INDEPENDENT NEWS

KiwiBuild head Stephen Barclay officially resigns

Published: Fri 18 Jan 2019 02:40 PM
The head of Kiwibuild, Stephen Barclay has officially resigned from the role.
Stephen Barclay, head of the KiwiBuild unit Photo: RNZ / Patrick O'Meara
In a statement issued on his behalf, it was announced that he would step down from today.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford's office said he would not be commenting on Mr Barclay's resignation as it was an employment matter.
Last month, Mr Twyford confirmed that Mr Barclay had not been at work for a number of weeks.
RNZ understands Mr Barclay's absence arose from an employment dispute following the KiwiBuild unit's transfer to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
But the minister did not go into further details saying he had followed advice not to be briefed in detail about the matter, as it was not his role to manage individual public servants.
At the time the ministry issued a statement saying Mr Barclay had not quit, despite speculation.
However, the resignation "does not bode well" for KiwiBuild, which "has already shown itself to be a much more difficult beast than Phil Twyford, or the government seem to anticipate," National Party housing spokesperson Judith Collins said in a statement.
Mr Barclay was appointed to the position in May, but had been absent since November. There should be more transparency about what had happened, she said.
"It's taken three months for Mr Barclay to exit from a role he held for only four months," Ms Collins' statement read.
"Mr Twyford needs to come clean. How much has this employment issue cost New Zealand taxpayers?"
KiwiBuild had been "fraught with issues", including houses not selling, and the policy was not working. Mr Twyford should be upfront about why its head could not last a year in the role, she said.
"If, as the Minister has said, the situation involving Mr Barclay taking leave would make no difference to KiwiBuild, then why was the role created in the first place at what is, no doubt, a huge expense?"
Questions about taxpayer money spent on Mr Barclay's salary during his absence were echoed by the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke.
"Taxpayers deserve more answers," he said in a statement.
"In the meantime, we can only assume we've spent three months paying Mr Barclay's salary while he hasn't actually been doing the work. This kind of mismanagement at the top of KiwiBuild bodes badly for the rest of the project."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said the matter was operational, and had "nothing to do with the KiwiBuild policy, or the implementation of the KiwiBuild programme."
The issue was an "unwelcome distraction", Mr Twyford previously said, and would not affect the rollout of KiwiBuild.
Brad Ward has been assisting KiwiBuild with operational support while Mr Barclay was away.
He is a member of the senior leadership team at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
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