Former Christchurch regeneration minister Gerry Brownlee has responded strongly to claims by current minister Megan Woods that he dropped the ball on repair work on his watch.
Woods revealed yesterday that the bill for EQC re-repairs had hit $270 million - not the $60-70 million predicted by the previous National government.
As at April 4, $170m has been spent on remediating claims managed through the repair process with a further $100m being spent re-settling homes that had been cash settled for initial repairs.
Woods told Newstalk ZB yesterday that Brownlee should have done more if he thought the EQC was hiding the real numbers.
"The minister wilfully ignored the scale of the problem that was sitting in front of us with the re-repairs," she said.
Today Brownlee came out swinging.
"As someone who lives in Canterbury and lived through the earthquakes alongside everybody down here and knows full well in a very personal way how that can affect you, that is a disgraceful thing for her to say and I find that exceptionally hurtful," he told RNZ.
"The Government never walked away from Christchurch."
Brownlee said he stood behind his actions when he was minister.
"When you think about it, 67,000 repairs, or thereabouts, done in the programme and we're down to 2650-odd open claims with EQC.
"One of the options that might have existed would have been to say 'let's not do any repair work until the sequence of earthquakes is over'. That would have meant we would have wasted four years."
Brownlee denied the previous government had left a sizeable "fiscal hole" for the current one.
"It is an unquantifiable liability that the government always carries," he said.
Woods has asked Treasury officials for more information and has appointed an adviser reporting directly to her to speed up the settlement of EQC claims.