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Housing Minister Phil Twyford told a select committee at Parliament yesterday a scheme that could allow large commercial investors to build apartments on Crown land was a promising idea.
National said it was unfair for the Government to pursue a scheme like this, while "cracking down'' on mum-and-dad landlords.
Mr Twyford told MPs yesterday building blocks were being put in place for his much-anticipated reset of the failing KiwiBuild programme.
He told MPs they were taking their time to get it right - and the reset would affect not just KiwiBuild but the Government's whole housing programme.
"The future delivery of the programme is also tied up with the establishment of the new housing and urban development unit which will be the government's delivery agency for the build programme'', he said.
The changes would be taken to Cabinet "shortly'', but in dealing with the pressure on the rental market he was looking at launching a build-to-rent scheme.
"We're talking with a number of large commercial and institutional investors who are interested in a build-to-rent market in New Zealand,'' he said.
"Where they would build mostly apartment complexes, long-term, high-quality market rentals, and we think that would be a really positive addition to the current market and provide more housing choice.''
National housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said Mr Twyford appeared to be giving up on the Kiwi home ownership dream.
"This seems to be some sort of acceptance that New Zealanders can't get their own home, that there is no hope for many New Zealanders ... and I don't think that's acceptable,'' she said.
Mrs Collins said this kind of scheme would be a slap in the face for mum-and-dad landlords.
"Crown land is being given to big corporates on a deferred payment basis so they can build the rental houses, and get the rent from it.
"At the same time, they're being so mean and hard on mum-and-dad investors and landlords.
"It just seems bizarre to me,'' Mrs Collins said.
But Mr Twyford said that was a bit rich for Mrs Collins to say, given her party's record on building houses.
"The National Party has a thousand and one excuses for not building houses ... We had a nine-year experiment with that and it's not pretty,'' Mr Twyford said.
"If we can get some large scale commercial investors to put their own money up to build high-quality housing, that's got to be a good thing.''
TWYFORD DROPS ENGAGEMENT
Meanwhile, Mr Twyford has pulled out of a speaking engagement at the KiwiBuild Summit later this month ahead of the policy’s reset.
He was scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at the event in Auckland on June 24, but a spokesman said he had papers before Cabinet this month so he needed to be in Wellington on that day, NZME reports.
Asked if Mr Twyford had pulled out of the event because the papers he was preparing for Cabinet were to do with the reset, the spokesman said: ‘‘The minister doesn’t discuss what happens at Cabinet.’’
National housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said Mr Twyford pulling out of the summit at a time when the policy was in such trouble showed ‘‘a lack of leadership and belief in his own policy’’.
‘‘It is starting to look like Phil Twyford is trying to reshuffle himself out of the housing portfolio.’’
The KiwiBuild Summit’s website has changed in recent weeks to remove any reference to Mr Twyford being at the event.
But cached versions of the same webpage from May show Mr Twyford was going to take the stage at 9.55am to deliver a ‘‘KiwiBuild overview’’.
Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa is scheduled to attend the event but will not be speaking.
Other speakers at the event include Fletcher Building residential and development chief executive Steve Evans and head of Kiwibuild delivery Helen O’Sullivan.
Mr Twyford was meant to be on a panel discussing KiwiBuild standards but is no longer listed as one of the panellists.
- RNZ and NZME