PHOTO: Building and Construction Minister Megan Woods
The new Building and Construction Minister Megan Woods has admitted the Government was aware of issues around the supply of GIB months ago, but is hitting back at suggestions they didn’t do enough.
The Government on Tuesday announced a taskforce to look into how to tackle the crippling plasterboard shortage, which is causing severe delays in the construction sector.
On Wednesday, Megan Woods said the Government has been working with the construction sector on the issue for months.
Woods said she’s been involved as the Housing Minister but formed the taskforce when she was given the Building and Construction portfolio in the Cabinet reshuffle last week.
Woods took over the portfolio from Poto Williams – who was also stripped of the Police portfolio amid a spike in crime.
Speaking with AM’s Ryan Bridge, Woods pushed back on criticisms of the Government’s response.
“I think people characterising this [new taskforce] as a working group probably have mischaracterised what this is going to do.
“I haven’t put together a group of people to produce a report that Cabinet will consider some recommendations and in several months come up with some solutions. This is a troubleshooting group that has been doing exactly what we have been doing and finding what the roadblocks are and finding fixes as we go.”
Bridge then asked Woods how long the Government had been aware of the issue.
“As I said, as a Government, we have been working with industry on this issue…” Woods said. But Bridge then interjected saying, “No, sorry Minister can we just set some rules for this interview because people, as we just heard from our previous guest, there are builders about to go to the wall. So let’s just be really clear and cut the nonsense, when did you realise there was a GIB crisis?” Bridge asked.
“There is no nonsense,” Woods responded. To which Bridge fired back, “Well then answer the question”.
“I realised months ago, we realised months ago…” Woods said before Bridge cut her off.
“Months ago, okay so how many months ago,” he asked.
“I think it was clear from the end of last year that we were getting a range of products within the construction sector that were getting tight in supply, that has accelerated this year and it is exactly why…” Bridge then tried to cut in again but Woods fired back saying,” Can I just answer the question?”. To which Bridge replied, “You have answered the question, Minister, you have answered the question so let’s move to the next one”.
Bridge then questioned when Woods asked officials what rules would need to be changed or fixed to deal with the crisis.
“Well as I have said, I’ve been Minister of Construction for a week but I know that work…that very question has been asked weeks if not months ago – whether or not a simple law change would fix it,” Woods said.
Bridge then interjected again saying, “There’s a big difference between weeks and months”.
To which Woods fired back, “What we have been doing is the stuff that your previous guest was talking about which is making sure that we are issuing the guidance of how we can do those substitutions, how it is that we can put products other than GIB in that are certified to do the same structural pieces.
“That guidance has already been issued. We already see some councils… Auckland Council is doing a really good job of taking that up so that work is underway. This is an ongoing piece of work and when the question was asked, ‘would a simple law change fix this?’ the answer was no.”
But Bridge hit back saying, “No one asked that question so let’s not answer questions that haven’t been asked”.
Woods continued, saying there are four other products that are certified to replace GIB. She said they’ve been certified for years.
But earlier on AM Build Bright Director Jennifer Taylor said the products available aren’t enough.
Taylor said the Government needs to certify other brands to help keep up with demand immediately.
“It’s actually a lot more simple than is being made out and I would be interested to know what the Government has been doing particularly with the likes of MBIE (Ministry of Business and Employment),” Taylor said.
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