It’s time for the National Party to issue an abject apology to the nation… for the 1992 Building Regulations that directly led to the astounding public crisis we now face.
Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson told the Weekend Herald the official $11 billion figure – which experts believe is half the true cost – was about what the Government spent each year on health or education.
“It’s simply ginormous. A Government who’s running very large surpluses would still struggle to find the money to help with this.
“But a Government who’s running deficits – and has a forecast track of deficits for many years out – has to just sit there with its head in its hands, saying, ‘Well, I just don’t how to do this’.”
Further down the article we find that the $11b number bandied about over the last few months was a lie; an independent PWC report commissioned by the govt put the cost at $23b, stating that 90% of homes built between 1992 and 2005 would fail badly. They determined that this affected some 89,000 homes at an average cost of $300,000. And that does not include all the commercial, industrial and public buildings that will also fail. Of course the Nats baulked at this and more or less halved the number they put out to the public at the time.
The vast majority – between 80 and 100 per cent – of homes built with monolithic claddings (seamless-looking sheets finished with paint or plaster) would fail within 15 years.
That style of building accounted for the majority of the 150,000 odd buildings erected in the 17 year period concerned… and most of them will fail, if not already, then very soon. Spending $300,000 on each to remediate/demolish and rebuild is a potential total cost in the range of $30-40b. Given that the acknowledged number attached to this crisis keeps on doubling every year or so, this projection is not unreasonable.
The govt cannot and will not be able to afford this. It will have to come out of ratepayers pockets, or the losses born directly by those ratepayers unfortunate enough to have been conned into buying one of these timebombs. $40b spread over roughly 1m urban ratepayers, over 20 years, is an average increase of $2,000 pa … on top of existing rates. So much for tax cuts.
The Minister in a rare moment of candour admits this:
If they have to face the true liability of what’s working its way through the system now, you will see rate increases in some of those areas of proportions that would make your eyes water.”
As I recall the changes to the Building Regs were controversial at the time, National was clearly warned that what they were proposing was a recipe for disaster, and that disaster has arrived with bells on. What I want is an apology from National, an admission that their incompetence created this mess.. and an open repudiation of the failed ideology that underpinned it.