Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"No-one to blame"

Last night, Parliament unanimously passed the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services (Financial Assistance Package) Amendment Bill, establishing a rescue package for owners of leaky homes. During the debate, Building and Housing Minister Maurice Williamson was clear in trying to avoid blaming anyone for this multi-billion dollar debacle:

The leaky home problem emerged in the 1990s and Mr Williamson said no one thing was to blame.

"This was a systemic failure across the entire industry," he said.

"This was designers, this was builders, this was materials, this was construction methods, this was consenting, this was inspections, this was homeowners not doing relevant maintenance...monolithic cladding used with no cavities in the building design and non-treated timber was a recipe for disaster."

Notice who is missing from that list: the party most to blame, the government. It was the government - a National government - who deregulated the building industry allowing substandard materials and construction methods to be used and consenting and inspections to be weakened. And it was the government who at the same time cut funding to trades training, ensuring that the market would be full of unskilled "builders" who took shortcuts when building houses. Williamson was a member of that government, a Minister even, so he shares collective responsibility for those decisions. It would have been nice if he had admitted that, rather than once again attempting to avoid responsibility for the crisis he helped create.