The Nation: Judith Collins

Press Release – The Nation

On Newshub Nation: Simon Shepherd interviews National Party Housing Spokesperson Judith Collins
Welcome back to our new series The Pitch, in which a member of the opposition sells their ideas in just five minutes.Fresh meat for Judith Collins this week with Megan Woods just 48 hours into her new role as Housing Minister. Given the chance how would Collins run the portfolio – and the hotly-anticipated Kiwibuild reset? Political reporter Jenna Lynch started by asking her whether she will miss working opposite Phil Twyford.

Judith Collins: I’m sure Phil and I will want to work together.

Jenna Lynch: You’re not finished with him yet.

No.

Do you count him losing Housing Minister as a win for Judith Collins?

Well, I hope it’s a win for the public of New Zealand, actually. He’s not the first minister who’s been shifted to greener pastures.

How do you think you’re going to go against Megan Woods as your opponent?

Oh, I think it’ll be delightful.

What’s the difference in style going to be?

Oh, I just treat everyone the same. I think Megan Woods does have a tendency to get a bit angry, and that’s always a delight for me.

We’re expecting a KiwiBuild reset any day now. What do you expect?

I expect there’ll be a KiwiBuild retreat. I expect it’ll be probably something around the lines of building more state houses.

So, it’s 2020; you are housing minister. What happens to KiwiBuild?

Well, it goes. I’m really clear about that. The KiwiBuild policy was never going to work, and anyone who knew anything about the industry would understand that.

Does that mean that you’re not going to build houses, then? The National Party will not build houses for people.

Oh, no. We’re not going to do KiwiBuild. KiwiBuild’s a dog. The whole policy’s bizarre. I think it’s really important to build housing for state housing; I also think it’s important for community housing. I think what we need to do is to absolutely sort out RMA and urban development and planning design – making it faster and also cheaper to build – and, at the same time, bringing in more competition around building products, around standards and also work out a way in which to get more housing around transport hubs. That’s something that Phil Twyford and I would agree with. And you look at, say Dominion Rd in Auckland, where Jacinda Ardern and her big trolleybus is going to go down. The Auckland Council development arm, their own apartment block got turned down on that same route, because apparently, it was going to change the nature of the place. This is the nonsense that goes on at the moment. It stops people being able to buy houses or get houses built.

The RMA is there to protect the environment. Is this you p–?

Yeah, but it doesn’t, though. It doesn’t. And I’d say this to you – is our environment better now than it was 30 years ago? Answer – no. It doesn’t tend to protect anybody. It is now used to stop developments. We have developers who complain about other developers. Why? Because they want to sell their subdivisions before the other ones. This is the sort of behaviour that’s going on.

Yeah, but you had a long time for RMA reform, and you could never get it through. You had the majority with Act between 2008 and 2011; you didn’t do so. What makes you think you can do it now?

It should’ve happened then. It should’ve happened then, and one of the problems was – close to an election, all these sorts of things. We need to actually go into the election with a very cohesive and full plan on that.

So are you saying if, for instance, the Greens wouldn’t support RMA reform, you would give your support?

If we believe it is the right thing for New Zealand, yes, absolutely. Labour acted very poorly on this issue in Opposition, primarily, I think, because they didn’t think they’d ever get into government. They are now there, and I’m saying – if you want to talk about this, you want to include us, do what Shane Jones has done. Shane Jones included us in the Infrastructure Commission development. Why? Because he’s not stupid.

So, have you got an idea for Collins-Build, then?

I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to say that. I think more like Nation-Build.

Nation-Build, okay. There are legitimate housing problems, though.

Yeah.

Would you call it a crisis?

I think it depends. If you’re in Auckland and you are trying to get a house and your first home, it’s most likely a crisis for you.

Rent to Buy was a UK policy bought in by Margaret Thatcher, one of your political idols.

Oh, I know. Isn’t it wonderful? Must be good.

Is that something that National would ever contemplate?

Absolutely. In Opposition, we should be always looking out to see – what else should we be doing? I’m a big supporter of a concept around Rent to Buy, and we’ve done these before.

What would be the biggest difference that people would notice in housing under a National government?

We’ll get stuff done, for a start. Things around the workforce, for instance – construction businesses are telling me they can’t get construction workers at the moment, because we’re losing so many to Australia and it’s very hard to get construction workers in through Immigration New Zealand. We don’t have anti-immigration feeling in our party. We are not a party that hates people who don’t come from New Zealand. So from our point of view, we’re going to be looking at what we have to do to get stuff done.

Is housing the portfolio that you would want in government?

I want whichever portfolios I have, and that’s always been my attitude.

Surely Prime Minister’s more your cup of tea, though.

Oh, I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.

Do you think that Simon Bridges is the right person in this party to be prime minister? Or is it more suited to you?

Oh, I think he’s been chosen by the caucus, and so I absolutely support him to do that, and I’d much rather see Simon Bridges in that role than somebody from the Labour Party.

Do you think he can win you the election?

I think we’ll all win together and he will do his bit to that. There’s a team that we have, which is enormous–

But you want to be leading that team.

No, I don’t. I’m happy to do my job. I’m very happy doing what I do. This week I’ve had an example of the prime minister now putting up three different ministers for me to deal with. Well, thank you very much, Prime Minister. It’s a compliment.

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