Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is bringing in a couple of “fresh pairs of eyes” to lead the Government’s broader housing work programme.
A Cabinet reshuffle is seeing Phil Twyford pass on his public housing duties to Kris Faafoi and his house building responsibilities (including KiwiBuild) to Megan Woods, who will become the new Housing Minister.
Twyford will remain responsible for the legislative changes needed to build more affordable houses with the right infrastructure around them, as Urban Development Minister.
The new housing “team” will be headed by Woods.
Ardern inferred work on the housing reset underway would be delayed as Woods and Faafoi would need time to get up to speed with what is happening and provide their input.
She didn't believe "we’ll lose momentum", but wouldn't put a timeline on when details of the reset would be unveiled.
Asked what Woods would bring to the table, Ardern said that as Energy and Resources Minister she had experience working in an area that required “transition”.
Ardern said it had become clear to her that the "range of challenges in fixing the housing crisis" were "too great for one Minister".
“But our ambition to build more affordable houses for New Zealanders has not changed and neither has the public appetite for the Government to be building affordable homes with 60% of voters in a recent Colmar Brunton poll saying they wanted KiwiBuild to continue."
While Ardern said KiwiBuild needed a "sharper focus", she acknowledged the work Twyford had done. She recognised he hadn't met expectations, but said these included the expectations he put on himself.
Twyford will retain his Transport portfolio and has been given a new role of Economic Development Minister.
Faafoi promoted to Cabinet
The reshuffle has seen all ministers retain their existing Cabinet rankings, however as widely expected, Faafoi will become a 17th ranked Cabinet Minister.
In addition to becoming the new Associate Housing Minister, he will become responsible for Government Digital Services. Ardern said this would complement his role as Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister.
Faafoi will also hang on to Commerce and Consumer Affairs, but lose Civil Defence.
Ardern said he was a "trusted pair of hands” who was “widely respected" by stakeholders and colleagues.
In his capacity as Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, Faafoi has given the Commerce Commission the power to do market studies.
He is progressing legislation through Parliament to strengthen responsible lending requirements, limit the accumulation of interest and fees on high-cost loans and modernise insurance contracts law.
He is also working on banning banking and insurance sales incentives, regulating banks' and insurers' conduct and culture, and keeping the pressure on banks to create more competition in the payments space through open banking.
Elsewhere, Grant Robertson will become Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, Jenny Salesa Minister of Customs, and Peeni Henare Minister of Civil Defence.
Changes take effect on Friday, with the exception of portfolios allocated/reallocated to Poto Williams, which will take effect on July 3.
The full list of Cabinet Ministers is available here.
Coming back to Twyford, he said in a statement: "I'm as frustrated as anyone else that we have not been able to deliver as many KiwiBuild houses as we had hoped. I’ve put my all into it."
He also pointed out the things he was proud to have achieved:
- Stopped the sell-off of state houses
- Ended flawed meth evictions
- Banned letting fees
- Introduced Health Homes standards
- Begun to modernise outdated rental laws
- Changed tax settings to discourage speculators
- Banned offshore speculators from buying existing houses
- Built 1400 new state houses and ramped up Housing NZ’s build programme nine fold
- Put more than 2300 families into public housing
- Built more than 202 KiwiBuild homes with around a further 430 under construction and more than 10,000 contracted and committed
- Restored Housing NZ as a compassionate, world-class public housing landlord focused on the wellbeing of its tenants
- Established a $1.5 billion investment in rejuvenating Porirua East, one of New Zealand’s most deprived areas
- Negotiated the purchase of the Mt Albert Unitec campus for housing
- Secured ongoing substantial investment in tackling homelessness through the internationally-acclaimed Housing First programme
Here is a media release from Ardern:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the details of a Cabinet reshuffle that sees Kris Faafoi being promoted into Cabinet, Poto Williams made a Minister outside of Cabinet and a team put in place to advance the Government’s housing plan.
“Kris Faafoi has done an outstanding job as a Minister outside of Cabinet and now joins the Cabinet based on his performance this term,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Minister Faafoi will take on the portfolio of Government Digital Services to complement his existing responsibilities in Commerce, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and joins a new team of housing Ministers who will oversee the implementation of the Government’s housing plan.
“After nine years of neglect there is a lot to fix in housing. KiwiBuild has not progressed as well or as quickly as we’d hoped or expected.
“But our ambition to build more affordable houses for New Zealanders has not changed and neither has the public appetite for the Government to be building affordable homes with 60 per cent of voters in a recent Colmar Brunton poll saying they wanted KiwiBuild to continue.
“But it has become clear to me that the range of challenges in fixing the housing crisis are too great for one Minister. Therefore I am putting in place a team of senior Ministers to deliver the full breadth of our housing plan, from KiwiBuild right through to tackling homelessness.
“Megan Woods will become the Minister of Housing and will be dedicated to delivering the Government’s house building programme.
“Minister Woods will be joined by Kris Faafoi who, as Associate Minister of Housing, will take responsibility for public housing, including state housing and tackling homelessness.
“Nanaia Mahuta will continue to focus on Māori housing and Phil Twyford will continue to take the lead on urban development and the legislative changes needed to ensure more affordable houses can be built with the right infrastructure around them.
“Phil Twyford has made good progress in delivering the Government’s housing policy. He has overseen the largest Government house build programme since the 1970s, including the state house building programme increasing ninefold. Over 2300 more families are being housed by the Government in public housing and first home buyers now make up nearly a quarter of all buyers in the market.
“Minister Twyford will remain in the housing team and share his extensive knowledge with the other Ministers. But there is much work to be delivered in transport where this Government is making the largest ever investment in our roads and public transport infrastructure. To complement this work he will also pick up Economic Development.
“Minister Parker has passed on the Economic Development portfolio to focus on the Government’s priorities of improving water quality and advancing our trade agenda. With the EU FTA progressing and likely negotiations with the UK starting it is important the Minister has the time to focus on our export interests as well as the complex issue of water, where work will ramp up in the coming months.
“Poto Williams joins the Executive as a Minister outside of Cabinet, becoming the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as Associate Minister for Social Development, Immigration and Greater Christchurch Regeneration.
“Poto Williams has been an MP since 2013 and is currently the Assistant Speaker. As the MP for Christchurch East she knows all too well the ongoing issues facing the local community as they continue to recover post-earthquake.
“The Government is making good progress on the issues New Zealanders elected us on. The Wellbeing Budget has been well received and the three parties of government are working well. We are hitting our stride.
“This Cabinet refresh means we will have a sharper focus on solving the housing crisis and ensures we are well placed to continue to deliver the changes we were elected to make,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Poto Williams will be sworn in by the Governor General on 3 July 2019.