Labour’s official response on foreign buyers

There’s been a lot said via media interviews by Phil Twyford and Andrew Little about Chinese profiling used to highlight the (unknown) level of foreign purchasers in the Auckland property market.

This strategy was launched on Saturday 11 July via an interview of Twyford on The Nation.

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

Video: Interview: Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford

Twyford was subsequently interviewed by media generally, and Little joined the public discussion. Both featured in a number of media reports.

But what has Labour’s formal response been? They have issued two media releases, one each from Little and Twyford.

Time for foreign buyers register

It is time the Government set up a foreign buyers register so New Zealanders can see exactly how many of our houses offshore speculators are purchasing, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was being cute this morning when he said the Government would be collecting this data from October 1.

“From that date all house buyers will have to have a New Zealand IRD number. That is not the same as a foreign buyers register because there is no guarantee the information will be available in a way that allows public scrutiny.

“A register would provide a searchable and up-to-date database which would inform the market and public debate. Without one, the Government will simply pick and choose data to support its false claim foreign speculators only account for 1 per cent of all house sales.

“The Government must also assure New Zealanders non-resident foreign buyers purchasing properties through companies or trusts will be required to disclose overseas interest in accordance with the Overseas Investment Act which has a 25 per cent threshold.

“Kiwi families who are struggling to buy their own home want to know the impact offshore speculators are having on skyrocketing Auckland house prices. They are sick and tired of losing homes at auction to higher bidders down the end of a telephone line in another country.

“Chinese investment specialist David Mahon today said investors in China are amazed they can come to New Zealand on holiday and buy a house because they are unable to do that anywhere else.

“National needs to start listening to what the public want and set up a proper register, not another halfway measure which is becoming the trademark of this Government,” Andrew Little says.

A careful reference to “investors in China” but nevertheless still targeting one nationality.

And:

Joyce making it up on Aussie non-resident ban

Steven Joyce is at such pains to deflect attention away from his Government’s failure to address the housing crisis, he is now making up stories about Australia’s ban on non-resident house buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“The Economic Development Minister claims the Australian Federal Government’s ban is not working and it’s now trying to change it.

“However, according to Australian China Relations Institute spokesperson James Lawrenson the ‘Federal Government is happy with the rules’ and ‘if anything they’re getting tougher on enforcement’.

“In fact, an Australian Federal Parliament cross party committee has recommended giving its tax department more powers to clamp down on those using trusts and companies to pose as Australian citizens.

“Like the Australian Government, Labour believes offshore investors should have to build new homes and add to the supply of houses, instead of pricing Kiwi families out of the market.

“In recent days I have been inundated with emails of support for Labour’s policy which has also been backed by BNZ economist Tony Alexander.

“New figures out from Trade Me today show the average asking price for an Auckland home has soared by $130,950 in the past year, a whopping ten times the average increase across the rest of New Zealand.

“Aucklanders are tired of losing their homes at auctions to offshore investors down the end of a telephone line in another country. It is time the Government woke up to this,” Phil Twyford says.

While Twyford initially generalises with “non-resident house buyers” there is a only one country named via “Australian China Relations Institute spokesperson”.

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4 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  20th July 2015

    Disgraceful scapegoating for political advantage. But we are used to this from the Left. It is on a par with their destructive policies on electricity companies that cost taxpayers megabucks simply in pursuit if their own selfish political motives. Likewise their destructive campaign in the flag debate. They have zero concern for truth or the good of NZ or NZers, just for their own advancement. I excuse those of their followers who are too stupid to know what they are doing but not those who are not.

    Reply
  2. Goldie

     /  20th July 2015

    “The Economic Development Minister claims the Australian Federal Government’s ban is not working and it’s now trying to change it.”

    Twyford is telling fibs here. The FIRB failed to take action against a single foreigner between 2006 and 2014. That the ban wasn’t working was soemthing of a controversy in Sustralia last year, and it is bizarre that Twyford argues otherwise. The reason why the Australian ban was not working was simple – the rules were easy to evade and impossible to police.

    Like NZ, the isssue of soaring house prices in Sydney has recently become a political hot potato in Australia, and the Federal Government has responded with heavier fines in an attempt to be seen to be doing something. Of course, the fact that the Government is raising fines is itself an admission that the rules simply don’t work. The reality is that the Government can clamp down on foreign purchasing it likes, but there are easy ways around it and a ban is really more of a statement of nationalism rather than a practical policy.

    And it is very dishonest of Twyford to cite the ACRI as a source, when in fact the ACIR has come out with a report stating that Chinese investment is not behind Sydney house price rises, and “It’s time to slay the idea that Chinese money has been behind Australia’s real estate price boom. Maybe then we can begin tackling the real culprits such as cheap credit, limited land releases and tax breaks such as negative gearing.”

    Reply
  3. kittycatkin

     /  20th July 2015

    How astonishing. I thought that Chinese buyers were deliberately pushing the prices up so that they could pay more for houses than the houses are worth. Surely anyone with any sense would do this, and I hope that all of us here who own houses made offers way above the asking price as a matter of course. Nobody would put an asking price on a house that isn’t far below what they expect to sell it for-what an idea.

    (seriously) The old saying about the nine day wonder is a true one, so let’s hope that this new Yellow Peril incarnation’s nine days are almost up. And that the memory hangs around to make sure that this is the own goal of the century for Labour.

    Reply

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