Radio NZ reports:
The credibility of the Housing Minister is on the line after a week of shifting stories about a key element of KiwiBuild.
Well the credibility is pretty low already as the promised 1,000 homes by 30 June is currently sitting at just 80.
Ms Collins cited the ministry’s response in Parliament on Wednesday – that the required test was “done verbally with builders and no written record existed”, prompting her to question if officials were playing “fast and loose” and it was all done with a handshake.
Surprised by that, Mr Twyford tried to clarify the situation and said the request had been misinterpreted by the ministry. He gave assurances the process was robust and there were “a number of communications and documents” officials would provide to back that up.
“While there is no specific single assessment document as requested by the National Party research unit, there are other documents and communications that set out the negotiations and record the ministry’s work in this area”, he told Parliament.
In the next hour he was repeating those assurances to reporters.
“I’m satisfied that they [ministry officials] are subjecting these contract negotiations to the kind of scrutiny they need and there is a trail of documentation to support that,” he said.
So the Ministry said there was no written record of a test for whether a development would increase the number of houses, but Twyford said there was.
But that was not the case.
Housing Ministry chief executive Andrew Crisp declined to speak to media, but issued a written statement saying “no such documentation exists as there is not a standalone additionality test”.
The story then shifted to a statement there was written evidence developers had to prove their case for a Crown underwrite, but that was buried in commercially sensitive contracts the ministry is refusing to make public – even in redacted form.
‘Additionality’ is the officials’ way of describing the criteria for the underwrite. The ministry said “additionality is assessed as core part of the business case for a KiwiBuild underwrite”, rather than by a standalone test.
Again, this is contrary to past statements by the minister, who speaking in Parliament in March referred repeatedly to the additionality “test”.
As recently as Wednesday, Mr Twyford talked about the ministry advising him “they apply an additionality test”.
So it is a non existent test.