Phil Twyford 'absolutely ape' over KiwiBuild criticism - Judith Collins

Judith Collins has accused arch-rival Phil Twyford of going "absolutely ape" over her attacks on the Government's flagship KiwiBuild policy.

The first families to buy KiwiBuild homes were welcomed into the properties last weekend, but Ms Collins - the National Party housing spokesperson - got stuck into one particular couple during the week, suggesting they didn't need "taxpayer support" for housing.

The war of words between Ms Collins and the Housing Minister escalated into claims of cyber-bullying and defamation.

Left-wing blogger and journalist Russell Brown said Ms Collins used a "troll army" to dig up information on the young couple, and Mr Twyford said they had to take their social media profiles offline to avoid the abuse. Ms Collins rejected these claims.

"I wasn't trying to take them on at all," she told The AM Show on Friday. "In fact, I said good on them - they've got the bank of Uncle Phil, why wouldn't they want to go and do something with it? I think they're very entrepreneurial - I like entrepreneurial."

She denied her tweets were "mean-spirited".

"Nice kids doing well. Good for them. But actually it's Phil, and Phil went absolutely ape, you know the word, this week. He went absolutely berserk. He almost frothed at the mouth.

"One of the things he's done is he's actually alerted everyone to what a crock KiwiBuild is. It's not actually about getting the people with kids who can't, you know, struggle street, into houses - it's a free-for-all. If you put your name down [for] the lottery and you get it, you've won Lotto... It's for people who actually can, by the way, buy another house."

The building and purchasing of KiwiBuild homes is backed by $2 billion of taxpayer money, but the buyers still have to get mortgages and pay the full $649,000 cost.

Despite National leader Simon Bridges calling the scheme "KiwiHoax", Ms Collins isn't committed to getting rid of it should her party win the next election.

"I'd never scrap anything that worked. I don't think [KiwiBuild works]... Let's see if it works. I don't think it will."

Labour's Michael Wood, appearing on The AM Show from Dunedin, said Ms Collins had "a lot of moxy talking about housing after nine years of making sure that it is too expensive for young couples to buy a house".

"We're just going to keep building those houses. There are going to be so many more of them coming - we're going to welcome those young couples in and not give them stick."

He said the Government is helping those at who can't afford to buy their own home with new Housing NZ places - adding 1200 state housing tenancies across the country in the last year.


A previous version of this story contained a comment from Ms Collins regarding locks on doors, which Newshub misinterpreted as being criticism of the Government's expansion of state housing. Newshub apologises for the error.