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.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s admission KiwiBuild isn’t for low income families is further evidence of an ill thought out, untargeted lottery costing billions but not making a difference to the lives of those who need it most, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“While National is committed to helping more New Zealanders into houses, government support should be targeted at those who need it most and it should come with an obligation on people to help themselves.
“KiwiBuild does neither.
“With billions of taxpayer dollars involved and significant personal benefit to lottery winners at the expense of taxpayers there should be stringent eligibility criteria. Applicants should at least have to show they have done what generations before them have done and made a demonstrable effort to buy a home, and people should be prioritised based on need.
“The Government now has real questions to answer about who wins here.
“It has created an expectation that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are going to get access to a Government provided home but that’s simply not going to happen.
“A year after it started there are only 70 houses under construction, most one or two-bedrooms, and their cost continues to climb beyond the reach of many.
“The Government’s own officials have estimated that a first home buyer household would need to be earning $114,000 a year to purchase a $500,000 KiwiBuild house, but the median household income is $25,000 less than this.
“Labour likes to argue they are offering housing support to Kiwis on a range of incomes, but in reality the only people who can actually access that support are those on a middle to high income.
“That’s why National’s plan was better. By increasing the overall supply of housing in general, first-home buyers on a low income could use the KiwiSaver HomeStart and Welcome Home Loan schemes to get a deposit together and more New Zealanders were getting ahead on their own steam with support from the Government.”
Potential KiwiBuild buyers will be rightly concerned that the Government is being unclear whether developments will be mixed KiwiBuild and State Housing National’s spokesperson for Housing Judith Collins says.
“Housing Minister Phil Twyford has promised his KiwiBuild scheme is the answer to New Zealand’s housing woes. But he has expressed concern to colleagues that there is a risk these houses won’t all be sold under KiwiBuild.
“The risk of unsold KiwiBuild houses is increasing as the Minister continues to announce developments with a majority of one-bedroom and studio apartments. However only 2 per cent of those who have registered for KiwiBuild have expressed an interest in a one-bedroom property.
“In the event that houses are not sold under KiwiBuild, the Minister has said they can be transferred to Housing New Zealand.
“This means when entering the ballot for a KiwiBuild property, buyers cannot be sure if the development will be include some houses that will be sold to Housing New Zealand.
“When the Minister removed the eviction for anti-social behaviour, I warned him that this would likely see KiwiBuild first-home buyers in developments with anti-social neighbours in Housing New Zealand rentals.
“Hard working Kiwis buying their own home should not be expected to have to put up with anti-social people living next door in taxpayer-funded housing, nor would they rightly want their small children growing up in such an environment.
“After handing over your life savings for the keys to your first home, it may be distressing for some young families to find out they share an apartment block with Housing New Zealand tenants.
“The Minister needs to step up and build KiwiBuild homes at the size the majority of prospective first-home buyers want and re-instate the eviction policy for anti-social behaviour by Housing New Zealand tenants so Kiwis aren’t hamstrung when wanting to sell their property to get the bigger house they needed in the first place.”