The Government’s invitation to private developers to participate in KiwiBuild is a cry for help from a Minister who’s leaving a trail of U-turns and broken promises in his wake, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“From a cast-iron election pledge to build 100,000 additional houses itself, the Government’s KiwiBuild plan has contorted into nothing more than going to private developers with a subsidy and a plea for help.
“In Opposition Phil Twyford never wavered. He said the previous Government had failed but he knew how to build the houses and he’d build 100,000 of them - for $2 billion in 10 years.
“Well it’s clear that he can’t and he won’t. His own officials are telling him that, though he’s still trying to bluster his way through what’s fast becoming a mess.
“And this is not the only 180 Mr Twyford has done, with Kiwibuild house prices now being based on the number of rooms.
“As an election promise, New Zealanders were told that KiwiBuild/buy/facilitate houses in Auckland would be priced at between $500,000 and $600,000, and apartments would be priced at $500,000 or lower.
“But the Government’s plea to the private sector, its Invitation to Participate, now says that a one bedroom dwelling will go for $500,000, two bedrooms $600,000 and three bedrooms $650,000.
“What a mess. Phil Twyford has stuffed the residential construction market and now he’s complaining the market’s stuffed. The private market was booming, with 200,000 new homes forecast over the next two years, before Mr Twyford decided to steal away resources and houses from the private sector to label them ‘KiwiBuild’.
“The Government is doing nothing but make it harder for New Zealanders to get into a home. Another day another broken promise.”
The Government’s KiwiBuild mess continues to unravel as Phil Twyford further distances himself from his promise to build 100,000 houses and with confirmation he’s going to blow his $2 billion budget, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Media reports show that included in the Government’s plea to the private sector for help, its Invitation to Participate, is the admission the Government won’t ‘build’ 100,000 houses as promised, but will attempt to ‘facilitate’ them.
“So Phil Twyford has gone from promising to build 100,000 no ifs or buts to building some and buying some to now saying they’ll ‘facilitate’ the houses instead, whatever that means.
“The document also states that ‘there is insufficient funding for the Crown to deliver all 100,000 KiwiBuild dwellings by itself’. That’s in spite of Mr Twyford repeatedly assuring New Zealanders that $2 billion would be enough.
“That’s yet another broken promise from the Government, proof that its budget was always unrealistic and bad news for the other priority areas which will lose funding thanks to Mr Twyford’s failure to deliver on his ill-thought out pipe dream.
“To claim any success and keep its promise, the Government needs to build 100,000 houses over and above what would have happened already, but things seem to be going backwards.
“Instead, it’s raising the white flag and wrecking our building industry in the process.
“The mis-named KiwiBuild is a mess. The only thing that’s been consistent about it has been Phil Twyford’s constant wriggling out of his promises because he can’t possibly meet them.”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s gloating over the fact his KiwiBuild dream has now delivered frames on 18 houses reinforces how futile his efforts have been and how many questions remain, National’s Housing and Urban Development spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“New Zealand is in the middle of one of the largest residential building booms in our history - 31,245 houses were consented last year alone. National left office with MBIE forecasting 200,000 new homes over the next six years, without having to be subsidised by the taxpayer.
“On top of that, National was targeting support at first home buyers who needed it. Our support for first homebuyers helped 31,000 people into homes and during the election we pledged additional support to a further 80,000 people over the next four years.
“Our plans to build more houses and our support for first home buyers were targeted, transparent and making real inroads.
“Phil Twyford’s KiwiBuild story has changed so many times it’s become hard to understand what the Government plans to do but we know they think they’ll build and buy 100,000 homes over 10 years.
“We welcome any new houses but for the Government to claim the credit those 100,000 need to be over and above what was happening already and so far they’re not.
“The McLennan Development is underway already, with hundreds of houses built and being lived in or under construction. Now the Government is picking up the tab and who would be surprised to hear the developer is taking the Government up on its offer of a subsidy?
“We know Mr Twyford is going round Auckland asking developers how many of their houses he can buy to meet his targets when all the official advice is he will simply divert builders from private developments to government subsidised ones, and add nothing to overall supply.
“Those houses are then being subsidised again when the Government sells them to ballot winners for less than the taxpayer paid in the first place. That’s a very quick way to burn taxpayer’s hard earned money.
“To make matters worse, while National was targeting support for first home buyers who met strict criteria, including income thresholds this government has said its subsidised houses will be sold to whoever wins their ballot. So someone could be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and get a twice-subsidised house from the Government while a family struggling to get a deposit together will get nothing.
“That’s a poor use of taxpayer cash and shows how desperate Mr Twyford is getting, how little thought has really gone into the policy and how hard he is finding it to make his pie in the sky plan work.”
The Prime Minister and her Housing Minister have been left red-faced and scrambling to explain critical statements Ms Ardern made when in Opposition about plans to build thousands of houses on the Unitec Site in Auckland.
“When reminded of Jacinda Ardern’s statements last year criticising the suitability of the Unitec Site for the then planned 2,600 dwellings, Phil Twyford could not address the concerns raised by his boss.
“When the National Government first announced this major housing development for the Mt Albert electorate, the local MP, Jacinda Ardern, told media ‘there are questions around what kind of urban design will that project have; will it have an effect on traffic; will it overflow our schools?’
“Poor old Phil Twyford had to cover for his leader, telling Parliament that Ms Ardern has been continuously supportive of the Unitec development and she was ‘excited for her constituents about the investment in their community’.
“It’s extraordinary that Ms Ardern was concerned about National’s proposals for 2600 houses, yet seems fully in support of Mr Twyford’s plans for up to 4000 houses on the very same site.
“Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford are back-flipping like Olympians – and going for Gold,” Ms Collins says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford is struggling today to provide any detail on his KiwiBuild policy using the well-worn excuse that it is still ‘early days’, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“In Question Time today Mr Twyford did not know where the carpenters, plumbers and electricians were going to come from to build the 3000 - 4000 houses that he’s announced will go on the Unitec site.
“He also had no details as to his KiwiBuild visa and where these visa holders will live while building the houses.
“The one thing he has been able to confirm though, is Kiwibuild houses will likely measure 30 square metres for studio dwellings and 45 square metres for one or more bedroom dwellings.
“Incredibly, that’s smaller than a standard double garage and a long way from the aspirational dreams of many first home buyers.
“A major bank has confirmed today that for apartments of less than 30 square metres, there will be no lending and that one bedrooms less than 45 square metres will receive no more than 50% of the value of the property.
“That means that prospective purchasers will be expected to front up with a half of the value of the property and even then, won’t be able to sell it for five years.
“The lack of attention to detail on Labour’s flagship policy has continued from last week when the Housing Minister did not know that a 10 year warranty is mandatory for all new residential homes.
“Detail matters and, just six weeks out from announcing the details of the $2 billion spend in this year’s Budget, Phil Twyford has been shown to have no grasp of how to deliver on his big promises,” Ms Collins says.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford needs to stop re-announcing housing projects and get on and do something new in his portfolio, National Party Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford has become the Minister of re-badging housing projects and today’s announcement of the Unitec redevelopment is another example,” Ms Collins says.
“The previous Government signed off on Unitec’s investment plans to consolidate their campus and develop the spare land for housing.
“The plan change has already been through Auckland Council. We know that because various local councillors were opposing the development.
“All that has happened here is that a land development that was owned by one part of Government is now owned by another arm of Government. A pure re-badging exercise.
“The development at Unitec has already been factored into the plans and predictions for housing development in Auckland.
“All that seems to have happened here is that Mr Twyford wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the building and selling of homes that were going to happen anyway.
“If Mr Twyford wants to be known as someone that actually adds new housing stock rather than re-badging existing plans he needs to come up with something new. Not just re-hash something that’s already happening.”
In spite of the Government’s spin and bluster its much-heralded Kiwibuild programme is yet to yield a single new house, National Party Housing and Development Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Like so much of what we’re seeing from this Government they’re full of big talk but they’re not getting anything done.
“Case in point – 145 days into its sleepwalk at the helm of this country its flagship Kiwibuild programme is yet to result in a single house even being started.
“These houses are nothing more than a twinkle in the eye of the man who has done nothing but talk about them – Housing Minister Phil Twyford.
“That’s in spite of the Government promising to get Kiwibuild underway as part of its 100-day plan.
“Mr Twyford also confirmed in Question Time today that they are planning to buy off private developments that were already underway prior to the change in Government. That’s not adding anything – it’s bludging off the private sector.
“The Government just needs to be honest with the public. Much of the ‘Kiwibuild pipeline’ that the Housing Minister continues to talk about adds nothing new to the record residential building boom underway under the previous Government.
“Get on with it, Phil. People need homes, not pipelines.”
After nine years without a single train strike, unions are clearly feeling emboldened by the new Government with their fourth major train strike in the four months since Labour took office, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Public transport has not been this unreliable since the 1970s. Aucklanders have had to deal with massive gridlock this week as the latest train strike forces thousands of rail commuters onto the already-congested roads.
“The National Government had plans for a number of new roads in Auckland to ease congestion but instead of committing to these plans, the Transport Minister Phil Twyford has put them under review and wants to spend millions of dollars on light rail in Auckland.
“But what will be the point of having more rail if the trains aren’t even going because the workers are all on strike?
“Frustrated Aucklanders have been asking for new roads, including an alternative to the East-West Link. While Mr Twyford keeps saying a plan for an alternative is coming, we’re yet to see anything.
“More immediately, Mr Twyford needs to ensure that Aucklanders are getting the public transport services they pay for. Without a reliable service, commuters will quite rightly get frustrated and seek an alternative.
“Congestion is costing business around $2 billion a year in lost productivity and it’s only being made worse by this week’s train strikes which won’t be the last.
"Mr Twyford needs to get his head out of the sand and commit to the roading projects planned by the previous Government so that New Zealanders can continue to get ahead.”
A booming freight industry and increasingly heavy road use in the Bay of Plenty further prove the need for the Government to commit to building a safe and reliable roading network in the region, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“By holding our annual two day Caucus in Tauranga this year, National MPs have been able to see first-hand what difference the opening of roads like the Tauranga Eastern Link have had on the region,” Ms Collins says.
“While the National Government committed to building the Tauranga to Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, as well as upgrading the Tauranga to Katikati link, the Labour Government is yet to front up on its plans for the region.
“The road upgrades in Tauranga must go ahead as planned to improve road safety and for the ongoing growth of the local economy. It is one of the most dangerous roads in New Zealand – as acknowledged recently by a local Mayor.
“The Tauranga Northern link had funding approved last year. The Labour-led Government needs to commit to the completion of this important road from Tauranga to Katikati.
“The Waikato expressway’s improvements as one of the first Roads of National Significance is doing immensely well and work must continue for its extension from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range and from Cambridge to Tirau,” Ms Collins says.
National recently launched petitions to four-lane the motorway from Tauranga to Katikati as well as to fund the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range and from Cambridge to Tirau.
“Let’s not rob the regions for a trolley service up Dominion Road, in the Prime Minister’s electorate,” Ms Collins says.
With the Government heading to Waitangi and Northern Mayors calling for answers, the Transport Minister needs to confirm whether or not this Government is committed to four-lanes from Auckland to Whangarei, National’s Transport spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Transport Minister Phil Twyford continues to obfuscate and fudge but the message is clear – this Government intends to build fewer roads, and to spend more on rail in Auckland.
“Motorists right around the country who pay to register their cars, for fuel taxes and road user charges will be paying for the Government to build a tram line between the Auckland CBD and Mt Albert – and not for new and better roads that grow regional economies, improve our transport links and ensure our transport network is safer.
“The previous Government recognised the importance of better transport links between Northland and Auckland. The four-laned highway between Puhoi and Warkworth is already underway and we had pledged to continue that through to Whangarei.
“This Government however is refusing to say whether or not it will continue with that pledge – and it looks like it won’t.
“This road would make the trip safer, encourage more tourists and visitors to travel north and would better connect the farmers and growers with the country’s largest centre. It would have a huge economic and social benefit and that’s why Northland’s mayors are calling on the Government to make it happen, and why the previous Government committed to it.
“Northland needs a better connection to New Zealand’s largest city and the main gateway to New Zealand for international visitors – this road would have ensured that but this Government doesn’t consider it a priority.
“While it spends the next five days in Waitangi talking about partnership the Government needs to show some intent and assure Northlanders that it will continue the previous Government’s investment in the transport infrastructure it deserves, or explain why it won’t.”
The National Party’s petition to save the Auckland to Whangarei highway can be found here.