Cabinet musical chairs as KiwiBuild ‘reset’ imminent

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Former Minister of Housing Phil Twyford has lost the Housing portfolio as part of the Labour Government’s recent Cabinet reshuffle.

And Minister of Civil Defence Kris Faafoi has been promoted into Cabinet, joining a new team of housing ministers. 

Widely tipped to receive a promotion, he was what was called a Minister outside Cabinet — he had Ministerial portfolios but was not a permanent member of the Ministerial Cabinet.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said his promotion would see him join a “new team of housing ministers”.

Megan Woods will lead the new team, and is now responsible for the KiwiBuild reset. Mr Faafoi is in charge of public housing and homelessness.

Mr Twyford will now be in charge of urban development, and will no longer be responsible for housing.

Ms Woods picks up Housing from Mr Twyford, but loses Government Digital Services. She is also no longer the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission.

David Parker’s Economic Development portfolio was given to Mr Twyford, while Nanaia Mahuta has been given the associate Minister of Housing (Maori Housing) portfolio.

Ms Ardern would not comment on impending changes to Kiwibuild, saying she would leave it for the reset announcement.

She said the new housing Ministers were not an admission that Mr Twyford had failed, but that it was a job for more than one minister.

Fresh perspective

She said a lot had gone right in housing, such as state housing, but many things had gone wrong, and that was why other ministers had been brought in.

Ms Woods and Mr Faafoi would bring a fresh perspective into housing, she said.

She defended Mr Twyford, saying he had pursued an “extensive housing agenda”.

Ms Ardern said while ministers were in the middle of major projects, she wasn’t looking to major changes.

She said Mr Faafoi had done an “outstanding job”, and described him as a trusted pair of hands.

She also defended Mr Twyford, noting the struggling Kiwibuild programme.

Largest housing building programme

“What has been less reported is that as a Government we are now delivering the largest house building programme since the 1970s.

“That is all down to the work of Minister Twyford.”

She denied that Mr Twyford had failed, saying it was simply too big a role for one minister.

“It was an admission it was a huge job. There was no template, no blueprint for what we were doing here.”

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