Tuesday, 16 March 2021

ACT requests Auditor-General inquiry into Ihumātao


“I have today written to the Auditor-General asking him to investigate the circumstances surrounding the agreement reached by the Government on the future of Ihumātao, announced on December 17,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“At issue is the use of $29.9 million from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s Land for Housing Programme, which the Auditor-General assessed separately in 2019.

“That assessment found Land for Housing followed a well-defined process which the Auditor-General considered ‘robust.’

“It was based on a clear two stage process: ‘assessment of land for entry into the programme; and identification of an appropriate development partner.’

“I have put it to the Auditor-General that the land at Ihumātao does not meet the criteria he described in 2019 and therefore he should investigate.

“The Treasury would appear to agree with me.

“In the days before the Government announcement last December, the Treasury clearly argued that using funding from the Land for Housing Programme was not advised because the decision appeared to be at odds with the proposed approach:

“It said:

  • ‘If Cabinet wants the Crown to purchase the land at Ihumātao, we do not recommend doing so through the Land for Housing Programme.’
  • ‘Land for Housing is a KiwiBuild programme focussed on rapidly providing new housing through a recycled capital model. This appears to be at odds with the proposed approach to develop a Memorandum of Understanding across several parties regarding how future use and development will be agreed.’

“Treasury also said there were fiscal implications with the approach, concluding:

  • ‘We do not agree that current and possible financial implications of the proposal can be managed through the existing Land for Housing appropriations.’
  • ‘There is a risk that Audit considers the expense does not fit within the appropriation scope and is unappropriated spend.’

“I have made the point to the Auditor-General that the Land for Housing Programme sits within an important and highly public housing agenda for the Government and there is significant public interest in the way it operates.

“I hope he undertakes to investigate the Government’s approach to Ihumātao so the public can learn whether taxpayer money is being used appropriately.”