Phil Twyford the privatiser of state assets


I used to feel a bit sorry for Minister of Housing Phil Twyford being blamed for failing to deliver something he can’t control – the market price for housing.

When Labour was elected the market had already driven prices to the unaffordable level for the vast majority.

But when he started taking Housing NZ land that should be used for more state housing to achieve that goal he became another privatiser of state assets.

The new developments taking place in state house areas like Porirua, Glenn Innes and so on actually results in only a small increase in the total number of “social housing”.

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Two-thirds of the land is privatised to be used for a mix of Kiwibuild and private housing.

We should build working-class communities as we did after world war 2 when we were half the population but able to build at the rate of 10,000 state homes a year.

I grew up in Panmure. It wasn’t glamorous by any means but we built communities of people with jobs and access to schools and parks and essential amenities.

Only having “social housing” for the most desperate opens up a route for the right to use the fact working people can’t afford private renting to be told that their plight is because of those “others”, the homeless, unemployed, solo-mums and refugees – who are the few who can be helped when the government is only building 1-2,000 a year.

But we actually need a mass state housing programme building 10,000 a year until the speculators and landlords are on the back foot.

The current overpriced market will come down and many late entrants to that market will be burnt.

We need to cater for the big majority of people who currently will never have access to affordable housing – to buy or rent.

The only way to guarantee that can happen is a mass state house programme starting now.

If Bolivia, one of the poorest nations on earth, can build 10,000 new homes a year for its people why can’t we?


  1. …’ But we actually need a mass state housing programme building 10,000 a year until the speculators and landlords are on the back foot’ …


    TBH ?

    I think its time you and others used your considerable influence to put forward a new political party based on the Trade Union movement. We will NEVER break this neo liberal rort and malaise until that happens. I think you know this is true, Mike.

    • WILD KATIPO I was thinking the very same thing today. We need to be brave and just go for it. The Labour party needs to be shown as National Light with the same pay masters. I feel very downcast at the state of NZ political possibilities, we know National are National and Labour should be sued for missleading us to think they are ‘real’ Labour. The ‘new’ Greens make me feel physically sick (turn coats) then we have slippery Winston (don’t get me started)
      So I know its a big ask Mike Treen but we need you to get the ball rolling – I need something to believe in………….

    • If that political party is made up of the same individuals who currently represent our trade union movement then they need to make sure they change who they see as workers instead of restricting it to the employed.

      • I would say a purge is recommended.

        Root out those who are the tag-along’s to the neo liberal element in both Labour and National. This is a time of radical new movements needed to destroy the neo liberal stronghold,… nothing more and nothing less.

        Change is needed and it wont happen with the same old tired excuses for change we have naively trusted in.

        Its time it was all overturned.

  2. Dont worry, when National, ACT and the new Christian party under Alfred Ngaro get elected, they will fix it all…right?

  3. Yeah there is state housing land being split threeways.

    State house replacements all built on one third of the land financed by the sale of the other two third of the land.

    National did this (selling two third of the land to afford replacing the buildings on only one third of the site) but without the Kiwi Build homes on one third of the land.

    The alternative was to double state housing stock to 130,000. 7000 per annum for three terms. Basically doubling up on existing state house land. The cost (no land cost) would be no more than $2B per annum – $1B from budget and $1B form borrowing (net debt falls as there is a build up in value of state owned assets).

  4. Thanks Make for confirming our worst fears about Mr Twyford.

    “But when he started taking Housing NZ land that should be used for more state housing to achieve that goal he became another privatiser of state assets.”

    This article well oput from you Mike has confirmed that Twyford is indeed one of the ABC’s and now the neo-liberal side of Labour that we never voted for in Labour’s pre-election policies, so he has now been identified as a “spoiler” for labour re-election going forward.

    We expect to see him loose most of his remaining portfolios in the up-comming ‘cabinet reshuffle’.

    Possibly Julie Anne Genter or Shane jones may take over as they have the ‘associate positions of transport’ which was Twyords other main portfolio that he has seriously stuffed up as he was not even involved with saving our public NZ wide provincial railway services for freight and passengrer services.

    We have sent many requests to Mr Twyford’s secretary in Wellington requesting him to to come to HB/Gisborne to discuss the dysfunctional NZTA mega road controlling agency, but he refuses to even respond to any letter of the over 25 we have sent to him over the last 16 months!!!!

    So Jacinda now has to change this cabinet inbreed policy of ignoring public requests to work alongside these cabinet ministers, who must now be dropped from cabinet positions.

    Labour cannnot afford to have any ineffective cabinet Ministers who are hurting Labour in the year of “delivery”

    I am so disappointed with Phil Twyford.

  5. The problem with state housing Mike is the state servants who allocated the houses they were racist and those who got the best houses in the better areas was all pakehas if you were Maori you got dumped in the bronxs areas now knocked down and being replaced with 500 k- 800 k homes. Now who can afford these not the people these houses or this land was intended for.

  6. Absolutely. The challenge is how to muster the political will?

    I am a disabled person who is currently on the wait list for “social housing”. Recently, I arrived at Queen St Work and Income on a Friday afternoon in severe distress. I told a case manager I needed a food grant, the guy said I needed to go to the bank and get a bank statement. When I told him that the banks would be closing right now, he said he couldn’t do it then, and when I protested, he turned up his nose at me saying, “come back if ya get hungry aye?”
    I had to take up residence in a hostel, despite it being completely unsuitable for my condition; so unsuitable – I could not manage my condition in the hostel, leading to immense suffering.
    During the following period, I had to go to a work assessment seminar, which was little more than a “beat-em-up” by some guy who looked and sounded like he just walked off set from The Office.
    I had no income during this period, no assistance.
    Eventually I saw a case manager at Queen Street to complete my application, who I told I urgently needed help for housing and was unable to manage my condition in the hostel. The case manager told me, “we don’t do housing.” The case manager proceeded to get frustrated and then become very bitchy at me because I couldn’t fill out the form in front of her.
    I managed to get on the social housing register about one month ago, getting ranked with an A grade for urgency (they’re ranked A to F). But still nothing.
    So I’ve been struggling in a backpackers. I’ve had to turn down two housing offers because the cost was too high for the benefit to cover.

    • I’m sorry you’ve been treated so poorly by WINZ.

      If ever WINZ refuse a you a food grant or anything that you are applying for, ask for the decision in writing so that you can appeal that decision.
      This usually makes them most willing to accommodate your initial request.

      I’d also suggest that you send your above post as an email to the Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. Her email address is

    • Sorry to hear you are going through this. The fact is that disabled are often harder to house that other people (they SHOULD be housed first).

      Here is a study in which you may want to take part (assumes you can get internet access..) which I’m sure will prove beyond any doubt that extensive breaches of the UN resolution are systemic in nature and include discrimination against disabled.

      NB: It’s limited to 60 participants from certain areas in NZ and is time sensitive.

  7. Yes Mike. This government is just more of the same old neo liberal blshit. Big talking platitudes with no action except for those already well off. Bolivia and also Venezuela are good examples. Until someone can rally the mass of struggling people as Chavez did nothing will change. The Labour party and now it looks also like the Greens rely on the fact that these folk have given up on politics. The politics in NZ is more than happy with this arrangement. How do you give voice to the voiceless? I think the Unions have to take some responsibility in this. Always happy to toe the line with Labour. Why not be brave and rally the hard done by into a real political force that asks or demands more than just another pay rise? They could even introduce some kind of involvement with beneficiaries. Until this happens nothing much will change. When it does there will be all kinds of doomsday forecast by the wealthy and concerted attempts to derail it. But once woken it is hard to put back to sleep. Amongst all the hardship imposed by the US on Venezuela the indigenous poor know that they never want to go back to the harsh and cruel slavery inflicted by the well off middleclasses who have now been made to share some of what wealth remains

  8. Some real supply side points made about housing Mr Treen.
    So far as demand for housing, what would the effect be of giving work visa holders residency, on our inability to house our own people?

  9. Put to use his flagship bill he put through the house. The Point England Development Enabling Bill! Its the MoW’s bill but with teeth. It allows the Crown to confiscate private property too for building houses!
    The Crown does have a track record at confiscating private property/Maori Land ay!

  10. If he likes privatisation so much lets just sack the fucker. Isn’t that what you do with employees who don’t act in accordance with the wishes of their employer within the parameters of the job description?
    What are we waiting for?
    “Twyford? You’re fired!”
    If 20 k people came to Wellington, to your office and said that forcefully it’d not be so funny would it phil and then you might really, actually need that stupid fucking helmet.

    • Brilliant Country Boy,
      Will you come to Wellington with me and others?

      Our members in Napier have asked for a meeting with him last week.

      If so I will Let you know if he accepts the invitaion to meet us.

  11. Yes, thanks for writing about this, I had pointed this fact out in some comments over past months, now someone has decided it is worth writing a post about Phil the asset seller.

  12. kiwi build aren’t the only ones struggling to sell their newly built houses so are some of the private companies because they are too dare

  13. Good one Mike. I grew up in the state housing area, Taita, with a strong sense of community. We were given a 2bedroomed house plus sunporch because we had 3 girls although my mother was pregnant. There was a Maori family (our good friends) across the road with a better house Michelle, like everyone else. Phil Twyford is dependant on neo-liberal ideas for his politics, he is a close friend of Jacinda so unlikely to get the boot unless we follow Countryboy’s suggestion.

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