National Party housing spokesperson responds to Phil Twyford's first big policy speech on how he will tackle housing affordability, housing availability and home ownership

By Michael Woodhouse*

This Government is quickly making a habit of breaking its promises.

Since it came to power the only thing that’s been consistent has been its walking back of its major policies and it’s no different in housing.

It started big, promising the biggest overhaul of housing policy since the first Labour Government, 100,000 extra houses in ten years under KiwiBuild, a comprehensive State house build programme and ending homelessness.

But this Government, like any other, will be judged not on what it says bit what it actually delivers for New Zealanders. So far it’s failing to impress – or to present a consistent and coherent plan to get houses built.

Take KiwiBuild for example. Labour campaigned on 100,000 extra houses over ten years, no ifs, buts or maybes. But we’ve since discovered there will be just 16,000 houses (not 30,000) built in the first three years – apparently because the programme needs to ramp up. Then we also discovered that at least half of those houses won’t be new – they’ll be purchased from existing developments so they won’t actually be adding to the overall supply.

What value this is adding is unclear. Mr Twyford says he can adjust the price point for these properties down to what the government considers affordable. He claims that the value is in providing certainty to developers. The irony here is that if the housing shortage is as bad as Mr Twyford claims then developers would have the certainty of prospective buyers queuing up to buy off the plans. He can’t have it both ways.

Another rich irony is that the very houses Mr Twyford wants to buy are only being built because of National’s Special Housing Area programme. Unfortunately for the developers Mr Twyford is so anxious to provide certainty, the Special Housing Area programme is firmly on his hit list.

Mr Twyford also seems to want it both ways on social housing. Despite his total opposition to anyone but Housing New Zealand Corporation providing social housing, he wants to continue to work with community housing providers to have them do more. We agree with the latter (after all, this is exactly the direction the previous Government was taking) given we certainly don’t think Government should have a monopoly on social housing. One look at the woeful condition of state housing stock left behind by the previous Labour Government in 2008 would convince anyone of that.

We all want to see an end to homelessness but good intentions are no substitute for action. The National Government became the first ever to fund emergency housing and was implementing the Housing First model that proved so successful in Hamilton.

The record residential building boom and the growing social housing sector are proof that what the previous Government was doing was working. The pipeline of housing projects was considerable and growing.

So the baseline has been set. The Labour-led Government should be measured against the projected 102,000 dwellings and 6,000 state houses that were forecast to be built in the next three years under National, plus his 16,000 KiwiBuild homes. They should also be measured against the strong performance of the previous Government in addressing the homelessness challenge.

And hold them to account we most certainly will.


Michael Woodhouse is the National Party spokesperson for housing and social housing. This is his response to a speech we published by Housing Minister Phil Twyford, here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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49 Comments

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15

But can Woodhouse even start defending the indefensible mess left by Nick Smith?
As I recall it was helped by rampant immigration.
Who was the responsible minister for that?

I read the article as an attack on the credibility of the governments housing plan versus the promises made and not a defence of anything.

I thank smalltown for bringing this to our attention earlier today. It surely answers your question BB3. In a word NO.
http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/12/national-s-housing-timebo...

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12

Yup govts certainly are judged on what they deliver, hence why the author finds himself in opposition.

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19

This is pretty rich coming from the party that caused the whole mess.

JRSNZ
don’t be so cruel to National
The PM had Ponytails on his mind

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10

Judith Collins was on breakfast TV this morning - almost friendly and non-confrontational ( a lesson for you Michael!)l. Could this The Change that National is engineering? I mean, Bill's on re-borrowed, hospital-pass time isn't he?!

As more and more of the incompetence is exposed, they will have to become more amenable and less antagonistic. There are plenty more skeletons to come out of closets yet I would imagine.

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10

BE is best at making pizza's , he should stick to that

you mean snake Judith is still in politics ?

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10

BW
Beware “The Judith Snake Chameleon “
This snake sheds its skin to match the situation
You’ll be entertained for awhile as she figures out how her & hubby can benefit
Then once in power she’ll change her skin again & colour will return to cold heart blue

"Come in to my parlour", said the spider to the fly

She’s more like a snake lizard
Eats spiders too

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14

Gosh how can the National party even open their damn mouth???16,000 promised in 3 years... that is better than they built in 9 years!!!!!!!!!!!

arrogance is running thick in their veins

Perhaps Melbourne Modular homes can provide the answer
https://blog.anchorhomes.com.au/how-long-does-it-take-to-build-a-modular...

A US home usually takes at least a month to get approval then around 6 months to complete but a modular home transported to the site san take as little as 4 months sited with all services hooked up

Rule of thumb to build is 1.3hrs for a person to build one square foot

NZ cannot build economically It has extremely high serviced section costs
everyone knows about so this old paradigm of NZ building must change along with the high expense of building materials by the building supply duopoly everyone knows about also
NZ must face these high input cost facts 1st
Then there’s the lack of experienced trades people & the low level of mechanisation & lastly no economy of scale to drive down cost
Get the picture ?
All this can only be rectified with a strategy to achieve it
Please address these issues new NZ Govt & you’ll achieve more than decades of National

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11

Given the Nats poor performance on housing,you would think that Labour would only have to turn up with a hammer and nails at a building site and that would have been enough to get elected.
Instead they make promises that everyone knows they can't keep.
Twyford before the election knew everything about the reasons for the housing crisis and how to fix it, but now having been elected he is looking at data,doing surveys and forming committees.
Lets hope he loves egg because imo there is a lot going to come his way.

Again stating the obvious is that both of these big parties is useless and only out for self interest. Replace all mp and their advisors with cactus and the country will still run like now (that is nothing happening) but only cheaper as tax payers will pay a lot less for cactus in parliament. I am all for a pragmatic govt even if it means higher taxes for everyone, but with these lot.... minimum wage at best.

Actually with the horticulture in certain succulents the health of the country could likely improve. That is a real bugger.

Oh for goodness sake , it was patently obvious during the election that, like Donald Trumps election promises , Labours election promises were never going to be workable or practical or even remotely achievable .

I pointed out at the time it was a wishlist that simply could not be fulfilled , designed to entice utterly gullible and really stupid voters into voting for them .

100,000 houses in 10 years, when we dont even have enough workers to build 7,000 a year ?

Affordable houses for low income families when the costs ( and council fees) of subdividing a single section at $200,000 is itself unaffordable for those very same families ......... and that does not even include the purchase price of the land itself .

Simply put , home ownership patterns in New Zealand have changed forever , things will never be the same again , so we might as well accept this and look at the German model of long -term leases for families in large scale apartment blocks or cluster -housing schemes .

The owners could be NZX listed real estate companies , just like those listed entities that own commercial property , or even the Singapore Pension fund .( the CPF) as landlord .

Of course getting Kiwis to accept this new normal is another story altogether

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12

If they kick into good quality prefab en masse it is a totally achievable goal

And here was me thinking that prefab houses also needed sub trades that we don't have enough of and won't for a long time, especially when immigration is cut to 30,0000. And concrete production which is at maximum capacity. And land to erect them on.

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11

Of course they need those things. But overall one prefab house is far less labour intensive than one conventionally built house.
The govt have a Kiwibuild visa programme to actively target skills shortages

Add to that, fewer than 3,000 migrants came in last year under anything related to construction. It is a good idea to deliberately ramp this up via Kiwibuild visas.

A builder I know once went off to build an Olympic village for a while, along with many other foreign builders - builds can happen when needed. We also saw this with Christchurch.

It starts with recognising a crisis exists, both while on the campaign trail and once in power. Something the last government struggled with.

.

A VISA program?

I thought we were against immigration now.

Yes and the next thing is nobody will want to live in them. They will become just another slum

100,000 EXTRA houses in 10 years , was Twyford's unequivocal promise. Not slyly slipping in houses that would already have been built under existing programs. Not deferring the delivery timeline. The clock is ticking. If the shambolic current performance of the Col in the house is replicated in Twyford's portfolio, he has no chance.

Ditto for the tree planting target. Trees that would have been planted under existing private plans were never mentioned prior to the election but now seem to be taken as a given by the MSM.

If we count self seeding trees we might not have to plant anything ourselves!

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20

It's been what, 10 weeks? Jump up and down all you like, even if they only manage 2,000 additional houses a year it's still a lot better than the previous 9 years.

I think the fundamental difference between National's housing promise and Labour's housing promise is that assuming Labour don't meet the target of 100,000 they would have at least made an attempt to meet their promise.

NZdan
Right On
It’s only been 10 weeks of this very green [ pardon the pun ] govt
Give them some time

One is certainly able to pick which comments come from predominantly National supporters by their negativity. One can perhaps forgive them after their soaking up of nine years of actual economic negatives while being fed rock star economy lies. It is time to stop whinging. Wait and see how well the coalition performs. NZ has performed far better in the somewhat distant past and we may well do so now. This time around one hopes we will not be misled by lies and will hold the coalition to results, but it is surely too early to whinge.

It's amazing how people will gladly persecute Labour before they have even had an opportunity to perform a "National". So much emotion involved in politics commentary. It's like Bloods and Crips or something?

NZdan
I look at the spruikers as unevolved human beings
They work hard obviously yet lack empathy for their fellow man
Instead they appear smug & arrogant
I enjoy their delusions here though
None of them has a clue about markets
All good fun though
Zach has the most chance of evolving
Maybe Ha!

I don't think an examination of the details of a plan really can be called persecution.

It is the job of *any* opposition to call out the incumbent government on porkies and poor results.

One way to reach the target would be Mobile homes.Government and Councils re-purpose brown fields sites to accomodate the homes. Ship them in from overseas spec'd for NZ. Just tow to sight, plug in and plumb in. The largest mobile home builder in the USA builds 30,000 plus homes a year. These are proper 2-3 bedroom homes. Not caravans. Better than pouring millions of taxpayer/HNZ/WINZsusidies into private motels and hell hole caravan parks.

WestieAJ
You are 100% right
It amazes me too that the Nth American mobile home is not adopted in NZ
Even better these factory built homes can be made virtually earthquake proof if specified correctly
Alas NZers have little idea what a true mobile home is
They perceive it as an RV !

The governing parties should be measured by the amount of our children growing up in motels and cars by the end of their term. Hopefully zero. And we should use this measure to compare them to the previous governments performance.

Woodhouse and company need to go out and fix the National party. We deserve an opposition that owns not just our successes but also our problems on behalf of all New Zealanders.

The point is that Twyford simply won't be able to deliver on his promise. If he knew this number was not achievable yet still boasted he would get there, shows he is just another cynical hustler. If he was genuinely ignorant of the logistical challenges involved and misguided as to achievability, that establishes him as a muddled incompetent.

The story is no longer about Smith and his spin or performance failures. The government has changed and comparisons rendered meaningless. The CoL's build rate promise wasn't an aspirational 'target'. It was an unequivocal undertaking and large numbers of Kiwis voted for them on the basis of that commitment.

Yes. I remember the Hosk doing some silly enumeration of how it was impossible to plant 1 billion trees in 10 years. Based on the Hosk's calculations, that's 190 a minute. Impossible said the Hosk. The problem with this is that the Hosk has a concept in his narrow frame of reference about what "planting a tree" actually entails. Anyone who has worked with the preparation of seedlings for forestry would realize that 190 per minute is quite conservative and definitely not impossible.

But there's the issue: middle NZ works on their own preconceptions. When you have the Hosk feeding and stoking these preconceptions, the apathy simply gets worse.

Yes. But we know Hosking is not a particularly intelligent man.
Indeed, he's simply a 'shock jock' , and that suits NZ Herald's click bait crap very well.

Can anyone advise are there any Auckland apartments built since 1990 that haven’t leaked ?

Probably some of the ones put up recently haven't had long enough to start leaking yet,

LOL Laminar !

There're actually 2 ways to make housing availability numbers better. Ramp up the supply or kill the demands. It's either buid aggressively or make those areas where there're experiencing shortages highly undesirable to live in like piling special regional taxes and petrol taxesin those places. Looks like this government is trying to do both.

Bureaucracy and self-imposed red tapes had rear its head and snagged housing developments.

And we still wonder how the Americans, Chinese, or the Japanese was able to turn around a house build in days or weeks instead or years or decades.

LOL they have been in only 5 minutes and the reality has kicked in already. When you find you cannot sort it out after all just blame the previous government. Problem is you cannot keep doing that for the next 3 years or your gone.

Why only 3 years?, National got away with doing it their whole 3 terms.

What a polarised, cruddy thread. It's far below the standard expected of a primarily Finance/Economics site.

Back to the topic. The core issues for housing are simple to enumerate but devilishly hard to fix. I'll regurgitate some of my own thoughts over the years, and, like good gullz, y'all can fight over the Good Bitz....

  • The price of the land determines the fate of everything on top. And the fact that this is foobarred is down, not to the sorry machinations of central Gubmints of either stripe, but down to the idiocy, the fad-following and the sheer economic cluelessness of territorial local authorities over the past 30 years.
  • A cozy Materials Duopoly, aided and abetted by a BRANZ-and-others regulatory regime which is a massive barrier to new methods, materials and entrants generally.
  • A rule-driven (rather than active testing oriented) inspection regime, with Modest Fees at every turn, wildly inconsistent rulings depending on TLA, Inspector, and the digestive state of the latter's breakfast
  • A building industry composed of thousands of two-bit builders, clonking up houses in a manner which would not be unfamiliar to a 19th century carpenter, all vying for the same few high-end-of-market jobs, because that's where the munny is, leading to highly inelastic supply at t'other end

Solutions will undoubtedly include modular/prefab builds, once the blowtorch of a New Idealistic Gubmint has been applied to at least some of the above. Design considerations will include:

  • Smaller spaces - nothing over say 140 squares
  • Hip or gable roofs with actual eaves to ensure weathertightness
  • Modular designs with maximal involvement from yacht, aeroplane and caravan designers to ensure space is used intelligently
  • Zero involvement with architects to ensure weathertightness and intelligent use of space
  • Multi-proof consented ex factory to ensure the stupid TLA's cannot introduce mucho time and therefore $ into the construction sequence

Expecting this to happen in even a couple of years is just asking for crying into yer beer,,,,,,

Good one Waymad.