Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s pet housing project KiwiBuild is not only unlikely to reach any targets set, but those houses it does deliver will be at the expense of houses that were being built by the private sector, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford arrogantly ignored the Reserve Bank’s forecast in November last year that KiwiBuild will only deliver 7000 to 14,000 additional houses by 2022, significantly lower than the 28,000 houses the Minister has promised.
“Earlier last year Mr Twyford had called officials at Treasury, who had made similar estimates, ‘kids… completely disconnected from reality’.
“Today, the Reserve Bank Governor said if KiwiBuild is to build 100 houses, that means between 50 and 75 houses elsewhere won’t be built, and Mr Twyford once again could not accept that information.
“KiwiBuild is not substantially adding to the housing supply in areas where it is needed, and in homes the size that people want to buy. Instead it is simply redirecting workers away from private home builders.
“The policy is not only going to fail to build enough houses, but its stripping resources away from builders that were already going to be built or were in the pipeline.
“National had a comprehensive housing programme underway when we left office. We were on track to build nearly 100,000 homes over the next three years, which is twice the number of houses currently in Dunedin.
“It is no wonder KiwiBuild is a joke. Mr Twyford was lazy in Opposition and didn’t hammer out the details. He’s blindly pushing on with the programme, despite all signs pointing to KiwiBuild descending into one of the biggest failures of public policy in recent New Zealand history.
“It’s Mr Twyford who is ‘completely disconnected from reality’.”
The Government’s ‘no eviction’ policy and soft stance on criminal and anti-social behaviour has seen neighbours forced to put up with unruly Housing New Zealand tenants, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“I warned Housing Minister Phil Twyford more innocent, law-abiding people will be forced to uproot their lives and live elsewhere when his Government confirmed Housing New Zealand tenants won’t be evicted for anti-social behaviour.
“Mr Twyford has his priorities completely wrong, he should be ensuring law-abiding families are able to continue living their lives without fear of their neighbours, instead he’s willing to protect tenants who are involved in criminal behaviour and disrupting the entire street.
“That’s just wrong.
“Housing New Zealand’s reluctance to do anything for either the health and safety of the tenant or the neighbour is becoming an alarming trend.
“A neighbourhood in Hastings has been disrupted with constant noise from gang members and regular visits from the police despite multiple complaints to Housing New Zealand.
“Late last year a constituent of mine contacted me after repeatedly asking Housing New Zealand to replace locks. They had been burgled three times.
“And earlier this year another tenant spent eight months asking Housing New Zealand to repair their home and act on a doctor’s note that requested a larger house for the family.
“Mr Twyford needs to take control of Housing New Zealand. It’s not right a law-abiding family is being punished for the unruly behaviour of tenants. A home should be a safe haven for families, not a place of intimidation and fear.”
News the ill-conceived ballot process has failed young New Zealanders in Wanaka leading to the sale of KiwiBuild houses on the open market is further proof that KiwiBuild is a farce, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“KiwiBuild is descending into one of the biggest failures of public policy in recent New Zealand history. Only four of the first 10 KiwiBuild houses in Wanaka sold at ballot as intended. This is an ominous sign as the Minister has agreed to underwrite 211 houses in Wanaka.
“We are seeing the same concerning pattern in Te Kauwhata, where none of the first 10 of 175 homes sold through the ballot.
“The list of KiwiBuild failures is now longer than that of KiwiBuild home addresses and the policy desperately needs a rethink before more young New Zealanders are let down.
“The ballot system was always ill conceived. It was just something the Government put in place because it had no other ideas and no desire to pursue them.
“Why should taxpayers subsidise houses for a select group of New Zealanders lucky enough to be drawn from the ballot? And why should they be able to pocket the capital gain? Especially when, as we know some of those New Zealanders are already well off.
“It’s unfair and untargeted and it’s not working - just like the Government was told.
“It’s yet more evidence the Government was lazy and didn’t give any thought to a multi-billion policy beyond the headlines it would create.
“Now there are more nails in the coffin of KiwiBuild than in the houses themselves. It’s time for the Government to admit failure.
“National knows the answer to providing the houses New Zealanders need is to reform our planning laws to make it easier to build. That’s why we will put forward a reformed RMA Bill this year to show New Zealanders that there is hope and a way forward.”
The Prime Minister is claiming KiwiBuild is going through a ‘recalibration’ as she is forced to drop all interim targets, but in reality the scheme is flat-lining, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford has tried to claim he’s only six months into a ten year project, but KiwiBuild was allocated $25 million as early as December 2017 when he announced the first KiwiBuild houses in Mt Albert.
“The Government argues it didn’t kick off KiwiBuild until the middle of last year but the programme has been underway for more than a year, and it still only has 47 houses.
“At her weekly post-Cabinet press conference the Prime Minister said this year is the year of delivery, but the next day she’s admitted the Government won’t be delivering on its flagship scheme. All interim KiwiBuild targets have been ripped out of the picture.
“But even stripping KiwiBuild back to its bones isn’t going to change the fact that the scheme is turning out to be one of the biggest public policy failings this country has seen in a long time.
“KiwiBuild has been allocated $2 billion and all it has delivered is 47 houses.
“Mr Twyford clearly didn’t do his homework in Opposition, and now the Government is left with flagship policy in shambles and it’s doing everything it can to turn it around. But that’s unlikely to happen because it’s not building the houses people want so they’re not selling.
“There is no point in wasting taxpayer money to fund a policy with a key objective to increase the supply of affordable housing if you’re going to build houses that people don’t want. It’s a flop.
“By removing interim targets the Government is removing any way for New Zealanders to measure its progress and hold Mr Twyford to account on his shambles of a housing scheme. That’s incredibly poor.
“The Prime Minister shouldn’t bother trying to revive KiwiBuild. It’s a discredited policy, and instead of wasting $2 billion of taxpayer funds the Government should focus on reforming the RMA like National has proposed.”
Three months on and selling the 175 KiwiBuild houses in Te Kauwhata is looking more like a far-fetched dream rather than reality for Housing Minister Phil Twyford, but it’s not the case for other non-KiwiBuild homes in the same development, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The ballot for the Te Kauwhata KiwiBuild houses opened late October, and three months on they all remain un-sold. Mr Twyford’s excuse for this has been that first home buyers did not always want to buy a home off the plans that was scheduled to be built a year and a half later.
“But while the KiwiBuild houses have failed to entice buyers, the same development has sold plenty of other non-KiwiBuild houses off the plans just fine.
“It’s incredibly embarrassing for the Minister, who not only can’t reach his much plugged target of 1000 KiwiBuild homes, but the houses he has built are clearly not what first-home buyers want.
“This should have been obvious to the Minister from the start that first home buyers would be unimpressed with two-bedroom houses in rural Waikato offered for $480,000 each.
“I’ve been critical in the past of the type of homes Mr Twyford has insisted on building. For example, the Wanaka KiwiBuild homes don’t have a garage, and homeowners will be forced to de-frost their car every day in the winter months because of this.
“The Minister’s blatant disregard for detail has been shown time and time again, and now he’s putting hardworking taxpayer money at risk because of it.
“Despite Mr Twyford acknowledging first home buyers don’t always want to buy a home off the plans and that he ‘won’t be doing much more of that’, he is planning on signing $4 billion worth of contracts for buying off the plans.
“If this decision sucks up the Government’s $2 billion capital fund, the whole scheme will fall over, which is looking more and more likely given the abandonment of the 1000 homes target.
“Mr Twyford is set on telling New Zealanders the type of houses they should be buying. Instead of forcing them to settle for two bedroom homes, he should get to work addressing the real problem causing houses to be expensive, the Resource Management Act.”
This year Housing Minister Phil Twyford is employing a new method in order to try and sell his KiwiBuild homes – prospective first home buyers can begin the process of buying a home on the spot without entering a ballot, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Labour campaigned on KiwiBuild running a ballot system to ‘ensure everyone is treated fairly’ as there would be ‘significant demand for KiwiBuild homes, particularly in the first few years of the programme’.
“How wrong they were.
“KiwiBuild is considerably less popular than expected. Instead of the expected excessive demand, the Government is struggling to sell its houses.
“The policy underwent several changes last year to fix its lack of popularity. Instead of paying back the full profit if a buyer sold their home within five years, it’s now three years and only 30 per cent has to be paid back.
“The owner can also let out their property and again only pay back 30 per cent of the rental income.
“And finally, Mr Twyford has just dropped his target of building 1000 homes a year, something the Labour Party campaigned on and in Government has continued claimed they would do.
“Mr Twyford knows his policy is going under, admitting he’s now just ‘willing the policy to bear fruit and come to life’. But will and hope won’t build or sell houses.
“The Minister needs to come clean. Have ballots been foregone because people don’t want to enter them? Where are the tens of thousands of prospective buyers who have expressed interest?
“When people aren’t bothering to enter ballots and the homes are available to ‘first come first serve’ buyers, it’s a slippery slope to a fire sale.
“Mr Twyford needs to begin 2019 with a clean slate, and that means scrapping the KiwiBuild sham. He’s already confirmed he can’t reach his 1000 homes target, and now he’s at risk of breaking more promises.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s outstanding admission today his policy of building 1000 KiwiBuild houses by July this year is just ‘a target’, and further he can’t guarantee he will hit that target shows just how muddled this Government is, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“This morning Mr Twyford finally admitted what New Zealanders can already see, he will be unable to reach his target of building 1000 KiwiBuild homes by July this year. The Minister is abandoning a target he has widely publicised and campaigned on at the election, letting down thousands of Kiwis.
“Late last year Mr Twyford confirmed he only had 278 houses contracted and scheduled for completion by July 2019, a figure that falls vastly short of his now arbitrary target.
“If he can’t organise the delivery of 1000 houses a year, why on earth would we believe the Minister when he says he’s planning on building 10,000 houses a year.
“The Minister went even further to admit that should KiwiBuild deliver more houses, not all of them will sell. If not all of his houses are going to sell, wouldn’t the Minister reassess why this is the case and make changes?
“What is the point in delivering houses for first home buyers, if first home buyers don’t want them? The Minister has claimed the market isn’t delivering for first home buyers, but neither is he.
“The failure of one of the Government’s key election policies is unsurprising given the Minister has consistently shown he isn’t detail oriented. Mr Twyford has changed almost every aspect of KiwiBuild since his election promise, and it hasn’t turned around this shambolic scheme.
“The Minister should instead be looking at reforming the Resource Management Act. Planning and consenting for land use is key to delivering affordable housing and at the moment it takes too long to free up land. New Zealand needs a bold solution to a law that’s proven to be a planning nightmare, not the half-baked policy that KiwiBuild is.
“Mr Tywford is in denial. KiwiBuild isn’t experiencing teething issues, it’s experiencing systemic issues because it has a Minister that is blinded by a target, who isn’t looking seriously at his policy and the wider issues surrounding New Zealand’s housing woes.”
The announcement that Stephen Barclay has officially resigned from his position in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development does not bode well for Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s KiwiBuild policy, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Stephen Barclay was appointed the head of KiwiBuild by Mr Twyford in May last year with much fanfare. But Mr Barclay has been out of the office since November and the Minister has refused to comment on what he has been doing.
“Mr Twyford needs to come clean. How much has this employment issue cost New Zealand taxpayers? Kiwis deserve to know how many months the Government has been paying Mr Barclay, especially if it was to the end of his contract.
“It’s taken three months for Mr Barclay to exit from a role he held for only four months. This is extraordinary and needs a full explanation from Mr Twyford, and whether it was due to a relationship breakdown.
“If, as the Minister has said, the situation involving Mr Barclay taking leave would make no difference to KiwiBuild, then why was the role created in the first place at what is, no doubt, a huge expense?
“KiwiBuild has been fraught with issues from the beginning with houses just not selling. Despite significant changes by the Minister to encourage sales, the policy isn’t working.
“The KiwiBuild scheme is now almost a year in, and, following the resignation of its Head less than a year after he was appointed, these issues can no longer be described as ‘teething’.
“It’s clear KiwiBuild hasn’t captured the confidence of the New Zealand public as much as it has captured the imagination of Mr Twyford.
“Mr Twyford needs to front up to New Zealanders and explain why the Head of KiwiBuild was unable to last a year in the role. It’s time for the Minister to stop hiding behind a so called employment dispute which has no doubt costed New Zealanders dearly.”
After more than a year in Government and almost halfway through the first year of the KiwiBuild policy it has become clear that the Housing portfolio, headed by Minister Phil Twyford, is in complete disarray, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“KiwiBuild is meant to have built 1000 homes by July next year, but at the moment Mr Twyford can only confirm 278 houses will be delivered by his deadline. His inability to deliver even half of the houses he has promised in the first year shows the entire KiwiBuild programme is in jeopardy.
“But the hits don’t stop there. Mr Twyford has also lost the Head of KiwiBuild. The one man who had direct contact with the Minister about the programme, hasn’t met with the Minister since early November.
“Perhaps he could see the KiwiBuild policy heading down the drain.
“Meanwhile, Mr Twyford is kicking landlords for touch in attempt to please tenants, but he’s hurting both in the process. The Government is championing policies that are directly resulting in rent rises. Today a law change has come into effect that is already seeing landlords encouraged to increase their rents.
“And now the Government has introduced a Bill that ring fences tax losses for rental properties which could push up rents another $300 a year.
“Inland Revenue says there could be about 40 per cent of private rental property owners who lose money every week expecting that loss to reduce their tax liability while hoping to sell in the future and make a capital gain.
“The Government thinks that gives landlords an unfair advantage over first-home buyers so they want to put a stop to it. But if rental property tax losses are ring-fenced, the rational option for negatively-geared owners is to sell now, further reducing the supply of rental properties.
“Owners may also choose to keep their rental property and simply increase the rent again.
“The Minister has no idea about the implications of his policies. Mr Twyford has told landlords to take their money elsewhere, and they are. His solution is his KiwiBuild programme, but it’s not delivering the number of houses or the type of houses to make any sort of difference.
“The Housing portfolio has a rudderless Minister at the helm. He continues to claim his KiwiBuild programme will deliver for first home buyers and his rental changes will deliver for tenants, neither of which is happening.”
Embattled Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s refusal to answer questions about why the Head of KiwiBuild Stephen Barclay is ‘out of the office’ shows that the programme continues to be in a state of disorganisation and chaos, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford announced Mr Barclay’s position in May this year with great fanfare, tweeting ‘great to have someone of Stephen’s calibre leading the KiwiBuild team’. But within five months, Mr Barclay is now ‘away from work’ and has not even met with Mr Twyford since early November.
“This begs the question, if the Minister stopped meeting with the head of his flagship programme four weeks ago, what is going on? KiwiBuild is Mr Twyford’s pet housing project, and with it currently failing, you’d think the Minister would be meeting with Mr Barclay every week.
“The Minister doesn’t even know whether Mr Barclay is still being paid. If he hasn’t resigned as the Minister insists, isn’t taking personal leave, and is still employed, does this mean the taxpayer is forking out for a chief executive who isn’t at work?
“To make matters worse for Mr Twyford, another senior official in the Minister’s Transport portfolio, New Zealand Transport Agency Chief Executive Fergus Gammie has resigned. When two high-level officials disappear within a month, it’s clear something isn’t right.
“It’s evident this Government doesn’t have proper regard for Kiwi taxpayers’ hard-earned money, as it’s currently spending $700,000 a day on reviews and working groups. But New Zealanders deserve answers about what is going on.
“With the KiwiBuild programme already stalling, with hardly any homes built, and with even fewer prospective first home buyers committing to those houses, the Minister needs to be seriously reconsidering ploughing on with KiwiBuild.”