Vernon Small reports:
Maybe it will go down in history as the $92 million tweet.
When Minister Fix It Steven Joyce was wheeled out for his traditional role counter-spinning Opposition announcements he reached for his Twitter handle, as you do.
But somewhere in the social media hurly-burly about housing policy he managed to announce state provider Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) would not be paying a dividend for the next two years.
No such announcement had been made and reporters trawling through the available documents found quite the reverse; two tranches worth $92m in the agency’s statement of intent and also cited in Budget documents on Treasury’s site.
Given the Government’s attacks on similar calls from the Greens and Labour – that dividends were a useful financial discipline – it was an extraordinary revelation, especially to be done so casually.
Think back on the pantechnicon of announcements the Government has made to address its public relations nightmare over housing – one as small as $750,000 for families to leave Auckland – and the idea that it would blow a $92m good news announcement on a 140 character blurt is beyond the pale.
Maybe next year they’ll do away with a Budget and a lockup and just have Ministers tweet spending announcements!
UPDATE: The Minister’s office has pointed out:
the comment was made by the Minister to a Herald journalist on Saturday in response to a query about dividends. Housing NZ has subsequently confirmed they are not anticipating a dividend. It was definitely not announced on Twitter (the tweet was sent on Sunday). The article from Saturday is below.
This puts things in a very different light. The tweet was after the article, and just confirming the comments made in the article.