23 May 2017

Alfred Ngaro: 'I own my words'

4:51 pm on 23 May 2017

Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro says his greatest regret after making controversial comments about community providers is letting down his Cabinet colleagues.

No caption

Alfred Ngaro addresses media following his comments around community agencies' funding. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

He has fronted up to media more than a week after suggesting community agencies could put their funding at risk if they criticised the government.

Mr Ngaro said he did not offer to resign after the comments, which he made at a National Party regional conference, and acknowledged he was fortunate to still have the backing of the Prime Minister.

Despite what he said, Mr Ngaro insisted government ministers did not make decisions based on agencies' political views, and he regretted creating that impression.

"The greatest disappointment that I have is the fact is that my comments... have let down the team, have let down the caucus and they've let down the Cabinet as well - but that isn't the view, I know, of this government."

Mr Ngaro was asked if his comments showed the third term National government was slipping into arrogance and complacency.

"I own my words," he said, "and I take responsibility for them and I apologise."

Prime Minister Bill English said he did not ask Mr Ngaro to resign, and described him as a good minister.

"Despite the fact that his comments were comments that shouldn't have been made, the community sector has been broadly supportive of him, he's been around to talk to them."

But Labour leader Andrew Little said Mr Ngaro should have offered his resignation.

"Given his failure to understand and stand up for pretty basic standards - you don't go around threatening organisations that receive public money."

Mr Ngaro had also accused some media of manufacturing the housing crisis.

He said he apologised to anyone offended by his comments and was working with community agencies to regain their trust.