Megan Woods tells National's Nicola Willis to 'get off her ivory tower' in spat over $11,000 cost of housing promo videos

Housing Minister Megan Woods has told National's Nicola Willis to "get off her ivory tower" in a spat over the $11,000 cost of videos promoting housing policies.

Last month Dr Woods came under fire over revelations the Government had helped just 12 families into homes as part of the $400 million Progressive Home Ownership Scheme launched in July last year. 

Dr Woods posted a video on Twitter at the time hailing it a success, saying there are more in the pipeline set to benefit. She said it will get between 1500 and 4000 Kiwi families locked out of the housing market into their own homes.

The results of the scheme left National's housing spokesperson Nicola Willis in disbelief. She described it as "embarrassing", and said the fact that Dr Woods was "showing off" about it in the video "beggars belief". 

Willis is back on the attack after Dr Woods revealed in Parliament that five videos promoting the scheme have been produced at a cost of $10,628, plus staff travel costs of $670. It includes the $1311 video Dr Woods posted on Twitter.   

"Does she justify spending more than $11,000 on a promo video for a scheme that has only housed 12 families?" Willis asked Dr Woods in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Housing Minister questioned what the big deal was. 

She said in the course of a one-hour visit to the family in the video who had been helped into home ownership, she spent approximately three minutes doing a piece to camera. Drone footage already on file of the house was used for the video. 

"What I suggest is that member start focusing on the real issues in housing and move beyond some sideshows," Dr Woods told Willis. 

She said there have been 166 places contracted for progressive home ownership. Three more families are moving in next week and 13 more families will move in by April. 

Willis asked Dr Woods if she plans on "guest starring in any more slick videos" promoting the Government's housing policies. 

"I think that member is betraying her true colours and the fact that she belongs to a party that has absolutely no ambition to help people locked out of home ownership into home ownership," Dr Woods said. 

"What I suggest is that that member gets outside of her ivory tower and speaks to some real people."

Housing Minister Megan Woods and National MP Nicola Willis go head-to-head in Parliament.
Housing Minister Megan Woods and National MP Nicola Willis go head-to-head in Parliament. Photo credit: Parliament TV

Willis said rather than spending time and money on "hollow PR", the Government should focus its efforts on delivering "substantive policies" that will make a difference to Kiwis locked out of home ownership.

The Government launched the Progressive Home Ownership Scheme under the umbrella of KiwiBuild, Labour's flagship housing policy that went through several changes, after it failed to deliver on its targets. It promised 100,000 houses in 10 years, but so far has delivered 792. 

Progressive home ownership enables a family to partner with a charitable provider, such as the Housing Foundation, to help them become home owners by sharing the financial burden. 

Types of progressive home ownership deals are already available in New Zealand, and those available to access the Government's fund are shared ownership, rent-to-buy, and leasehold.

Home ownership is fast becoming out-of-reach for many Kiwis with property in short supply and low interest rates pushing up demand. Auckland's median house price has increased from $870,000 at the same time last year to $1 million. 

The Government will be making an announcement in the coming weeks on how to both reduce speculative demand on housing and enable more supply to be built.