Housing Minister Phil Twyford “accepts” the Prime Minister’s advice he went too far in criticising Treasury officials, but has stopped short of an apology.
In Question Time on Tuesday, Twyford said he called officials “kids… disconnected from reality” because he was “frustrated” by their “blatantly wrong” KiwiBuild forecasts.
He prefers the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) advice, which shows much more money would be spent on residential property than Treasury’s forecasts.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said he had gone too far with his comments.
National’s Housing Spokeswoman Judith Collins jumped at the opportunity to grill Twyford over his remarks, asking if he stood by all his comments regarding the Budget.
Twyford, who obviously knew where Collins was going with her line of questioning, said he did.
“Except my description of Treasury officials, I accept the Prime Minister's advice that this went a little bit too far,” he said.
Collins then asked why he made the comments in the first place, given he now believes he should not have made them.
“Because I was frustrated at the forecasts that have been made by Treasury that were blatantly wrong,” Twyford said.
But he doubled down on his opinion that MBIE’s advice was correct, as its officials are the ones implementing the policy.
“When Government officials give advice it's just that – advice,” he said.
“The analysis from MBIE correctly diagnosed the weakness in the Treasury’s forecast [and] that they failed to take into account the fact that the KiwiBuild capital fund is recycled consistently over and over,” he told media before going into the House.
He said it shouldn't surprise anybody that with a policy as “big and complex as KiwiBuild” different government agencies end up with different views.
Twyford stopped short of saying sorry when asked by media if he would apologise to Treasury officials.
“I have reflected on the Prime Ministers advice and I'm not intending to make any further comments on that light.”