Property investors are surprised and concerned about the implications of the Department of Building and Housing being merged with the ministries of Labour, Economic Development and Science and Innovation.
Prime Minister John Key announced today that a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be created.
Cabinet had agreed in principle to establish the new Ministry, which will absorb the functions of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and the Department of Building and Housing.
Independent Property Managers Association president Martin Evans said he was very surprised to hear the Department of Building and Housing could be merged.
"This is the Government Department that landlords rely on and they set down the rules for renting. Over the years we have regarded them as the best Government Department they have had such good customer service."
The Department had in the past consulted fully with its stakeholders, landlords, tenants and social advocates. He had not been consulted about the merger and did not think a month was long enough to consult with interested parties.
The intention is for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to come into effect on 1 July this year, with the current departments forming the initial functional business units of the new Ministry.
This is subject to due diligence being completed for a report back to Cabinet in April.
Department of Building and Housing service delivery deputy chief executive Maria Robertson had not been consulted about the merger either.
"It is not our decision. We have not made the decision. The Prime Minister made the decision and his office left us know about it a day and a half ago," she said.
She did not know what the merger would mean for the future services the department would offer.
At the New Zealand Property Investors Association conference in Queenstown last year Robertson spoke about her heavy work load, limited funds and a need to work together with property investors.
When asked how the merger will affect the already large work load the department had she said "our intention is to continue our excellent service. I have no reason to believe the department will not continue to offer an excellent service.
"We will have a job to do and that is what we are going to get on and do. It was his (the Prime Minister's) decision and like you we are working through exactly what that means. Our focus right now is to continue to provide a really high service," Robertson said.
Evans said it was essential services were kept especially in Christchurch where there were a lot of people needing social housing.
"They (the Department of Building and Housing) are the ones that used to collectively get us together to plan strategies for how we can handle these people. Without Government intervention we will feel like a lone voice that has not been heard. I hope they still keep up their customer relations that they have done," Evans said.
"At the end of the day we all (the Department of Building and Housing and landlords) have the same customers, the tenants, we want to keep them in their properties."
Steven Joyce will control the new ministry. He is already the Minister of Economic Development and Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Joyce said in a statement, if we wanted more and better jobs for New Zealanders we needed to encourage more businesses to be based here.
"That means making it easier for businesses and companies to access innovative ideas, markets, capital, skilled workers, resources, and the supporting public infrastructure," he said.
"The new Ministry will reduce the complexity involved in working between agencies, and between agencies and business. At present when businesses engage with Government they work with multiple Government agencies, which takes away valuable time, as well as incurring unnecessary duplication of effort. This is time that could better be served in allowing companies to work on their businesses rather than on their government relations.
"A more efficient and effective Ministry focused on lifting overall productivity and supporting the growth of competitive businesses is a crucial element in creating more jobs and higher wages, and boosting our standard of living," Joyce said.