Housing Minister Phil Twyford has thrown in the towel on his promise his Government would build 100,000 houses with yet another plea to the private sector for help, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says,
“Mr Twyford’s announcement today that he would ‘invite companies to express their interest in setting up or expanding off-site manufacturing factories’ for houses is nothing more than another idea on the never-never, and another admission he can’t deliver on his promises.
“It’s not that pre-fabrication is a bad idea, and National supports efforts to build more houses.
“But KiwiBuild was first announced in 2012. Now six years later and after eight months in Government his grand plan amounts to a plea to the private sector to bail him out at some point down the track.
“After six years and eight months he can’t answer basic questions like how the industry would be funded, how the industry and buyers would get around bank lending restrictions, how he would free up land to build houses on and how he would get around his Government’s immigration chaos to find the construction workforce needed.
“His only hope is that the private sector he has so consistently disparaged will have the answers. Given this Government’s reliance on reviews and working groups – more than 120 and counting - that’s not surprising.
“But today’s half-thought through announcement comes after he had already resorted to buying houses off developers which would have been built anyway, simply so he could rebrand them ‘KiwiBuild’. There are currently 18 of his promised 100,000 under construction – all of which would have been built anyway.
“Finally, we also saw a huge about-face from the Government which also confirmed apartment developments underwritten by the taxpayer will include apartments which will be sold to foreigners.
“Mr Twyford has spent years claiming he would build 100,000 affordable houses for New Zealanders, no ifs or buts. Now his KiwiBuild pipedream has descended into farce.
“Meanwhile the construction sector is grinding to a halt because of the confusion Mr Twyford has created, and his Government’s promises to drastically limit foreign investment and immigration.
“This is off the back of record levels of residential building construction under the previous National Government, with 200,000 forecast to be built over six years when we left office.
“All of that progress is being thrown out in favour of ill-thought through plans and cries for help from a minister who continues to show he’s just not up to it. Unfortunately New Zealanders are paying the price.”
The Government’s ‘no eviction’ policy and soft stance on criminal and anti-social behaviour will see Housing New Zealand become an overflow for prisons, National’s Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“A number of people have approached my electorate office with concerns about gang members living in Housing New Zealand properties who are intimidating their neighbours while authorities stand by doing nothing.
“And it’s only going to get worse, with Housing Minister Phil Twyford and Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Andrew McKenzie confirming that bad social housing tenants will be allowed to stay in their properties and neighbours won’t be able to do anything about it.
“One particular constituent has approached my office for help after the gang members living in a Housing New Zealand property next door have been intimidating her family, brandishing weapons and eyeballing them on the street.
“The constituent, who is also a Housing New Zealand tenant, is so worried for her family’s safety that she has asked to be moved to another property. She fears that if the gang members are moved because of her complaint, they might come back to hurt her family.
“The Government’s soft-on-crime stance and ‘no eviction’ policy will mean more innocent, law-abiding people being forced to uproot their lives and move elsewhere.
“It’s not right that this family is being forced to move while their violent gang member neighbours continue living in taxpayer-funded housing with no consequences for their bad behaviour.
“A home should be a safe haven for families, not a place of intimidation and fear.”
The Government’s ‘no-eviction’ policy for bad social housing tenants is likely to see Kiwibuild first-home buyers in developments with anti-social neighbours and no course of action to move them on, National’s Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Hard-working New Zealanders buying their own home don’t expect to have to put up with anti-social people, like meth users, living next door in taxpayer-funded housing. Nor do other social housing tenants who abide by the law.
“But Housing Minister Phil Twyford and Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Andrew McKenzie today confirmed that illegal drug users will be allowed to stay in social housing and their law-abiding neighbours won’t be able to do anything about it.
“In fact, Mr McKenzie says law-abiding Housing New Zealand tenants could be the ones to be uprooted while their anti-social neighbours get to stay.
“I don’t see how that is fair. It’s also not fair to taxpayers who pay for social housing or to others on the social housing waitlist, which has risen to record levels under Mr Twyford’s watch despite all his big talk about building 1000 more social houses a year.
“The only social houses that have been built since he became Minister were houses started by the National Government. And this Government is going to let them be filled with illegal drug users.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford failed to defend his numbers this morning on foreign home buyers in New Zealand because he got them badly wrong, says National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins.
“When challenged on the AM Show today and faced with official statistics, Phil Twyford failed to defend his previous stance that foreigners – particularly Chinese – dominated New Zealand’s property market,” Mrs Collins says.
“He originally claimed that 30 per cent of homes in New Zealand were being sold to foreigners. In the face of irrefutable evidence – he could not defend those numbers.
“Official statistics released yesterday show foreign house buyers make up just three per cent of New Zealand’s residential property market, exactly what the previous National Government maintained.
“In the lead up to the election Labour and Phil Twyford ran a scare campaign claiming buyers with ‘Chinese sounding names’ were not real New Zealanders deserving of a home and were responsible for ‘pricing first-home buyers out of the market’.
“Phil Twyford is so wrong with this crusade that now foreign investors and developers are unable to build in New Zealand because of the uncertainty in the market and are taking their millions of dollars and the new houses and apartments that they would have built overseas.
“Statistics NZ, who have published these numbers for the first time, also state the 3.3 per cent figure for the March 2018 quarter may be inflated by buyers trying to get in ahead of the Government’s needless ban of foreign purchasers.
“Mr Twyford claimed Chinese domiciled buyers were buying one-third of Auckland’s houses. He is out by a factor of ten.
“This allegation has now been proven wrong beyond reasonable doubt, first by Land Information New Zealand and now by Stats NZ.
“Ms Ardern and Mr Twyford must apologise. But I won’t hold my breath.”
Confidence in KiwiBuild is rapidly fading, with the Salvation Army the latest group to lose faith, today urging Phil Twyford to raise the white flag and call in the experts, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“It’s time for Phil to face the facts - his KiwiBuild plan is ill-thought through and it’s not delivering for New Zealanders, but he seems to be the only person refusing to face the facts.
“You’ve had builders, academics, the Treasury, Reserve Bank, MBIE, economists and media commentators all pointing out the serious flaws in his policy, and saying the Government won’t deliver on its promises, in spite of Phil’s ‘Hear No Evil’ approach to his responsibilities.
“And today it’s the Salvation Army urging Phil to accept he’s not up to it and calling on the Government to bring in the experts to deliver more houses.
“The KiwiBuild programme needs to be directed by New Zealanders who have … a wide range of high-quality skills. We urge the Government to urgently convene such a group so that the KiwiBuild concept can deliver as quickly as possible this homeownership housing,” it said.
“Well it’s clear Phil’s not up to it and instead he’s taking residential construction backwards,” Ms Collins says.
“Under National we had reached record levels of housing construction, with 200,000 houses forecast to be built over the next six years, but all that progress is being undermined by Phil.
“It’s time to face the facts and get out of the way, Phil. You’re not doing what you promised, you’re stuffing the housing market and New Zealanders are paying the price.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford confirmed three days ago that no income limits will be applied to prospective KiwiBuild buyers but today, under questioning, he said he had not yet decided about that, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Phil has campaigned on - and insisted – that he will build affordable KiwiBuild homes for first home buyers, but without income limits there is no way that he can ensure that these houses go to those who really need them.
“This could mean a New Zealand born couple who have spent their working lives offshore and have a $300,000 deposit could be eligible for a KiwiBuild house even though they have never worked or paid taxes in New Zealand – most Kiwis would agree that’s not fair.
“The taxes of hard working carpenters, plumbers and electricians who have lived and worked in New Zealand should not be used to subsidise those that are wealthy enough to buy a home.
“His shifting-sand decisions hit another problem today when he could not answer whether KiwiBuild home owners will be allowed to rent out rooms in their KiwiBuild house. He also had no clue as to how development contribution costs would impact the KiwiBuild home buyer.
“Auckland Council is considering adding $50,000 to the development cost of each new housing section. This cost would be dumped on developers and on Kiwi families and Phil has no plan to deal with this either.
“MBIE officials have said that an income of around $114,000 would be needed to buy a KiwiBuild home. Now that the costs will be rising by $50,000 per section, we can expect that Phil Twyford’s own estimate of $60,000 income needed is grossly inaccurate.
“He then went on to mention today that potential buyers might need an income of $170,000 with no explanation. Confusion reigns.
“After nine years in opposition and Kiwi taxpayers stumping up $2 billion for Labour’s flagship scheme, Phil Twyford should have these details,” Ms Collins says.
Labour’s admission there will be no income limits for people who want to buy KiwiBuild houses will mean low income New Zealanders will help subsidise homes for the wealthy, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Labour has its priorities badly wrong. It is heaping more and more taxes on New Zealanders just to pour more money into bad spending ideas like $1 billion for diplomats to keep Winston Peters happy.
“In the case of KiwiBuild the Government is subsidising the building of houses, though admittedly only a handful so far, and it is subsidising the sale.
“Those houses are then going to be sold via a ballot, with the only criteria being the ballot winner must be purchasing their first home. That’s it. That means there’s potentially hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars going into each house and straight into the pockets of whoever is lucky enough to win the ballot.
“That means someone could be earning twice the average wage and still get a taxpayer subsidised house. How is that fair and how is that a good use of taxpayers’ money?
“It’s not. It’s taking money off everyone, some of whom need it to make ends meet, to help a few people get ahead.
“National’s targeted first home buyers package helped 31,000 New Zealanders into their first home through first home buyers grants and welcome home loans. That support went to those who needed it and would have helped another 81,000 people over the next four years.
“That was fair and targeted. Labour’s approach is a free for all which will help only those whose names are drawn from a hat. It’s a bad idea and they need to urgently rethink it, along with the rest of the policy.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s KiwiBuild pipedream has been dealt another blow, with the Government’s own experts saying it will have only half the promised impact on the housing market, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“In Budget 2018, Treasury experts slashed their forecast rate of progress on KiwiBuild, from $5b over five years to just $2.5b.
“That means KiwiBuild – the policy the Government promised would solve the housing shortage – will contribute half as much to the building of new houses as Mr Twyford has spent years claiming. It’s also the third Government Ministry to tell Mr Twyford he’s wrong.
“Mr Twyford has now been told by the Reserve Bank that the impact of KiwiBuild on residential construction will be offset by a halving of private sector capacity, by MBIE that he won’t deliver the KiwiBuild houses for the $2 billion he claimed and now by Treasury that KiwiBuild is falling apart.
“But he’s arrogantly said all those experts are wrong and he’s right.
“The KiwiBuild policy, along with so much of this Government’s economic plan, has been dealt such a series of blows to its credibility that since Christmas, both the construction sector and the Government’s own experts have lost faith.
“In the last few weeks alone Mr Twyford has been forced to admit he won’t build the number of houses he promised, he won’t build them for the total cost he claimed and he won’t be able to sell them for the price he promised.
“To make matters worse, confidence in the residential construction sector is waning because the Government is making it harder to find skilled tradespeople to build the houses as well as to get the credit to pay for the houses.
“And that’s a direct result of bad government policy like restrictions on foreign investment, Housing New Zealand having to borrow an extra $2.9 billion which sucks up credit which would otherwise have been available to the private sector, and an incomprehensible immigration policy which makes it harder to recruit skilled foreign workers.
“This is typical of a Labour Government spend and borrow more but deliver less. The Government’s housing plan is a hoax and Kiwis are paying the price.”
The Government has hiked the price of its three-bedroom KiwiBuild houses in Auckland by 8 per cent, or $50,000, in spite of average house prices growing by less than 1 per cent, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“With the market flat to falling as a result of the massive building boom underway under the previous Government, and Auckland prices rising only 0.8 per cent in the year to April, Housing Minister Phil Twyford is desperately trying to keep his flailing KiwiBuild policy alive.
“But to do that he’s breaking his promise to deliver those houses to New Zealanders for a maximum of $600,000 per house, to ‘build’ 100,000 of them for $2 billion and to use the purchasing power of the Government to bring prices down.
“In actual fact he’s pushing prices up faster than the wider market, he’s blowing his budget and he’s stuffing the housing market to do it.
“Mr Twyford even had to admit today that in spite of his unequivocal promises to New Zealanders he hadn’t even bothered to check his costings, in spite of the fact they were developed two years ago, until just two weeks ago. That’s negligent, Phil.
“And when someone else checked for him he realised his numbers were incorrect and as a result the prices of his KiwiBuild houses had climbed $50,000 to $650,000. That’s bad news for homebuyers, Phil.
“And to top it off, rather than fronting up he tried to sneak the price increase out in his plea to the private sector for help. That’s tricky, Phil
“What has Phil Twyford been doing for eight months, aside from raising fuel taxes?
“So far all he has to show for his flagship KiwiBuild hoax is a few purchase agreements for houses already being built. That’s certainly not adding to overall supply, Phil
“In the meantime confidence in the housing market is dropping, developers are balking at working with a Government which clearly doesn’t know how to do anything but throw cash at a problem and the rate of house building is slowing.
“Phil Twyford promised to make it easier to get into houses but so far he’s doing the exact opposite.”
New Zealanders will be shocked to learn the Government has hiked the price of its KiwiBuild houses by $50,000 in just three days – and that it either didn’t know or kept quiet about it, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Three days ago the Government’s capitulation on its promise to build 100,000 houses itself culminated in its plea to the private sector for help – its Invitation to Participate.
“That alone contained news to New Zealanders – including Phil. That the Government wouldn’t ‘build’ 100,000 houses as Phil promised, and that it couldn’t ‘facilitate’ them either, for the $2 billion Phil swore was enough.
“Oh, and the bigger houses will also sell for up to $650,000, rather than the $600,000 cap he’s committed himself to.
“Phil claims the document published this week was poorly worded but he can’t argue with the words that came out of his own mouth when he admitted this morning the price of a one bedroom KiwiBuild/buy/facilitate apartment is actually $50,000 more than his own document says.
“Here’s something that won’t come as a shock to anyone: Phil Twyford’s grand KiwiBuild plan is a hot mess.
“He can’t build the number of houses he promised, he can’t do it at the cost he promised and he can’t sell them at the price he promised. And let’s not forget he’s stuffing the residential construction market in the process.
“What else aren’t you telling us Phil? And what can New Zealanders expect next? And how can developers trust you? These are serious questions and there is so much at stake.
“Another day, yet another broken promise.”