KiwiBuild is not a cure for a problem. It's a symptom.

A symptom of a problem where $650,000 is considered a cheap house and in a country where wages have been depressed for over a generation, where $120,000 is now what's needed to get into that market. And $120,000 is over twice the annual median wage in New Zealand, which is just under $50,000.

KiwiBuild is the symptom of a problem where Governments bend over backwards to be popular with business, while forgetting that we are a collection of people. Every business is made up of human beings.


It would be easy to blame the last National Government for getting us into this situation. They did, after all, take the most laissez of laissez-faire approaches to governing, in particular they loved to do very little about housing; but that would be intellectually lazy, and wrong.

This goes back further.

The Clark Government had the opportunity to take a more interventionist approach to helping out people but instead adopted a Blairite style of "third way" rubbish that tried to appease business while at the same time boosting the lower and middle classes through things like Working for Families.

But while these sorts of stimulus may have kept the middle class middling, Working for Families is just a subsidy for low-paying companies, and does nothing to stop the torrent of money that flows upwards, as the upper classes drifted further and further away from the rest of us.

The National Government of the 1990s was one of the worst offenders.

The Mother of All Budgets destroyed our welfare state in a way that has never been repaired, while the Employment Contracts Act made unionism voluntary which sounds fair in theory, until you realise that most of us won't take the time to opt into something and so we were left to our own devices to negotiate individual employment contracts.

And as it turns out, my negotiating power as an individual is way less than what it would have been as a collective. This was a feature, not a bug. It allowed individuals to be divided and conquered so that wages could be kept low with nobody strong enough to fight back.

And of course the Labour Government of the 80s was Labour in name only as it deregulated everything that moved, making us one of the easiest places to do business, thus beginning the great divide between rich and not rich.


The system is not broken. Our current economic model is designed to benefit a small amount of people in a massive way while disadvantaging the masses by keeping them on a small amount.

And so we reach this Government, which has an opportunity to make a real difference for the people of New Zealand.

And while there are some positive noises, we've seen a desperation in their attempts to appease "business". Business isn't even an actual thing. When we say "business", we mean CEOs and boards who are duty-bound to do as much as possible to get as high a share price as possible. And one of the ways to do that is to pay your workers bugger all.

So you want to keep them happy? Don't do anything for the workers. That'll get your business confidence surveys looking rosy.

Labour and the Greens tried to look all business friendly by putting in place the "Budget Responsibility Rules" at a time when it's never been so good to borrow. Even business leaders have said they'd be fine if those got shelved. I'm told that there is zero chance of that happening this term because they must give off a perception of reliability.

When your government is more worried about "reliability" and "perception" and not doing the right thing, then they're just seeking power for power's sake. Which is what many accused National of doing. Meet the new boss. It's starting to look a lot like the old boss.

David Cormack is the co-founder of communications and PR firm, Draper Cormack Group. He has worked for the Labour Party, the Green Party and for National.