Twyford admits Chinese name mistake

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford has conceded that Labour’s profiling and analysis of Chinese sounding names was “a less than masterful piece of political communication”.

It was highly embarrassing for Labour and they were strongly criticised, including from the left.

Richard Harman revealed Twyford’s admission at Politik: Phil Twyford – rebuilding after the Chinese names affair.

Mr Twyford, made a controversial entry into the debate on foreign buyers last July with his release of statistics based on Chinese sounding names of house buyers in Auckland.

Now, over six months later he is prepared to concede that it was “a less than masterful piece of political communication” and he is careful to emphasise that he is talking about non-resident foreigners.

And that was the point of it though he says that offshore money probably accounts for 5 – 10% of the housing market.

However even that amount, he argues, has an impact at the margins of what is a market facing very tight supply constraints.

So what will Labour do about housing?

In a way Labour has disarmed itself in this battle by deciding to put the capital gains tax it went into the last two elections with on the table.

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson earlier this year told POLITIK that Labour could consider extending National’s “brightline” capital gains tax out to five years.

But that’s as far as they would go.

This leaves Twyford scrambling to find a way to deal with the pervasive idea in New Zealand that property is a preferred investment option.

“Cracking down on property speculation is one of the things we have to do if we are going to turn this around,” he says.

“There is no question in my mind that there are four or five things we have to do and cracking down on speculation is one of them.

“We have said we are going to ban non-resident foreigners from speculating in housing and what we will do in Government is explore all the other legislative and policy things that currently drive vast amounts of capital into basically unproductive speculative real estate market which is damaging for home ownership and also the wider economy.”

But that’s about as specific as it gets.

“We’ve said we’re not looking at wholesale reform going into the next election,” he says.

But they also have their house building policy.

Labour plans to address those supply constraints with its Kiwibuild policy which would see 10,000 modest, “entry level” homes built every year for 10 years by Housing New Zealand onsold to private buyers.

That too poses its own challenges and Twyford concedes that the Resource Management Act is going to have to change to make it easier to build homes both within and without Auckland.

So will Labour work with National to reform the RMA?

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15 Comments

  1. rayinnz

     /  12th March 2016

    It would have been so much better if Labour had admitted this at the time or recognised before they released the figures that there was a downside to “Chinese sounding names”
    Interesting that they really only have a “we will build more houses” in their toolbox as a way of lowering Auckland housing prices
    It is worth remembering that when house values fall (and trust me they will) while buyers might get a bargain all the present owners will being taking a hair cut which will not be a vote winner

    Reply
    • kiwi guy

       /  12th March 2016

      Running an immigration policy that floods Auckland with 3rd World Vibrants and their converted dodgy renminbi definitely needs calling out.

      Labour is held hostage by Cultural Marxist ideology so they quickly back tracked after recognising their “sin”.

      Reply
      • Patzcuaro

         /  12th March 2016

        The upside to the high level of vibrant immigrants is that they have created a more vibrant food scene in NZ. They have set up vibrants, where the middle class can get a cheap & tasty feed in colourful environment.

        Reply
        • Patzcuaro

           /  12th March 2016

          I guess the only downside for the middle classes is that they might have to rub shoulders with a few Cultural Marxist who are also getting a bite to eat at the vibrant.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  12th March 2016

            Have to agree with PZ. Absent a disastrous policy intervention the shortage in Auckland cannot be alleviated quickly enough to cause a collapse. More likely is a slow correction if we can only unblock the bureaucratic dykes.

            Reply
            • Mefrostate

               /  12th March 2016

              Hopes rest on Housing NZ now in that regard.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  12th March 2016

              Why on earth do you think that?

            • Pantsdownbrown

               /  12th March 2016

              If ‘housing NZ’ is the answer you have asked the wrong question…….

    • @ rayinnz – I agree about Labour’s foolishness in this.

      I don’t think house prices will go down very much in Auckland and maybe not even at all? People talk negatively about the situation when just the rate of price increase slows, rather than continuing to rocket away in absurdum.

      According to this NBR article, the maximum median house price fall (not adjusted for CPI) since 2007 and during the GFC is -14.6%, while between 2002 – 2004 alone (just 24 months in a 6 year hyper-price-inflation period) they went up 27.2%. The long term trend is nothing but up! (The article is Jan 2014. Auckland median house price has increased to 900,000 since then I believe?)

      I suppose it doesn’t help the over-borrowed in some circumstances but the general trend is an inflationary disaster in my opinion. Check out the longer term graph 1992 – 2013?

      http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/auckland-house-prices-continue-their-relentless-rise-dc-150592

      Reply
  2. Pantsdownbrown

     /  12th March 2016

    The fact that Labour were even willing to go down this route in the first place shows a gross lack of political nous.

    If I was a labour supporter I’d be asking why exactly is Matt McCarten still Chief of staff as since his introduction the party has gone from being ‘poor’ to outright ‘abysmal’.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  12th March 2016

      If I was a Labour supporter I would stop believing in fairy Government Mothers and set about making my own and those around me lives better myself.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  12th March 2016

        Fairy GovMothers ?

        It would have been a good idea to check up that all the names that sounded Chinese really were Chinese. I suppose that they think that Brent Ching, the painter, is Chinese (he’s really Cornish) People called Ling aren’t Chinese, either !

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  12th March 2016

          Raymond Ching, I mean-I was confusing two people there.

          Reply
          • Nelly Smickers

             /  12th March 2016

            Although to be fair, I can see how some people might get confused Kitty……

            There was this silly little ditty we used to say at boarding school, “Ching Chong Chinaman, velly velly sad……” I just forget how the rest of it went now 😀

            Reply
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