Labour will ban all foreign property buyers

Labour housing spokesperson has sparked a twitter storm after he used highly questionable data based on Auckland house sales and the ethnicity of purchaser’s names based on how they looked.

And he used this to try and justify stating that Labour would ban all foreign purchases of property in New Zealand, despite also saying “we have a policy review underway”.

Mr Twyford, people listening to this will think to themselves, ‘There’s only one thing certain here, which is that Labour is prepared to play the race card.’
I’m speaking out on this issue because, like most New Zealanders, I believe that the Kiwi dream of homeownership is worth fighting for. Rampant property speculation in Auckland is driving house prices higher and higher and out of the reach of young, hard-working first-home buyers. Offshore speculators are a major part of this picture. That’s what this data suggests. I think it’s as plain as day, and I think that so many Aucklanders will wake up this morning, they’ll look at these numbers, and they’ll say, ‘I told you so.’

Okay, if it is such a big issue, what would Labour do about it?
We would ban foreign buyers from buying New Zealand houses, end of story. That’s what the Australians have done. Look, there’s a reason—

So long-term residents can buy, and if you buy, what, a new build, you can buy? But otherwise no?
If you’re not a citizen or a resident, you’re sitting on the other side of the world, and you want to buy a house, come and live here. That’s the way to do it. Or, if you want— as the Australians allow, if you want to build a new house and add to the supply, we don’t see any problem with that. But, look, there’s a reason that so many countries around the world – Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and a dozen others – have enacted laws and restrictions that put limits on the ability of foreign speculators to trade local housing., the preeminent Chinese website that specialises in marketing international real estate to Chinese investors in China, they reported recently that the Chinese government’s plans to free up capital controls, so that their citizens can move money in and out of the country more easily—

(Source: Scoop)

So Australians, Samoans, Tongans, English, any non New Zealander would be banned from buying property in New Zealand?

What other policies do you have that would make a difference? Because the thing is, Labour ditched capital gains tax, which arguably would have made a difference, because it wasn’t popular with voters, but you’re happy to give the old foreigners a kick, because that doesn’t lose you votes?
We’re going to crack down on speculators generally, and we have a policy review underway. There are a myriad of different tax and policy approaches that we can do to level the playing field away from the current incentives for property speculation in our economy. So we’re going to do that. We’re going ban foreign buyers.

They have a policy review under way but apparently Twyford is in a position to announce this policy now.

The criticism of the data and the ban has bee fairly vigorous from across the political spectrum.

Full transcript: Lisa Owen interviews Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford

Video: Interview: Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford

And it turns out that Rob Salmond did the data analysis based on surnames of property buyers, he defends his analysis at Public Address: House-buying patterns in Auckland

Leave a comment


  1. I watched the interview on ‘The Nation’ TV3 this a.m.

    There were allegations from the interviewer & at least one panel member (Nat.) that Phil Twyford was ‘playing the race card’.. I totally disagree.

    He was just highlighting a couple of issues :

    1) this Govt. refuses to allow a register of overseas property speculators, who appear to be buying up the property (mostly in Akld) & driving up the prices. The real estate stats. seemed to show that the majority appear to be from China (or of chinese decent ?) Whilst some maybe NZ citizens or residents, there is evidence that most, are not.

    2) increasingly young kiwis are being pushed out of the property market, because it is being dominated by Foreign speculators. Many other countries already have a policy of refusing to allow ‘foreign nationals’ to buy their property (not just chinese). NZ should ‘follow suit’ !

    They also interviewed David Seymour (ACT) who also seemed to be saying “Twyford is playing the race card” BUT in his electorate there are many wealthy Chinese residents, probably ACT voters (could this be something to do with it ?)

    • 1. The reason the government has not set up a register of “property speculators” is because it is impossible to set up. Other countries have them, and they simply don’t work. Perhaps you could explain how such a register would be set up and work in practice? Because the land registry would need to be completely changed – and that is one of the most complicated government information systems there is, with titles going back to the 1860s – and you want to completely re do it.

      2. How do you know that young kiwis are being pushed out of the property market by “Foreign speculators” (sic)? While other countries have a policy preventing land ownership by foreigners, it is a completely ineffective policy. Think it through. Say you sell your house to someone – do you have to run nationality checks? And if it turns out that the buyer was a foreigner, then what then? Presumably you have to refund the money, and repossess the property, but who pays the fess…. Do you see how completely impractical this is as a policy?

      3. David Seymour is right to call out Labour for being racist. The Labour position is based (on all things) a list of names and identifying which ones sound Chinese. Of course, this is not a problem if it is South African or English or Americans… So white foreigners are not a problem for Labour, but Chinese people are.

  2. kittycatkin

     /  11th July 2015

    I don’t believe that this has anything to do with David Seymour’s stance; How can anyone know who voted for whom ? All that can be ascertained is whether someone voted or not, as we have secret ballots. If there are Chinese residents, they have just as much right to buy houses as anyone else. To be a resident, as opposed to a visitor, one has to have lived here for 18 months, i.e. not be here on a visitor’s permit. My parents, stepfather, neighbour across the road and a lot of people I know were not Kiwi born. If this rule was followed, they wouldn’t have been able to own houses, and nor would my husband.

    The idea that the market is dominated by foreign speculators has been debunked as an urban myth, but those who want to believe it will continue to do so.It doesn’t seem to occur to these people that having a non-English name doesn’t mean that one was born overseas. The Dutch people who came here in the 1950s are now grandparents, but some of their grandchildren have Dutch names-just as my maiden name wasn’t English.

    Should the grandchildren of the elderly Indian people down the road from me be forbidden to buy houses because they are obviously Indian in origin and have an obviously Indian name ? Or my friend K, whose maiden name is Chinese and who is obviously Chinese racially despite being 3rd generation Kiwi ?

    This is a variation on apartheid.

  3. Ummm – going through a list of people and using your personal opinion on who has a Chinese sounding name is NOT data analysis! It is just Rob Salmond’s personal opinion.

    That Labour doesn’t have a Research Unit anymore leads to this kind of ridiculous stuff.

    But even if there was data to show that foreign buyers were driving up property prices, then the policy to ban foreigners from entering the market is virtually impossible to police. Imagine trying to police this? Say Pete George sells his house to someone, and it turns out that the buyer was a foreigner. Does this render the sale null and void – in which case, what happens? Or what happens if Pete George sells to a NZer who puts the house in the name of a NZ registered company which is owned by overseas interests?

    So when Twyford says “policy”, what he actually means is “some harebrained nonsense I’ve just thought of.”


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