department, has fully analysed the rescue package to find out how much windfall tax will be raised from the repair programme, income that will offset the government’s contribution.”

“Unless the government properly crunches the numbers on the rescue package, it is impossible for the victims and local councils, who will carry the bulk of the burden for funding the package, to assess whether the package is fair and equitable.”

Mayor Williams said the letter also reveals that the Department has a working deadline for finalising the deal of the end of the year.

“The Department says that the government anticipates the release of the information requested, which includes an expensive report undertaken for the government by Price Waterhouse Coopers, “by the end of the year – as soon as possible after negotiations with territorial authorities are completed” which provides some glimmer of hope for leaky homes victims,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams said that since taking a strong public stand in support of reaching a deal with the government that is fair to everyone concerned, the victims, he has received hundreds of messages of support from residents and ratepayers, and from victims and civic leaders across the country.

“I’m certain that our Council’s stand on the leaky homes issue has caused some degree of discomfort for ‘the powers that be’ but we will keep the pressure on until we get all the facts on the table and robust analyses done and arrive at a deal that will deliver justice to these people who have been suffering for years and deserve the chance to put this national disaster behind them,” Mayor Williams said.

“In the meantime, we have asked council officers to work with other affected councils and Local Government New Zealand to provide a full financial analysis of the government’s contribution to the resolution of the weathertightness problem, particularly with a view to quantifying the costs and benefits to government of any government contribution to the rescue package.”

Mayor Williams said that estimates put the number of leaky homes at between 44,000 and 55,000 homes, mostly in Auckland, and that the North Shore City Council continues to be concerned with the adverse effects on property owners and the financial burden on ratepayers as a result of weathertightness issues, and has reiterated its position that central government needs to make a significant financial contribution to the resolution of weathertightness issues at a level, at least equal to the contribution from local government.

Mayor Williams said he has released the Department of Building and Housing letter after being asked to do so by the victim, and has removed their name and address on their request so as to protect their privacy.