Salmond defends data analysis but gets hammered again

Rob Salmond analysed the Auckland house sales data for Labour and he, Twyford and Labour were hammered for making unsupported assumptions and for targeting Chinese buyers.

Salmond is still trying to defend his analysis and Labour’s use of the data, and is still getting hammered.

He had a column printed in the Sunday Star Times and republished it at Public Address – A week on from the housing controversy

Last week, Labour released figures indicating ethnic Chinese recently purchased 39.5% of Auckland homes, while the Auckland population is only 9% ethnically Chinese.

Not surprisingly, there was much scrutiny of this decision, and the analysis that lay behind it.

I did the data work for this story, and I stand by both the analysis and by Labour’s decision to raise this issue of offshore real estate investment in Auckland .

Labour cares about this because the Kiwi dream of home ownership is rapidly slipping away from young New Zealanders of all ethnicities. Labour wants more restrictions on offshore real estate investment, in order to protect that part of the Kiwi lifestyle.

So far, the Government’s inaction and half-measures are only making the problem worse.

If releasing these data gets us any closer to protecting that dream for all New Zealanders, it did a good thing.

Salmond starts by standing by “both the analysis and by Labour’s decision” – but the launches into repeating political talking points. Is he a data analyst or a propaganda perpetuator?

After I published Labour’s method online, Keith Ng, Tze Ming Mok, and Chuan-Zheng Lee – all skilled analysts, all otherwise critical on this topic – all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate.

As comments and a counter post by Ng shows – Don’t put words in our mouths, Rob – this didn’t go down well.

Of course, they and others retained other criticisms of our work, relating to the steps after the main data analysis. I’ve engaged with them online through the last week, addressing their concerns and presenting additional data to support Labour’s conclusions.

Other commentators, however, have demeaned themselves with cartoonish hyperbole. Phil Quin resigned his role as Labour’s resident fly-in-its-own-ointment while comparing the data release to the Rwandan genocide. That’s obviously absurd. Anyone repeating his claim showed the same lack of perspective.

Their overreaction was mirrored, in less extreme forms, by others on the left of New Zealand politics.

Many were quick to accuse Labour of overt racism, despite Labour’s proud record on race relations in New Zealand.

Labour’s intention was always to talk about offshore money, and never to conflate ethnicity with nationality, or to make life more fraught for any group of New Zealanders.

Yeah, right. There has been a lot of justified scepticism. If they didn’t consider the possibility of the racism card being seen to be played they are incompetent.

In some of the reaction, self-appointed experts decided Labour had lost all its principles entirely, and instantly transformed itself into a pack of nihilist, racist, poll-driven Machiavellis. Those same activists decried those same Labour MPs in 2014 for being too PC, and too consumed with identity politics.

The kneejerk, instant 180-degree shift in their long-held assessment betrays how little thought went into it.

Generalised attacks on people from the left who had genuine concerns about what Labour did invited strong condemnation. And that was delivered in the comments.

For some of those activists, I’ve come to the disappointing view that the only thing they enjoy more than progressive change is criticizing the pragmatic agents of that change.

“Pragmatic agents of that change” is a nonsense self description.  Racist misreprenters of data is closer to the mark.

I want to be clear on this: Nobody should read anything in our data analysis as being critical of Kiwis who happen to have Chinese ethnicity. I do not see them as part of the offshore real estate speculation issue. Far from it. They are among its victims, along with every other family trying to buy the roof over their head in Auckland.

That’s not what many people have seen and heard. Trying to defend the indefensible just digs the Labour hole deeper.

Salmond should stick to counting names – perhaps he could try counting the names of Labour MPs who are comfortable with what he and Labour have done.

The tone of condemnation in comments should be a lesson to Salmond, Phil Twyford and Andrew Little, but they don’t seem to want to hear.

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  1. “If they didn’t consider the possibility of the racism card being seen to be played they are incompetent.”

    Pete – if you have a look at the first interviews Little did to camera on this, you will clearly see at least one reporter ask did you consider this would be seen as racist. To which, if I recall correctly, he said they did but considered the information so important they felt they had to get it out there.

    So in my opinion, they knew full well that this was dog whistle politics and calculated risk/reward then went for it…..

    Seeing Rob Salmond and Keith Ng going at each other clearly shows Labour have cocked up. Why would you not have presented this INTERNALLY to selected party types, including a chunk of loyal Labour members of chinese descent, and worked out the kinks? They obviously didn’t and it was for a calculated reason….

    Hopefully this minor tempest turns in to a full blown hurricane of Katrina size for Twyford and Little

  2. traveller

     /  21st July 2015

    Once upon a time Labour was a party that served a broad based NZ and claimed the voice of principle, reason and above all they championed the marginal. Now they’ve painted themselves (white and male) as the marginal – and it’s all thanks to cheerleader Twyford, 8% Andrew Little and the incompetent spin of Salmond!
    It’s clear to any reasonable person that for political gain Labour resorted to the worst sort of racial profiling and that they’ve now entrenched their position as the party of bigots and xenophobes. Where is the voice of reason within Labour? There is nobody but apologists it seems. The only dissenting voice is pretty well ethnic Chinese New Zealanders and the voice of Labour in the broader media are damned by their lack of condemnation.

    • To be fair there are a few Labour types over on the standard [one posting under Tracey in particular] who have called this out, but a lot of them have pulled the blinkers on and are backing Twyford to the hilt.

      The broad church is dead in Labour, the Left as is its want are fracturing in parties with different slants on socialism and collectivism


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