Embattled Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s refusal to answer questions about why the Head of KiwiBuild Stephen Barclay is ‘out of the office’ shows that the programme continues to be in a state of disorganisation and chaos, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“Mr Twyford announced Mr Barclay’s position in May this year with great fanfare, tweeting ‘great to have someone of Stephen’s calibre leading the KiwiBuild team’. But within five months, Mr Barclay is now ‘away from work’ and has not even met with Mr Twyford since early November.

“This begs the question, if the Minister stopped meeting with the head of his flagship programme four weeks ago, what is going on? KiwiBuild is Mr Twyford’s pet housing project, and with it currently failing, you’d think the Minister would be meeting with Mr Barclay every week.

“The Minister doesn’t even know whether Mr Barclay is still being paid. If he hasn’t resigned as the Minister insists, isn’t taking personal leave, and is still employed, does this mean the taxpayer is forking out for a chief executive who isn’t at work?

“To make matters worse for Mr Twyford, another senior official in the Minister’s Transport portfolio, New Zealand Transport Agency Chief Executive Fergus Gammie has resigned. When two high-level officials disappear within a month, it’s clear something isn’t right.

“It’s evident this Government doesn’t have proper regard for Kiwi taxpayers’ hard-earned money, as it’s currently spending $700,000 a day on reviews and working groups. But New Zealanders deserve answers about what is going on.

“With the KiwiBuild programme already stalling, with hardly any homes built, and with even fewer prospective first home buyers committing to those houses, the Minister needs to be seriously reconsidering ploughing on with KiwiBuild.”

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