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National's new leader Simon Bridges has placed Judith Collins in his top 5 and given her the shadow housing portfolio, a role he says she asked for

National's new leader Simon Bridges has placed Judith Collins in his top 5 and given her the shadow housing portfolio, a role he says she asked for

By Jason Walls

National's leader Simon Bridges unleashed what is arguably the strongest weapon in his Opposition arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

Judith Collins.

Collins - who was defeated by Bridges in last month's leadership battle - has picked up the Housing and Urban Development portfolios and has been put in charge of National's push to reform the Resource Management Act (RMA).

She has also rocketed up the list and now sits at number four, behind the leader, deputy leader Paula Bennett and finance spokeswoman Amy Adams. 

Her high list ranking and her new shadow portfolios highlight National's plans to zero in on housing in a big way; specifically targeting the Government's Kiwibuild project. 

Collins is up against Housing Minister Phil Twyford, an MP she has been sparring with over transport since the formation of the Coalition Government late last year.

And she is raring to go. In fact, Bridges says Collins asked to take on the Housing shadow portfolio. 

"Judith wanted these portfolios and it's one of a handful of portfolios where we know we can take the attack to [the Government] because its big talk won't be matched with big significant actions that will make a difference - housing is definitely in that category," he tells

"Twyford is on notice that Judith is coming."

Bridges says her "forensic style" will help her get to the bottom of "what is really happening in housing and expose the Government's lack of real action in this area. 

Translation: Collins is armed, dangerous, focused and ready for a fight. 

Her new RMA responsibilities are significant too. 

When I spoke to her about her leadership bid last month, she was quick to point out her frustration with the Iwi participation clause, which was added into RMA legislation to get the Maori party's support.

This clause, she said, had a “tremendous amount of backlash” from National supporters and is one policy she would like to see changed. 

Bridges says this will be an area where she will bring a lot to the table. 

"My point is [there will be] a mix of the attack and some positive policy work as well."

A changing of the guard?

Last week, Bridges was at pains to point out his re-shuffle would be "an exciting line up that will capture New Zealand's interests," boasting it would be a mix of new talent and experience. 

There a few fresher faces in the top 20, such as Coromandel MP Scott Simpson and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie. 

Former Trade Minister Todd McClay has been placed fifth and will be responsible for Tourism, Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

Another former National leadership hopeful, Mark Mitchell, has picked up Justice and disarmament and has retained defence. 

Gerry Brownlee has dropped outside the top 10 and has lost his Foreign Affairs responsibilities to McClay.

Nick Smith has dropped too, now placed at 26. He is responsible for State Services and Electoral Law reform - a far cry from his previous housing responsibilities. 

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.



Two words for Ms Collins, the second one is "off". Where the hell were you the last nine years as housing got more and more out of hand.
National has exactly zero credibility where housing goes, so your high horse is barely a shetland pony.


The old National 'what housing crisis' is now on the attack on housing? Can someone please let the 'Collins' dictionary know that we have a new definition entry for hypocritical....

Labour is no better , Helen Clarke's administration were just as bad if not worse at controlling house prices .

And no Government can influence the market to make houses suddenly ' affordable for everyone " without causing huge unintended consequences .

This time Labour has something they are calling a plan .......Kiwibuild

Read it could not be further from a plan if it was written with the imagination of Walt Disney, its a bloody wishlist that is not going to happen.

Simply it has about as much chance of succeeding as you have of winning the Lottto Powerball tomorrow evening.

"was" no better. Indeed I agree HC wanted this as it poured more $s into the Govnt's coffers so she could spend it. Is this the same Labour? I suggest not, I think they have learned its bad.

"wishlist" I suspect there is a considerable amount of truth in your take on it. Even if more houses do get built they will not be really affordable, 600k+ is not affordable by most ppl.

I do think Labour will try hard and unlike National will achieve some success if only because National fully intended to carry on doing nothing.


Does it matter what National did or didn't achieve when they were in power?

The CoL is now in power because they said they are going to do better, so they need to live up to their promises.

Absolutely. You say you can do better, so now you have the power you need to prove it. If they do what they said they would, Collins will be silent.

It would matter if they did something, but their hands off do nothing attitude to almost every portfolio says way to much about the hollowness of their words.


Yes, it matters, it matters a whole lot. Thanks to them, housing has become just about irretrievably unaffordable. They have nothing to offer now. They weren't prepared to do anything then, they deserve every bit of scorn that can be mustered, now. They can butt right out.


Of course it matters. Why would anyone give National a free pass then rant against Labour for not delivering? That would be an incredible double-standard. An even-handed treatment would see National voters last time around giving Labour three terms with no progress.

What matters most re National is their campaigning in 2007 on the urgent need to address the housing crisis, followed by their nine years' worth of denying any such crisis exists. That is the fundamental dishonesty and lack of ethics that should be held to account. Why would anyone claim to have ethical standards but excuse such dishonesty?

And now they're back in opposition they're saying there's a housing crisis again?

It just looks like with Bridges and Collins up the list they still have a long way to go to fix the ethical rot that has set in over the last couple of years. To me, it's ridiculous that the Minister for Oravida should be allowed back up the list at all.

Although it is terribly hypocritical of the 4-way coalition to talk tough on housing, given that the new 3-way (and more focussed) coalition has barely taken over, I still agree that it does not matter that the inefficient 4-way coalition wasn't able to achieve anything in 9 years. We still need to hold the current government to account.
Giving them a free pass just because the previous government were useless on the housing issue does not cut it. That would be like turning a bling eye to corruption in South Africa because of the previous apartheid days.

I'm so happy that we are all in agreement now that the previous government was absolutely hopeless on housing.

Irony - Dishonesty

mlpc demands the Coalition live up to its promises

Don't recall mlpc demanding National live up to its promises
Remember John Keys 2006 promise on housing

When you achieve nothing for 9 years even a small improvement will be a success.

Prices were flat through Nat' s first term. Second term was recovering to long term trend, look at old articles, it wasn't viewed as a big problem. Only really went to crazy levels during last term

Actually PA it’s more like one of those painted ponies on a merry go round. You know the one where there is always a kid going round and round screaming their head off. Next one up will probably be Coleman.


I hate Judith Collins as much as the next person, but if she is going to sit there barking about homes getting built and keeping pressure on Labour to really get it done I have no problem with that.

Of course, as sure as night follows day the line of attack is going to dumbed down to the I.Q of the National voter audience, ie: 100,000 houses / 10 years = 10,000 per year; therefore you are behind schedule by N houses.

Having to explain the nuances of exponentially ramping production over time is losing in our soundbite driven world.

Now if they could just get somebody barking about a population policy and terminating the mass immigration programme.


Not their way. Nats as they currently exist are totally focused on their own power games and political machinations and have zero interest in actually doing the job. They'll just sabotage whatever Labour are doing, then replace that with nothing.

Silly nonsense.

National were and are primarily concerned with achieving outcomes, even if they failed on occasion.

As we have now seen, Labour are only concerned with throwing money around to buy votes. Witness the $380 million (rising the $1 billion plus) they have already allocated to fees free Tertiary Education for zero increase in enrollments.

I would advocate for lower cost university education but stricter academic standards. There's no reason not to fund education to similar levels to what many in the older generations received as a benefit of NZ society - however we should not be cheapening the value of university by pushing universities to pump more and more numbers through even when the people are not suited to be there and haven't even achieved the necessary criteria (as some academics have been testifying they're under pressure to pass those who shouldn't be, for reasons of funding). Other countries can manage this.

To use cost alone as a filter for who can get to university seems a bit daft, compared to using academic standards.

"Operation Landing", an inquiry started by multiple government agencies after intelligence indicated problems in Auckland's new-home building sector, was kept secret for more than a year. more bad building sector news was swept under the carpet too, we're now finding out.

The absence of licensed building practitioners (LBPs) – who are specially assessed to carry out essential structure or weathertightness work on residential buildings - at 81.3 percent of sites.

No consented building plans available at 75 to 80 percent of sites

Issues with plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying at 28.3 percent of sites

A lack of employment records or agreements, or the use of contractors without any legal basis at 41.18 per cent of the 85 sites examined by the Labour Inspectorate


He was adamant Operation Landing’s initial findings could not be interpreted as indicative of possible structural issues with new residential builds.

“We are able to confirm...that there’s no leaky-homes syndrome here,” he said

Phew. That's a relief!

What is going to happen to standards is a great concern.

When all that mattered was bums on seats (twilight golf anyone?) course and qualification rates were poor, and they were abysmal for Maori and Pacific students.

Under the last govt, Tertiary Organisations were strongly incentivised to improve outcomes, particularly to work towards parity for Maori and Pacific students. Course and qualification completion rates improved dramatically, partly because students with poor literacy and numeracy were identified and could obtain help, and partly because it become important to ensure that students were no longer put on courses that were too tough for them.

If participation is all that matters, all of the gains that have been made in the past few years could be frittered away.

I've worked with a few tertiary organisations over the last few years and the problems I'm describing were an issue in these years. There's a constant, massive pressure to increase numbers - both international and domestic. We're seeing new courses specifically aimed at more and more volume, with GROWTH being the god worshipped.

I think we need to start thinking of tertiary education as an investment in the capability of NZ rather than solely a business to be measured by growth in numbers etc. Hence the advocating for high academic standards rather than cost as a deterrent.

"National were and are primarily concerned with achieving outcomes, even if they failed on occasion."

Now that is silly nonsense! National achieved little and were utterly incompetent in dealing with the housing crisis and social inequality; this will haunt us for generations to come.

I just hope they will hold Labour to account while in opposition but they have limited ground to stand when criticizing them in many areas.

Impossible to sabotage what labour are doing as they are doing nothing. Labour promised 10,000 house a year on average if they failed to understand the ramp up period then they are incompetent if they did then they deliberately misled the voters.

Brock. N = a current deficit of 3758 houses that needed to be built by now, as at this morning, if the 100K target is to be met. Twyford will no doubt say his delivery will not be linear, instead a huge surge as the finish line approaches. So we should not, apparently, be alarmed at this growing gap. And we remain assured by him that the 10,000pa houses are all new new builds, every one additional to what would have been produced without Kiwi build.

He is presumably today working on a line of spin to counter infometrics weekend revelations that 'Labour has been pulling number out of its arse' on housing. Unknown is whether his response will be decreed as one that media are allowed to question him on. Since the weekend when the coalition refused media access to elected officials over specific issues of public concern, there is some curiosity about when (or indeed whether) this essential element of a functioning democracy will be restored.

Let’s say they only manage to build 50k “additional” houses, would you call that a failure?

Lucky Labour didn't promise 200 houses a week, or 27 houses a day.


Ms Collins, please just shut up and get out of the way.


a good move in that she will keep pressure on to get the houses built and the RMA changed, pity they wasted nine years doing F all and now the best national can do is hurry labour up to try to fix a miss they let fester


what the heck!!!

She has moved to the highest rank after Leader/Deputy/Finance.... So housing suddenly has become such a big issue???? why, for 9 years they proclaimed there was no housing crisis by Donkey, followed by Pizza Man.....

It's a strange old world, alright.

I wouldn't worry.
The infighting is going to be incredible.

Shows how lacking the National Party is when the newly minted leader has to give all the top jobs to his closest rivals.
An excellent way to dilute your power and respect within the ranks.

Keep your friends close , your enemies closer.

ah no wonder, trump is close to Putin and trying to get close to Kim :)

Think he might be taking a few ideas from the Duterte playbook as well

Something about having someone doing something out of the tent from inside the tent being a better shot than being outside the tent doing something into the tent. Apologies to Lyndon B Johnson, he said it a lot clearer than that.

Wasn't it "His aim is so poor, he couldn't hit a barn from the inside".

Or, some Godfather reference?

I must say though, for someone who has displayed pretty much nothing but for contempt for logic Simon may have read The Prince one once or twice.


National's not really going to be on the attack. Once Labour have dug up all the dodgy things National were up to they're going to be under fire for a long time.

So far it's been interesting to see how much effort Government employees are putting into burying as much as possible. Fortunately I am bringing a number of issues to light so that they do not get away with it.

Go along with that. What is starting to percolate out of Brownlee’s maltreatment of the Canterbury EQ claimants for a start. And I would too go back and take a hard look at who opened the door for all those Cayman like Trusts that suddenly fled when Key had to come out of denial and tighten up the legislation. And WP of course has that little court case in the offing.

Seriously people.
The coalition should not have blurted out the B.S. that they have.
The reality is that even if they could build the 100,000 they would not be affordable for the people that they aimed it at.
I know what Fletchers have built in Chch for 500k and they aren’t pretty.
2 storied attached boxes with smalll living that look like crap and no land whatsoever.
With the price of land up there this is all you are going to get for 6-700k at best and probably a long way out.
Most don’t have a deposit and then servicing could be a problem.
You can not bring up a family in them and the people won’t be able to afford to move up to a family home.
You are in Dreamsville if you think it is not going to end in tears for this idealistic but crazy coalition!


The only thing ending in tears is going to be house prices when global interest rates are normalized.

Agreed. Collins is going to expose the amount of BS Twyford has been pontificating

only if Oravida has an interest in housing I'd imagine...

Or involves dredging, draining and filling in swamps that she so triumphantly declared she hated

Much easier to bring up the family in the boot of the car, right?

Keep up. No-one has been living in cars since the collation came to power. We know this because the continual flow of such stories in the media, stopped on election day.

Since the Coalition came to power those that slept in cars had to sell them so now they live on the streets.

Stories on rough sleepers also dried up. Cindy waved her wand and 'pfft', in an eyeblink this massive social problem that had been front page for months, was overnight solved. Peace and harmony restored. It isn't hard to do, easy if you try, living for today, the world as one.

I thought she'd crushed 'em all

They blurted it out because they never expected to win the election.

I saw that new Nats talking point on morning telly too!

Brock, personally think interest rates are normalised where they are now!
They aren’t going anywhere!

Yeah right, get out of the dinosaur age...

What about 5 years from now? or 10....or 15...or 20?

I agree TM2. Interest rates have a new normal. Probably a bit higher than they are now (1%?), but certainly not returning to 8-10% anytime soon.

Be careful what you wish for, TM2 and B-Rocker..
Is that not a scarier proposition?

To suggest interest rates are permanently lower implies that productivity as we know it is dead.
In essence that means that people cannot bank on higher inflation eroding away their debt. Nor can they rely on general increases in income to help pay down debt.
It also implies that the current prices paid for property in New Zealand are even more fundamentally detached from their real value.

Give me interest rate increases any day over the proposition of the alternative.

I didn't wish for it. Personally I would favour interest rates in the vicinity of 5%. Something there for investors and not too bad for borrowers.
New normal versus permanence ... not sure on the number of years, but say 10 years? Just picking a figure, but basically I think it is a new normal position as opposed to the pendulum swinging low, only to return to 8% in the next few years.
Why would we want people banking on higher inflation to erode their debt? (Which is the same as your next sentence).
If focussing on the effect of interest rates on a property's value, the current prices are only detached from real value if you think that there is a major shift in interest rates coming.

Why 5%?
That's just an arbitrary number.

What we want is to aim for low volatility, not a fixed interest rate target.

If focussing on the effect of interest rates on a property's value, the current prices are only detached from real value if you think that there is a major shift in interest rates coming.
Not at all.
My point was that we smooth consumption over time - i.e. we take a hit today knowing that we can make up for it in the future.
People over extending themselves with $800k mortgages today are assuming that they are going to be able to forgo consumption today on the basis that they can make up for it in 10 years time. This normally comes in the form of productivity/wage increase.
However, if you assume interest rates to be permanently lower, it suggests that such productivity/wage increases are not feasible. i.e. the expected monthly proportion of net earnings used to finance the mortgage is going to be stationary over time, instead of declining (as in a position of positive productivity growth).
Thus the effective price paid for property currently is too much.

Interesting discussion on interest rate & productivity. I'm more of newbie here; just started following interest rate and house prices just a couple of years ago and have not recovered from the shock :( . Now I'm more of waiting for a correction to happen to buy a house to live. (NOT a ladder)

People over extending themselves with $800k mortgages today are assuming that they are going to be able to forgo consumption today on the basis that they can make up for it in 10 years time. This normally comes in the form of productivity/wage increase

1. Why 10years ? People have taken mortgage for 20years or more , isn't it ?
2. Now the govt is planning to 'artificially' increase the wage/productivity by increasing the min wage . so that would make easier to finance mortgage ?

What if that alternative scenario is actually a given and we're refusing to acknowledge it?

Can you please explain the alternative scenario you are talking about ?

What if productivity as we know it is dead, people cannot bank on inflation eroding away their debt and current prices paid for New Zealand property are more fundamentally detached from their real value?

What if we've reached maximum economic progress?

Fascinating to observe the dust being stirred up by the new Bridges broom. Many particles of said dust evident on this morning as the painful and now independently confirmed reality dawns, that the coalition has been inventing numbers when putting together its housing plan. Collins, love or hate her, will deal to Twyford's BS and Bridges' appointments show astute judgement by identifying that planning processes and the RMA are the primary driver of affordability. Meanwhile Phil place his hopes in vague commitments from manufacturers to ramping up pre fab home production.

The last lot, including edge fiddler Smith, have gone, people. New team in town. Move on.

lol... I understand how you feel middleman...

the national party leader caught up in the 'middle' hounded by PB,AA and now JC...

Makes me laugh how some people are making a point of calling the current government the coalition. The previous government was a 4-way coalition. The new one is a 3-way. And it turns out that the 4-way resulted in even more convoluted RMA law. Great - thanks National and co.
I think it is great that we now have someone from National talking about what needs to be done. Hopefully she can keep the government to account. Then again she obviously couldn't keep Nick Smith to account.
Makes me think the Americans have a better system in electing their leaders. Party voting is basically just voting for what the party leaders stand for, and the rest of the members are obliged to suck it up and go along with the bs.

It will do no harm at all if National can present a combative and effective opposition in parliament. Labour for nine years were useless and National were allowed to get away with almost anything. The Westminster System of parliament requires debate and accountability to work for all of us regardless of which party is where.

Collins is going to have plenty of opportunity to attack. As much as I think Kiwibuild is much needed, it's early delivery was not well thought through at all

I think Labour has been horrified by the parlous state of so much of society and services. Look at midwives, that service is now at crisis point; mental health, education. It's like the floodgates have been opened and all these people who've been, over the years, ground down and ground down, can no longer carry on.
It's quite staggering, and no, Labour is not going to be able to sort it all immediately as the issues are far deeper and far broader than I think anyone, others than those at the coal face, was aware.

Are the services run down or resources poorly distributed?

There was approximately 60,000 births in NZ with 3000 registered midwives. Do some maths here....20 births per annum per midwife which is about 2.6 births per week.

Mental Health I'm still trying to obtain a breakdown in numbers of nurses and other staff and how many people use these resources.

Education expenditure works out at roughly $11,000 per child being spent annually.

The State Services Act is the biggest impediment on politicians to alter the direction on any public service to improve outcomes.......I'm sick of hearing that public servants are doing it hard their weekly earnings are well above people in private enterprise.........

A lot of those registered midwives will not be active, or do it part time with a small number of clients, etc.
I certainly know my wife's first midwife has quit due to work overload and her second midwife only does it due to love of the job. Even if you 'only' did 20 births a year, you still have checkups (every week I think?), false labours, post natal checkups, etc. I got the feeling it is a full time job during the day with one or two really long night shifts thrown in randomly each week.

I agree some midwives will have pressures upon them.....but again I think this is due to poor distribution/allocation of resources.....Last trimester of a pregnancy will see more regular visits i.e. fortnightly or weekly and post partum visits for first month then onto Plunket nurse.

Of course there are high risk patients who will take up more resources and I don't know the numbers of these people that get transferred to other resourced areas............It seems rediculous to me that in this knowledge age we are in that MoH and DHB's can't work out basic maths to adequately fund each area based upon population needing the should be easily able to be adjusted when any increase or decrease occurs.............surely it is easy to break down first time pregnancies, high health risk, other etc and no exactly what resources are needed.

Not all midwives work through a DHB most are private contractors receiving something $3000+ as LMC in a pregnancy. If they have to hand over to medicos at the end they lose about half of that. We are not in a crisis state where midwives go because they are overpaid, can we be realistic about that, please.

I work within the mental health service and I'm telling you it is broken! Among other things, we have the worst physical/sexual abuse statistics in the developed world and the people abused become damaged human beings who need to access mental health services. The under funding of these services has reached a crisis point. Unfortunately this could be applied across all the health services.

I have no doubt that our statistics are bad Ngrrk.....but despite all the resources we don't seem to be getting people better rather we seem to be growing the numbers and the problems and this concerns is too easy to make funding an issue......the more you push for more funding the more people you are pushing towards not coping in society.........

I'd be interested in seeing what evidence you base this view off.

So facilities and pay are under par in health and education. Do we need to face the reality that higher tax revenue is needed?

No reduce expenditure by cutting out waste and excessive pay and benefits in the public sector.

*I'm sick of hearing that public servants are doing it hard their weekly earnings are well above people in private enterprise*

What do you think the appropriate starting rate for someone with a three year university degree in Physiotherapy, or Speech language therapy is?

How about the pharmacist dispensing your drugs.. 4 year degree plus a year of internship.. whats a proper starting salary in your opinion?
Look through this collective contract and tell me which salary rates you think are excessive?

Yes agree. Having said that I think the Clarke Labour govt are as culpable as Key's mob

Yes agree. Having said that I think the Clarke Labour govt are as culpable as Key's mob


Like our ageing infrastructure,the problems in education,healthcare,etc go back decades and governments of the both the Left and Right have been culpable.My wife is a Primary Healthcare nurse of over 30 years experience and she sees daily the shortcomings in the healthservice,a large part of which is down to cash-or rather,the lack of it.
The last government made much of its success in reducing the debt/GDP ratio and must be given some credit,but in part,it was only achieved by underfunding many services. I can hear the howls of outrage from the Right-"But National increased the healthcare budget every year'. Yes,but not on an inflation-adjusted,per capita basis.
I chose to come and live here 14 years ago and am very happy to call NZ home.In many ways,it's a wonderful country,but there are a number of major issues we have to face. For example,I simply cannot comprehend how a country that prides itself on its No 8 wire mentality,has allowed countless leaky buildings to be erected. It's a bloody disgrace and from what i am told,it's still going on.

Nymad, if people have got 800k mortgages on their personal homes then they will get in the Pooh.
$800k invested in rentals in Chch will bring you in a return of somewhere around $1000 per week which would be a far better use of $800k mortgage.

TM2 - I see you still haven't learnt how to use the "reply" function?

Outline exactly why $800k is better invested in CHC at ~6% gross return.

Nymad, of course I know how to use the reply!

To reply means that it can be a fair way back so to have my posts read I put them on as the latest!

A 6.5 per cent gross return nowadays is a pretty good return, your costs are deductible and there will be excellent increases in property values in Chch over the next few years.

Far better return than Term Deposits and far safer than equities.

Then your increased value can leverage you into further income producing assets.

Well, she can't be worse than Nick Smith was

I'm sure she'll give it a shot.

Bridges, Amy, and Collins at the top looks a bit like late comers to a big party that all the cool kids just quit two minutes before they burst into the room.

Nick Smith was an absolute disaster , but he was not to blame for the spiralling of house prices.

The whole thing is far more complex than that , and the convergence of many elements made it a near perfect storm

Massive net immigration
Cheap money
Intransigent Auckland Council
Building cost escalations ( inflation)
Costs of servicing land

And of course people happy to jump on the bandwagon and overpay for damp mouldy wooden shacks