Construction industry urges Government to get on with KiwiBuild changes

Construction industry experts are urging the Government to make any necessary changes to KiwiBuild so they can get on with the job of building houses.

While hundreds of people attended an industry-led KiwiBuild summit in Auckland, there was a noticeable absence - the minister in charge of the struggling housing programme. Housing Minister Phil Twyford was in Wellington launching a Housing First development.

Standing in for him was Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa who didn't even mention KiwiBuild once in her speech.

"In terms of housing and KiwiBuild is part of housing, I'm not the responsible minister," she said.

And the head of the KiwiBuild Delivery Agency, Helen O'Sullivan, also refused to answer media questions on progress.

"It's actually about moving the dial on housing unaffordability in New Zealand, quality of our homes and sustainability. And I think that actually needs to be our focus," Ms O'Sullivan said. 

Mr Twyford blamed a scheduling error, saying, "I couldn't attend because I had two papers at Cabinet today. But the Government was really well represented."

The target of 1000 houses a year and 10,000 in a decade now looks like a pipe dream.

A poll of people at the KiwiBuild summit found a majority had little to no confidence in KiwiBuild ever achieving its original aims.

And the frustration from industry is clear. They want the Government to move in other areas too - in regulatory reform, freeing up land and building. infrastructure.

"We're moving in the right direction, not just with KiwiBuild. That's part of our overall programme," Ms Salesa said.

But the industry says it's ready to build, including thousands of prefabricated houses.

"What's holding us back is the readying of land, the preparation, the community planning, the master planning, the infrastructure. So once the land is provided then offsite construction manufacturers can make the housing," said Pamela Bell, founder of Prefab NZ.

Those at the summit think the upcoming housing reset will see changes to KiwiBuild targets when it's finally announced.

"I would say around 50,000," one attendee said.

Ms Bell said: "We can still make the end target, but of course it's everybody mucking in."

Mr Twyford said: "It's taking a little bit longer but it won't be much longer. I'll be  I would think, a few weeks at most." 

For those wanting to build, that can't come fast enough.

And meanwhile a question mark hangs over the future of Phil Twyford in the Housing portfolio as the Prime Minister prepares to announce a Cabinet reshuffle later this week.

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The building industry just want to get on with the job of building houses. Source: 1 NEWS

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