Andrew McKenzie is a man skating on thin ice. As the boss of Housing New Zealand, Mr McKenzie had oversight of the meth testing done on houses in its stock. During those many tests a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars was racked up across a number of clients who found their tenancy aborted. Now with the meth testing industry in a state of disarray and the whistle having been blown on what could be a major cover up, why is the H.N.Z. boss not being forthcoming with answers?
His reluctance to be interviewed by media – declining twice in the space of a few days – suggests an agency boss with something to hide.
However, Mr McKenzie has compounded his problems. His failure to properly stop the charging of people in meth houses for costs incurred in their decontamination is just one other problem among several. Housing New Zealand’s failure to apologize for the charging of decontamination, thus leaving landlords and tenants alike significantly out of pocket should have been Mr McKenzie’s responsibility. Comprehensive methamphetamine testing has been known to cost up to $3,000 with decontamination costing up to another $15,000.
If one believes Minister of Housing Phil Twyford, Housing New Zealand was supposed to have stopped charging tenants for meth testing that had to be undertaken nearly 18 months ago. Yet just the same day that the meth testing story broke it was found out that Housing New Zealand was still pursuing tenants. When that was put to Mr Twyford i in a radio interview, Mr Twyford said that he had felt misled by the agency and demanded that it come clean with answers.
This leaves Mr McKenzie in an untenable spot. As the person in charge of H.N.Z., he would have known what it was doing, despite making a commitment to stopping such charges. The public of New Zealand have a right to know what went on and why its word was not backed by the matching actions.
There is only one thing for Mr McKenzie to do and that is apologize and resign immediately from Housing New Zealand. He is not fight to continue in that role.
It is highly improbable that it will happen, but former Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett who took great zeal in kicking tenants using methamphetamine out of their homes, also owes an apology. It is highly improbable since it is not like Government ministers to apologize for their past actions.
Another agency that needs to review its actions despite not committing to doing so is the Tenancy Tribunal which would have heard numerous cases of people being unfairly evicted and left to fend for themselves.
Across the board there were failures at all levels in this sorry saga. Across the board all of the agencies and individuals who knew things were not right, but failed to take the appropriate actions should be taking an ice cold look at themselves in the mirror. Are they still fit for purpose? What will it take to make them fit for purpose? And why are they not actively seeking to learn from this?