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.

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.”

 

KiwiBuild problems building up more than houses

NZ Herald: KiwiBuild chief gone after just five months: Barclay leaves top role

KiwiBuild chief executive Stephen Barclay has left the organisation after only five months in the job.

Barclay was appointed in May to steer the Government’s flagship scheme to build 100,000 homes in a decade.

Barclay, who has business, civil service and sporting experience, could not be reached for comment.

However, according to a person close to the matter, Barclay left his position at the start of November.

Leaving after just five months is not a good sign.

Leaving a month ago and only being made known publicly now is a sign that the government knows it doesn’t look good for KiwiBuild.

This is just part of ongoing not looking good. Reported  Wednesday (TVNZ): Five Auckland KiwiBuild apartments fail to sell on ballot, offered up on a first come, first served basis to those who qualify

Another five KiwiBuild properties have failed to sell off the ballot and are now being offered to anyone willing to buy them that qualifies for the programme, on a first come first serve, basis.

The properties are in Auckland’s 340 Onehunga Mall development and consist of two studios and three one bedroom apartments priced from $380k to $500k.

A total of 25 apartments were originally available, and 20 have now sold.

However, after the winner and runners-up fell through on five apartments they are now back on the market.

A spokesperson for KiwiBuild apologised to the people in the original ballot who weren’t contacted first when the apartments came back on the market.

“It’s a learning process,” he told 1 NEWS.

The spokesperson further clarified KiwiBuild’s position, saying there are no expectations that KiwiBuild homes would sell off the ballot.

Yesterday (Stuff):  KiwiBuild problems ‘more than just teething issues’

The extent of the issues that KiwiBuild has encountered have been a surprise, one economist says.

After three KiwiBuild homes were left unsold through the ballot for the Wanaka development, it was revealed that five apartments were passed up by the selected buyers for the 340 Onehunga Mall Development. They were then handed to a real estate agency to sell privately on a first-come, first-served basis (although still to qualified KiwiBuild buyers).

The scheme has also been criticised for building properties in New Plymouth that are selling for more than the median price in the suburband for including a graduate doctor among its first buyers in South Auckland.

Cameron Bagrie, of Bagrie Economists, said the problems seemed to be more than just “of the teething variety”.

“It’s a big project, there are going to be issues. I guess what’s been a bit of a surprise is the extent of the issues.”

Stephen Barclay leaving last month adds a bit of a shock to the extent of the issues – but are they a surprise? It was always going to be difficult for Labour and Phil Twyford to deliver on their highly optimistic plans, especially in the first few years.

It was fairly obvious they weren’t going to be able to just wave a wand and suddenly have heaps of land available, and heaps of builders available.

Newsroom:  Behind the contentious KiwiBuild numbers

The promise is well-known: 100,000 over 10 years, but the reality could be quite different. So far, just 33 have been completed, with 77 more on the way and a pipeline for many thousands more slated to begin construction in the large urban development projects announced in Auckland and Wellington.

Both the optimistic and pessimistic forecasts have their risks.

De-risking residential construction could come with massive gains in productivity, increasing existing capacity, or there could be a financial shock in the next four years. A shock would cause overstretched construction firms to collapse, leading to a huge slowdown in construction; with the forecast being slashed by 50 percent between the election and Budget, it’s difficult to tell.

Twyford’s next moments of truth will come at the Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update next week, and then the next Budget, when Treasury releases its latest forecasts.

Any project of this size is going to have high risks.