Prime Minister refuses to reaffirm Kiwibuild numbers

In the first Question Time under the new Government Bill English pressed acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis on Labour’s commitment to build 100,000 houses in 10 years. Davis refused to reaffirm this repeatedly.

(Davis is Acting Prime  Minister while Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters are at APEC in Vietnam.)

GovernmentMeasurable Targets

1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What will the specific measurable targets be, if any, that she will use to hold her Government to account?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Acting Prime Minister): As Prime Minister, I will hold my Ministers to account for improving the well-being and living standards of New Zealanders.

Rt Hon Bill English: What is the appropriate measure we should follow to monitor progress on KiwiBuild where the Government has committed to build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: So does that mean that the current expression of the Government’s commitment, which is “to build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years” does not necessarily mean what most people would take it to mean?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister stand by her Government’s commitment to “build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years”?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: Why did the Government commit to “build 100,000 houses over the next 10 years” if it is now not willing to re-express that commitment in this House?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Because the previous Government didn’t build houses.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is it possible that the Government is revising this commitment because of public statements made by the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, that the commitment may involve not building houses but buying existing houses?


Rt Hon Bill English: What other reason could there possibly be for not being willing to restate a commitment made by all its members right though the election campaign to “build 100,000 houses”? What other reason could there be not to make that commitment here today?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are not revising targets. We will make and confirm decisions on appropriate targets in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: So is the commitment to build 100,000 houses an appropriate target, or one that is subject to revision or further decisions, or is it one that we should take at its word?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member will find out in due course.

Rt Hon Bill English: My question to the Prime Minister is this, then: are there other commitments that were made during the election campaign and in the Speech from the Throne that are now open to revision and later decisions?

Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are committed to implementing what the Governor-General has said in the Speech from the Throne.

Hon Amy Adams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to clarify: it’s been the practice in the House for some time that a member answering on behalf of another member should clearly identify that. I didn’t want to interrupt the question, but can you clarify whether that is still the case?

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister answered the question.

Davis may have been playing safe, but this was an odd opening performance.

From the Speech from the Throne:

Housing is a top priority for this government. Action will be taken to address homelessness. State house sell offs will stop. And the State will take the lead in building affordable houses.  Through its Kiwibuild programme, this government pledges to build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over the next 10 years; half of them in Auckland.

Davis said they were committed to implementing that but wouldn’t make a direct commitment.

In the next question Housing Minister Phil Twyford was prepared to make a commitment.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Housing and Urban Development have reiterated our policy, which is to build 100,000 affordable homes to restore affordable homeownership to this country.

So it is odd that Davis wasn’t prepared to make this same commitment directly.  He seemed to be avoiding saying anything.

However the Opposition has emphasised the Government’s housing commitment to build 100,000 ‘affordable’ homes in ten years.

Of course amongst other things this may depend on whether Labour stays in government for long enough to ensure they fulfil the commitment.



  1. robertguyton

     /  November 10, 2017

    Outrageous behaviour from Labour!!! Why, I remember full well that National never avoided answering questions in the House! This rotten, illegitimate, coalition of loser, no-answer, Socialist fakes! They must answer Bill, whenever he asks anything! ‘Cause Bill, always answered straight up. ‘Cept about Todd. And other things.

    • Gerrit

       /  November 10, 2017

      The point of the questions was to continue to paint Kelvin Davis as an ineffective Labour MP. Bill English certainly achieved that as Kelvin Davis let himself and the Labour party down by not directly answering the question. A question to which the Labour party had already answered in the speech from the throne. And a simply Yes we will build 100,000 homes in ten years as promised before the election and reiterated in the Governor Generals speech, would have shown commitment and desire. Instead we had a stammering, woeful and weak performance. A performance that no doubt will be referenced later as the same question will be posed on Jacinda Adern next question time.

      Strategically another blunder by Labour.

      All Kelvin had to do is answer yes we will build to 100,000 homes but the mechanism and resources required are being worked through by the ministers responsible as we speak. Simple, precise, honest and would have cut Bill English questioning short. Instead he left an opening into which Bill English was able to twist a knife successfully.

      • Unbelievable ineptitude

      • Blazer

         /  November 10, 2017

        the general public…couldn’t care less.Nationals non performance regarding housing was a disgrace.Keys 4 point plan to address it 10 years ago was,a joke…in extremely ..bad taste.

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  November 10, 2017

      But Labour campaigned on transparency, honesty etc. So the standard they need judging on is different Robert….. scream but National did this for nine years is a feeble response….. we expect more from Labour and the Greens…

      Syppose it was too much to expect though….

  2. Gezza

     /  November 10, 2017

    Possibly Kelvin’s riding instructions were something like:”If you’re not sure, don’t say anything, no, come to think of it, ring me first, & if you can’t, don’t say anything?”

  3. It’s quite simple.

    Labour prattled on and on and on and they made promises and very speific ones. They’re either keeping them or reneging? Which is it!