Judith Collins: KiwiBuild’s house of cards comes crashing down

Opinion 13/05/2019

By Judith Collins, National MP.

The flop that KiwiBuild has proven to be in just 18 short months is a textbook example of why a learning-on-the-job approach just doesn’t work when you’re in Government.

The death knell sounded for Labour’s key election policy this past week as we watched the Prime Minster and her Housing Minister both stand up in front of the nation and refuse to commit to their election pledge of building 100,000 affordable homes in a decade.

No one should be surprised by this.

The policy was a dog from the start and Housing Minister Phil Twyford has been dialling back expectations ever since the grand promise was made with no plan for delivery. KiwiBuild’s initial housing commitments quickly morphed into “just targets” and those targets have eroded away as it has become painfully clear the Government has no hope of hitting them.

Only 84 houses have been built to date.

Now that the overarching goal of delivering 100,000 homes is on the chopping block, the entire KiwiBuild policy is as well – for a policy without an endgame is no policy at all.

Phil Twyford needs to offer his resignation to the Prime Minister over this.

He has no excuses to fall back on having had the housing portfolio for six years in Opposition and being given $2 billion to work with in the last Budget. To be still developing KiwiBuild policy now is unacceptable and it’s time for a new minister to take a fresh look at things.

KiwiBuild’s failure so early in the piece shows Labour just didn’t put the work in while in Opposition. They didn’t understand how hard property development was, they didn’t understand the capacity and experience issues the building sector is wrestling with, and they didn’t understand the real problem holding back the supply of houses is the Resource Management Act (RMA).

The Government’s excuses also ring hollow.

It claims the housing market has changed since it came into power but it conveniently forgets the Auckland market stabilised before the last election, and that the previous National-led government was building more state houses than any government of the past 20 years. We built 1000 during our last year in office.

National won’t make the same mistakes Labour did.

We’re busy working on meaningful RMA reform to cut through red tape and bring down the cost of building for New Zealanders.

Judith Collins is National’s Housing spokesperson.