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A lot rests on KiwiBuild . . .

Opinion Piece

A week dominated by the dramatic effort to rescue 12 trapped Thai boys and their coach, and the start of Donald Trump’s dreaded trade war, may have overshadowed a key development for the new Government’s flagship KiwiBuild programme.

The coalition Government simply cannot afford for KiwiBuild to fail. While it is probably not an election decider as some commentators are saying, it is right up there.

Labour is actually following policy that predates the leadership of Andrew Little with KiwiBuild, its answer to getting more New Zealanders into affordable homes, developed as New Zealand’s and particularly Auckland’s housing crisis worsened in recent years

But will it? What surprised many in the announcement of the eligibility criteria last Wednesday was the income limit of $180,000 for a couple, or $120,000 for a single person, which seemed to take it well into the middle class.

But with KiwiBuild homes expected to cost $400,000 to $650,000, people are still going to need a good income to meet what will be high mortgage payments.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s response has been that the ballot system gives lower income people the chance to get into the programme. Perhaps, but most young couples would need to both be working.

National, which would benefit from KiwiBuild failure, wasted no time in pooh-poohing the programme, with spokeswoman Amy Adams saying KiwiBuild was now Kiwi Lottery.

There are plenty of potential customers, though. By the end of Friday, 25,000 had registered.

The Government has set itself demanding targets. It wants to see 1000 KiwiBuild homes built by July next year and a further 5000 the following year, which is of course an election year.

This will require changes in the Resource Management Act and needs thousands of foreign workers to take advantage of the Government’s decision to make it easier for them to come here.

Maybe KiwiBuild really is a lottery and the gambler is the Government, especially Labour which spearheaded this programme.