GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Who Owns NZ Now? There are solutions!

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Sometimes when I write a post someone will say I raise the problem but don’t address the solution(s).

Partly that’s because Facebook posts have to be short and I write to provoke the discussion.

Partly it’s because the solution(s) take more explanation than can be contained in a post and I offer them in other places.

Five years ago, for example, I made a documentary on Housing – especially the cost of it – because it was (and remains) one of our biggest problems and one to which many other issues such as child health and education are inextricably tied.

It was called “Who Owns New Zealand Now?” and in it I tried not only to show the effect of foreign capital on our housing market, but unpack our obsession with the home ownership model when, internationally, there are several tried and tested ways of giving families cost effective security of tenure.

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I also argued that we should widen our thinking not only on where we live but how we live and gave examples from Germany and Italy of other housing models .

While there has been some curbing of foreign capital buying up our housing ( foreigners can still own new apartments for example) local speculators have largely taken over from them with the result that it is more difficult than ever for folk to have a place to call home.
It doesn’t take much brain power to figure out that if you can make a lot more money buying property than you can in the bank or other investments and capital gains brightline or no you still make a good buck investing in property, then house prices are going to continue go up.

The answer, I think, is direct government intervention in the marketplace as we had in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s something all governments since the introduction of neoliberal economics ( by Labour in 1984 and put on steroids by National ) have been loathed to do because of their mantra that ‘ business knows best’ and if it support the well off then wealth will trickle down to the poor.

Well, that’s a crock. It doesn’t.

Much of my documentary Who Owns New Zeland Now? remains, unfortunately true. If you would like to watch it again you can find it here:
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Who Owns NZ Now? Banks, money launderers, high worth individuals and corporations getting government handouts that other’s don’t get and gaming the housing crisis for their own benefit.

    Aka corporations and individuals speculating on farmland and grandiose schemes outside zoning to push the government to rezone and tax/rate payers develop the infrastructure, instead of building in areas already zoned for housing, less grandiose schemes by more developers who can do it faster, with existing infrastructure.

    Becoming a ‘trend’ by the super rich.

    Back to serfdom when the lord owns the village and controls the town… in this case called Sleepyhead Estate. Weird how Sleepyhead bought rural land without the required land zoning so the lords will also make a killing on their speculative land purchase of 176ha of rural land, 5km north of Huntly… in the new trend of corporate welfare for grandiose developments.

    “Sleepyhead, formally known as The Comfort Group, is seeking a zoning change in the Waikato District Plan to allow the project, which will consolidate several worksites it has outgrown in Auckland, and provide a residential lifestyle estate.”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/sleepyhead-estate-waikato-regional-council-under-fire-for-anti-business-opposition-to-plan/724MO6INP6AEEQM22QLBQIWUBI/

    Fletcher plans huge new housing development in Kumeu, West Auckland, but residents up in arms
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/fletcher-plans-huge-new-housing-development-in-kumeu-west-auckland-but-residents-up-in-arms/FROJPAX3BDOWYRZ2BH5QQICHY4/

    “Auckland Council also expressed concern, saying Fletcher’s new land was located outside areas earmarked for future urban growth.

    That risked disrupting city growth plans and piling more costs on ratepayers, it said.

    Penk said Fletcher’s plans called into question the kind of city Aucklanders wanted to live in – one that rushed new developments or one that planned for the future.

    “We’ve ended up with ad-hoc development that doesn’t make sense in the way it all fits together – and the infrastructure needed to support that increased population does not yet exist.”

    Fletcher said its Taupaki land was an “attractive” buy at a time when house prices had climbed to record heights and Auckland’s continued population growth meant more homes were badly needed.”

    Starting the trend of buying farm land and then demanding the council and government give them hand outs and special zoning changes for their special needs. (That those who are not extremely wealthy do not get).

    Trickle down alive and well!

    I think housing NZ managed to build more houses than Kiwibuild, so government should learn corporate handouts to grandiose private developments don’t result in affordable housing but community disaster for years and instead just fund their own Housing NZ to build houses on their own land!

  2. NZ’s ‘cash’ economy and cartels – where people join together to rip others off with overpriced consumer items and do social harm with drugs and tobacco and illegal/free labour, and then launder the money – often through property.

    New Zealand property tycoon Ron Hoy Fong to be prosecuted for ‘bid rigging’ and ‘cartel conduct’
    https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3017692/new-zealand-property-tycoon-ron-hoy-fong-be-prosecuted-bid

    It’s not just the usual criminals like drug dealers, big business are just as keen to rip Kiwi’s off to make more profit and drive up NZ’s already massive prices for everything you can think of
    “A one-litre pump bottle of sunscreen selling in Australian supermarkets for A$8.50​ (NZ$9​) currently sells in New Zealand supermarkets for $18​.”
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/123625273/are-kiwis-getting-a-raw-deal-on-sunscreen

    No questions asked why so much cash is available in NZ and the harm that illegal money does when it is redistributed in other areas encouraging rip off culture and cartels to be normalised in NZ. The fines are puny compared to the profits, why stop? Keep expanding into other sectors and drive other’s out.

    William Yan AKA Bill Liu to keep NZ citizenship despite money laundering conviction
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11905478

    Queen St money remitter discharged after laundering Polish and Russian crime syndicate’s cash
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12260326

    Auckland finance director sentenced for laundering dirty multi-national drug money
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12116319

    Cigarette smuggling case: Defendants keep names secret to protect children, employees
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/115014183/cigarette-smuggling-case-defendants-keep-names-secret-to-protect-children-employees

    “It is understood Customs officers searched storage facilities and other addresses associated with the couple and found about 1.5 million cigarettes.

    They also found more than $4.1 million stashed mostly in black rubbish bags.

    The couple are also facing civil litigation from the authorities and most of their assets have been frozen under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.”

    “According to Inland Revenue records neither Yim nor Wu, who arrived in New Zealand in 1991 and 1994, have ever declared their income nor paid any tax.”

    “As part of the raids on Yim, police also seized 12 luxury sports cars valued at more than $1.3m, including a Ferrari worth more than $500,000 and a Lamborghini Gallardo. More than $1.8m in cash was seized and a further 1kg of methamphetamine found.

    Watches, jewellery, electronics, and 48 bottles of vintage French wine valued at about $42,000 were also seized.”

    “Yim was sentenced this month in the High Court at Auckland to 11 and a half years in prison for possession of a class A drug for supply.

    During sentencing he was described by Justice Geoffrey Venning as being vital to the drug scheme which imported the equivalent of 30kg of pure methamphetamine with a street value of $40m.”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11842563

    Banks are some of the biggest collaborators with money laundering.
    https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2020-09-21/bank-shares-slide-on-reports-of-rampant-money-laundering

  3. I’ve watched this outstanding doco of Bryan Bruce about a dozen times over the last 5 years. It’s a must-see for anyone who genuinely wants to understand what’s unfolded with our housing market. The “crisis” happening now has been years in the making and was always an accident just waiting to happen. The “Key” factors involved are all linked. Chinese investors, a free pass in terms of tax to those investors and the amount of housing stock available.

    NZ has been conned by the money men in so many ways. Our housing market was opened up to offshore Chinese investors. The result of this has been devastating to thousands of NZ families. Despite the carnage, the numbers have been carefully orchestrated / manipulated to make it appear the issue involves very few homes so any negative impacts are minimized. When we buy a property we must provide an IRD number. The vast majority of offshore Chinese investors are unquestionably making their purchases via NZ based trusts. As a result, the IRD number of the “purchaser” is almost always a NZ number. These purchases then show up in our stats as being made by a NZ purchaser. This clearly and very deliberately masks the true numbers involved just as it did in Canada and other Pacific-rim countries. This has allowed vested interest to portray the numbers of offshore investors buying NZ homes as being a tiny 3%. The true numbers are unknown by design. They could easily be as high as 20 to 25%. NZ doesn’t have a large enough housing market to have significant offshore cashed-up investors increasing their housing investment portfolios and it not have a considerable negative impact.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/271860/offshore-ad-says-auckland-'investors'-dream

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/weve-got-chinese-buyers/RQR6KUAUKMNJ5VPBAYKCMNIZLI/

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/special-investigation-auckland-house-prices/TNG6DVEVLB5LAQBIP3WYKL2XU4/

    Under the Key Government, we had FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND immigrants arrive over six years. An astonishing and diabolical situation. That amounts to 1600+ new immigrants arriving every week for 312 consecutive weeks just during this time frame alone. These people all require a home. We all know where the bulk of these immigrants hailed from and stats conclusively prove that. It’s been monumental mismanagement to allow these kinds of numbers in yet make virtually no provision for the negative impact on the housing stock this situation would inevitably create. Very few should be surprised at the significant increase in homelessness that simultaneously arrived.

    To dramatically increase the odds of a successful immigration application, the amount of $$ the applicant has become a direct pathway here that was “exploited”. The understanding being that x amount of $$ would be invested into the NZ economy which would help NZ and New Zealanders. Unfortunately, the bulk of this money invested by Chinese immigrants went into totally safe Government bonds, etc that do absolutely zero for NZ and her people but totally suited the Chinese immigrants involved. It’s a charade. The fact this was allowed to unfold has been disgraceful. It was always going to be the status quo and it’s very telling on the money men that they have known about this for years yet have done diddly about it.

    The NZ housing market is now fucked. For those already owning properties, it’s mostly great news for them. For almost everyone else, it’s a sick joke. The best tool to regain some control, fairness, and balance, is a capital gains tax. Ardern ruled that out as long as she’s PM due to the well-funded campaign against it and the threats made by Winston Peters. Had she only ruled out introducing it during the 2017-2020 cycle, we could put it back on the table now. Unfortunately, the threat from Peters was so significant she had to completely eliminate it. Had she known NZF would be history in 2020 and she could Govern alone, I’m sure Ardern would have worded things differently.

    The Government can tinker with a few things but at this stage, that amounts to a plaster on a gaping wound.

    Repealing the RMA immediately is a must yet even this has been postponed to next year and the wording has changed from repealing to adjusting.

    Reinstating the LVR will help a little but the advantages for investors are so huge, they will still continue increasing their housing investment portfolios even with a bigger deposit being required.

    Bottom line is, you can’t stop the tide coming in so any progress made increasing the housing stock will be quickly negated if the immigration floodgates remain wide open. Mass immigration needs to be urgently halted. It’s obscene to ignore the housing needs of our population at any time let alone during a housing crisis. There is no hope of this elephant in the room being addressed so much more of the same to come.

    • ‘Mass immigration needs to be urgently halted.’

      Jacinda won’t do it. NZ is predicated on continuous growth of population (what better way to increase the customer base for banks and corporations and opportunists?).

      Every mainstream economist and banker is terrified of ‘going Japanese’; declining population; so many empty houses people can’t sell them; an economy dependent on the central bank buying debt to keep the country afloat just a little longer (which NZ is doing anyway).

      Everything is fucked, jacindafan. The consequences of 50 years of lunacy are just around he corner. It’s just that most folk still haven’t realised.

    • @ Jacindafan – the immigration visas are exploited – in fact temp permits had 300,000 people coming to NZ each year under Labour… the temp people don’t leave. They all need somewhere to live. They have kids and stay because the temp residency permits last for years. In fact it’s almost like the more honest migrants are forced out than the ones hanging on and using kids and spouses and fake jobs and education as pawns for residency here.

      It’s the government issuing the visas, less of the migrants fault if the government departments keep the loop holes open continually.

      Once one person gets a student or work visa, the rest of the family can come too, and get free benefits for the most part straight away for Grandparents, kids and spouses.

      Why bother with honest work and companies in NZ, when NZ has become a Ponzi of fake and cheap labour and sunset companies just in NZ to get residency. 100% Fake NZ is now billion dollar industry so like a ponzi there are always those keeping it going.

      • Snow White,

        Hypothetical situation.

        Rugby World Cup Final.

        77th minute and the score is 15-12 to Australia over the All Blacks. The ref blows for a penalty to the AB’s wideout on the halfway. Should they kick for goal and tie the match up at 15 all and play for extra time or should they kick for touch and go on the attack and try and win the Cup right then? Ultimately, who should make the call? The captain is who. He can talk to the penalty taker and hear his input or look for a sideline signal but the captain is the leader so must lead.

        I’m certain Ardern sought and received input from key players in her team about the CGT. Here’s the question she was confronted with. Should the Government press on with the CGT and be confronted with the Peters threat to call a snap election….or should she take the CGT off the table? Other factors to influence the decision would have been the extremely well funded vested interest misinformation fear-mongering crusade being waged against the CGT and the two previous failed attempts to introduce the tax. Ardern prudently announced the result of the discussions. They very reluctantly took the CGT off the table and stated it wouldn’t go back on the table as long as Ardern was PM. That prevented Peters’s threat from being carried out. Try and put yourself in Arderns position. What would you have done? I’m obviously a fan of Arderns but how could she have known the following at that time?

        1) The arrival of Covid-19 and all that entailed.
        2) House prices rising by 20% in the months that followed Covid’s arrival when almost every NZ economist adamantly claimed house prices would drop by 15% which strongly encouraged the Reserve Bank to lift LVR’s.
        3) Labour’s landslide victory in 2020.
        4) The demise of NZF in 2020.

        If you want to point the finger of blame, point it toward the following.

        The diabolical planning that allowed and encouraged mass immigration from China and India when there was clearly insufficient homes in NZ to go round. Inequality on a massive scale was being created. The word “Displacement” was introduced into the NZ vernacular.

        Those that strongly encouraged widescale offshore (Chinese), investors to turn the NZ housing market on its head purely to service the greed of their housing investment portfolios.

        The shameful situation that very deliberately masks the true scale of this farce so IRD numbers are all that is used as the guide. 3% was then routinely spouted off so this treasonous situation was not immediately stopped.

        How can a situation be allowed where investors are permitted to keep their investment properties vacant? That is morally corrupt. We have 41,000 homeless in NZ yet we have some 191,000+ homes unoccupied.

        We have investors land banking on a huge scale preventing homes being built when our country and our citizens most need homes yet absolutely fucking zero has been done about it and the offenders only consequence is successfully servicing their own greed. They should be taxed off the map.

        How has a situation unfolded where a dynamic has been created where the greed of property investors at the expense of everyday kiwis has been so strongly encouraged? What happened to the country that encouraged homeownership for kiwi families?

        “According to the latest Census data released by Statistics NZ, there were 1,855,929 dwellings throughout New Zealand in the 2018 Census, with 191,646 (10.3%) of them unoccupied. That was down slightly from the 10.6% of homes unoccupied in the 2013 Census” How many of these empty houses are investors choosing to keep them vacant?

        2021 will be another huge year for NZ. Ardern has an enormous job to turn around a massive problem that is not of her making. Anyone who blames her for it has not been paying attention and is looking in the wrong place. On top of everything else, she must walk a tightrope so the nest eggs of so many Kiwis do not suffer significant drops in value. Whatever rabbits she pulls from the hat will not be enough. It will take decades to put things right and as long as the immigration floodgates remain open, any progress will be very quickly negated.

        The one thing I’m 100% certain of is that the reprehensible Party of selfish greed otherwise known as the National Party should be the very last people to be critiquing what another Government does about the housing crisis.

        What Is Leadership?

        The word “leadership” can bring to mind a variety of images. For example:

        A political leader, pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
        An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
        An executive, developing her company’s strategy to beat the competition.
        Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.

        Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.

  4. Sadly, for you and many New Zealanders, your (in part, valid) premiss on this topic is beginning to sound more like you are all Monday morning armchair umpires, providing commentary on the horses which have left the starters post, after the farmer having left the gate wide open long before.

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