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Housing Minister Phil Twyford has shown how fast and loose he is playing with taxpayer money by underwriting millions worth of KiwiBuild houses based on little more than casual chats with developers, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“Last month we found out Mr Twyford agreed to underwrite KiwiBuild houses with developer Mike Greer Homes, despite many of these already being built before KiwBuild got involved.

“Now the Minister has admitted he was surprised to learn – after questions from the National Party – that the test his officials used to determine whether the underwrite would apply was done verbally with the builder.

“Mr Twyford’s underwrites guarantee a minimum price for KiwiBuild homes that don’t sell, shifting the risk from the developer to the taxpayer. He was very fast and loose with taxpayers’ money last year, signing off $660 million worth of underwrites.

“Conversations are hardly a robust assessment of whether these homes will present a risk to the taxpayer, which is a real possibility given the shambles KiwiBuild has been to date.

“Only a third of the houses have sold; the Minister has already had to buy unsold houses and is now stuck with them; he has missed building targets and announced a recalibration in January that he said would take a few weeks, but still hasn’t been announced.

“Not only does this show how on-the-fly KiwiBuild has become. The lack of a paper trail for these government underwrites flies in the face of promises to be open and transparent.”

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