OAG raps Govt over the knuckles on HNZ contracts

The Government has been rapped over the knuckles by the Auditor General over its failure to properly manage $2.3m of contracts and conflicts of interest in relation to a merchant banker advising them on the state house sell-off, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“It’s a disgrace that at a time when people are living in camp grounds and garages this Government is ignoring obvious conflicts of interest as they flog off billions of dollars’ worth of publically-owned land and housing to merchant bankers, foreign companies and overseas PPP investors.

“Andrew Body was paid $2.3m to help develop the sell-off policy, then to advise on the sell-off itself. Meanwhile one of his clients – UK-based PPP investor John Laing – was an interested party and is now a shortlisted bidder for the first tranche of houses to be sold.

“Housing NZ has been ticked off for failing to tender six major contracts in breach of the agency’s own procurement rules.

“This dodgy process makes it all the more alarming the National Government has changed the law to give ministers extraordinary unfettered powers to negotiate the sale of state houses on any terms they want.

“Housing NZ provided incorrect responses under the OIA and tried to cover up the conflicts of interest and their failure to tender these major contracts under government procurement rules.

“New Zealanders hate the idea that millions of dollars of state houses are being sold off by and to merchant bankers and overseas companies. It’s even more galling when this increasingly arrogant Government can’t even follow basic rules in the sell off,” says Phil Twyford.