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Friday, 6 July 2018

I'd buy that for a dollar: Kiwibuild - A state sponsored game show that only the rich can play!

For the last seven months of this government I have struggled to blog because I wanted to genuinely see if the Coalition government was going to make a difference and with the arrival of Kiwibuild I have my answer, guess what it is...

Right now, somewhere in Phil Twyfords mind, people are cheering, cheering because they live in a Kwibuild home, cheering because Phil has given them and their family a place of their own.

This is happening somewhere in Phil Twyfords mind but not in the real world*.

Let’s face facts; the housing hernia is now the most serious problem facing New Zealand. Affordable housing links into things like child poverty, welfare, employment and general health so it’s essential that this problem be addressed fully and directly.

If you own your own home you may get to grumble about your mortgage or rates but you never have to worry about being evicted, being able to afford a place to rent (due to rising rents and price gouging landlords) or having a safe and secure place to always come home to. And once that mortgage is paid off it’s yours, all gloriously yours.

New Zealand is a country where the idea of home ownership is woven into the national psyche but where actual home ownership rates have dropped in the last 30 years while house prices have been driven upward into the lunatic and unaffordable by market speculators (both foreign and Kiwi) and in doing so effectively closed the door to a generation of people who would like to own a home but cant and so become an underclass of permanent renters.

Labours Kiwibuild policy was supposed to be the answer to these problems and much more.

Kiwibuild (say it with me munchkins!) was going to "build more affordable homes" and thus help New Zealand to return to the quarter acre Pavlova paradise that is the national dream (some would say obsession but I digress) of so many but with the announcement this week of the policy and its crazily skewed eligibility criteria that dream is going to remain just that because in Phil Twyfords mind people are already cheering for him so why let reality intrude on your cabinet meeting wet dream.

But then this was never really about “affordable housing" or “social housing” (was it Phil), as people had assumed Kiwibuild was about when that word kept getting bandied about, it’s not even about addressing the problem of housing in Aotearoa as it is today.

No what Kiwibuild is about is nice fat slice of urban, upper middle class welfare (coincidentally of course Labours vote base) delivered though what is essentially a lottery (ie sheer goddamn animal funking luck of the draw) because if this policy was focused on where it was actually needed it would not be the casino like free for all that it has become but would be targeted at providing genuinely cheap affordable housing (as only a government can) to those that need it most (ie those on incomes UNDER $100K not over it!).

And the rumor doing the rounds in Wellington at the moment (thanks W for filling me in on this one), is that Labour never had any concrete details about its Kiwibuild policy before getting into government because, surprise surprise, it had proven way too unworkable and unpalatable to Labours core interests (read the liberal rich) so instead they waited until after the election before handing the whole thing over to the policy wonks at MBIE to figure out** and then ignored half of what was developed because it was clear that trying to build houses in line with market costs and mechanisms was nothing more than a hot mess of ideological gibberish and not going to give any of that sweet sweet payoff to its urban liberal support base.

And then there is Phil Twyford himself, a first time government minister (elected to parliament in the wake of Labours 2008 election beating and who proved to be no worse than Gerry Brownlee as Transport Minister when he used a phone of a plane) who appears hideously out of his depth in ignoring MBIEs own advice about pricing suitability but still seems to have had the final say on this aborted monstrosity when he noted it was not about social housing but about “middle class aspirations”.

Oh really Phil? Middle class aspirations you say? What’s middle class about a couple earning $180,000 a year? What’s middle class about letting people who are not even citizens or permanent residents own a house for three years before being able to flick it out into the market and make a profit of the sale or worse yet snap one up and rent it out at market rates? Whats aspirational about going into a government lottery to see if you can buy a house?

Perhaps Phil thought he was still at Oxfam (now less a charity and more a scandal plagued clubhouse for Liberal do-gooders) and did not actually have to do anything here but maintain the illusion of doing something because this is what Kiwibuild is and will be when its nothing more than just another house building operation with some government subsidy attached.

I mean wholly Mackeral and Jebus H Christ just check out the details of this thing.

·         Capped at an income level for two people of $180,000 a year
·         Caped at an income level for one person of $120,000 a year
·         House prices capped at $650,000 for Auckland
·         Sold at cost elsewhere (whatever that is)
·         Three years ownership before being able to sell (but still allowed to rent it out)
·         Eligible to citizens, permanent residents and those who permanently reside in NZ
·         People able to purchase a house chosen by (wait for it) random draw

Yes folks you know it to be true, this is not a well thought out or enacted government policy designed to lower house prices or help those in need but a TV game show with Phil Twyford as the demented host and the public as eager contestants desperately hoping to be one of the lucky ones to win a house. But like all good gameshows this one has some unexpected twists and “challenges” in its obstacle course of terms and conditions for aspiring home owners to get through.

First up is that it’s clear that for people in Auckland banks won’t even give a home loan to people with incomes of less than $100,000 and there are no Kiwibuild homes even built yet so if you (and your partner) are bringing in less than $100K then, sorry no house for you, better luck next time, why not try our home game (pun definitely intended). In short, bank lending criteria raises the bar for entry from “anyone” to only those who are earning over $100K a year and cut out any family which does not meet the banks’ lending criteria.

So, As henry Cooke in Stuff notes, this is not a state housing programme and “people are going to miss out” (read: anyone who does not earn over $100,000 a year), but it’s only the kind of people who usually don’t vote, or at least don't vote for Labour, so who cares if they are on low incomes and now constitute the a growing underclass of people in this country which once held itself to be classless and egalitarian.

And with 6000 people signing up for a Kiwibuild house in the first 24 hours its clear that there is some demand but I wonder how many of those people will meet the banks loan thresholds (100K for Auckland), are actually a genuine first time buyer (because how exactly do you test that), wont flick it on for a profit in three years or just rent it out at market rates. There are just so many holes in this that its ripe for exploitation.

So with over 6000 ready contestants but effectively zero houses built there are already issues with Kiwibuild even if the game show format was not disturbing enough. 

And I know that something is sorely amiss here when the reaction from commentators in NZ who I normally can’t stand or agree with is totally in tune with my own sentiments*3.

Mike Hoskings (a man who I loathe like a dog turd smeared on my shoe) has asked who is actually able to afford these “affordable” homes while Barry Soper (another who I rarely end up on the same side of the argument with) just went for the jugular and called it “Middle Class welfare” but it was Cameron Slater (just too tainted by his past mistakes to be taken seriously anymore) who mixed no words by stating that “Kiwibuild homes for rich people only”.

But it’s not only those I usually disagree with that have started to pick apart this glorified state operated gambling scheme with Henery Cooke*4 asking “why is the government letting the rich buy Kiwbuild homes” and that’s, my dear friends, summing up this craptastic piece of political trickery as succinctly as possible.

Yes Phil, why is the government letting the rich buy Kiwibuild homes? Whats the point of making this whole enterprise so aligned with market values that it’s devolved into the kind of game you would find in a casino? How is it that Kiwibuild could not just have been State Houses Mk II, you know low cost affordable housing for those who need it most? How will the ballot "keep it equal" when you need to be earning over $100,000 to play?

As it stands today the housing hernia is a pulsating, menace which has left Godzone twitchy and on edge due to the worry that if we stretch just a bit too far or turn at an odd angle we will end up on the floor (of our rental property no less) screaming in agony as the exploding pain in our financial groin cripples us to everything else.

My doubts about Labour have been growing these past few months, as anyone reading this blog will have noted, but it’s with Kiwibuild turning out to be the evil game show from hell that only the rich can afford (sort of like The Block, in fact exactly like The Block with its cleanly scrubbed middle class couples and manufactured drama but I digress) that I am calling it here and now: The revolution is over, Labour has sold us out again and come 2020 a vote for Labour is a vote for National-lite!

Labour won’t be atoning for the Great Betrayal, the 30 year Neo-Liberal curse on this country won’t be broken and voters are not going to be lining up for Labour come the next election when Kiwibuild has turned out to be little more than something National would come up with in one of its more liberal minded moods.

Kiwibuild was Labours flagship policy, one that it was talking up well before the election and the rise of Jacinda Ardern. It was something that potential Labour voters could look at and believe that here was a solution to the housing problem when National had adopted a do nothing approach to the escalating crisis of housing in New Zealand. The words “affordable” resonated in the minds of people who, only a decade before had seen house prices across the country significantly lower and where the dream of owning a house had not turned into a squalid renters nightmare.

And it seems strangely coincidental that this abortion of a political policy was introduced while Jacinda was away giving birth (no pun intended) because Labour has now shot it's bolt as a government committed to fixing the problems ailing this country if Kiwibuild is the best we can expect and the only thing left to differentiate between Labour and National now is Mizz Ardern herself and Jacindamania, which was only ever a onetime thing, so the next election is now wide open (Simon Bridges if you have any competent campaign managers left call them now!).

This government is less than a year into its three year term and with Kiwibuild its mandate has been laid bare, welfare for its rich middle class voter base while pissing in the faces of anyone else (read anyone not earning more than 100K per year) who won’t vote for them or has the “gall” to ask for a higher wage, better working conditions or wants to make a genuine attempt to address the issues sickening this country.

From now on in its FukYoo Politix ahoy and don't expect labor unrest, voter anger or that general feeling that we have been shafted again by Labour to abate and look forward to Jacinda & Co desperately trying to keep this government afloat as populist angst turns to anger at Labours reversion to champagne Socialists in record time.

And I said this all prior to the election in my Post Election Slump post for those that want to see how clear it was that this day was coming.

Looks like we will have to do this ourselves.

*-And yes the “not yet” argument does apply but if you hold your horses and keep reading we will get to that
**- with some sort of committee to oversee because it’s not a Labour government without there being a committee for absolutely everything
*3- No I am not going Right Wing here but suffice it to say that from time to time opinions can converge
*4-someone who is consistently knocking out good stories at this time and giving Stacey Kirk and Tracy Watkins a run for their money


  1. Someone's been listening to Gareth Morgan

  2. Just that your analysis is pretty much exactly parallel to Gareth's.

    Perhaps it's not so much your listening to him as great minds thinking alike.

  3. I'd like to think it was more in line with TOPs which I do think they have some good ideas rather than just Gareth but point taken.

  4. Experts and patriots are enraged:

    The crazies secretly maneuvered more wealth into their pockets

    In the last year, than they did in the last 185 years!

    Meaning the top 1% now own as much wealth as half the world

    Just 5 years ago the filthy rich were 388.

    As of January 2016 there’s only 62 people who own

    HALF the world!

    >>Watch shocking video<<

    No living soul can spend that much money in a lifetime…

    And when people sits on money,

    The economy stalls.

    And that’s how it all begins:

    What’s coming in the next 6 months or less

    Will give a new definition to the infamous “economic crisis”

    >>Access U.S. Dollar Exposed!<<

    Are you prepared to be broke…




    Or can you turn the game around:

    >>Profit from the dollar crisis: watch video<<

    [Mr Mark Fidelman]