Housing Minister Phil Twyford is cancelling plans to build affordable houses just so he can label them KiwiBuild, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford is so worried about meeting his 10,000 KiwiBuild homes a year target, he is making illogical decisions that see hardworking Kiwi families on a low to middle income pay $100,000 more for a home – just so these houses can get the KiwiBuild seal.
“Housing New Zealand (HNZ) was working to develop a mixture of social, HNZ and shared equity homes in a development in Marfell, New Plymouth. This development would have benefitted those on a low to middle income.
“Instead, the Minister is promoting a KiwiBuild development on the site, with houses a lot more expensive than what they were anticipated to be sold at if built by the original developer.
“The arrogance of the Minister knows no bounds, Mr Twyford argued in Parliament today that his plan to charge hard working Kiwi families in Marfell $100,000 more for his ‘affordable KiwiBuild homes’ is the ‘superior option’.
“Under the original proposal, a two bedroom house was priced at $198,000, but Mr Twyford’s KiwiBuild houses have a maximum price of $450,000.
“This is a Minister who has consistently shown he isn’t doing the research when announcing KiwiBuild developments, out of the first 10 Wanaka KiwiBuild homes only seven sold due to a lack of demand.
“It has become clear that the Government is unable to deliver on any of its KiwiBuild promises. The Minister is desperately grabbing any house he can and putting a KiwiBuild sticker on it, in the process pulling the rug out from potential community housing projects.”
Labour has endowed its junior partner with wads of cash and latitude to meddle but its grandiose plans to reshape North Island port and transport infrastructure smacks of nationalisation, National’s Judith Collins and Paul Goldsmith say.
“It beggars belief that Labour is playing along with NZ First’s scheme to divert shipping, freight and logistics to Northland, against the wishes of profitable port companies and their owners, with no economic rationale and at vast cost,” Infrastructure spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Ports of Auckland facilitates 170,000 jobs in the Auckland region. If vehicle imports alone were moved to Northport it would result in an extra 19 million kilometres of road transport and $81 million in extra annual costs. Carbon emissions would jump by 22,500 tonnes.
“It must be awkward for Labour to see the Auckland Council under Mayor Phil Goff visibly squirming as this working group runs its ruler over the Council-owned Ports of Auckland without bothering to talk to the Council.
“Labour brought this on itself because not only did it give NZ First billions of dollars of loose cash to spend but also agreed to a feasibility study to move Ports of Auckland to Whangarei and a promise to spend some of the $3 billion Provincial Growth fund on regional rail.
“Stakeholders in ports and transport will be gobsmacked at this body of work. Sure there are questions about the future of some Auckland port activities but that should be based on economics not politics and owners of profitable businesses shouldn’t have the playing field changed from under them,” Ms Collins says.
“Auckland Council’s spending needs are huge and its debt lines are all but tapped out. It should be looking hard at its spending and its assets, including the port but seemingly Jones wants those decisions made in Wellington by politicians. In other countries, that is called nationalisation,” Transport spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“It’s clear this is a faulty process because Auckland councillors say they don’t trust Shane Jones’ working group and worry that they will lose control of one of Auckland’s key infrastructure assets.
“A massive amount of work towards developing a long-term plan for the port has already been done, and the working group’s willingness to dismiss this work has only fuelled this discontent. Mr Jones is damaging the relationship between Council and Government.
“This, sadly, is what we’ve come to expect from the clear politicisation of the Provincial Growth Fund by Shane Jones. He has defended the clear bias in funding so far to Northland with the line ‘to the victor goes the spoils’.
“New Zealand’s infrastructure is too important to be used as a political football. It should be geared toward economic growth and free from political meddling, as it would be under a National Government,” Mr Goldsmith says.
The KiwiBuild programme could end up costing the taxpayer $1.8 billion after only seven houses in the Wanaka Northlake development have been sold, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The likelihood of Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s pet housing scheme KiwiBuild building reaching its target of 10,000 homes a year by the end of the Government’s first term in office is looking dire.
“Mr Twyford has argued that buying off the plans doesn’t require the Government to spend a dollar.
“But the Minister has also confirmed if those houses that have been bought off the plans don’t sell, the Government will be forced to buy them. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have estimated that this could cost $20,000 to $50,000 per house.
“If up to 35 per cent of houses are delivered through the buying off the plans initiative, the Government could face a cost of up to $1.8 billion, out of KiwiBuild’s budget of $2 billion.
“Mr Twyford is going to struggle to deliver on his promise if he continues to announce houses bought off the plans in areas where there isn’t enough demand. There are 211 KiwiBuild houses in Wanaka that have been underwritten, but the ballot for the first 10 has not only been extended, but at the end it also had three unsold houses.
“The entire KiwiBuild programme is at risk.
“If KiwiBuild’s fund is spent covering houses that aren’t sold, there will be no money left to deliver the large-scale developments, such as the one announced in Porirua recently.
“KiwiBuild is balancing on a knife-edge. Mr Twyford cannot build the 10,000 homes a year he wants to without buying off the plans, but the more he uses this initiative, the more he risks burning through the money he has.”
After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has huge support from the public, property and legal industry, but Housing Minister Phil Twyford has refused to progress the legislation, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye say.
“There is a huge opportunity here to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes,” Ms Collins says.
“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“While the Minister supported reform, earlier this year he said he was too busy to draft the law. Mr Twyford chose not to support the legislation as parts of the Bill don’t align with officials’ recommendations and there was a need for additional provisions.
“National has worked alongside property and legal experts for several years to pull together more than 20 pages of legislation. The issues stated by the Minister could have been raised in Select Committee. The reality is no Bill goes to Select Committee in a perfect form.
“It is very clear this isn’t about the detail of the Bill, the Minister is more interested in playing politics and stalling a National Party piece of legislation than ensuring homeowners don’t end up with defective buildings, in disputes and with substandard information about what they are buying into,” Ms Collins says.
“These situations have hit young homeowners and vulnerable people more as they are more likely to afford apartments or townhouses. Mr Twyford has prioritised politics over people and their need for better housing,” Ms Kaye says.
“In Opposition Mr Twyford was vocal for his support for reform. Many in the sector will feel hugely let down and misled by a Minister who indicated this was a priority and is also signalling he will progress the results of the review when ‘priorities and resources permit’.
“This is a Government that campaigned on housing but isn’t following through.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Underinvestment and inadequate long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur and increases in body corporate fees.
“The Minister’s true colours have shone through. Mr Twyford has chosen to play politics instead of respecting the work that has gone into this and progressing this legislation that will improve the quality of housing for all. National will keep fighting hard to keep the pressure on this Government to prioritise this reform,” Ms Kaye says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford has admitted his KiwiBuild housing scheme is not nearly as popular as he or the Prime Minister have claimed it is, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, contracts for 3,375 houses have been signed between KiwiBuild and a developer. But Mr Twyford has been forced to admit there are only 388 pre-qualified KiwiBuild applicants, having gone through the process required to buying a KiwiBuild home.
“The demand for KiwiBuild homes is so low that already a ballot has had to be extended.
“The Government is delivering KiwiBuild homes largely by buying houses ‘off the plans’. The Minister has confirmed the potential risk to the Crown if houses aren’t sold is $4 billion in just the first three years.
“If Mr Twyford can’t sell the houses he has bought off the plans the Government will be forced to pay this money. This will easily blow his $2 billion budget and cause the whole scheme to come crashing down.
“With this kind of taxpayer money on the line, New Zealanders want to know what independent valuations were done before he signed contracts to buy houses? What analysis of market demand was undertaken?
“The Minister has been clutching at straws to keep Labour’s flagship housing policy on life-support. In order to solve Mr Twyford’s problem of demand he has changed the terms of purchasing a KiwiBuild home.
“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.
“Buyers can also purchase a home, fill it with tenants, keep the rent high and again, only pay 30 per cent of the rental income. There is no way KiwiBuild can monitor whether someone is living in their home or not. They can’t be peering through bedroom windows to check who’s living in the house.
“The whole scheme is complete shambles. Houses are too expensive and too small. The Minister isn’t building enough houses, he isn’t selling enough houses, and those few that are sold, aren’t going to the people that need them.
“KiwiBuild is a failed policy that was never properly thought through.”
Every New Zealander who has sought a resource consent has a tale of being bogged down in red tape, delays and soaring compliance costs and will be asking why David Parker wants to make it worse, National’s Planning (RMA Reform) spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The Environment Minister has revealed his ambitions include turning the Resource Management Act into a vehicle for tackling climate change.
“Adding another consideration to the RMA will just mean one more reason to stop anything being built in New Zealand.
“The RMA already provides regional councils with powers to consider climate change for consents on renewable energy generation. Do we really want councils to be given broad new powers to block developments?
“Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is a complex economic and scientific issue that won’t be well managed by regional councils. They simply don’t have the expertise, capacity or frankly the money to do it.
“New Zealand already has a mechanism for addressing New Zealand’s emissions. It’s called the Emissions Trading Scheme. We are also currently negotiating a bipartisan and independent Climate Change Commission
“This Government has crowed about its climate change credentials but its track record to date has been big on hot air and short on credibility, including its ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.
“I have committed to introducing new legislation next year to replace the RMA. New Zealand needs bold solutions to a law that has proven to be a planning nightmare. The last thing that we need is new layers of red tape.”
Auckland will suffer a transport heart attack if improvements aren’t made to the Mill Road corridor, MPs for Papakura and Hunua Judith Collins and Andrew Bayly say.
“The $1 billion Mill Road transport project is vital to meet the needs of the increasing population and business development in the Franklin area, and the pressing need to create additional capacity for the motorway network,” Ms Collins says.
“National had promised to turn the road into a major arterial transport route into Auckland. But the Government’s decision to slash road funding has put this long-signalled upgrade at risk.
“In order to fast-track this project, the previous National Government announced the Mill Road project as a state highway, removing the responsibility from Auckland Council.
“This would have provided funding certainty for this important project through the National Land Transport Fund and free up capital for Auckland Council to reinvest in other high priority transport projects.
“It also meant the Government could use the ‘fast-track’ provisions of the Resources Management Act to consent this entire motorway within nine months. Under the current arrangement, it will take years just to get the additional consent for the extension to the Southern Motorway.”
“Upgrading the Mill Road corridor project is fundamental to the growth of the South Auckland region. It will help improve road safety, support future growth areas and improve access to new employment opportunities in Drury South,” Mr Bayly says
“It would also provide an alternative north-south corridor in case of a major disruption or emergency on other southern arterial routes.
“The Government has instead stripped back the project, despite the upgrade promising resilience to the only part of the Auckland motorway that is vulnerable. It would have also facilitated the growth of a major industrial development and help address the south’s infrastructure deficit in terms of road access.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s decision to reassess Mill Road adds up to a lack of certainty, further delays and additional costs. The longer the Government delays the worse the situation becomes for our constituents.”
The latest announcement that the ballot for KiwiBuild houses in Wanaka has had to be extended hammers home just how much Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s pet KiwiBuild scheme is struggling, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“The extension of the ballot that opened early last month shows there hasn’t been the demand for a KiwiBuild home in Wanaka that Mr Twyford claimed there was. This is only the second ballot for homes and the scheme is already struggling.
“This has been a case of the Minister canvassing what projects were already in the pipeline that the Government could get to market quickly and announcing those to try and give the KiwiBuild scheme some credibility.
“Mr Twyford has completely missed the point of his own policy, which he says is to provide homes in places where demand is strong. The Minister was more enamoured with announcing a KiwiBuild development in the South Island than checking whether demand existed for properties with two or three-bedrooms in Wanaka at the price point he has set.
“This is another example of the Minister not listening to New Zealanders, and instead building completely the wrong types of houses.
“Coupled with the risk of fixing prices through a ballot where they either create lotto winners by selling below market price, or the Government is forced to underwrite houses they can’t sell, shows the policy hasn’t been thought through at all. The Minister has already been forced to admit that the potential risk to the Crown is $4 billion in just the first three years of the scheme.
“But it’s likely these costs will blow out as the Government struggles to sell studio apartments and two-bedroom houses in rural townships like the recent announcement of a KiwiBuild development at Te Kauwhata.
“The Government needs to scrap its housing policy. KiwiBuild is clearly a fiasco, it’s not delivering the types of homes first-home buyers want and they’re too expensive for the low to middle income families the Minister originally claimed it would help.
“The KiwiBuild policy is underwhelming and a disappointment to first-home buyers across the country. The Government needs to urgently review the entire scheme.”
The Minister for Regional Economic Development must stop meddling in the operations of Ports of Auckland and allow it to make commercial decisions free of political interference, National’s Infrastructure spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Shane Jones says he is seeking advice on whether the Government can stop the council-owned company from building a multi-level waterfront car handling facility because NZ First wants to relocate port services to Marsden Point.
“This is reckless behaviour from a Minister. Businesses need to know they can operate independently in their best commercial interests without being caught up in political games.
“Businesses can’t be expected to wait for one of the Government’s 180 working groups to report before making investment decisions. The facility isn’t a surprise because it was included in the Port’s 30-Year Master Plan published a year ago.
“The Port’s statement of corporate intent shows its primary objective is to operate as a successful business at arm’s length from its council owner. The Government has even less claim. I doubt the Greens will be happy at the huge environmental impact if cars were to come into North Port.
“An NZIER report from September 2017 found that the costs of moving the vehicle processing facilities away from Auckland would outweigh the benefits by $1 billion, including the loss of up to 10,000 jobs.”
“This sort of interference is exactly why businesses have no trust in this Government and its economic management.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford needs to urgently look into security issues with houses in the McLennan development and direct Housing New Zealand to replace all failing locking systems, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“I have been contacted as the local MP about a failed locking system on state houses in the McLennan development, just along from the first of the KiwiBuild houses Mr Twyford and the Prime Minister opened last week.
“A Housing New Zealand tenant moved into their new home earlier this year, and has been burgled three times in the last two weeks, with the burglar breaking in with a screwdriver.
“The latest burglary has been defined by Police as aggravated burglary with intent to rape.
“The tenant has repeatedly asked Housing New Zealand to fix the locks so the tenant is able secure their home – currently the door can be unlocked using a screwdriver.
“But Housing New Zealand has failed to acknowledge the tenant’s fears for themselves and their family’s safety and not only hasn’t replaced the locking system, but also refused to compensate the tenant when they bought their own security system.
“This issue not only affects one tenant, but is likely to affect a large number of McLennan properties. It’s astonishing the Minister had no idea his state houses had such a security failure, and that Housing New Zealand is refusing to do anything about it.
“Mr Twyford has repeatedly boasted he is getting cheap deals for housing. But if it’s at the expense of tenants’ safety, it’s at a very high price.
“The Minister telling Parliament today that this is an operational matter doesn’t wash. The Minister must be satisfied that Housing New Zealand is looking after its tenants.
“Mr Twyford must ensure Housing New Zealand steps up, fixes the issue and acts like a good landlord.”