Mayor suggests Minister's Christmas present list: a calculator and a book on amnesia

Thursday 24 December 2009, 7:02AM
By North Shore City Council


For Christmas, Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson needs to get himself a calculator and the "Vintage Book of Amnesia: An Anthology of Writing on the Subject of Memory Loss" by Jonathan Lethem, says North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams.

"He needs the calculator to work out how much GST and income taxes the government stands to make from the $11 billion repair bill to the nation's leaky homes. Current estimates indicate the government could reap up to $2 billion in revenue, thereby actually making a huge profit on this national disaster." says Mayor Williams.

"The Amnesia book would also be helpful to the Minister, as he clearly has a case of memory loss with regards to the National Government of the 1990's which passed the Building Act 1991 reducing regulations on builders and developers. That same government then allowed the Building Industry Authority to approve materials that were not fit for purpose such as untreated kiln dried timber in combination with directly applied monolithic cladding materials that leaked."

"And they allowed the inadequate Commerce Act to continue on unchecked which saw shonky builders and developers being able to shut up shop when claims started appearing, only to re-open under new names and disguises, leaving councils as the last man standing."

"All these factors add up to a very clear picture that under a National Government in the 1990's the building industry was given a free licence to build sub-standard houses. The councils were required to inspect the properties according to the building code and product standards prescribed by government and government agencies. Local Government now concedes that building inspections failed to pick up some errors in construction, but essentially the inspections were doomed to failure as the inspectors were simply following government building codes." says Mayor Williams.

"Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson, a minister outside cabinet, is now trying to blame local government and others for his own inability to reach a rescue package deal, when it is the Minister's completely inflexible stance throughout these negotiations that is to blame for no progress." says Mayor Williams.

"Local Government has made it plainly clear to the Minister that the final deal has to be shared in a more equitable manner and is suggesting 25% from local government, 25% from central government, and 50% from home owners. The package would include loan guarantees, suspensory loans for seniors, and an agreed inspection and remediation service." says Mayor Williams.

"It is not rocket science to work out the government's proposed miserly 10% input would see the government make a profit on the deal, raking in more from GST on the building materials and services, and labour payroll taxes necessary to fix these homes than they were prepared to put into the deal."

Councils are comfortable with contributing one quarter of the repair package, which roughly aligns with their liability under agreed settlements. North Shore City Council resolved in November that central government needs to make a significant contribution to the resolution of weather-tightness issues at a level that is at least equal to the contribution from local government, and to work to progress this matter with central government. There is a moral and ethical responsibility on central government , the government of the 1990'2 that was responsible for this fiasco, to roll up its sleeves and come up with a genuine rescue package in equal partnership with local government." says Mayor Williams