The KiwiBuild mess continues to grow with a major construction company building KiwiBuild houses going into receivership this week, putting the Crown further at risk, National’s Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Five weeks ago, Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced that new state, market and KiwiBuild homes were to be built on the Northcote Development in Auckland.
“But yesterday building company Ebert Construction, which was due to commence work on the Northcote Development, went into receivership raising questions about what happens next.
“This is not the only construction company to go under this year and it probably won’t be the last. This leaves private and government-backed housing developments vulnerable and raises real questions about how robust the KiwiBuild due diligence process is and how vulnerable taxpayers are to risks and cost blowouts associated with failed developments.
“While Mr Twyford has been busy reannouncing housing developments and rebranding private builds as KiwiBuild homes to try and meet his targets he’s neglected to get his head around crucial details including official advice that he’s exposing taxpayers to real risks.
“Mr Twyford’s own Cabinet paper states the Crown has to take on some risk for the KiwiBuild programme but last week Mr Twyford claimed it doesn’t and that all those risks will be borne by the developers. Which is true? Given Mr Twyford’s track record of getting things wrong I’m going with his officials.
“If the Crown is using taxpayer money to share the risk with KiwiBuild developers and the developer goes broke, who will ensure sub-contractors and workers are paid?
“I think it’s fair enough to say we won’t be seeing many KiwiBuild houses ready for young families to move in any time soon. Mr Twyford had nine years to come up with a plan and it looks like he still hasn’t done his homework.”
The Housing Minister confirmed today that he is happy to put hardworking taxpayers’ money at risk for his KiwiBuild project, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford’s Cabinet paper states that his ‘KiwiBuild: Buying off the plans’ initiative involves the Crown taking risks if the housing market price fluctuates, regardless if it goes up or down,” Ms Collins says.
“From what we can see, the Crown could become an unsecured creditor in failed developments. This means, all the houses he has announced with the KiwiBuild label which have been subsidised by the taxpayer could be at risk.
“It is also confusing as to where the risk will lie if the KiwiBuild houses are not completed or if the developer goes bust during the build process. We can only assume that the Crown will have to foot the bill, adding more costs to their $2 billion KiwiBuild fund.
“Mr Twyford is totally screwing with the housing market by subsidising homes that were already being built by the private sector and labelling them as KiwiBuild.
“Under National, New Zealand was on track to build nearly 200,000 houses over the next six years and more houses were being built faster. The McLennan Development and Northcote Development have both been underway since 2016 and are delivering hundreds of houses.
“Labour had many years in opposition to come up with a housing policy to implement. All we have seen so far is a re-badging of National’s housing announcements, risking taxpayer money and broken promises for Mr Twyford’s KiwiFail project.”
Not only is KiwiBuild no longer ‘Kiwi’, but it appears the ‘Build’ isn’t really happening either with Housing Minister Phil Twyford simply putting KiwiBuild stamps on houses that were built under the previous Government, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Mr Twyford’s announcement today that 400 affordable homes will be built in Northcote is nothing more than a rebranding exercise and won’t add to the supply of houses in Auckland.
“These houses had already been announced by National in 2016, when we said that we would redevelop 300 existing Housing New Zealand properties into 1200 new homes in Northcote.
“Mr Twyford has recently come to the realisation, albeit very late, that his much-hyped KiwiBuild is never going to happen and was only ever a pipedream.
“That’s why he’s not only hijacked National’s Northcote housing announcement, but he’ll also be buying houses off developers that would have been built anyway and using foreign-built flat-packs as part of ‘KiwiBuild’.
“It is also not the first time Mr Twyford has put his KiwiBuild stamps on houses that were already in the pipeline under National – the McLennan Development has been underway since 2016 with hundreds of houses built and being lived in, or under construction.
“Mr Twyford always said that his KiwiBuild houses would be over and above what was already underway but all we have seen so far is broken promises, murky details and rebranding of National’s excellent plans to deliver affordable housing.”
Labour’s reprehensible demonisation of foreigners prior to the election has been laid bare by confirmation today that its promise to slash migration was nothing but a cynical attempt to win votes from NZ First, National’s Judith Collins and Michael Woodhouse say.
“Prior to the election Labour cynically blamed foreigners for rising house prices, including through its infamous ‘Chinese-sounding surnames’ campaign, and it threatened to slash the number of migrants by up to 30,000 a year,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“All along employers and the National Party told them they were wrong and that we needed the skills and capital those migrants bring.
“Today Labour has admitted they were wrong when they said we needed to ‘take a breather’ and while we welcome the belated realisation, the fact is the changes announced today are nothing more than a branding exercise.
“Construction sector occupations were already on the skills shortage lists meaning it was already easier for construction workers to come here because National knew they were important all along.”
“The announcement comes after Housing Minister Phil Twyford yesterday told Parliament there were no plans to bring foreign tradespeople into New Zealand to work on KiwiBuild houses,” Ms Collins says.
“This indicates either an unwillingness to tell the truth or that Mr Twyford didn’t know his own policy or what his colleagues were doing.
“KiwiBuild has staggered from failure to failure and Mr Twyford has continued to show he has no idea what he’s doing.
“In the last few days he’s confirmed some KiwiBuild-backed apartments might be sold to foreigners, that they might be built by foreign flat-pack companies, that he’s been meeting with Chinese banks to fund them and now he says they’re going to be built by foreigners.
“This is a shameless climbdown and there’s nothing Kiwi left in KiwiBuild.”
New Zealanders will be surprised to hear the Government could be paying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to overseas companies to manufacture pre-fabricated kit-set houses, National’s spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development Judith Collins says.
“In the nine months Labour has been in Government, the only thing that has been consistent from the Housing Minister Phil Twyford is backtracking, broken promises and repeated pleas to the private sector to bail him out.
“In his latest cry for help Mr Twyford now wants to hear from businesses how to set up flat-pack manufacturers in New Zealand in the hope they might help create a new pre-fabricated housing industry in New Zealand.
“What’s more, in spite of new laws aimed at restricting foreign investment, he’s ‘very happy’ to consider paying foreign-owned companies to do it.
“His many meetings with intermediaries of China Construction Bank and China Development Bank this year, also indicate he is proactively chasing overseas investment in KiwiBuild.
“This from the man who has previously blamed people with Chinese sounding names for rising house prices.
“He is hoping at least half of the 100,000 KiwiBuild homes will be built by these factories. Currently, only a few hundred pre-fab houses are being built per year in New Zealand.
“While National supports foreign investment which helps our economy grow and helps fund infrastructure like housing developments, this Government promised to get rid of it. Now Mr Twyford admits he’s relying on it.
“This Government will ultimately end up exporting taxpayer money in return for overseas investment in building KiwiBuild flat pack homes. Not necessarily the dream Kiwi home Labour was promising to deliver before the election.
“If now the funding will come from overseas, the flat packs will come from overseas and the workers will come from overseas, what part of KiwiBuild is Kiwi?”
Housing Minister Phil Twyford has finally realised he won’t be able to deliver on his promise to build 100,000 houses and his best option is to copy National’s plan – one he has previously criticised, National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Despite spending years in Opposition bagging National’s housing plan, Mr Twyford will now be copying it – a concession that National had the right plan all along.
“It appears he is simply picking up National’s Auckland Housing Programme, which involves Housing New Zealand working with businesses to increase housing supply through intensification on state-owned land, and running with it.
“This revelation follows Mr Twyford’s admission that he will be putting KiwiBuild stamps on pre-fabricated homes built by the private sector.
“And that admission came after Mr Twyford revealed he’d be buying houses off developers, which would have been built anyway, and stamping a KiwiBuild label on those too.
“Mr Twyford spent years criticising everything National achieved in housing and claimed he would do more and build 100,000 houses for New Zealanders. Yet now it appears he’s realised what everyone else has known all along – KiwiBuild was never going to happen.
“Mr Twyford has finally conceded that National’s plan was better and actually achievable. But whether he is capable of successfully executing those plans remains in serious doubt.”
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.”