19 Aug 2016

Privileges complaint laid against Nick Smith

9:10 am on 19 August 2016

The Labour Party has laid a privileges complaint against the Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith, claiming he misled Parliament about whether he knew about an official report.

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Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The paper relating to housing demand and supply in Auckland was written by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and said it could take until 2030 for the housing shortfall to be eliminated.

During question time on Tuesday, Labour's housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford, asked Dr Smith, what he knew about the MBIE report.

"Is he aware that his Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials say that his housing boom will take until 2030 to eliminate the housing shortfall in Auckland that has built up under his watch?"

Dr Smith denied it existed.

"I meet with my officials many times a week, and never has that prediction been made in any paper report. It is just another example of that member making things up."

Mr Twyford then tried, unsuccessfully, to table the document. "I seek leave of the house to table that advice from MBIE officials that it'll take until 2030 to eliminate the shortfall," he said. However there was objection.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Twyford said he believed the minister was deliberately attempting to mislead the house with his statement and has asked the Speaker to investigate.

"I'm sure Nick Smith will have seen this report and he knows about this data. This is politics, he's trying to defend his corner, but I don't think he should be able to just black-and-white deny the existence of official written advice," said Mr Twyford.

Dr Smith said Mr Twyford was playing politics by laying the privileges complaint, and the MP had more chance of getting to the moon, than the complaint flying.

He said he would be happy to comment on the detail of the complaint when the Speaker had made his ruling.

"The rules of Parliament are that members are not meant to comment on contempt complaints before the Speaker has ruled.

"The fact that Mr Tywford's been in contact with Radio New Zealand in trying to publicise his complaint just reinforces the fact that it is without merit and is just a publicity stunt," Dr Smith said.

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