How Kiwibuild fell down

A great article by Henry Cooke on the rise and fall of Kiwibuild. Great long firm journalism.

A few things stood out to me that showed how from the very beginning it was really a policy based on how it sounds, rather than any serious policy work to see if it could work.

King, who declined to comment for this story, had been in a car on the way to an event with Salvation Army head Campbell Roberts and Housing Foundation head Brian Donnelly in the months before the conference, chatting about the emerging problems in housing. Donnelly’s agency had a scheme where affordable homes were built and sold, and the capital immediately recycled to build more. King liked the idea.
“We said there was a supply problem, and there was a need for there to be an increase of supply of affordable entry-level housing. But the emphasis was on the affordable,” Roberts told Stuff.
“To tell you the truth, I was a bit concerned with the speed at which they grabbed it. I don’t think there was pretty much more than our conversation – which was in the car going to something – it was a not a sitdown meeting, and the next thing they were introducing it,” Roberts said.

So the policy was based on a conversation in a car. This is how Labour makes policy!

King told a recent biography the original policy had been for 50,000 homes, but after taking a look at the huge amount of homes built in the 1970s it was decided it could be “cranked up” to 100,000  instead – in fact they even considered going higher. When the party was finally elected five years later, it would be happy it hadn’t.
Roberts said the 100,000 number immediately raised warning signs and he told Labour about it.

So they doubled the number on a whim because it sounded better.

Twyford says he will deliver a paper to Cabinet in “a few weeks” recalibrating the policy. It doesn’t appear that this has happened yet, almost six months later.

They really don’t know what to do.

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