National playing the reverse race card on housing

By   /   July 13, 2015  /   31 Comments

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National has such a long and shameful history of racism that when a National minister accuses someone of playing the race card then we know the government is deeply embarrassed about whatever issue is being discussed.

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Being lectured on divisiveness and racism by the National Party is like taking fire safety tops from an arsonist. 

 

National has such a long and shameful history of racism that when a National minister accuses someone of playing the race card then we know the government is deeply embarrassed about whatever issue is being discussed.

Housing Minister Nick Smith has made the accusation against Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford who has released figures showing that despite Chinese residents making up 9% of the Auckland population, house buyers with Chinese surnames bought 39.5% of the houses sold in Auckland in a three month period earlier this year via one of our major real estate agencies.

Twyford’s argument is that most of these purchases will be from offshore Chinese buyers which highlights the extent to which foreign speculators are driving up the price of housing in Auckland well beyond the reach of middle-class first home buyers.

Labour’s figures are necessarily crude and focused in this case on the likely nationality of the foreign purchasers. This is unfortunate because it runs the risk of burying the critically important issue that off shore buying of New Zealand housing are driving up house prices (and therefore rents also) at an alarming rate.

National knows this is happening but is so desperate to keep house prices artificially large (the growth of house prices makes home-owning middle class families feel wealthier and more supportive towards National) that it refuses to collect the data that would reveal the extent of the problem.

Also of importance to National is the close and growing symbiotic relationship between the National Party leadership and wealthy foreign investors. These are National’s kith and kin who rate far higher than New Zealanders on low-incomes struggling for decent life opportunities.

Twyford is right that the government is in denial.

What we need is an outright ban on foreigners owning land or houses in New Zealand, a tough capital gains tax to drive local speculators and investors out of the housing market and a massive state house building programme to meet the housing quality and affordability crisis where it’s having its most devastating impact – on low income New Zealand tenants and families.

Labour has left itself open to criticism of racism because it has no credible record of restricting foreign investment during its nine years in government when foreign investment – mainly from Australia – was rampant. These were the years when a busload of Australian women came to New Zealand on a house-buying spree and when Asian newspapers began advertising property investment in New Zealand with the advantage of choosing New Zealand being the absence of a capital gains tax.

Similarly in earlier decades Labour supported an Australian buyout of our big banks and massive amounts of lucrative commercial property.

The appalling state of our current account deficit – which in major part measures the amount of money going offshore to foreign owners of New Zealand-based companies – shows just how foreign investors are milking this country at the expense of most of us. In housing it’s no different.

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31 Comments

  1. Puzzled says:

    Labour campaigned in 2014 on a ban on foreign buyers, a massive state-led affordable housing programme and building more state houses. They are still campaigning on those policies.

    • wild katipo says:

      I’ve ticked you up on this but the fact remains not only have Labour been complicit when in power to the above negative consequences in recent history but they have also been the originators of neo liberalism in this country – which started the whole wild west cowboy road show of selling off our SOE’s , banks , deregulating the market in a wholesale way….

      Such that we now have a situation whereby our own people are locked out of buying thier first homes and people on low wages – minimum wages – haven’t got a shits show in hell of ever owning one.

      Primarily because of the conditions created by both Labour and National in selling out our country despite massive opposition by the populace.

      This housing crisis is one of them .And Phil Twyford – whom I regard as a man of integrity ( having met him personally around 2 months ago ) and NOT prone to racist assertions – is trying to raise the alarm about just whats going on .

      He is the Labour spokesman on housing , after all.

      Furthermore….Phil Twyford is the MP for Te Atatu . In that electorate ( and many , many others these days unfortunately ) are many struggling families on minimum wages, – trying as it is to cope with ludicrously high rents . Many of them are Polynesians. People who were born here.

      I find it hypocritical and extravagant that Twyford is singled out as somehow ‘ racist ‘ when he being of European descent , – is being an advocate for people who are not even of his own ethnic demographic.

      It is a specious and misleading ploy on behalf of National to suddenly draw the race card on something which is affecting the people of this country so badly to curry favour with a foreign govt’s trade dealings.

      The very fact there is NO capital gains tax , there is NO effective laws stopping this foreign – driven hyper speculative practice ( such as there is in China and many other country’s ) , that there is NO motivation for a Foreign Investors Register ….speaks volumes for the REAL MOTIVES behind National and the right wing.

      They have far too many vested interest’s themselves to want to curtail this activity and the calling of an MP ‘racist ‘ who is drawing notice to this appalling situation should be seen for the cheap shot it really is.

      It is ideologically driven ..and with personal pecuniary gains for themselves – at the expense of the very people they were elected to represent.

      This explains the continual reference by National to attracting foreigners with a view to provide housing – except those foreign investors don’t give a hoot about NZ’ s people ‘s needs – for them it is all about the bottom line and how much they can extract in as short a time possible.

      It also explains the hand-wringing and impotence of National of doing anything constructive about Auckland’s housing crisis – and the decline in value of the regional areas – basically they don’t want to do a thing – they stand far too much to lose if they do.

      This isn’t about ‘ racism ‘ – this is about a significant group of wealthy individuals and their greedy self interest’s above all the rest of us.

  2. ThinkAboutIt says:

    A accurate article and while in total agreement with the recommended remedies I feel these are incomplete as the prohibition of non resident purchasers is insufficient to mitigate house price inflation, reduce the supply shortage and also relieve the mounting strain on infrastructure.
    I note that even if the Chinese head count inflates the non resident / immigrant purchaser numbers if one takes into account other foreign buyers the figures are probably light. Good grief if you have a few spare bob and are sitting offshore, you see good stable NZ houses are returning a tax free 30% after 2 years what would you do?

    In addition a moratorium on immigration is required except in the “truly critical” areas of skill shortage.
    NB: Respectfully a perusal of the existing lists lead one to question the actual needs and the country’s commitment to training. Paraphrasing Winston Peter’s we seem to have an extraordinary need for chefs, bakers and many other trades.
    With respect to almost religious mantra of “immigration is good” the obvious response is that as with all these economic matters in depends on the prevailing conditions. The main drives behind the governments commitment to immigration is that even though this country has enjoyed the best trading conditions since the Korean war the economy has not done well. The growth is now being propped up by immigration but it is highly debatable if there is any real growth resulting but rather it is a just a function of increased numbers.
    Immigration is not a sacred cow much of what is occurring is placing increasing pressure on housing and infrastructure and it would be very interesting to see how much of the touted investment monies are going into Greenfields / “true growth” promoting endeavours.

    • wild katipo says:

      For several decades we have had it rammed down our throats that immigration was essential for growth .

      Poppycock !!!

      35 years ago we were told – ” the country’s too small – we need more people ”.

      Rubbish !!!

      The only motive for that clamorous assertion was to further help in the effort to deregulate markets – and if the country was ‘ too small ‘ it was because after they privatized everything and impoverished huge numbers of NZ er’s and sucked the life out of the country – they then had to look elsewhere to gain their sordid wealth.

      Well before the neo liberals raped the country we weren’t doing too badly at all as I recall – the envy of the world I hear.

      And THAT – with the small population we had to boot !!!!

      Now were somewhere down around Mexico if not behind them – at one point we were described as about where Poland is. Mexicans with cell phones we were called by the movie industry moguls.

      Bloody lovely !!! Mexicans with cell phones !!!

      So as time wore on we were told that foreign students will bring in wealth – that after they basically privatized every major educational institute – and by the way – what was the name of that woman who was on the Business Roundtable who oversaw the education sector – and made phenomenal wealth out of privatizing it ?

      So now we have rich foreigner’s buying houses and flash cars for their little darlings over here – but it gets worse !!!

      Many of those houses are left empty for not days – weeks – but years!!! – In the middle of a housing crisis !!!

      On one hand they passed a law where you needed $ 10, 000,000 at least to get in – and on the other hand we have a situation whereby family’s can sponsor their elders who can go immedialty on the pension here without ever having had contributed a jot !!!

      And then they started advertising in glowing terms about NZ being so good – full employment , good wages and conditions , good quality of life etc etc…and what do we find???

      That’s right !!! – People from overseas driving round in taxi’s with PHD’s for goodness sake’s!!!! And doing minimum wage jobs !!!

      We might have been fed the bogus lies about a rockstar economy but when a struggling family loses a child because they cant afford the power because the rents too bloody high we got problems , boyo .

      And speaking of this ‘ rockstar economy ‘ – if mass immigration of up to 55,000 EVERY WEEK ( most of which just ‘ dumps ‘ in Auckland ) was so good for this country – why the hell are we on the brink of major problems with housing , unemployment and basic infrastructure?

      If all these huge numbers are so good for the economy – then why the hell do these conditions even exist ?!!?

      Whats the reason ? ….cheap labor for the bosses? …guaranteed conservative votes for the govt – National – who keeps allowing this shocking state of affairs ?

      And now ,- the latest – it appears that the reality is what people have always known and suspected – that foreign speculators are compounding those problems with a foreign govt that allows low interest rates to out-compete our own people !!!

      And drive up rental prices to an already impoversihed minimum wage community !
      – so much so that first home buyers haven’t got a bloody show at all of ever owning a home in Auckland !!!

      Its time we stopped being such a namby pamby , mealy mouthed , weak as dishwater country with a ” ooooh its all soooo racist and harsh sounding ” and got up in arms about all this crap.

      And we can start by DEMANDING a large reduction of immigrants virtual automatic entry into this country …..

      Now …that said ….I believe instead of having this obscene amount of immigrants pouring into the country every week….that instead we seek to raise significantly our refugee quota – why ? – because these are people in GENUINE need – many of them have been to hell and back and seen things we can only imagine. So raising the refugee quota is a legitimate and right thing to do and I’m sure NZ ers don’t mind supporting them until they get on their feet here at all.

      And by the way – this includes ALL immigrants from ALL country’s to have the numbers cut back.

      Not just the Chinese.

  3. CLEANGREEN says:

    John,

    Inflating house prices is akin to “Derivatives” in the stock market where an imaginary price is placed on an imaginary asset, which is driving the whole index and this phoney John Key speculative economy, that will end in disaster as Greece did.

    Our average citizen is asleep and cannot see what is about to happen.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06WOhNgXBZw

    “The appalling state of our current account deficit – which in major part measures the amount of money going offshore to foreign owners of New Zealand-based companies – shows just how foreign investors are milking this country at the expense of most of us. In housing it’s no different.”

    Yes and how much tax are they NOT paying here?

    • wild katipo says:

      Indeed- the whole point of setting up here is to make as much profit as fast as possible out of the NZ populace – AND avoid having to pay their fair share.

      And of the Chinese govt – they have encouraged their people to buy up lands, houses , industry’s , farms offshore and to do that – they come here with low interest rates which New Zealanders have not a hope in ever being able to match.

      It is time there was a capital gains tax, a law banning speculators from buying and charging rent on housing here unless they become citizens or permanent residents and actually live here . A law also that prevents this sort of wholesale land /property speculation from foreign corporate’s – they can lease but not buy.

      That would put a dampener on this free loading ‘ winner take all ‘ mentality – then they would have to factor in overheads and pay their fair share like everyone else in this country.

      And paramount would be the formation of a Foreign Investors Register – such as Australia and many other country’s have right as we speak.

  4. janine says:

    So Labour took a head count of people with Chinese sounding names buying houses from a real estate agency and now shock horror it’s the ‘Yellow Peril’. What’s more they have learned NZ’s greatest sport, property speculation, and look like they are better at it than us…

    Pathetic Labour! This was an easy target with those foreign sounding and hated Asian surnames.

    How many people with good Celtic and Anglo Saxon surnames were also foreign buyers ?

    We have no idea!

    • How many people with good Celtic and Anglo Saxon surnames were also foreign buyers ?

      We have no idea!

      Of course not, Janine; National refuses to implement a Foreign Buyers Register.

      That, after all, is what this is all about. Your attempt to frame this in racist terms (“yellow peril”) is a poor attemption at deflection.

      • janine says:

        Sorry Frank but it feels racist to me however I’m no expert on racism.
        Lets ask some Chinese people what they think
        here’s one third gen. NZ Chinese person’s opinion

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11479477

        and don’t think I’m a Nat supporter either I vote Mana.

      • Andrewo says:

        National don’t implement a register because it’s a waste of time.

        Even if foreign buyers were an issue (noting an absence of facts to show they are) they could easily circumvent such a register by having a local buy it for them, buy it through a trust or through a company in which they own shares.

        It’s sad to see Labour stoop this low.

        Hey, maybe Labour could form a coalition with NZ First after all!

        • wild katipo says:

          You don’t even seriously believe in the tripe you’ve just typed, bud.

          Your just using this as an opportunistic leverage point .

          So shut up.

          And as I said and challenged you to do on another post- travel to China , buy up a house …get some equity on that ,…and then develop a housing portfolio and proceed on to charge top level rent to the locals.

          Following this , travel out to rural China , buy a large farm or plantation or two….go back into the city and buy up a few hotels , factory’s and THEN !….come back and tell us how not only did the Chinese take a dim view of it , – they also prevented you from doing any of the above through their laws .

          Mate – your a bloody drip if ever there was one.

          Seriously.

        • Blake says:

          So pathetic your comments – andrewo. Those who are stooping low is “suck up” national as they lie and lie and cozy up to greedy unethical corporations and allow our bests homes and best resources to go to the highest overseas bidders. You and “suck up” donkey jonkey are in denial if you think there is no way to limit overseas investments when it is not in our best interests. Just a cop out and in denial you and national are. Whale oil may need some support or better yet check out The Herald and comment there. They will really appreciate your views especially Fran and John. Go for it ! !

        • richarquis says:

          “National don’t implement a register because it’s a waste of time.”

          “Even if foreign buyers were an issue (noting an absence of facts…)”

          So, there is an absence of facts, but a register to show those facts would be a waste of time? It must be very reassuring to live in a world where logic is so easily brushed aside.

  5. Blake says:

    Of course foreign investors should be properly regulated but not under National – a govt. truly in denial. Of course foreign investors and corporations are milking NZ while the rest of us pay taxes and can not afford to buy homes. National would not start a registry to see exactly how many homes are being sold to overseas investors because they are in bed with most of them and want them to participate in the raping of our country. It also contributes to their fictional BS rock star economy. Then they blame shift onto Labour and call them racist. When are we going to hold these elitist corporate kissing idiots accountable for this raping of our country at the upper 1 % ‘s gain and our massive loss ? Meanwhile Bill English is over in China kissing up and the game goes on and on and on.

    We do not watch parliament anymore as it is a disgrace how these little boys play their insulting and disgraceful games and backstabbing ways and nothing much gets done that is good for our country. China; England; Japan and the US etc. . . . are just happy as clams for what they are now and plan to gain from our country. Right now they already get the best of our seafood and agriculture and we get the seconds, the second quality and they get the best. We ship out the best and leave the seconds for NZ citizens and most are not aware of that at all. Money and greed before people and this is what it is all about for National and the N W O greedy worldwide psychopaths.

    Look into Fletcher Building and its history and what it is doing and has done in Christchurch and elsewhere and to its workers. Not a pretty picture but just another mega corporation heavily linked to donkey jonkey. Some say this “out of touch” ; insulting ; elitist liar PM Key is a corporation in disguise of a man and I completely agree. If the majority of NZ citizens really knew what is really going on and why they may stand up and say ” NO WAY ” – not in our country and not in our name.

    Thanks John, I always appreciate your work. Keep it up.

    • wild katipo says:

      Orivida anyone ?

      Will it be the hair puller or the porky teller that takes over the leadership of the nAtIoNaL party….

      Not much of a choice , now , is it !!!…..

    • M Scott says:

      I didn’t know till recently that PGG Wrightson is now controlled by a Chinese offshore company. That says quite a lot.
      A friend of mine who worked in government owned Chinese media for several years states firmly that the only people allowed officiallly and legally to remove funds from China are government sanctioned to do so (mostly card carrying members of the Party). The Party and government is controlled by the PLA, known post – Tianamen Square as the People’s Liquidation Army.

    • GetReal says:

      Then they blame shift onto Labour and call them racist. When are we going to hold these elitist corporate kissing idiots accountable for this raping of our country at the upper 1 % ‘s gain and our massive loss ?

      FFS —who signed the FTA —-it was Labour and they chased after it like a dog after a bitch on heat, and considered it one of their greatest achievements.

      The fact is whether you like it or not this country needs inflows of cash to keep things afloat —otherwise we will end up like the Greeks.

      Agree that the housing policy is screwed, but the greedy local homeowners are the most to blame.

      Thing is if you were offered 25% more for your property by some offshore Chinese, would you sell to the local or the foreigner? Be honest now.

      • Thing is if you were offered 25% more for your property by some offshore Chinese, would you sell to the local or the foreigner? Be honest now.

        So you’re appealing to peoples’ greed?

        It seems to me that greed (plus a truckload of stupidity and shortsightedness) is what got us into this mess in the first place. You acknowledge that you “Agree that the housing policy is screwed” – so what are we going to do about it?

        As for suggesting that “The fact is whether you like it or not this country needs inflows of cash to keep things afloat —otherwise we will end up like the Greek” – I think you’re confusing the domestic housing market with businesses that require capital.

        But thanks for raising those points anyway.

  6. Kevin says:

    What the F%&K is Coran Dan on? He must be more of a National puppet than Paddy Gower, and that’s saying something.
    The news coverage tonight is SO National Party orientated and aimed at NOT talking about the problem, which WOULD help Kiwis in THEIR OWN COUNTRY.
    JK is massively at fault for continuing to NOT collect data (so he can do nothing and the RED NECK idiots can believe him), or probably more true, not releasing what he already knows.
    The present state of affairs is Kiwis can NOT sensibly afford to live in Auckland (unless they already have a home), because of (IN ALL PROBABILITY) non resident foreigners out bidding locals.
    What is the point of giving advantages to foreigners over citizens in our own country. That to me is TREASONABLE.
    Those trying their utmost to deflect the conversation as a racist issue are as bad as JK and deserve ALL the contempt they get.
    NZ should be for Kiwis and permanent residents.
    Foreigners are NOT investing in NZ (as the Lame Street Media keep putting it) if they’re only buying property to a) Sit empty, b) Park money for a tax free gain, c) Speculating at our expenses…etc etc etc.
    If anyone was ever in doubt that the media in NZ is utterly controlled by the National party interests today must have ended any doubt, to any half intelligent person who can think clearly.

  7. gypsy says:

    The problem with Labour’s data is not that it is racist, but rather that is statistically challenged. Keith Ng has ripped the assumptions to shreds at http://publicaddress.net/onpoint/my-last-name-sounds-chinese/.

    • Stuart Munro says:

      Not statistically credible.

      This is a large effect size but Ng has no explanation because he doesn’t choose to float any credible hypotheses.

      Essentially ethnic Chinese are over-represented by a factor of four.

      The usual margins of error can’t explain something like this, and it is worth exploring in a failing market that is creating massive hardship.

      • Gypsy says:

        Read Ng’s analysis. He is under no obligation to ‘float’ any hypothesis because the point of his article is to critique the unfortunate errors of logic in Labours analysis. When you understand the math, you will see the alleged over-representation is a fantasy.

        • mpledger says:

          I think Keith Ng has done some good stuff but I think he went off the deep-end here because he took it personally. The thing is that NZ-resident/citizen Chinese are just as screwed over by overseas investment as other NZ-residents/citizens.

          Some of what he says is true and credible but if we believed his stats arguments in their entirety than we could never believe any opinion poll ever again.

      • Andrewo says:

        Maybe “Essentially ethnic Chinese are over-represented by a factor of four” (Assuming the Left’s own Sandra Lee wasn’t buying a house and who happens to have the most common Chinese surname 😉 ), but those ethnic Chinese may be NZ citizens or NZ residents. They may even have landed here before you Stuart, since Chinese were involved in mining in NZ over a century ago.

        I didn’t hear any hue & cry from Labour when various Hollywood stars bought valuable tracts of land in NZ a few years ago, so the only conclusion I can draw is that this is a nasty little racial beat-up, designed to get a few votes back from Winston.

    • mary_a says:

      @ Gypsy – you state the following – “The problem with Labour’s data is not that it is racist, but rather that is statistically challenged.”

      Go to a property auction in Auckland. The “statistics” there are hard to miss!

  8. Stuart Munro says:

    Right on the button with this, John. The housing shambles is a National disgrace.

  9. Malcolm says:

    Very disappointing column. Labour’s rhetoric here is indefensible and undeniably racist.

    “Labour’s figures are necessarily crude”! This is just a joke. A very calculated dog whistle that John would be decrying had it come from Winston Peters.

  10. […] Asked how he proposed to deal with the problem, Twyford said Labour “would ban foreign buyers from buying New Zealand houses, end of story. That’s what the Australians have done.”  He also pointed to capital gains taxes as a means to “crack down on speculators generally.” “I believe that the Kiwi dream of homeownership is worth fighting for” he said. John Minto, a leader of the left-leaning Mana Party, also called for a total ban on sales of housing to foreigners. […]

  11. […] we need is an outright ban on foreigners owning land or houses in New […]