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. Juwai.com, 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

NZ First firmly against foreign ownership

In a Q & A interview this morning Winston Peters confirmed that NZ First had a firm policy against foreign ownership.

Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged

Winston Peters has sent a strong signal that his party would stop foreigners buying property in New Zealand.

The New Zealand First leader says it has always been the party’s bottom line for NZ housing and farmland to be for New Zealand people. He said he would adopt the same view as China where foreigners cannot buy property but can lease it for 70 years.

Mr Peters told Q+A this morning NZ First doesn’t want NZ land to be “owned by everybody around the world – and absentee-owned at that”.

Edited video:  (Source: Q and A) Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged (0:46)

Full interview: Peters – Polls don’t tell the real story (11:10)

Peters didn’t quite say this would be non-negotiable post-election but made it clear it was a high priority policy for NZ First. He said people should check the NZ First policy. I checked for policy and other references to foreign ownership.

Policy: Housing

Ensure that New Zealand’s housing stock is restricted to New Zealanders

  • Non-residents who are not New Zealand citizens would be ineligible for home ownership except if a genuine need to do so can be demonstrated.
  • The terms and conditions upon which existing approvals by the Overseas Investment Commission for the ownership of land by non-residents would be fully monitored and enforced.

Policy: Primary Industries

  • An end to land sales to foreign interests, and policies to ensure the retention of the farming sector in the ownership of New Zealand resident and New Zealand farmers.

Policies updated 20 March 2014.
Further updates in the 2014 election campaign.

Members Bill: Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide vital information on the extent of foreign ownership of New Zealand. This Bill proposes a comprehensive register of all foreign owned land in New Zealand. The register will record names and nationalities, the amount of land and value of land, and the regions in which the land is situated. Purchasers will provide the information for the register.

Media Release: Going Going Gone – The Kiwi Family Farm

19.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“To allow one foreign company to buy 29 farms is a sin,” says Rt Hon Winston Peters, in reference to the sale of 13 Synlait Farms in Canterbury to a majority-owned Chinese company which was also allowed to buy the 16 Crafar farms.

“This is not foreign investment, it is the transfer of Kiwi wealth in wholesale quantities.

“Many of our family farms are disappearing. Young would-be farm owners are being priced out of ownership as foreigners are allowed to buy-up blocks of farms in one go.

“This Government clearly favours foreign ownership over ordinary New Zealanders and their dreams of doing well on the land.

“It is not a fair go for New Zealanders. There is no reason why these farms could not have been sold individually giving Kiwis a more competitive chance at ownership.

“The end of the treasured Kiwi farm, as the backbone of the economy, is nigh unless we say no to more farm sales to non-resident foreigners,” says Mr Peters.

Media Release: Another Rubber Stamp For Foreign Buy-Up

04.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“New Zealand First wants a halt to sales of farmland to non-resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: New Zealand First Says No More Farm Sales To Non Resident Foreigners

09.11.2013
Richard Prosser

New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of New Zealand farmland to non resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: Go Buy American Farms Harvard

03.05.2013
Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First has criticised the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for allowing Harvard University to buy a big dairy farm in Otago.

Media Release: Keep Crafar Farms, Appeals Winston Peters

04.04.2012
Rt Hon Winston Peters

Rt Hon Winston Peters has made a last ditch appeal for the government to keep the Crafar farms in the hands of New Zealanders where they belong.

This confirms a consistent opposition to foreign ownership.

Despite this we will have to wait until after the election before we find out whether NZ First get a chance to negotiate to play a part in the next government, and if they do whether foreign ownership of houses and land is a part of any policy agreements.