Kiwibuild not affected by the budget

There were comments about the omission of Kiwibuild from budget announcements

Newstalk ZB: No money for flagship housing policy KiwiBuild in the Budget

There have been plenty of winners in today’s Budget, but one of the big losers has been the housing portfolio.

Apart from $283 million for transitional housing, and $197 million to boost emergency housing, there’s not much in budget 2019.

One thing in particular stands out is the Government’s flagship housing policy KiwiBuild, which has not received any additional funding.

@HenryCooke explains:

I don’t understand why people are writing about KiwiBuild not getting any new money like it is interesting. it wouldn’t have got any even if the policy was going well. the $2b envelope has been fairly firm and its problems are NOT down to a lack of cash.

Maybe you could make the argument whatever comes out of the reset will require new cash, but two billion dollars is a lot of effing money.

If anything the Budget shows Kiwibuild’s one great success so far – because the money ain’t being spent it is making the short term surplus bigger.

Stuff: Govt made right call in leaving floundering KiwiBuild out of the Budget

Fixing New Zealand’s housing affordability crisis was one of Labour’s key policy goals going into the last two elections.

But KiwiBuild has been conspicuously absent from the Government’s vocabulary in recent months, and yesterday’s Budget was no different.

The Government might not have given up trying to improve housing affordability, but it seems to have realised that KiwiBuild is not the answer to the problem.

The bulk of the additional $90 million per year allocated to Housing and Urban Development in the Budget will go towards emergency and transitional housing. It’s not sensible to throw good money after bad, so the silence on KiwiBuild is welcome.

But:

Minister Phil Twyford is not short of cash to use for KiwiBuild’s supposed “recalibration” anyway. Just 101 KiwiBuild homes have been completed – and the majority of those had already been financed by developers and were under construction before Twyford put a KiwiBuild sticker on them.

So it’s not like the Government has used much of the $2 billion of capital set aside for the programme. Even by July 2020, the Government only expects to have completed 1535 homes, which is woefully short of its initial target.

The fact that more than 10 per cent of the small number of completed KiwiBuild homes have failed to sell reiterates the policy’s poor design.

Kiwibuild was not a problem in this budget, it has been a problem since it was conceived.

More KiwiBuild houses fail to sell

The effectiveness of Kiwibuild is under further fire, with more houses failing to sell, this time in Canterbury. This means they mustn’t be affordable enough for the market.

This had already been a problem in Wanaka.

Interest.co.nz (September 2018): KiwiBuild houses at Wanaka to be priced between $565,000 and $650,000

Housing Minister Phil Twyford says 211 KiwiBuild homes will be built over the next two years as part of the Northlake development, a master planned development of more than 800 homes on the outskirts of Wanaka township.

“Our Government is taking a comprehensive approach to assisting first home buyers in one of our least affordable areas.”

How affordable are those prices to first home buyers?

Not very – ODT (February 2019): ‘It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them’

As revealed by the Otago Daily Times last week, only four of the first 10 KiwiBuild houses had been sold.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said yesterday she considered the houses ”not practical” and ”not functional”.

”The Government expects Wanaka families looking for a home to pay over half a million dollars for a two-bedroom townhouse that doesn’t even have a garage.

”How appealing is a two-bedroomed town house that’s attached to another property by a shared wall, with no garage, and costs upwards of $560,000?

”It’s no wonder no-one wants to buy them.”

Ms Dean said the lack of interest showed how out of touch the Government was ”when it comes to delivering suitable first homes for young Kiwi families”.

RNZ today:  Lack of sales in Christchurch adds to KiwiBuild pressure

Another KiwiBuild development backed by taxpayer money is failing to generate buyer demand – prompting more calls for Labour’s flagship programme to be dumped.

The Wanaka development has already come under scrutiny after slow sales – now KiwiBuild houses are sitting unsold in Canterbury.

Under the contracts, the developer can now either sell them on the open market at a cheaper price, with the government topping up any shortfall, or require the government to buy the properties back.

Back in February the government announced it would partner with Mike Greer Homes to build 104 houses in Auckland and Christchurch and the outer suburbs – 65 in Canterbury.

Last November, ministers were told there were 4083 people on Kiwibuild’s Register of Interest in Christchurch, with an estimated shortfall of 1000 houses.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said in parliamentary responses to National’s Judith Collins none of the houses in the Canterbury developments had been sold; all had gone on offer on 20 February.

Mike Greer is currently marketing seven KiwiBuild homes, with prices ranging from $459,000 to $480,000.

Helen O’Sullivan took over as head of the KiwiBuild unit in February. It was surprising, but she was not “overly concerned” the houses had not sold, she said.

“They’re good quality homes, they’re warm, dry, modern and by a recognised builder.”

The focus had been on first home buyers who “take a very long time to make up their minds to purchase and it is a complicated buying process”.

It can also take prospective first home buyers to save up a despite for a half million dollar house. It can also take a long time to be earning enough to service a close to half million dollar mortgage.

Labour identified two problems – not enough houses, and houses were too expensive.

They launched into Kiwibuild by building, or paying developers to build, expensive houses.

Wouldn’t it have been better to do more to lower the cost of land and the cost of building first?

 

Kiwibuild is a policy for a different type of government in a different time

And maybe for a different type of minister than Phil Twyford.

Government defensive as Opposition keeps up pressure over KiwiBuild targets

The National Opposition continues to apply relentless pressure on the Government’s lack of significant progress with what was once a strongly promoted ambitious KiwiBuild target of 100,000 houses in ten years.

But the key target seems to be missing – the lack of availability of reasonably priced land.

Yesterday in Parliament:

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the Government still committed to building 100,000 KiwiBuild houses over 10 years?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As the member well knows, we’re going through the process of a reset around the KiwiBuild programme [Interruption]. Are we committed to building affordable homes? Are we committed to trying to improve access for first-home buyers? Are we the Government that has built more houses than any other Government since the 1970s? The answer to that is yes.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is that a confirmation that the 100,000 houses in a decade commitment is now gone?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is it Phil Twyford who’s been reset?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.

Hon Simon Bridges: Then why did the housing Minister Phil Twyford say this morning, on that 100,000 commitment: “It’s like American nuclear ships in the 1980s. It’s a neither confirm nor deny situation.”?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve just said, we are in the process of working through a KiwiBuild reset, but whilst we do so we are continuing to build houses. Again, as I’ve said many a time in this House, we are a Government building more houses than any other since the 1970s.

Hon Simon Bridges: When is the climb-down on her flagship policy of 100,000 houses in a decade going to be confirmed?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: (a waffly reply)

Hon Simon Bridges: How can she have confidence in Phil Twyford, when he’s seen only 80 KiwiBuild houses built so far and he won’t confirm her flagship policy of 100,000 houses?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Because we’ve built more State houses, more transitional houses, and housed more who have been homeless. We have also stopped the sale of residential housing to foreign buyers. We have also closed tax loopholes. We have made a difference to the housing market, and that is ultimately making a difference for families. We inherited a dire situation with our housing market, and we are turning it around.

Hon Simon Bridges: How about a straight answer to a straight question—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will resume his seat. Now, he’ll stand up and he will ask a question properly.

Hon Simon Bridges: Is the 100,000 houses in a decade target gone?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I’ve already said to the member’s original question, we are working through our KiwiBuild reset. When we have completed that, we will be making announcements in due course.

Hon Simon Bridges: To be clear, has she had any input into the issue of removing the 100,000 KiwiBuild commitment in recent times?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: (a waffly reply)

Judith Collins also touched on it in question 6.

Hon Judith Collins: Will the recalibration of KiwBuild drop the additionality tests as well as the 100,000 houses target?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I expect that in June we’ll be releasing the results of the reset of KiwiBuild, but I would say this to the member: this Government will not back away from building large numbers of affordable homes for Kiwis, building more State housing, reforming the rental market, housing homeless people, reforming the planning system and infrastructure financing—all of the things that are part of our housing programme that that party never did for nine years in office.

So Twyford did not challenge the suggestion that the 100,000 houses target might be dropped.

National have followed up on this line of attack. RNZ:  KiwiBuild ‘a broken promise’ – Bridges

The government has broken its flagship election promise on Kiwibuild and the Housing Minister should resign, National Party leader Simon Bridges says.

A question mark hangs over a core plank of KiwiBuild – with the government refusing to guarantee its promise to build 100,000 houses over 10 years.

“It was really Labour’s number one flagship promise,” Mr Bridges told Morning Report

“It was the big bold thing they were delivering.

“I’m absolutely certain it is a broken promise and half way through their term it is gone.”

Mr Bridges said if the target did go, Mr Twyford should resign.

While the target number may provide a target for National, it is missing the real target – the lack of availability of reasonably priced land to build on. When in Government National failed to deal with that. There is no sign of Labour dealing with it anywhere near adequately, all they seem to have done with Kiwibuild is put a different label on a continuation of similar means of building, but still with limited land supply.

I don’t think that 100,000 houses in ten years is important at all.

10,000 houses – that is additional houses, not just the Government taking over the development of houses that were being built anyway – in two years would still be underperforming but a big improvement.

National will no doubt claim a win if the 100,000/10 year target is dropped, but who trusts long term political promises?

But the fundamental failure continues – it is too hard to make more land available for building houses. And it looks like fixing that is in the too hard basket for this Government, like the last. What Labour labelled as a housing crisis is more of a crisis of timid government.

 

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.