Govt 'creatively accounting' for rebuild

20:30, Aug 10 2014

NZ First leader Winston Peters has accused the Government of deceit on the cost of the Christchurch rebuild and on foreign land ownership.

The Government was applying "creative accounting" for the city's rebuild estimates and costs in order to claim the small surplus in the last Budget, Peters told a Grey Power meeting in Rangiora last week.

Prime Minister John Key was saying another $5 billion was required in future years while at the same time the Government was shaving $500 million from the rebuild, Peters said.

He said that when questioned at the finance and expenditure select committee, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee "finally conceded the two positions . . . could not be reconciled".

In a transcript of the meeting, Brownlee agreed the budgeted costs for all earthquake matters was down by half a billion but did not say it created a cost-saving that led to the Government's 2014/15 Budget surplus.

A big part of the cost was horizontal infrastructure, which was initially estimated at about $3.4b, he said. The estimated cost for all Canterbury earthquake costs was revised to $3b, Brownlee said.

"In the end, we don't want to be saying to the contractors that this is a $3.5b job when it may not be," he said.

Peters also said the Government was not keeping records of land and house sales to foreign buyers.

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