The heat is on Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford to front up about the KiwiBuild chief's sudden and unexplained departure but Twyford says he can't talk about a civil servant.

Latest: KiwiBuild boss Stephen Barclay in employment dispute with Housing Ministry

Twyford has so far refused to comment in any detail on the swift exit of top businessman, former sports chief and public servant Stephen Barclay, who only started on May 28.

By the start of November, he had already left the role focused on overseeing the Government's flagship policy to make a start on building 100,000 quality, affordable homes in a decade.

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Collins wants answers on the KiwiBuild chief's departure. Photo/Stuart Munro
Collins wants answers on the KiwiBuild chief's departure. Photo/Stuart Munro

When asked by the Herald about Barclay going, a spokesman for Twyford said on Friday: "Brad Ward should be able to clarify the situation."

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development lists Ward as office head for chief executive Andrew Crisp.

Ward did not respond to email or phone inquiries about Barclay's leaving.

Judith Collins, National's housing and urban development spokeswoman, said this morning it was not good enough that Twyford would not answer questions about Barclay's departure and she plans to put questions to him in Parliament tomorrow.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo/ Jason Oxenham
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo/ Jason Oxenham

Twyford also faced a grilling on TVNZ's programme Q+A last night.

Host Corrin Dann asked Twyford to clarify news of the departure of Barclay, but Twyford refused.

"I can't comment on anything to do with an individual public servant. It would be completely inappropriate," Twyford said.

A back and forth ensued between the pair, with Dann saying it would be in the public interest for Twyford to comment given that Kiwibuild involves a $2 billion investment.

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But Twyford again simply repeated his "I don't hire the public servants" line.

Twyford told Dann that he didn't know why Barclay had left his job and added that it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment.

Twyford said that there were other people dealing with Barclay's departure and it wasn't his job to deal with this issue.

"I'm focusing on trying on trying to get houses built," Twyford said.

KiwiBuild ex-chief executive Stephen Barclay. Photo/Jason Oxenham
KiwiBuild ex-chief executive Stephen Barclay. Photo/Jason Oxenham

Dann didn't let go, continuing to press on, but Twyford refused to saying anything beyond the fact that he didn't hire public servants and that he was focused on building houses.

"I don't control these things," Twyford told Dann.

"You're asking me to comment on a matter that relates to an individual in the public service. That's not my job as minister and it would be completely inappropriate."

The ministry's website this morning still listed Barclay as KiwiBuild head. Questions have since been put to the ministry about why Barclay left, who is heading KiwiBuild and Ward's precise role.

A ministry spokesman said he would respond shortly.