Collins keeps pressure on Twyford over KiwiBuild

Judith Collins continued applying pressure over KiwiBuild to Phil Twyford in Parliament yesterday.

Question No. 6—Housing and Urban Development

6. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: How many times, under the KiwiBuild programme, has he approved a Crown underwrite to build houses that were already being built, and what is the total price of these underwrites?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): The test applied to determine whether a KiwiBuild underwrite should proceed is additionality—does the proposal increase affordable supply for KiwiBuild buyers in the KiwiBuild price range? I’m advised that the threshold can be met in four key ways: by getting a development under way; by bringing forward a development, or the stage of a development that is scheduled for a later time period; or by redesigning part of a development to provide for additional, affordable homes, rather than a smaller number of more expensive homes. All underwrites approved by the Ministers meet this test. An underwrite has been approved while construction was under way four times. The expected net cost to the Crown of these underwrites is zero. The homes are valued at $26 million, or 4 percent of the total number of underwrites, and almost 0.5 percent of total KiwiBuild homes.

Hon Judith Collins: Why did he approve a Crown underwrite to build houses in Marshland, Christchurch, in November 2018 when council records show these houses were already under construction in April 2018, seven months before he signed the Crown underwrite?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I’d have to go back and look at the details of that particular case, but, as I’ve said, the test that’s applied is that of additionality, and there are a number of ways that that can be provided—

Hon Simon Bridges: Spell it.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I’ll give the member the case of Mike Greer, who’s committed to 104 homes in both Canterbury and west Auckland, and, as he himself has said in the media, the KiwiBuild underwrite has allowed him to bring forward that development more quickly than it otherwise would’ve happened and include more affordable homes in the development.

Hon Judith Collins: Why did he approve a Crown underwrite last November to build houses in Somerfield, Christchurch, when council records show the houses were built and clad last September?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: The answer to that question is exactly the same as the one I just gave. As Mike Greer has said, it has allowed that development to come to fruition more quickly than it otherwise would’ve and for more affordable homes to be included.

Hon Judith Collins: Why has he underwritten already-built three-bedroom, one-bathroom houses in Westpark Rangiora, selling for $480,000, while Mike Greer Homes are advertising neighbouring three-bedroom houses with an extra bathroom and a larger floorplate on their own website for $20,000 less?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: That development is bringing into the market more affordable homes than it otherwise would’ve. This Government is in the business of building affordable homes, unlike what that Government did for nine years—didn’t build a single affordable home and denied there was a housing crisis.

Hon Judith Collins: How many of the Mike Greer homes he has underwritten so far have monolithic cladding?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: If the member wants to put that question down in writing, I’d be happy to answer it.

Hon Judith Collins: I seek leave to table a council inspection report on failed monolithic cladding at 5 Te Rito Street, Christchurch.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that being tabled? There appears to be none.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon Judith Collins: What is the purpose of him underwriting the price that a developer gets for a house when that house has already been built and, in some cases, marketed unsuccessfully to the public?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, if the member has got evidence that properties have been unsuccessfully marketed, I’d be happy to receive it. But we’ve made it very, very clear that in the case of the 104 homes that Mike Greer Homes is contributing, they were brought to market more quickly, he reduced his margins, and there are more affordable homes available through Mike Greer than there otherwise would’ve been because of the KiwiBuild underwrite.

Reserve Bank predictions about KiwiBuild – very slow, and crowding out private development

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr has said that the Reserve Bank predicts a very slow start to the KiwiBuild programme – that’s hardly a prediction, it appears to be current reality – and also that due to lack of capacity much of the numbers eventually built may simply replace what private builders would have constructed.

RNZ: Reserve Bank predicts KiwiBuild will crowd out private building, progress slowly

The Reserve Bank has sounded a warning that the government’s KiwiBuild programme is likely to crowd out other private house building, because the construction industry simply doesn’t have enough capacity.

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr told MPs on Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure committee this morning KiwiBuild would need time to fully pick up momentum.

“It will be a very slow start, which it has proved to be, we haven’t had to change our forecasts much over the last six months,” Mr Orr said.

The Reserve Bank report said the sector was struggling to find enough skilled and non-skilled labour to meet demand.

“Capacity constraints are restricting firms’ ability to meet that demand.

“The ability of the construction sector to build additional houses therefore depends on whether these constraints can be eased.”

That meant resources were limited, which could impact on private investment, Mr Orr.

“It would crowd out resources if you’re chasing for land building activity etc then you have compete to build KiwiBuild versus something else”.

According to the bank’s estimates that would mean for every 100 KiwiBuild homes built, 50 to 70 houses would not be built elsewhere, Mr Orr said.

This isn’t a new idea either.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the Reserve Bank’s estimates were just “one more projection” and that he was not “fussed all at” about them.

He agreed with the concerns about capacity constraints.

“We’ve inherited some real difficulties in the construction industry, it’s both a lack of workforce, firms that have trouble scaling up, low productivity, lack of access to land.”

Twyford and Labour should have known that before they made bold promises.

NZ Herald – KiwiBuild warning: Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr warns scheme ‘crowding out’ private sector

But Finance Minister Grant Robertson appeared to be at odds the central bank’s estimates and said Orr’s forecast was “certainly challengeable”.

Robertson did not seem to agree with Orr’s data when questioned this morning.

“Whether or not I accept that that is the level of crowding out is certainly challengeable, as we have had other advice.”

Robertson would not say what level of crowding out the Government was expecting; only that the Government’s goal was to add “significantly to the housing stock”.

The aim of KiwiBuild was to promote the building of affordable housing, the Finance Minister said.

I don’t think there is any sign so far that Kiwibuild is making housing more affordable.

The project has been trying to get promised numbers of houses built (dismally) but this focus doesn’t seem to have done much if anything to address the costs of building and the lack of available land (that also contributes to the cost of land).

“If we are starting to shift where some of the development is to more affordable, more affordable homes for first home buyers, that’s good.”

Note that he says ‘if’, not that that is what is actually happening.

The Government has a lot of work to do to prevent this from being both a big embarrassment and a costly failure.

Housing crisis >> KiwiBuild crisis >> what next?

When in opposition Labour talked up the housing crisis, even though it was a problem that grew over many years.  They promised big – 100,000 houses big. And ‘affordable’.

In Government they launched KiwiBuild and soon conceded, sort of, that new houses in places like Auckland in particular were a long way from being affordable for people who needed housing the most. But the pushed on.

However it has become apparent that KiwiBuild is growing into some sort of crisis of it’s own  a a crisis of credibility for the out of depth Minister of Housing Phil Twyford, as well as for his Government. And if it can’t appear to be at least partly fixed by next year it could become an election campaign crisis for Labour.

What should happen right now? Listener: The KiwiBuild failure should galvanise urgent action on NZ’s housing disaster

When a nation’s flagship housing policy is such a spectacular failure that it makes the New York Times, the minister in charge cannot avoid the international embarrassment.

This is the position Housing Minister Phil Twyford now finds himself in. Having arrogantly sneered at all those who dared question his strategy and timetable, he has failed to deliver on the very thing New Zealanders care most about – the urgent need for a solution to our housing crisis. This policy was central to Labour’s pitch to voters at the last election. The failure to deliver 1000 KiwiBuild homes by July – so far only 47 have been completed – is the definition of a broken promise, ameliorated only by the likelihood that few truly believed the Government would keep its word in the first place.

That the previous Government struggled to make any meaningful changes in the housing area should have indicated to Twyford that affordability was more complex than Labour, and National before it, had assumed.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the market had failed, so the Government had to step in. She was right that the market had failed, but wrong to assume that the Government would make complex problems disappear merely by becoming a property developer itself.

Perhaps she should have paid more attention to competence rather than kindness. A kind captain of a sinking ship is still in charge of a disaster.

Inevitably, it has come up against all the same obstacles private developers face. These include the high cost of land, labour and materials, restrictive regulations, local authorities’ planning rules, lack of infrastructure, the Resource Management Act and neighbourhoods where existing homeowners refuse to countenance more intensive development.

The market failure Ardern referred to will not be solved by swapping a private property developer for a state-owned one. The market failure is not ideological. This is the real world, and not the 1930s with plenty of suburban land available for state housing.

The Prime Minister hasn’t resiled from the Government’s commitment to deliver 100,000 houses in 10 years. But a Government that is elected for three years still promising to ratchet up house production with a goal 10 years hence when it may not be in office, is not treating the public with respect. New Zealanders, having already witnessed the debacle over tree planting, are not so easily fooled.

The Government needs to urgently do what it can to change those things over which it has control. The Opposition, having itself failed when in government to make headway on housing affordability, owes it to New Zealanders to support any reasonable legislative changes to facilitate more house building. Ratepayers, too, need to allow councils, which have more say than the Government over the availability of land for new, infill and high-density housing, to use the powers at their disposal. And we all need to accept that changes that make homes affordable may affect the value of many existing houses.

That’s a tough one.

Certainly the cost of housing is an issue that needs to be addressed, and quickly. But it appears that the Government hasn’t got the courage or the ability to do this.

The recent Demographia International Report, which compares median house prices in seven wealthy countries plus Hong Kong, reports that in Australia housing has become more affordable over the past year as prices fell due to tightening credit. Yet, alarmingly, New Zealand housing has simply become more unaffordable since this Government took office. Property here is now further out of reach than in the US, Australia and the UK. This is beyond embarrassment. This is a national disaster.

Disaster, crisis, whatever. It needs urgent attention – but does Ardern understand this?

 

Ardern says 2019 is time for Government to deliver, but scraps KiwiBuild delivery targets

Jacinda Ardern had contradictory messages today, saying that 2019 was the year that the Government had to deliver on promises – but then conceded that the Government was scrapping KiwiBuild targets to deliver new houses, with some incredibly ridiculous language – “those interim targets haven’t been a useful way to demonstrate our delivery programme”.

Stuff:  Jacinda Ardern says 2019 year of ‘delivery’ for Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has told the Labour caucus 2019 will be a year of “delivery” for the Government.

“For us domestically it doesn’t really matter what the international community does or says, it only matters what we deliver”.

She (or her advisers) seem to have been listening to recent criticisms.

Ardern said 2018 had been a year where the Government had set up the “infrastructure” for serious change and pumped money into health and education. 2019, by contrast, would be more focused on delivery.

“2019 I think for us as a team is going to be characterised by the word ‘delivery’. 2018 was obviously a huge year for us: bedding in as a new Government, setting up the infrastructure for a significant change in direction for New Zealand, reinvesting in those core services – health and education and housing in our budget.”

“That work has now been set in place. 2019 is now the year that a lot of delivery will be required of us and is actually already underway.”

Ardern singled out climate change, housing, mental health, and the recommendations of the tax working group as key areas of focus.

Included in that was housing. They have made ambitious house building promises, but later in the day Ardern conceded that they were scrapping all their KiwiBuild targets apart from the end total of 100,000 houses on ten years – far enough into the future that it is largely irrelevant.

What marked the announcement was the bulldust language used to try to paper over the backdown.

RNZ – KiwiBuild: Interim targets reviewed as scheme is ‘recalibrated’

The government is scrapping all of its interim KiwiBuild targets and going back to the drawing board.

KiwiBuild hasn’t exactly got off to a roaring start this year, with the Housing Minister Phil Twyford admitting last week that the government would not hit its mid-year target of 1000 KiwiBuild homes being built.

Now it appears that that and the other interim KiwiBuild targets are out the window as the whole policy is, as Mr Twyford calls it, “recalibrated”.

“So I’ll take a paper to cabinet in a few weeks’ time, we’re looking at both how we can make KiwiBuild both a stronger incentive for developers and how we can make it work better for first home buyers.”

While the interim targets are toast, Jacinda Ardern is sticking to her guns about the overall KiwiBuild target.

“Our 100,000 over 10 years hasn’t changed, those interim targets haven’t been a useful way to demonstrate our delivery programme and that’s why the minister is looking at that again,” she said.

Ardern actually repeated ” those interim targets haven’t been a useful way to demonstrate our delivery programme”, so it wasn’t an accidental slip of the tongue.

So I wonder how this year’s deliveries are going to be demonstrated.

Opposition leader Simon Bridges described the KiwiBuild back-down as “incredibly embarrassing”.

I have to agree with Bridges on that – at least, quite embarrassing anyway.

The same day that Ardern promised a year of delivery she wiped some very significant delivery targets.

Major challenges for ‘exasperated’ Ardern

All governments have challenges. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her current government have quite a few major challenges stacking up. Ardern seems to rise to international occasions – where all she has done is make grand but very general proclamations – she is not so happy when confronted with real problems dogging her back in New Zealand.

Whether it was this reluctance to front up over domestic difficulties, or jet lag, (and being away from her baby for a week for the first time would likely have been difficult for her), Ardern was reported to be ‘exasperated’ at questions about real issues that need to be dealt with and should be explained.

Audrey Young: Eight big problems for Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern has made a less-than-grand entrance back to mundane domestic politics after her whirlwind visit to Europe last week reinforced her status as a rising star on the international stage.

The Prime Minister delegated her regular Tuesday morning media appearances to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and who could blame her? He was forced to spend most of his time defending the failure of KiwiBuild targets and preparing the groundwork for the delivery of the capital gains tax report.

These are things that the Government cannot hide from, and Ardern should be showing some leadership on.

At her first post-Cabinet press conference she announced she would be delaying any Cabinet reshuffle until after the May Budget.

Perhaps this makes some sense in leaving current ministers to work out how they are going to frame their budge requests as fitting with Arderrn’;s ‘wellbeing’ agenda, and maybe there aren’t a lot of options for replacing poorly performing ministers. There are quite a few who have been disappointing, but there is  even less experience amongst those waiting for promotion.

In the substance of the press conference, Ardern sounded exasperated at questions about the failure of KiwiBuild to meet its first milestone of 1000 houses by July, and by questions about the capital gains tax report.

Ardern’s tetchiness perhaps reflects a raft of challenging issues facing the Government. After a year of settling in, reviewing the past and setting priorities, 2019 will have to be a year of delivery.

It should be a year of delivery, but yesterday Grant Robertson indicated that it may take some time for them to make up their minds about the Tax Working Group recommendations, especially the controversial hobbled CGT.

Robertson patiently continued his mission to change the language over the tax by calling it a “capital income tax” rather than a “capital gains tax” — an attempt to equate it to all other income.

Ardern became impatient when questions turned to the undisputed veto that NZ First will have on any capital gains tax — the Greens have been unequivocal supporters and NZ First longstanding opponents.

Apparently a capital gains tax is just like every other issue the Government debates, and requires the agreement of all three parties.

That is probably correct. See next post.

She also became exasperated when questioned about the failure of KiwiBuild targets — so much so that she could not bring herself to actually say “No” when repeatedly asked if the July target would be met.

A tough day at the media conference, unlike her wowing of international media on her trip to the UK and Europe.

Young details the major issues that Ardern should be dealing with (and fronting up on):

Capital gains tax:

Michael Cullen’s final report is due to be delivered to the Government this week and promises to be the best weapon National will have at next year’s election.

Kiwibuild: The flagship housing policy of 100,000 houses in 10 years is heading for the rocks. A perfect lesson in why political parties should resist over-promising.

Fair Pay Agreements: The Bolger report revisiting national awards has not yet been published but the campaign against it by employers has already begun.

Mental health report: Done and delivered to the Government but the next Budget in May seems a long time to have to wait until this area is properly addressed, having had years of delay under National as well.

Tomorrow’s Schools: The Government has yet to respond to the Bali Haque report restructuring school administration.

Social welfare review: Due to be delivered next month, this report on the treatment of beneficiaries including penalties and incentives has the potential to create tension between Labour and New Zealand First.

Prison reforms: The 2018 conference may have had some great ideas from which to construct a reform package to cut the prison population but getting the public onside is the challenge.

Karel Sroubek: National chipped away for months on the decision to grant and rescind citizenship for this convicted offender and they are not going to let up.

Prime Ministers have to deal with the bad as well as with the good PR.

And one of Ardern’s biggest challenges is to prove that she can walk the walk to live up to her own hype talk. That applies to her ministers and Government as well – this year they have to prove they can deliver on at least some of their promises.

Barclay defends himself against Kiwibuild management complaints

Stephen Barclay, has defended himself over complaints of his behaviour as head of KiwiBuild.

NZ Herald:  Former KiwiBuild boss Stephen Barclay resigned amid ‘leadership complaints’

The former head of KiwiBuild Stephen Barclay resigned amid an employment investigation that revealed complaints from employees, contractors and stakeholders regarding his “leadership behaviour”.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Chief Executive Andrew Crisp today shed more light on the saga.

The reason for Barclay’s resignation on January 18 had previously been unknown, aside from that it was an “employment dispute”.

“The allegations reflected behaviours that are not consistent with standards expected of senior public servants,” said Crisp in a statement.

He said the alleged conduct related to Barclay’s treatment of employees, contractors and stakeholders. They were not linked to the implementation of the KiwiBuild programme.

“I commenced an employment investigation into those allegations. While the investigation was ongoing, Mr Barclay resigned.”

There was no exit payment or confidential deal reached with Barclay, Crisp said, adding that Barclay resigned with immediate effect and received no payment in lieu of notice.

A spokesman for Housing Minister Phil Twyford said as Barclay’s former employer, Andrew Crisp is best placed to comment on his departure and it’s not appropriate for Minister Twyford to comment on an employment matter regarding a public servant.

But Barclay has responded – Stuff: Former KiwiBuild boss Stephen Barclay suing Government over departure, says he was on track to meet first year goal

Barclay put out a statement following the news on Monday pushing back at the complaints. He said divulging the existence of the complaints was itself a breach of privacy.

The statement also revealed that Barclay is pursuing a constructive dismissal case – essentially alleging that he was forced to resign and taking the Government to court over it.

“Mr Barclay was employed by MBIE from July to October 2018 when the KiwiBuild programme was transferred to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. During this period, there were no issues raised about his performance, management style or leadership,” a spokeswoman for Barclay said.

“Within two weeks of the KiwiBuild programme moving to MHUD, he can confirm there were a small number of complaints from individuals who held a close relationship to the CEO, Mr Crisp. The nature of the complaints related to Mr Barclay’s direct management style and dealings with certain individuals.”

“They were entirely linked to the implementation of the KiwiBuild programme which was Mr Barclay’s only remit. His commitment was to execute against the targets of the KiwiBuild programme, and he was attempting to do this at pace.”

“As soon as Mr Barclay was informed of the complaints, he responded to them within the week, requesting the complaints be independently investigated and additional people relevant to the complaints be questioned. These requests were repeatedly denied and Mr Barclay was suspended from his role for more than two months.”

“This made his position untenable and led to him resign in his and the KiwiBuild programme’s best interests. At the point in which he was suspended, the number of KiwiBuild homes were on track to meet the Year One target.”

And Barclay is continuing his defence this morning.

Whether complaints against him and his dismissal were justified or not, this looks like another nail in the dysfunctional KiwiBuild coffin.

KiwiBuild not ‘crashing and burning’

There has been a lot of coverage of the failure of KiwiBuild to come close to meeting it’s first milestone target of 1000 houses by the end of June.

Yesterday Phil Twyford conceded that they might manage a paltry 300 –300 KiwiBuilds by July – and many of those have simply been purchased ‘off the plan’ and would have been built by developers anyway.

KiwiBuild is not crashing and burning, because there is bugger all to crash and burn. It’s problem is that it hasn’t even ignited yet.

In opposition Twyford and Labour had claimed there was a housing crisis. The failure of KiwiBuild may be a growing crisis for the Government.

KiwiBuild struggling to deliver on housing crisis

KiwiBuild is one of Labour’s most important initiatives. It is supposed to address the ‘housing crisis’, to boost the number of houses needed around the country to accommodate a growing population. And it was initially presented as a way of portraying the Labour-led government as progressive and as compassionate as Michael Joseph Savage’s Labour that kicked off state housing  in the 1930s.

But KiwiBuild has proven to be a problem for Labour.  It is struggling to deliver on Labour’s promises, and the resignation of it’s first head – Head of KiwiBuild wasn’t working, now resigns – won’t help house building progress nor credibility.

The promise (Labour housing policy):

Build 100,000 affordable homes across the country

Labour’s KiwiBuild programme will build 100,000 high quality, affordable homes over 10 years, with 50% of them in Auckland. Standalone houses in Auckland will cost $500,000 to $600,000, with apartments and townhouses under $500,000. Outside Auckland, houses will range from $300,000 to $500,000.

It was always going to crank up the building programme.

The plan (Labour FAQ: KiwiBuild):

KiwiBuild is aiming to build:

  • 1,000 homes in the year to June 2019,
  • 5,000 the year after, 10,000 in the year to June 2020,
  • 12,000 every year after that.

The execution to date – Stuff’s Kiwibuild Tracker:

  • Homes built 33
  • Homes under construction 77

There is a lot required in the next five months to make the June target.

Gareth Kiernan (chief forecaster at economic consultancy Infometrics) at Stuff: Resignation another step to KiwiBuild failure:

Stephen Barclay’s departure as head of the KiwiBuild unit makes it even less likely that the scheme will be able to progress at the rate hoped for by the government.

Even allowing for a slow start, things are falling woefully behind.

Bearing these KiwiBuild targets in mind, having dynamic leadership for the programme seems imperative. Yet the KiwiBuild unit has effectively been without a leader of any sort since early November.

​KiwiBuild is an ill-conceived policy mess that doesn’t understand what is making housing unaffordable, why that unaffordability is a problem and needs government intervention, or even exactly who the policy is trying to assist.

We’re left with small $650,000 houses in Auckland’s outlying suburbs being offered to graduate doctors, or building homes in New Plymouth and Wānaka that are still too expensive to provide a realistic alternative for people wanting to get into the housing market.

Attempting to provide affordable housing while failing to address high land costs and ignoring critical capacity constraints in the construction industry is a recipe for failure.

So will Phil Twyford keep trying to do more of the same? Will Jacinda Ardern stick with Twyford as Minister of Housing? Probably, demoting Twyford would be seen as an open admission of failure, and more importantly, there is hardly a wealth of talent waiting to step up to one of the toughest jobs in Labour’s Cabinet.

KiwiBuild has to find a new head, and Twyford is going to have to show abilities not yet apparent, as well as finding new ways to accelerate the rate of house building.

Whether housing overall is a large problem or a crisis is just political semantics.

Whether KiwiBuild under performance is a large problem or a looming crisis looks like reality.

 

 

Head of KiwiBuild wasn’t working, now resigns

Last May Minister of Housing Phil Twyford praised the appointment of Stephen Barclay as Head of KiwiBuil:

It was revealed in December that Barclay, wasn’t working, but details weren’t given. Twyford refused to clarify – see Q+A: Phil Twyford “not my job to know” why KiwiBuild CEO not working:

Corin Dann: Do you know why he’s left the job..?

Phil Twyford: No, and I haven’t been advised on that, and it would be really inappropriate for me to comment…

Corin Dann: You don’t know why the CEO of KiwiBuild has not  been in the job since November.

Phil Twyford: Mmm. I know that he’s not at work, um but it’s literally not my job to know, and there are other people who deal with that, and they are, and I’m focussing on trying to get houses built.

Corin Dann: Has he actually resigned?

Phil Twyford: Corin, I can’t comment on this…It’s a matter relating to an individual public servant, and I simply cannot comment on it.

Barclay has now resigned from the job.

RNZ:  KiwiBuild head Stephen Barclay officially resigns

The head of KiwiBuild, Stephen Barclay has officially resigned from the role.

In a statement issued on his behalf, it was announced that he would step down from today.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s office said he would not be commenting on Mr Barclay’s resignation as it was an employment matter.

RNZ understands Mr Barclay’s absence arose from an employment dispute following the KiwiBuild unit’s transfer to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

In a statement, the Ministry of Housing’s chief executive Andrew Crisp said he recieved Mr Barclay’s letter of resignation just after 12pm today.

“I am considering how this affects the employment process currently underway,” Mr Crisp said.

KiwiBuild and Twyford have been under fire for some time, and this has given the Opposition more ammunition.

However, the resignation “does not bode well” for KiwiBuild, which “has already shown itself to be a much more difficult beast than Phil Twyford, or the government seem to anticipate,” National Party housing spokesperson Judith Collins said in a statement.

Mr Barclay was appointed to the position in May, but had been absent since November. There should be more transparency about what had happened, she said.

“It’s taken three months for Mr Barclay to exit from a role he held for only four months,” Ms Collins’ statement read.

KiwiBuild had been “fraught with issues”, including houses not selling, and the policy was not working. Mr Twyford should be upfront about why its head could not last a year in the role, she said.

Twyford has kept distancing himself from this.

But he won’t be able to keep distancing himself from the under performance of KiwiBuild if he can’t get the massive housing project cranked up this year.

Q+A: Phil Twyford “not my job to know” why KiwiBuild CEO not working

Phil Twyford was interviewed on Q+A last night. Oddly Twyford said he couldn’t comment on reports that the KiwiBuild chief executive Stephen Barclay left the job last month – see KiwiBuild problems building up more than houses – saying “I can’t comment on anything to do with an individual public servant, that would be completely inappropriate” but did concede that Barclay is not working at KiwiBuild: ” I know that he’s not at work, um but it’s literally not my job to know”

Corin Dann: I wonder if you can clarify and clear up this business with the CEO of KiwiBuild, Stephen Barclay – reports over the weekend that he has left the job. Has he left the job?

Phil Twyford: I can’t comment on anything to do with an individual public servant, that would be completely inappropriate.

Corin Dann: Where the minister of a two billion dollar investment here for the public, I would have thought that’s in the public interest for you to comment on that isn’t it?

Phil Twyford: So I don’t hire the public servants, I don’t manage them, I just get their advice.

Corin Dann: Do you know why he’s left the job..?

Phil Twyford: No, and I haven’t been advised on that, and it would be really inappropriate for me to comment…

Corin Dann: You don’t know why the CEO of KiwiBuild has not  been in the job since November.

Phil Twyford: Mmm. I know that he’s not at work, um but it’s literally not my job to know, and there are other people who deal with that, and they are, and I’m focussing on trying to get houses built.

Corin Dann: Has he actually resigned?

Phil Twyford: Corin, I can’t comment on this…It’s a matter relating to an individual public servant, and I simply cannot comment on it.

Corin Dann: Do you have confidence in him?

Phil Twyford: Corin, I can’t comment on this. It’s a matter that relates to an individual public servant.

And it went on, with Twyford repeating his ‘individual public servant’ and ‘inappropriate to comment’ lines. This seems remarkable that Twyford won’t say if the CEO of KiwiBuild has resigned or is working or not.

Twyford must know something about it, but is resolutely refusing to comment on it.

He did comment on the appointment of Barclay – “Great to have someone of Stephen’s calibre leading the Kiwibuild team.”