Baby Boomers strike back – “Economic nationalists Vs Global cosmopolitans” – Phil Quin & Keith Ng – your membership papers for the Green Party are ready



I was invited to Labour’s Auckland meeting with Caucus last night and I was keen to hear what they thought about their Chinese speculator crusade and how it was impacting them.

Firstly, the place was genuinely buzzing. 300 people make some noise and it wasn’t the usual Labour Party diehards, it was money people who aren’t getting any traction with National because they aren’t personal friends with Steven Joyce. Bankers mixed with NGOs, the wine was being gulped back the way nervous children drink before their divorced parents turn up for Christmas dinner.

The vibe was a hell of a lot more energetic than I’ve seen in 7 years, and that’s why I think Labour’s strategists know they are onto something regarding their crusade against Chinese property speculation. While the liberal Twitteratti are in revolt (Keith Ng has even set up a site encouraging Labour Party members to resign), the simple truth is that If Giovanni Tiso tweets in Middle NZ – does anyone hear it?

Annoying the Wellington Twitter elite may cause vast personal abuse (several Labour Party MPs actually asked if I thought there was any point being on Twitter – I suggested they stick to Facebook), but it has no bearing on what the middle Labour are now trying to win over thinks.

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Labour are targeting those baby boomers who have benefited from their policies under Helen, done even better under Key with property investments soaring, and now can’t buy their own children a house because overseas Chinese speculators are out-bidding them at auction. No where can this rage at boomers being denied their usual privilege better seen than in Peter Calder’s extraordinary outburst in his latest NZ Herald column...

my son, at the age that I was when he was born, has just become a father and made me a grandfather. He and his wife are in their first home, which they bought after saving every penny they could over 10 years including a year working as teachers in Korea, living frugally in villages an hour apart.

But if they were trying today, they couldn’t do it. In the year to May, the average Auckland house price went from $502,100 to $616,500. It jumped by a quarter or, in raw dollars, by more than twice the average salary.

That’s absurd. It’s obscene. And it makes me bloody angry, because my daughter has watched that average figure climb, all the while wondering whether her dream of home ownership is evaporating before her eyes.

Competing at auction with developers and investors, local and foreign, either well-heeled or exploiting tax breaks and leveraging off massive paper equity or both, she’s like a toddler kid fighting a heavyweight with one hand tied behind her back.

…I thought boomers would start changing their voting habits when the property bubble finally burst, looks like it will be far earlier and due to their own children being priced out of the market.  Nothing gets a boomer angrier than the moment they realise all that privilege that’s benefitted them for so very long is no where to be found – now something MUST BE DONE.

So while Keith Ng and Phil Quin can quit Labour (their membership papers with the Greens are waiting), the middle will rush to Labour because they can see from their own experience at those auctions that they are losing out. While the debate over what can actually be extrapolated from Twyford’s numbers continues, the far wider issues is over China’s influence in our economy and political system.

Talking with many at the Labour Party event, most connected what they were proposing against Chinese investment with their opposition to the TPPA – so I would’;t be surprised if that becomes a feature of Labour’s position over the next month.





  1. “So while Keith Ng and Phil Quin can quit Labour (their membership papers with the Greens are waiting)”

    The Green Party has been much more vocal about stopping overseas investors buying property in New Zealand than any other political party. The difference has been that they haven’t targeted any specific race or nationality.

    • Well said, Pineapples.

      I hope Labour have really thought this through. They’ll need clear answers to some inevitable questions:

      “So, Mr Little, do you now regret and reject the China FTA? Do you remember how the parties in Parliament voted on that? Why should people vote for Labour instead of parties who opposed it?”

      “Um … “

      • Samuel, I posted this on the Labour site and stand by it.

        “It’s about sovereignty, which is severely under attack on various fronts. Key trying to change the flag; the TPPA which will allow corporates to sue a democratically elected government (like the Kiwifruit growers suing NZ govt for PSA virus – ) and overseas investors buying NZ properties and holding on for capital gain, or buying a house and taking the rent offshore WITHOUT paying tax.

        Good on you Phil for bringing the issue into the media spotlight. There will be blood. There has been blood. But NZ’s sovereignty is under attack by a laisser-faire-neo-liberal inaction National Govt. I don’t care if it is Chinese, South African names or Shania Twain/James Cameron names, if they aren’t residents/citizens, then buying land or property is OOB (out of bounds). The ISSUE is sovereignty, NOT Chinese-sounding names.”

        Listening to Sean Plunkett on Radiolive today, a caller outlined what China are doing to “protect” their major city sovereignty. Cities have set up a system of a 20% levy to prevent an influx of “investors” and non-resident speculators.

        Implementing a non-retrospective, non-resident veto on property speculators (whether they are Chinese, Mongols, South Africans or Americans) will fix the problem.

        If China object and annul the FTA (on hypocritical basis), they only have to look at their own system of discouragement of investors in their major cities.

        The ISSUE is Kiwi sovereignty and a laisser-faire approach to keeping house ownership affordable for Kiwis, NOT Chinese-sounding names.

        • Excellent…and to those who tick down the vote , please explain your reasons .

          Do you have vested interests you’d rather not talk about?…or is there some other angle of thought you’d like to bring to the discussion?

          Speak up !!

      • @ Samuel…still doesnt explain why the Greens supported Nactional’s framing accusations of racism against the Labour Party …the Labour Party which is facing up to the facts of an onslaught of overseas buyers …in particular the Chinese in the Auckland housing market but anecdotally around the rest of the country (eg. 2 Hong Kong families in Christchurch buying up 80 houses…Riccarton largely owned by Chinese)

        …the Green Party is so keen to score a point against Labour….their future coalition partner(maybe not now)… that they resort to a put down of “crude racial profiling”

        ….either the Greens are out of touch with their voters about what is happening on the ground in the cities and countryside ( I know of farmers being approached by very young early 20s Chinese to buy….when the land wasnt even up for sale!) ….or the Greens are politically PC ‘holier than thou’ inept…or they are dishonest in their attempt to put down Labour

        …in whatever case, they have just lost Green votes and Labour has gained votes

  2. …really enjoyed reading this!…however I dont think it is just the relatively privileged, well -off, long- in- the tooth boomers who are supporting Labour on this

    …it is also the young working class New Zealander…and I guess they are aspiring middle class…as we were before them…part of the egalitarian ideal of New Zealand

    …they want to eventually own a house and not depend on their parents…they want a job… and they want a tertiary education…previous NZers regarded this as their right…they do too

    …however this new generation are the poor …children of the poor New Zealanders….because jonkey nact is selling our birthright out from under us!

    YUP Labour is on to a Winner!

    • Chooky that is how I see it. Labour is going back to its roots of supporting the “kiwi battler” not the self entitled upper classes. About time too I say.

    • Bloody good depiction Martyn, – bang on and to Chooky, Wild Katipo,

      What a sorry mess that the Asian Government backed cheap mainland Gov’t money that is pushing this tidal wave one expects it would bring, as they are advantaged more than Kiwis are with Chinese given a zero per cent interest while kiwis have to carry 6-8% interest at least with foreign money.

      The elephant in the room is the Problem of numbers of population scale here as there are countless thousands of Chinese now also lining up coming for the property honey pot, while the traditional Kiwi population is sparse by comparison.

      Labour is actually second to our Warrior Winston who has been vocal every month for ages about the subject since he broke the news blaming the “Asian invasion” over the Craefer farms remember all?

  3. Now…a few years ago….about 4 or so…there appeared in the media that a basically ‘ Chinese ‘ party had formed on the North Shore .

    When investigated – it was found that it was being Financed from Beijing.

    Mainland China.

    This ,….. speculators dream has been going on for years.

    And , now that the Chinese govt has some hiccups with its internal deficits , – has encouraged its wealthy class to branch out and turn that cash into tangible assets aka buying of property’s overseas ,- and to facilitate this have given them such low interest rates that we in New Zealand cannot hope to compete with.

    And whats this about Don Brash being chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China….

    All very convenient , one would think ?

    A few well placed connections going on in this country , one would surmise?

    And it strikes me as quite convenient as well that there was an air of ‘I know nothing ‘ going on with National regarding just WHO was doing all the speculating and overheating in the Auckland property market ,…and so , in light of all these ‘ connections ‘….

    It is no wonder that we have this huge silence and resistance with initiating a Foreign Investors / Owners Register by the National party …

    Well it now has become quite glaringly obvious as to just WHY that was so….

    We have had a nice cozy little arrangement going on for the last decade or more that has finally reached a crescendo with China having had a few difficulties with its economy as of late…

    And a mysterious recent burgeoning of house prices meaning there is no way our own people here in NZ can ever hope to own their own home in Auckland….

    And it seems that the auxiliary plan if it all turned to custard and got exposed was that it was to set about plan B ….and label those who uncover this state of affairs as ‘ RACIST ‘.

    Its always struck me quite peculiar how exponents of neo liberalism get all so moralistic and ethical when it suits – and then when no longer expedient to do so goes back to its usual unethical behaviors…

    The claim of RACISM …oh yes…that much used and abused, worn out , one size – fits – all panacea for anyone with a baseless counterargument.

    Particularly when something doesn’t fit in with their agenda.

    I would say the greater crime here is more one of willful silence .

    A willful silence brought about by those who stood to gain massive pecuniary interest by maintaining this quiet economic takeover.

    This is not about ‘ racism ‘….this is about the neo liberal ethos and ideology…that of to control and maximize financially those interests of a few over and above those of a majority…

    If Labour have struck a chord with a comfortable monied middle class who have long enjoyed the fruits of this speculation – and now have been bitten by an even bigger dog who’s come to tome…

    Perhaps this is a timely message to them of just what happens when you allow greed and indolent self interests to overtake those of doing whats right by full democratic disclosure on such issues and a refusal to critically analyse the true motives of the govt you have elected.

    No ….this is not about racism at all.

    This is about a govt who have been acting in a very surreptitious manner of deceit and personal self interest at the expense of our own people who have elected them.

    Its that simple.

  4. I don’t think its just the greedy Baby Boomers whose kids are shut out of the housing market, its practically everyone who isn’t Remuera-rolling around in baths of cash-Audi driving-wealthy.

    In fact Auckland’s property market is now shutting Kiwi’s out more and more everyday. And where is our useless government? Compromised, that’s where!

  5. When our parents and grandparents worked to save and buy their own homes, they competed against each other. It was a relatively level playing field amidst the middle classes. Even the poorer working class could get a hand up from the State.

    Property prices, for the most part, (with the exception of the crazy inflationary times caused by the Second Oil Shock in the late 1970s), stayed stable – kept suppressed by lack of mortgage funds.

    Low mortgage funds equalled low property price expectations from sellers.

    Then the gates of Commerce were opened by Douglas in 1985, and money poured into the country. That made mortgage money available by the truckload – billions and billions of dollars.

    Two things happened.

    1. An instrument called “Vendor’s Finance vanished overnight.

    2. Prices began to rise. With limitless mortgage money, expectations rose commensurately, capped only by the buyers’ ability to repay the debt.

    But then, foreign investors appeared, and a third thing happened;

    3. Prices rose even faster. With limitless mortgage money, expectations rose commensurately, and there was no cap by the buyers’ ability to repay the debt – because their access to funds was (by our standards) limitless.

    If you think about how Westerners bough valuable land of First Nation people with muskets, blankets, coloured beads – because the native owners didn’t comprehend the value of that land – then you get an inkling where Middle NZ has been.

    This was inevitable. Whether wealthy Americans or Europeans buying up farmland and stations in the South Island and Wairarapa – or cashed up, uber-wealthy Chinese hoovering up Auckland houses – we are being bought up, lock stock and barrel.

    As I wrote in a previous blogpost;

    This is about not allowing an older generation of home-owners flogging their houses off to the highest bidders from Beijing, Boston, or Berlin, at the expense of a younger generation who cannot hope to compete with millionaire investors from overseas.

    Our parents and grandparents never had to compete with buyers from Berlin, Beijing, or Boston. So it baffles me why we have saddled our children with this colossal hurdle. The only reasons that come to mind is greed and a misguided ideolological view of an unfettered right to sell to whomever.

    For those people who believe they have a sacred, god-given right to sell to the highest bidder, regardless of consequences – for them, the concept of society, community, and nationhood obviously remains an alien concept.

    If, however, you do believe that there is no inalienable right to sell to whoever; that we have responsibilities to our own country and communities; and that there are things more important than money – then consequence of selling land to overseas investors has finally been made plain to all New Zealanders.

    The irony here between Labour and the Greens has not escaped me. The Green Party policy is “purer” than Labour’s; no land sales to any non-New Zealander. Labour is a little more open to foreign buyers.

    But Labour is the one who took hard steps to whack our arses and awaken us from our collective slumber.

    I always knew that the commercial colonisation of New Zealand would have predictable, unpleasant consequences for our beautiful little country – as a nation we are still so hopelessly naive. I just didn’t think it would happen so quickly.

    • Naive ,…is the word , Frank….naive.

      And that naivety has been a very convenient tool as well….and has been exploited by those with ulterior motives in succeeding in making us walk on eggs whenever some vague resemblance to the word Racism might rear its ugly head.

      I would suggest to those who take a simplistic AND naive worldview that they invest in an Oxford dictionary and research the definition of just what the word racism really means.

      And it certainly doesn’t mean gullible or easily manipulated.

      • +100…agree with “naive” one hundred percent…particularly those supposedly in the opposition to jonkey nact who have tried to frame this as a racist ( suggest they take a backpack trip to China and Tibet …and maybe throw in other countries in Asia as well eg Malaysia, PNG , Japan, Phillipines, Vietnam and do a bit of on the ground research)

        …Winston Peters has been warning of this buy up for a very long time and has been dismissed as racist himself

        …I would say in actual fact Winston Peters has been dismissed, offended against and put down racially for a very long time…

    • At least those buyers from China understand the concept of confiscation of assets. Their own government has done it to them.

      Not so sure the buyers from USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and the rest would understand.

      Everyone seems to think that once it’s sold it can never be gotten back. But history is littered with examples that prove that assumption is quite wrong.

      All we have to do is cease all sales to non citizens and non residents, and give foreign owners a limited time to sell to a citizen or resident.

      And if that breaks any FTA’s then so be it. At the end of the day, what’s trade worth if we are tenants in our own country?

      Agreements can be broken, and after everyone calms down can be made again more fairly.

      • Unfortuntaely this problem is wider than just overseas buyers and I’m worried that National will gete away with fixing this one aspect and not dealing with the problem properly.

        Bryan Gold points the finger at our banks

        but it’s not just the banks either – it’s deregulation in general that has bought us here. In reality we need to stop sales to foreign purchasers, kick the Aussie banks out, put in a Capital Gains Tax and probably a lot more that I’m not aware of. Getting the US to sort out their Glass-Steagal act would probably help too.

    • In a previous comment I claimed that these purchases are being orchestrated by Chinese banks and that our government not only is aware of this but appears to be smoothing the way for them. Under these circumstances it would be reprehensible of Labour not to sound the alarm. Labour’s evidence is as unscientific as mine but if our government objects to the implications it ought to produce evidence to refute it. The fact that it doesn’t, makes me think that the claim of ‘racism’ is just a diversion to avoid having to participate in a serious debate, which the government knows it will lose.

  6. Great post WK – got it in one blog!
    I wish there was a share button, so I could share it with every single New Zealander. Fantastic!

  7. So it looks like Labour is moving more to centre and crowding NZ first. Some on the left threatening to leave it and fair enough.

    I grew up in a staunch Labour household but I have not given Labour my party vote since the 1984 and 1987 governments which was when this great sell off began.

    After the last election and what happened to Hone Harawera I swore they’d never see my electorate vote again.

    I reckon I’ve made the right choice.

    I got a hell of a shock 15 years back when I saw how much of the Coromandel was owned by Roland Gift (A Brit rock star). My views haven’t changed I’m totally opposed to foreign ownership of our lands and productive assets.

    If the only way to get traction on this issue is to label people as having ” Chinese sounding names” that’s bloody tragic but I’m not going to buy into it…

    Labour I’m so over you ……………

    • @ Janine…I also havent voted for Labour since Roger Douglas et al rogered it….however I object to what is factual being called racist is a fact we are being bought out…and in the absence of statistics which jonkey nact deliberately keeps hidden …we can only rely on random real estate agent reports ( it is not in their interests to tell the truth because they are making money out of sales) and what we have heard from fellow New Zealanders

      Labour is speaking the truth ….and if you dont want to believe it …you are either naive or so full of hatred for Labour you want to bury the truth

      • But is it the truth? It may well be, but the data used to provide this info is hardly scientific. Example below of one family who’s data was included in this material.

        Even the children in this family feel unfairly targeted.
        “one of his children asked: “Daddy, why are people angry at Chinese.”

        And yes I do despise the Labour party it’s true. Probably because I’m old enough to know their form pretty well. Though by God I loved them when they sent the frigates into the Pacific to protest atmospheric nuclear testing.

  8. It is also not just the middle classes that have pricked up their ears and are thankful that Labour have had the guts to highlight the unfairness that every man and his dog have suspected for some time now.
    From what i’m hearing all over the place , ‘Waitakere Man’ is aiso paying attention.
    Which goes to show, if you stand up for what makes a fair society, people will respond.
    Interestingly, nobody has yet given a convincing explanation as to why the highlighting of this information is racist.
    Yes , it shows an extraordinary large number , (4 times the amount of people than actually reside here), from one country have been buying up vast amounts of property at ridiculous prices.
    And the racism in that fact is where ??
    It’s about the dumbest conclusion anyone can come to!
    And i notice Key, our supposed Leader, is nowhere to be seen.
    What a pathetic state we are in !!

  9. listen you young whippersnapper i’ll have you know my tenants worked bloody hard to get me where i am today.I totally….like totally…deserve my portfolio.Without us baby boomers you lot would have been bombed by France now, obliterated,irradiated. For a while there in the 80’s it was only me and a few others like me who stood up to the tricolour bearing down on was truly
    NZ’s finest hour. And now you stoop to insinuating that us “baby boomers” have an inflated sense of entitlement??? What drivel!!We are the backbone of this fine green nation of ours….the rock upon which you millennials stand to smell the roses, the unyielding castle in which to shelter. And whats more we are your landlords so shut the fuck up or you will be out on your ear..

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