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As KiwiBuild summit begins, National's Judith Collins calls for Govt to pull the plug on 'failure'

As a KiwiBuild summit kicks off in Auckland today, National housing spokesperson Judith Collins has renewed criticism of the project. Speaking on TVNZ1's Breakfast, she called it a failure and a "distraction" that should be put out of its misery. 

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, who recently cancelled his appearance at the summit after revelations the project is behind schedule, declined an interview request with Breakfast. But a housing expert with Auckland University of Technology cautioned patience, describing the programme to build 100,000 new homes as akin to steering a super tanker - it takes time to see progress. 

"KiwiBuild has become a distraction, it's a huge amount of money and time," Ms Collins said, calling for the Government to start from scratch. Mr Twyford, she said, "needs to just say...'We tried our best and it didn't work'".

"The issue is not just a matter of market failure - the market's been busily building houses," she added. "It's a regulatory failure. There are so many road blocks that stop anything from getting done." 

In addition to Resource Management Act issues, councils don't have the money to be able to build the infrastructure, she said.

"There's not just one answer," she said. "Other countries have dealt with this issue and we can too, but we need to have a multi-pronged attempt at it."

She suggested Mr Twyford give up either his housing or his transport portfolio. 

"You can't do both of those big portfolios when your failing in both of them," she said. 

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The project is so big, John Tookey told Breakfast, that it takes a long time for changes to take effect. Source: Breakfast

But National wasn't always the Opposition, Breakfast host John Campbell pointed out. 

"Where were you when you were in government, what was the Nats' response to this?" he asked. 

Ms Collins pointed to special housing areas such as Hobsonville Point. 

But AUT professor John Tookey, director of the Centre for Urban Built Environment in NZ, said later on the programme that the special housing programme led by National "maifestly failed". 

KiwiBuild, meanwhile, is like a super tanker, he said. 

"You make changes and it takes a long time for the changes you make to actually feed back into the direction of the ship," he explained. 

"It takes a long time for changes to come to fruition. To wave your magic wand and pretend everything's going to change overnight just isn't going to happen."

For better or worse, both National's and the current Government's programmes have similarities, he said. 

"It's like Black Adder saying that the plan for the next defensive is to get out of the trenches and walk very slowly towards the enemy," Mr Tookey explained.  

"It's Black Adder economics. We do the same thing again and again and pretend it's going to be different this time. It's not."

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Judith Collins told Breakfast Labour need to pull the plug and start over. Source: Breakfast


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