Judith Collins grills Phil Twyford over KiwiBuild homes built before 2017 election

National MP Judith Collins has grilled the Housing Minister over KiwiBuild homes that were built before the 2017 election. 

Collins, National's housing spokesperson, took aim at Phil Twyford in Parliament on Thursday over the Government's underwrite guarantee of KiwiBuild houses, some of which were already built when they were signed off, she said. 

The Crown underwrite, signed off by Cabinet in August last year, means the Government pays for any losses incurred by private developers over KiwiBuild houses that don't sell - a scheme Collins has labelled "welfare for developers". 

"How can it be that [Twyford] says he is adding to the housing stock when some of these houses were built before the last election?" Collins said in Parliament on Thursday. 

Twyford responded: "Because the totality of the deal was each developer includes a large number of affordable homes that otherwise would not have been built."

It's not the first time Collins has questioned Twyford over houses included in the Government's KiwiBuild figures that had already been built. 

Last month she criticised Twyford for approving a Crown underwrite to build houses in Marshland, Christchurch, in November 2018, when council records showed the houses were already under construction in April 2018. 

Judith Collins and Phil Twyford in Parliament.
Judith Collins and Phil Twyford in Parliament. Photo credit: Parliament TV

And on Thursday she asked Twyford if he was aware that six months before the election, 16 of the KiwiBuild Ōtāhuhu apartments in Auckland were already pre-sold for less than $400,000, while the cheapest KiwiBuild price in the same apartment development was now $550,000. 

Twyford replied: "That is an example of just how fast house prices were going up under the former National government."

Twyford's $2 billion KiwiBuild scheme has been facing difficulties. The programme's interim targets were dropped in January, and more recently the Government was forced to buy KiwiBuild houses in Queenstown that weren't selling. 

The Government has said it is "committed to partnering with the private sector to build 100,000 affordable homes between 2018 and 2028", half of them in Auckland, and only New Zealand citizens or permanent residents are eligible. 

Twyford said on Thursday that the KiwiBuild 'Buying off the Plans' scheme is "working with developers to build affordable housing that was never built, let alone planned or considered, under the last Government". 

"We are working with the private sector to provide affordable homes to first home buyers and it's working."

A Cabinet paper described the scheme as contributing to achieving the Government's affordable housing goals through "utilising its balance sheet strength and access to low-cost capital" to de-risk housing developments.

In exchange for helping developments "overcome the finance constraints being experienced in the residential development sector", it said the scheme would help private developers meet the Government's affordable housing objectives.

Moreover, the plan would help the Government reach its KiwiBuild target to build 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years.

The 'Buying of the Plans' scheme includes:

  • 800 KiwiBuild dwellings in Financial Year 2019;
  • 2,500 KiwiBuild dwellings in Financial Year 2020; and
  • 4,000 KiwiBuild dwellings in Financial Year 2021
Judith Collins grills Phil Twyford over KiwiBuild homes built before 2017 election


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