18 Nov 2009

PM defends minister's handling of leaky homes issue

6:55 pm on 18 November 2009

The Prime Minister says he utterly rejects the North Shore City mayor's assertion that that the Building Minister is not up to the job of negotiating a leaky homes payment proposal.

Negotiations between the minister, Maurice Williamson, and six local bodies representing particularly affected areas broke down on Tuesday.

At issue is the Government's refusal to pay any more than 10% of the total cost of repairing leaky homes, which is estimated to be about $11.5 billion.

Under the Government's proposal, local councils would pay 26% of the bill, the Government 10% at most and homeowners the rest.

Building Minister 'out of his depth'

North Shore City mayor Andrew Williams says Mr Williamson is out of his depth dealing with the problem and it's time the Prime Minister got involved.

He says it's not acceptable for homeowners to have to pay more than 60% of the bill and the Government must lift its offer to at least a quarter.

Mr Key says, however, that he is already closely engaged with the process and there's a credible proposal on the table that should be adopted.

PM believes it's the right programme

"I've been intimately involved in the development of that programme," the Prime Minister says. "It's been in large part driven by Maurice's office but my office has been closely involved...

"He is simply the messenger for that and he has my full support for that. I believe the programme is the right one."

The councils involved in the talks are those of Auckland, Manukau, North Shore, Tauranga, Waitakere and Wellington.

Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast says she is disappointed that there is divisiveness among mayors over the proposal, as in her view the meetings have been constructive.

She says a majority hope to have a solution agreed with the Government by Christmas.