Public housing wait list climbs as landlords sell up

The waiting list for public housing has doubled over the past two years, increasing substantially since the Labour-led government took over in late 2017, despite Labour promising to increase housing stocks and decrease waiting lists and homelessness.

The suspension of tenancy reviews, and landlords selling up and getting out of supplying rental housing, have both been blamed.

Stuff:  Public housing waitlist cracks 10,000, with more families waiting for longer for housing

The public housing waitlist has rocketed past 10,000 as more people wait longer for public housing.

At the end of 2018 fully 10,712 eligible households were waiting for state or social housing – 73 per cent more than a year ago, and over three times the number waiting at the end of 2015.

The vast majority – 78 per cent – were deemed as “priority A”, meaning the Government believed they were the most in need of help. Almost half were in Auckland.

This is despite the Government building 1658 new public housing places over the last year, the largest increase in a decade.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development officials blamed higher rents, greater awareness of public housing, and a slowdown in the rate of people exiting public housing for the increase.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said concerted effort over “many years” would be needed to fix homelessness.

He didn’t say that during the election campaign in 2017.

Twyford paused “tenancy review” last year – the process by which Housing New Zealand check whether a tenant is still eligible for a state or social home.

National housing spokeswoman Judith Collins vigorously criticised the move, but Twyford said previously that it had not contributed significantly to more people staying on in state homes – only around 200 households would have been up for review during the pause.

Tenancy review resumed on Monday with some changes: any family with children or someone over 65 is now exempt.

Emergency motel stays were on the up too.

In the three months to the end of 2018, 15,676 emergency housing grants for motel stays were granted -up from 14,000 the quarter prior. These went to just under 2700 individual clients – with many taking multiple grants. This was up from 2585 in the quarter prior.

Collins said Twyford’s multiple reforms to private rental market – both enacted and promised – had driven up rents as landlords were selling up and getting out of the business.

“Landlords are leaving the market in droves. The Government in its steps to try and attack landlords has actually sent a whole lot of people out of that market and that means that there is now more people wanting public housing,” Collins said.

“They are selling up and they are selling to people who might put two people or one person in a house rather than five or six.”

Twyford received advice last year from officials saying rents could rise as the result of his reforms to tenancy laws thanks to landlords feeling like they were under assault and selling up to owner-occupiers, who generally have less people in each house than renters.

“While these effects should be minor, the cumulative effect of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 may lead landlords to perceive the effects as more than minor. As a result, even if legislative changes did not materially affect the financial returns of landlords, some many nevertheless choose to sell their rental properties,” the officials wrote.

“The combined increase of these policies will be to increase sales of rental properties, with fewer landlords purchasing.”

Twyford’s changes included ending letting fees and increasing the quality of rental properties via the Healthy Homes Act.

Sorting out major housing issues was never going to be quick or easy.

The National government were perceived to have dropped the ball on housing, and also on RMA reform (which would have made it easier and cheaper to open up land for development), leaving Twyford and the incoming government with huge problems too deal with.

If anything Twyford has managed it worse than National.

Newshub:  Action, not ‘rhetoric’ needed from Government on housing – poverty campaigner

Ricardo Menendez March from Auckland Action Against Poverty, thinks resources have been wrongly allocated.

“We’ve seen a lot of talk about KiwiBuild, we’ve seen a lot of talk about affordable private rentals, but the state housing sector has suffered as a result.”

Mr Menendez March said not enough is being done to solve the issue and the Government needs to focus on action.

“We are calling on the Government to look at genuinely pulling out all of the stops, not just rhetoric, actually putting in the resources required to build enough state homes.”

He said that more needs to be done to improve the unaffordable private rental market too, including regulation.

“The Government have said nothing about putting a cap on rents, introducing legislation to freeze rent increases or at least limit the amount.”

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.

‘Let’s do this’ Ardern promise for light rail now ‘let’s do this later, if NZ First let us’

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has admitted that a Labour promise for a light rail line in Auckland to be completed by 2021 will not be kept, but he says that the Jacinda Ardern promise was made before she was Prime Minister.

Newshub: Jacinda Ardern breaks the first promise she made as Labour leader

The first promise Jacinda Ardern made as Labour leader looks to have gone up in smoke.

During her first big public outing as leader during the election, she promised rail for all – including a line from the Auckland waterfront to Dominion Rd to Mount Roskill, all to be completed by 2021.

The promise was part of a $15 billion package and came with a plea from Ms Ardern – she needed cash to fund it.

“You can call a regional fuel tax ‘crowd-sourcing’ if you like,” she told the public.

That part of the promise did come true: Aucklanders are paying the 10 cents a litre more at the pump.

But Labour hasn’t done the rail part.

On Wednesday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford admitted the Government would fail to build light rail down Dominion Rd by 2021. Instead, he only expects work to start on it next year.

Mr Twyford’s defence is that promises made by Jacinda Ardern as Labour leader are completely different from promises made by Jacinda Ardern as Prime Minister.

NZ Herald (6 August 2017): Jacinda Ardern outlines Labour’s light rail plan for Auckland

Labour is promising to build a 20km light rail line from the city to the airport as a priority – partly funded by higher petrol prices – leader Jacinda Ardern announced today.

She says Labour will build light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill within four years, followed by light rail from Mt Roskill to the airport and light rail to West Auckland within 10 years.

I wonder if this is another scrapping of an interim target but retaining the 10 year target (as the Government has done with KiwiBuild targets).

“I believe Labour’s plan is a game-changer. It will reduce the $2b a year that congestion costs Auckland. It will realise Auckland’s potential to be a truly world class city,” said Ardern.

She said Labour will give Auckland Council the power to introduce a regional petrol tax – understood to be 10 cents a litre – to help pay for light rail. Infrastructure bonds and targeted rates will also be used to fund transport in Auckland.

A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, said Ardern.

The fuel tax to fund it was a priority – it is already being paid in Auckland.

But the actual building seems to be less of a priority – or it was a promise made without a proper assessment of how long it might take to do.

Twyford was still talking up light rail in Auckland as a game changer yesterday in parliament, but the game was going into extra time.

Question No. 8—Transport

8. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Transport: Is he committed to building light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland and if so, when will work begin?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Yes. Light rail will be a game-changer for Auckland. It will be a magnet for private investment in urban renewal, and each line will be able to carry 11,000 commuters per hour, the equivalent of four lanes of motorway. The light rail project will extend Auckland’s rapid transit network, a core part of our plan to build a modern transport system for the city. There is a procurement process under way now, so work has already started.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is the Government on track to have built light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mount Roskill within four years of becoming Government, as promised by Jacinda Ardern in August 2017?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: At that point, Jacinda Ardern was not the Prime Minister.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That’s not answering—

SPEAKER: Well, it answered as much as the Minister has any responsibility for it.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, the core part of the question was—

SPEAKER: Well, the member can ask it again. Ask another question if he wants to.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is the Government on track to have built light rail from Wynyard Quarter to Mount Roskill within four years of becoming Government?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I’ve expressed the view that we hope to have shovels in the ground in 2020. There’s a procurement process under way; that’s what we’re working towards.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So is that another target he no longer intends to keep?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I reject the premise of the question.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does the Minister agree with infrastructure Minister Shane Jones’ message to Phil Goff about the light rail project: “I would say before Phil Goff gets too enthusiastic about the Dominion Road idea he needs to sort out how he’s going to fund the CRL project. It hasn’t been completed yet and now he’s got to find $500 million to $1 billion for that.”?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, I would point out that the light rail project is being pursued through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project and is expected to be funded and financed as part of that 30-year transport plan, and funded partly through the National Land Transport Programme. The member will know that the City Rail Link project that was entered into under the former National Government is funded through Crown contributions—completely separate from the National Land Transport Programme.

Twyford fobbed off the promise as “At that point, Jacinda Ardern was not the Prime Minister.” Does that mean that any promises made by Ardern during the election campaign are not worth the PR they were written by?

An implication raised here is that NZ First are not playing ball in Labour’s ambitious game changer.

Can any election ‘promise’ be taken seriously when governing agreements negate them?

Single party claims like “Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority” are meaningless if Labour is not going to run a majority Government alone.

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.

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.

$1.4 billion spending announced to make roads safer, reduce deaths

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter have announced a $1.4 billion, three-year programme to make New Zealand’s highest risk roads safer. They haven’t said where the money is coming from.

The Safe Network Programme will make 870 kilometres of high volume, high-risk State Highways safer by 2021 with improvements like median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening.

The programme will target an estimated $600 to $700 million of state highway safety improvements and $700 to 800 million of local road safety improvements. Once complete, the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.

Phil Twyford said the Safe Network Programme will build urgent safety improvements on our roads at scale and pace over the next three years to save lives.

he Safe Network Programme is just one part of the Transport Agency’s safety programme. The Transport Agency continues to invest in a wide range of programmes delivered across the safety spectrum including road safety maintenance, advertising and education, road policing, active modes and public transport, all of which support improved safety outcomes.

Safety improvements in Safe Network Programme will include:

  • fixing dangerous corners
  • installing roadside and median safety barriers
  • shoulder widening
  • further safety improvements for high risk intersections
  • rumble strips
  • improving skid resistance
  • improving rail level crossing safety
  • setting safe and appropriate speed limits.

Safe Network Programme - national map

That suggests the new safety measures will prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries per year, a significant number but less than half the current road toll.

Julie Anne Genter said, “our Government believes it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

“Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year. The number of serious injuries increased from 2,020 to 2,836 per year over the same period.

“No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal. No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society – that’s why we’re making safety a priority.”

Earlier this year Genter said the Government was looking at introducing a zero road death policy by 2020. Stuff: Government looks at targeting zero road deaths and serious injuries from 2020

The Government will look at introducing a zero road death policy by 2020 as it strives to curb the country’s “unacceptable” road toll.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter made the announcement at the local government road safety summit in Wellington on Monday, telling guests local and central government needed to work together to make the ambition a reality.

“We need a new [road safety] strategy. We need a clear idea of the outcomes we want and the steps we need to take to get there,”

“I believe this is a transformational Government. It is a Government that can set ambitious targets, whether on child poverty, on climate change, or road safety.”

“Clear, truly ambitious targets drive policy and help deliver meaningful change. That’s why this Government will investigate adopting a target of zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

While the target could be considered “audacious”, all road deaths and serious injuries were avoidable, and New Zealanders had become “desensitised” to the rising casualties, Genter said.

The Government would also no longer refer to the “road toll”, instead referring to “road deaths” to acknowledge the people who had lost their lives and the fact road deaths were not inevitable.

There was no mention of the zero deaths in yesterday’s announcement.

More information about the Safe Network Programme, including a map: www.nzta.govt.nz/safe-network-programme

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.”