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.
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.