"We’ll build 100,000 homes over 10 years."
That was the catchy slogan touted by Labour politicians through the election campaign - dwindling into silence a few months ago.
KiwiBuild was the answer. KiwiBuild was ambitious. And KiwiBuild was what the public were promised. Now, it’s had the ambition knocked out of it.
"As many homes as we can, as fast as we can" is the new slogan and it doesn’t quite have the same punch to it.
New Housing Minister Megan Woods did her job yesterday as she laid out all the dead rats, acknowledging them one by one as they lay with their tongues out on her desk.
The most important thing she did was light a tiny fire of hope in first home buyers. That spark will warm not only first home buyers, but also their parents and grandparents. It will matter to people in their everyday life.
The number one rule of setting goals is to document measurable targets, but that doesn’t apply to KiwiBuild. Instead, we’ll see a dashboard system released every month to determine success. There will be nothing to measure it against, no interim target, no overall target.
In the proactive release of Government documents, we saw that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development didn’t like the idea of targets either in the lead up to the reset. The ministry was given a day to come up with the pros and cons of setting a target.
This email was sent on August 9 as the Government was finalising its decision, so you would imagine not a lot of weight went on this advice:
"We think that it would be advisable for the Government to set measures, as being discussed in the context of the dashboard, as opposed to targets.
"Targets are often very difficult to attribute to Government policy, based on what can be measures as opposed to what matters, can drive a focus on one factor over other important drivers of housing affordability."
Targets are politically tough because you actually have to do what you say you are going to do and if you don’t - face up to the consequences. Just ask Phil Twyford.
Politically, the KiwiBuild brand is still tainted.
Ms Woods is going to have to get housing numbers notched up. She performed well in her one-hour media conference and the round of interviews afterward (even recovering after knocking her microphone off the desk during an interview with John Campbell on Breakfast – happens to the best of us).
But she’s only just beginning - laying the foundations, if you like, for what needs to be the flagship policy for her party.