Leaky Homes 'rescue package' a giant step in the right direction, but must be fair on super city ratepayers, says North Shore Mayor
The government’s leaky-homes rescue package released today is a giant step in the right direction with the government finally accepting their fair share of responsibility for this man-made national disaster, North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said today.
“Central government has been in denial for years, but this government has finally accepted there is a moral duty for them to front up with their fair share of responsibility for the cost of fixing the leaky-homes disaster resulting from the deregulation of the building industry in the early 1990s,” Mayor Williams said.
“This is a giant step for any government to take, and for this alone Prime Minister John Key and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson deserve our thanks. The government deserves a ‘pat on the back’ for bringing down a rescue package that will genuinely start to put this on-going nightmare behind us. ”
“When talks broke down before Christmas last year, we gave our negotiators, John Banks and Kerry Prendergast, clear instructions that the government’s then 10 percent offer was derisory and insulting, and needed to more closely match the contribution from local government, and to their credit, they have managed to get the deal across the line.”
“Once the details become clearer, the task before both central and local government is to do what we can to help the thousands of leaky-homes victims navigate their way through the rescue package and to arrive at the most satisfactory outcome for them and their families,” Mayor Williams said.
Mayor Williams said that as a result of the government’s rescue package the attention of local government leaders across greater Auckland must now focus on working through the cost implications for ratepayers under the new super city.
“The new Auckland Council will inherit massive exposure to the costs of the rescue package, running into the billions of dollars, and likely to show up in the rates bills of the regions ratepayers before too long,” Mayor Williams said.
“Around 77 percent of the country’s leaky-homes with active claims before the Department of Building and Housing are located in greater Auckland, however they are not uniformly spread across the region.”
“Nearly 70 percent of these are located in the current Auckland City Council area, with around 15 percent located on the North Shore, and around 12 percent in Waitakere. Only 4 percent are in Manukau, and virtually none are in Papakura, Rodney and Franklin.”
“Yet the ratepayers of each of these areas will most likely be asked to help pick up the tab to fix these leaky-homes under the government’s rescue package deal, leaving many ratepayers with a justifiable sense that they have been unfairly treated.
“We need to carefully work through the implications of these realities. If the government’s estimates that there are up to 89,000 leaky-homes across the country prove to be correct, this could mean that there might be nearly 70,000 leaky-homes in greater Auckland, mostly in Auckland City but also on the North Shore and in Waitakere.”
“We need to work out a fair and robust formula to apportion the cost of fixing these leaky-homes across super city ratepayers under the government’s rescue package, so we are not creating anomalies that could see less affluent communities hit hard with significant rates rises in the near future to fund the package,” Mayor Williams said.
Number of individual properties with active leaky homes claims as at April 30, 2010:
Auckland City 1,916
North Shore City 427
Manukau City 120
Waitakere City 359
Papakura District 0
Rodney District 78
Franklin District 6
Greater Auckland 2,906
National total: 3,764
Source: Department of Building and Housing