30 Jan 2019

KiwiBuild: Interim targets reviewed as scheme is 'recalibrated'

6:29 pm on 30 January 2019

The government is scrapping all of its interim KiwiBuild targets and going back to the drawing board.

Phil Twyfor, Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says the government is looking at how KiwiBuild can be made into a stronger incentive. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

KiwiBuild hasn't exactly got off to a roaring start this year, with the Housing Minister Phil Twyford admitting last week that the government would not hit its mid-year target of 1000 KiwiBuild homes being built.

Now it appears that that and the other interim KiwiBuild targets are out the window as the whole policy is, as Mr Twyford calls it, "recalibrated".

"So I'll take a paper to cabinet in a few weeks' time, we're looking at both how we can make KiwiBuild both a stronger incentive for developers and how we can make it work better for first home buyers."

While the interim targets are toast, Jacinda Ardern is sticking to her guns about the overall KiwiBuild target.

"Our 100,000 over 10 years hasn't changed, those interim targets haven't been a useful way to demonstrate our delivery programme and that's why the minister is looking at that again," she said.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges described the KiwiBuild back-down as "incredibly embarrassing".

After delivering his State of the Nation speech this afternoon in Christchurch, Mr Bridges let rip on the programme.

"I think KiwiBuild has to be seen as one of the most massive kinds of public policy failures we've seen in recent times. It's a salutary lesson actually, they went in talking a big game, and they haven't been able to deliver in any way," he said.

"There's no way they'll make that 100,000, because even he's saying 'well trust me, in a decade, in years nine and 10, we kind of maybe, might possibly get there'."

Mr Bridges said he believed the government was trying to get rid of all accountability on this "in one fell swoop."

"I think you'd be hard pressed to find many New Zealanders that will trust the government on KiwiBuild given this. They've done away with all of their accountability mechanisms."

The rethink of KiwiBuild comes against the backdrop of a very public spat between the former head of the KiwiBuild unit, Stephen Barclay, and the head of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Crisp.

Mr Twyford conceded the whole situation was not ideal.

"I've regarded this whole thing as an unwelcome distraction, it certainly hasn't happened during the critical early months of the KiwiBuild programme," Mr Twyford said.

"I just want to see the whole thing resolved and it's appropriate that it's dealt with by the public servants involved."

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