Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had taken away Housing portfolio from a continuously besieged Phil Twyford in the first cabinet reshuffle announced on Thursday, June 27.
He is being replaced by Megan Woods who will lead the entire Housing team (four other Ministers in charge of various Housing issues).
The outgoing Minister for Housing was under-pressure for quite some time for failing to deliver adequate numbers in tune with previously claimed under a charged Labour campaign of building 100,000 affordable houses in the next decade.
However, put eloquently in a much palatable manner, PM Ardern neither acknowledged the failure of the government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy nor attributed its stunted delivery so far on the outgoing Mr Twyford.
“Phil Twyford has made good progress in delivering the government’s housing policy. He has overseen the largest Government house build programme since the 1970s, including the state house building programme increasing ninefold. Over 2300 more families are being housed by the government in public housing, and first home buyers now make up nearly a quarter of all buyers in the market,” the Prime Minister said.
“Minister Twyford will remain in the housing team and share his extensive knowledge with the other Ministers. But there is much work to be delivered in transport where this government is making the largest ever investment in our roads and public transport infrastructure,” Ms Ardern said.
Megan Woods will become the Minister of Housing and will be dedicated to delivering the government’s house building programme. Kris Faafoi, who was a Minister outside the government, has got a promotion into Cabinet becoming the 17th Minister in the coalition government.
“Minister Woods will be joined by Kris Faafoi who, as Associate Minister of Housing, will take responsibility for public housing, including state housing and tackling homelessness,” Ms Ardern said.
“Kris Faafoi has done an outstanding job as a Minister outside of Cabinet and now joins the Cabinet based on his performance this term,” Jacinda Ardern said.
The other major reshuffle witnessed Minister for Trade David Parker passing on Economic Development to Phil Twyford, and Poto Williams promoted to Executive as a Minister outside of Cabinet, becoming the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector as well as Associate Minister for Social Development, Immigration and Greater Christchurch Regeneration.
PM adamant KiwiBuild is not a failure
Amidst, the cabinet reshuffle announcement, Prime Minister had skilfully pre-empted any possible criticism of the government’s performance in the housing sector.
“After nine years of neglect, there is a lot to fix in housing. KiwiBuild has not progressed as well or as quickly as we’d hoped or expected.
“But our ambition to build more affordable houses for New Zealanders has not changed, and neither has the public appetite for the government to be building affordable homes with 60 per cent of voters in a recent Colmar Brunton poll saying they wanted KiwiBuild to continue.
“But it has become clear to me that the ranges of challenges in fixing the housing crisis are too great for one Minister. Therefore I am putting in place a team of senior Ministers to deliver the full breadth of our housing plan, from KiwiBuild right through to tackling homelessness,” Ms Ardern asserted.
“This Cabinet refresh means we will have a sharper focus on solving the housing crisis and ensures we are well placed to continue to deliver the changes we were elected to make,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Poto Williams will be sworn in by the Governor General on July 3 2019.