“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.”