Twyford explains Kiwibuild challenges and the way forward

Venkat Raman

Housing, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford is confident that ‘Kiwibuild’ will make the expected progress and promises to build 6500 houses over the next three years.

“We will continue to roll out Kiwibuild and work with developers and builders around the country, including some of the most unaffordable Council cities to build more affordable homes for first-time young buyers which the market has failed to deliver in recent decades,” he said.

Mr Twyford was at the offices of Indian Newslink on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 to participate in the ‘Hard Talk’ series of the publication.

“We will build more state houses because we know that many people are struggling to get houses in the prime rental markets and deliver 6500 state houses in the next three years.”

Pace not quick

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wished that the pace of Kiwibuild was faster.

“Evidence to date is that the pace is not as quick as we would like,” she said, addressing the first post-Cabinet Conference of 2019 in Wellington on January 29, 2019.

“We don’t apologise for the fact that we are tackling the housing crisis head-on and we are building houses,” she said.

“Evidence to date is that the pace isn’t as quick as we would like.”

Kiwibuild initial hiccups

Mr Twyford, who is the elected Member of Parliament (Labour Party) from the Te Atatu Peninsula Constituency in West Auckland accepted that the ‘Kiwibuild’ Programme has not registered the progress that it was expected to register during the first year of the Coalition government but was confident of success after having treated its ‘teething problems.’

He is also confident that a number of co-related programmes such as the ‘Unitary Plan’ of the Auckland Council, Housing New Zealand and other organisations will help his government achieve its objectives.

But Ms Ardern said that the government was only six months into the process.

“It is a housing crisis and it is difficult,” she said at the Press Conference.

RMA changes

Mr Twyford also spoke about amendments to the Resource Management Act (RMA) and streamline systems and procedures to facilitate a more efficient handling of government policies and programmes.

“We are also tackling the underlying causes of the housing crisis. We are changing the tax laws to discourage foreign speculators. We are giving firm directions to Councils under the RMA to support their growth plans, support new housing and encourage intensification in our cities. We are looking at new ways of financing infrastructure to allow our cities to expand and grow,” he said.

Rental Law changes

Mr Twyford said that the government is modernising the Rental Laws ‘since a third of Kiwis live in rented properties.’

“Our rental laws are archaic. We are setting standards to ensure that all homes are warm and dry. We are rebalancing both rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants to secure more security tenure and more stable tenancies for people who rent,” he said.

Improving transport network

He outlined the collaboration between the Central Government and the local governments for modernising the transport sector and improving public transport services and facilities throughout New Zealand.

“We have announced a massive $28 billion plan for modernising the Transport network in Auckland City because all of us experience severe traffic congestion during the peak hours on our roads and motorways. We have worked out a detailed strategy which takes into account the need to have more buses, trains and cycles, rather than cars. Our Rail Link project for Auckland will modernise the Auckland transport system. Similar plans are being drawn for Wellington, which is also fast getting congested,” he said.

Saving lives

He said that among the priorities of the government in the transport sector is also to invest well to save lives and prevent serious injuries.

“We are building a better transport system and encouraging more and more movement of people and goods by rail to reduce congestion on our roads,” Mr Twyford said.

Video Watch: Phil Twyford speaking in our ‘Hard Talk’ series produced by Sonu, Shoba and Bharati of ShobSonu Limited, a media production company based in Auckland.

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