(ACT media release)

“New Zealanders will be demanding answers after learning that the Government’s chief economic adviser opposed its efforts to solve the dispute at Ihumātao”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government purchased the land at Ihumātao for $29.9 million through the Land for Housing Programme, a fund set up to deliver KiwiBuild homes. The goal of that fund was for the Government to purchase land, on-sell it to developers, and contract those developers to rapidly provide new housing.

“But Treasury’s advice to Finance Minister Grant Robertson was that purchasing Ihumātao in this way was ‘at odds with Land for Housing’s intent, operating model, and scopes of related appropriations.’

“There’s certainly no evidence that housing will be built at Ihumātao anytime soon. If anything, the deal has reduced the number of homes that would have been built.

“Treasury warned that there was ‘a risk that Audit considers the expense does not fit within the appropriation scope and is unappropriated spend.’

“A government can only lawfully spend public money if Parliament has authorised spending for a particular purpose.

“Treasury’s advice raises serious questions about whether that has occurred. Taxpayers deserve to know why the Government has decided to take this course of action.

“The Finance Minister seems to have been so desperate to solve a political headache at Ihumātao that he has simply reached for the closest pot of money.

“Jacinda Ardern inflamed the situation at Ihumātao and her Government appears to have abused taxpayer money in trying to solve it.”

Another comment by David Seymour:
Let’s get this straight: Fruit is rotting on the ground because there are no workers. The border to Samoa, for instance, remains closed. Hotels are shutting because there are no tourists. The Australian Prime Minister is taunting us saying ‘if you don’t want Australian tourists that’s up to you.’ What does the New Zealand Government do? Opens the border to Niue.
What’s worse is the excuses. Our Government says that it’s waiting on Australia. Well, they didn’t wait on us to open their borders to New Zealanders. We’ve proven we can open our own borders to *some* COVID-free pacific Islands.
Then the Government says, ‘What if we have to close it again and people get stranded?’ Seriously? What if New Zealanders were adults and could size up risks for themselves?
The Government should be applying ACT’s COVID 2.0 principles of weighing up all costs and benefits in their decisions, and making COVID restrictions proportional to risk. Who knows, treating New Zealanders like adults might just save tourism and horticulture.