Prentice: “completely and utterly wrong on the data”

Well, maybe not completely and utterly wrong but he’s a way of the mark. Perhaps he should go to Uni and do Data 101.

Lynn Prentice has damned Keith Ng’s analysis of Labour’s house sale data.

And Keith Ng is completely and utterly wrong on the data. You couldn’t get better data.

You could get much better data. Barfoot and Thompson could gather details of the ethnicity of each property buyer so they would have accurate data that didn’t rely on

The point was that it is the BEST data that is currently available because it is the only data that indicates where the money for residential properties is coming from. Therefore there is no better data.

The data doesn’t do that at all. It does indicate the probable ethnicity of about 40% of the buyers. But it indicates zero percent where the money came from.

The only other statistical data around just shows that the money for the higher total values of property sales isn’t coming from banks. It could be coming from socks as far as we can currently tell.

They could be cash buyers, Lenders may not be banks. But the data shows nothing about where the buyers came from, or where the money came from.

Keith Ng is talking crap – unless he can show a source of data that allows a similar type of analysis about money sources for purchasing residential properties.

It’s not for Ng to provide data that Labour and Prentice lack. He pointed out sever deficiencies in the claims made by Labour. He could do the same about Prentice’s assertions if he could be bothered.

At the earliest that won’t apparently happen until October, which will probably be catastrophic for our economy. By the sounds of Nationals posturing any data and analysis from that will not be public.

And that’s just posturing, based on what data? None.

Prentice is close to being completely and utterly wrong on the data.

UPDATE: And Prentice goes into more depth:

The next stage is to look for causation for high probability correlations.

Labour have pointed out the obvious causation for the huge difference between the percentages of family name segments of the population as a whole and those buying houses during this period. That is what you an many others appear to be having an issue with.

That’s one of the two big mistakes Labour made. “The obvious causation” seems to be a story Labour wanted to tell but seems to have been at best uninformed assumption. And it appears as if it is inaccurate as a number of people have pointed out (and I’l be posting another example tomorrow night).

So far I haven’t seen any alternate explanations that make any sense apart from imported overseas investment money. The money isn’t getting borrowed from local banks. It appears to be large enough to drive the kinds of crazy 25+% per annum house price increases that we have seen since 2011.

He hasn’t looked very far then, or doesn’t want to see anything else. See Chinese locals snap up 23 sections within minutes and  Who’s buying Auckland property?

What it seems to identify compared to previous economic research as recent as 2013 is that we are rapidly hitting the point where Auckland house prices are largely caused by overseas investment money buying property from other overseas investors.

It identifies nothing of the sort. Two politicians and a blogger claiming it’s so based on no evidence doesn’t make it so.

At about 40% it is freaking high, but even worse is that it appears to be rising rapidly.

Appears to be rising rapidly? The data doesn’t say that, it is only from one real estate company from three months.

That it has nothing to do with the real economic value of the land or properties themselves to our economy. That means that it will therefore almost certainly cause a nasty economic crash that will reverberate throughout the rest of NZ. Bearing in mind our current fragile economic state, that is something worth actually worrying about, and one that bears considerable real-world consequences.

You notice that what Labour actually asked for was to get some immediate data collection and analysis going on in the area of foreign investment in property? Seems rather mild compared to what I think is actually needed.

The Government has already organised better data collection, starting in October.

Probably because we have people worrying about how statistics data is collected and analysed for reasons that seem to owe more to the thoughts of Lysenko than anything vaguely rational.

Just looks like a whole pile of avoidance behaviour to me. Probably with the kinds of downstream consequences of that exercise of group thinking.

You couldn’t call Prentice’s thoughts ‘group thinking’, unless Twyford, Little and Prentice make up a group.

NOTE: Prentice appears to be in a small minority at The Standard who are prepared to defend what Labour have done and especially how they have done it. There has bee a lot of reasoned condemnation there.

Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging

Andrew Little threw a bit of a hissy fit when Patrick Gower questioned him on “cooked up data”.

Video and a short report from 3 News: Video: Andrew Little snaps over Chinese buyer data questions

The Labour leader took exception to a question that included the phrase “cooked-up data”, telling Mr Gower: “I’m not going to stand here and have a desperate TV3 reporter use inflammatory language on this. Cooked-up, what was cooked-up?!”

Mr Little added: “You don’t understand. You’re making stuff up.”

That’s also very ironic considering the way Phil Twyford followed by Little have made stuff up.

Ad it wasn’t just when the story broke last week. They are both still digging a hole, repeating made up claims that are not supported at all by the data they analysed.

Stuff report: Chinese officials concerned about Labour’s foreign buyer data

Chinese officials have raised concerns with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English about the “tone” of Labour Party data based on foreigners buying property in the overheated Auckland housing market.

There’s a number of reports of concern from Chinese ethnic groups and individials in New Zealand. Damage is still being done, but Labour keeps digging.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the analysis the party did of the Barfoot and Thompson data predicted the probability of the surnames predicting ethnic origin, and he stood by that.

“And that is it has a high level of accuracy, and the result that we came up with that 39.5 per cent of houses sold during that three month period went to people of Chinese descent.

Rob Salmond claims the surname analysis was about 95% accurate and that’s not being disputed.

“We never ever made the claim, and we made it clear that we did not go and knock on the doors of those individual people and ask them if they were foreign speculators,” Twyford said.

But Labour failed completely to quantify how many buyers might be foreign Chinese, or total foreign buyers. Littl;e said “You’re making stuff up” – that’s what he and Twyford have done.

Twyford also expressed regret that some people in the Chinese community were upset by the debate, but said it was not racist.

“A fact cannot be racist – a fact is a fact. It might make you feel uncomfortable, but we need as a country to be able to have debates about these kinds of things without allegations of racism.”

It’s not the facts that have made people uncomfortable – and angry. It’s the making stuff up on the proportion of overseas Chines buyers that has been a disaster for Labour, as they have been told over and over – but they don’t seem to want to listen.

And it’s the targeting of Chinese and ignoring everyone else, and making excuses for a bit of racial/ethnic damage.

“Yes, I do care, very much,” Little said, when asked if he cared what the Chinese government thought.

But he said the Labour Party could not be constrained about putting information into the public arena because people did not want to upset the Chinese government.

“That’s not the basis on which we conduct debates in New Zealand.”

Labour shouldn’t be trying to conduct debates by making unsubstantiated guesses (if they were even guesses, they way they continue to act on this could be an attempt to divert from deliberately misleading.

Ethnic constituents had also expressed concern to Little about the way the debate had unfolded in some areas.

“We always knew, given the nature of the information, if we released it, that was one not just possible response, but a likely response.”

So Little admits knowing that offending people would be a likely reaction.

He denied that was concern at the Labour Party’s characterisation of the data, or the way the party had conducted the debate.

Asked if he felt bad about people feeling the data was racist, Little said he was “concerned that some people have felt that because of their ethnicity they have somehow been singled out – that does concern me”.

Failing to accept any responsibility, this is worse than the ;sorry if anyone was offended’ apology, because there is no sign of any apologies.

“But then we looked at the information and what it was telling us – the gap between a 9 per cent Chinese ethnic population in Auckland and 40 per cent of the purchasers of Auckland properties over a three month period being of Chinese ethnic descent.

“That was too big of a gap to say ‘we’re too afraid to release this information’.”

It’s a pity they weren’t afraid to make stuff up about the information – they piled unsubstantiated ‘guesses’ in  a classic example of cynical wedge politics, using the New Zealand Chinese community as a scapegoat.

The Auckland market has a major problem  with the impact of non-resident foreign buyers, which the Government was ignoring, Little said.

“We’re not going to [ignore it] – as uncomfortable as it is, and as crude as our information might have been, the conclusion that the non-resident foreign buyer is having a huge impact on the Auckland housing market is real, and people are concerned about it.”

He admits the information was ‘crude’ – it wasn’t the very limited information that was crude, it was the way Labour embellished it substantially, knowing it would be a Chinese bashing that was crude.

All this has been pointed out over and over again to Labour over they last ten days. Often very  explicitly.

So I find it incredible that Twyford and Little are still pushing their divisive drivel.

And now Little has shown sign he is buckling under the pressure he has brought upon himself.  Lashing out at a journalist is just going to make things worse.

Labour have dug themselves deep on this, and now the sides of the hole are caving in on them.

I have no data to base this claim on, but I think that for every day Little and Labour continue to keep digging there will be another year before this is forgotten. If the Labour Party lasts that long.

And it’s hard to see Little becoming Prime Minister on this performance.

Ng’s response to Salmond

In response Rob Salmond’s  A week on from the housing controversy where he tries to defend his and Phil Twyford’s use of property sales data and also refers to people who have bee very critical.

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.

And:

Having said that, one group I think did not overreact – despite their strongly critical stance – was the New Zealand Chinese community, including Keith, Tze Ming, and Chuan-Zheng. Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions, and more about the impact of these revelations on ethnically Chinese New Zealanders.

Ng reacted angrily on Twitter:

New post: has been making shit up about what we’ve been saying about and his analysis.

Hey , which part of “cynical, reckless dogwhistling” made you think I was okay with ‘s intentions?

Hey , who should I talk to about getting a correction in the next issue? ‘s column grossly misrepresented what..

Salmond responded:

I will happily defend my column in the event of said formal complaints.

 Ng retorted:

Really? You think you can justify claiming that me, and “all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”?

Name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”? Cos I’m bloody sure I didn’t, and that you can’t “honest opinion” that shit.

And he re-pointed to his Public address column in response – Don’t put words in our mouths, Rob where he details his disagreement, including:

Hey Rob, don’t put the words “statistically sound, robust, and accurate” into our mouths to describe your work.

If you need clarification, let me restate it: The method is fine, the data is broken, and those problems render it unscientific and utterly useless. Not sound. Not robust. Not accurate.

I was very critical of Labour intentions and I thought I was bloody clear about it.

I said that Phil Twyford was knowingly “straight-up scapegoating” Chinese New Zealanders and offshore Chinese alike and “fueling racial division in this country”. I said it was “cynical, reckless dogwhistling”.

What part of this was ambiguous for you??? Did you think I meant “cynical, reckless, but ultimately well-intentioned dogwhistling”?

Even after a week where Labour has been trying to take the “reverse racism” highground, trying to pretend that we didn’t blame Labour is a new delusional high, Rob.

That’s fairly clear.  Even Rob should get the hint from that.

Ng went on the re-explain his thoughts on Labour’s use of the data.

 they claim their intention was to talk about offshoreness, but what they knew about offshoreness only came from “informed speculation” secondary to the main analysis about ethnicity.

And what did Rob concluded from this “informed speculation”?

My conclusion: if my prior for “is there large-scale offshore $?” were X, my posterior post these data is >X

It’s a wanky way of saying: After seeing the Chinese-sounding names evidence, he is more confident that “there is large-scale offshore Chinese buying in Auckland” than he was before. How confident was he before? And how much more confident has he become?

No, I won’t quantify it, because that would be introducing false precision to qualitative reasoning.

But here’s the problem. He is literally saying his level of certainty isunknown + unknown. Which equals, of course: unknown.

This is the statistical basis on which Twyford is out there using words like “implausible” and “very unlikely”.

Ng concludes:

That is to say, Rob believe it’s okay to use evidence which supports a claim in political debate, explicitly regardless of how weak it is. According to Rob, any shred of evidence is okay in a political debate, because that’s how political debates work.

Please do not mistake me for thinking that this is well-intentioned. This is a cynical attempt to bamboozle the media and the public by hiding your utter lack of evidence behind fancy jargon. It’s a travesty and a sad excuse for analysis. You ought to be ashamed, Rob.

Also, Sunday-Star Times: These claims Rob made about me are incorrect and defamatory. Please issue an correction in your next issue.

The comments continue to be scathing. Another of those mentioned in Salmond’s column and post, Tze Mink Mok, joined in.

I am so fucking pissed off. Rob says of me, Keith and CZ, “Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions”?? Either Rob was lying or he didn’t bother reading my column (possible): because THAT WAS MY MAIN CRITICISM. Jesus, my blog didn’t even MENTION the effects of any racist backlash on the Chinese community.

Rob’s latest column is just barefaced partisan hackery. I know Russell reposted it to encourage generate debate, but I’m embarrassed that it might be seen as an endorsement of Rob’s independence. Russell, I think that perhaps for Speaker posts it’s a good idea to include a line about the author’s political party affiliations and employment.

Seriously, this is just blatant damage control for the Labour party. Rob*lies* about the debate, and is entirely focused on framing critics of the Labour party as CRAZY and IRRATIONAL while carefully singling out three Chinese critics for praise in order to avoid accusations of racism. He’s shitting on any non-Chinese person who supported us. Because obviously, if you’re not Chinese and say exactly the same things that me and Keith said, and openly supported our positions, you must be completely irrational.

Keith, this is what happens when we fight them on the stats instead of on the solidarity. It goes “Ah yes, much respect to the Chinese who are good at stats [ignores substance of everything the Chinese people were saying because they know nobody understands stats so you can say whatever you want about what the Chinese people were saying about the stats] everybody else is CRAZY.”

And ‘Sue’ has a less emotional but no less pertinent point:

I’m so glad i don’t read sunday papers, but i’m so sad to see words twisted like that. I think what Rob Salmond and the labour party have failed to do is listen.

Listen to people who are hurt & ashamed by a party that at it’s roots is about people. They are so busy fighting to assert the rightness of what they are saying they didn’t notice they’ve exposed some seriously ingrained racism in this country. Why are they not sad & embarrassed and apologetic about the hurt and pain they are causing all the many different asian communities in NZ.

Why is that not the lead on Rob’s article, inside of an afterthought.

There’s no sign of Labour listening or learning from this yet. They keep digging the hole they have jumped into deeper. Salmond is shovelling shit.

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.

Key on Labour’s Chinese attack and property buying

John Key is back from holiday and one of the first things media asked him about was Labour’s attack on Chinese property speculators. Key suggested Labour was “desperate”, “knew it was misleading” and “it’s very different from the Labour Party I always knew”. That sounds like a well researched response, they are common views.

Stuff reported: Auckland housing data using surnames a ‘desperate’ measure – John Key

Auckland housing data using Chinese-sounding surnames released by the Labour Party was “desperate” and out of character for the Opposition, says the Prime Minister.

“It’s desperate in my view, they know the information is wrong and they know the information is misleading and they can claim whatever they want…it’s very different from the Labour Party I always knew,” John Key said

On Radio NZ: PM dismisses Labour’s housing claims

Prime Minister John Key says most of those with Chinese-sounding names investing in the Auckland housing market will be people with a genuine connection to New Zealand.

He doubted the figures were an accurate reflection of the level of Chinese interest in New Zealand housing.

“Not that many people get up in the morning who live in Guangzhou, and say randomly ‘I’m going to buy a house in Auckland’, with no connection to the country at all.

“There’ll be some, some people on that list will definitely be, in my view, as mere speculation, will have no connection to New Zealand but not very many.”

On Labour’s use of data to blame Chinese:

“They will know that people on that list, the vast bulk of them, who have Chinese surnames will be the residents or citizens, many of whom Labour will have welcomed to this country.”

See Who’s buying Auckland property?

And Key on what may help and what isn’t helping elsewhere:

The Government was compiling information on non-resident investment in the housing market, he said.

“I have always said, if the data shows that there’s a real problem and we need to consider further steps then the Government will consider those further steps.”

He said Australia’s move to stop foreigners buying anything other than new properties had not been effective in curbing rapid house price rises.

Audio: Listen to John Key on Morning Report ( 5 min 43 sec )

And then from later in the day Stuff reported in John Key tells Kiwis to look on the bright side for dairy exports and economy:

Meanwhile, Key indicated he was not concerned about the potential flood of cash from mainland China – despite Labour highlighting the level of Chinese buying in the Auckland property market.

He said capital investment from China was much lower than from Australia, the United States or the United Kingdom.

“China hasn’t been a massive investor here, so rather than be worried in some instances we’d welcome that.”

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”.

Twyford, NZ Herald, TV3 and Chinese surnames

On Thursday Cameron Slater made serious accusations of collusion of media with Labour, even story creation, against Herald on Sunday and The Nation/Mediaworks inSOMEONE ISN’T TELLING THE TRUTH AND MY PICK IS IT IS PHIL TWYFORD.

It’s quite a long (edited here) story.

Yesterday, before the ratbag agent was outed, I hypothesised that the whole story about housing in Auckland was a Dirty Media/Dirty Politics stitch up.

Firstly that the agent in question, Grant Hargrave, has denied handing any data to the Labour party, or speaking with anyone in the Labour party. He even says he doesn’t know them.

The newspaper who kicked this all off wrote:

Mr Hargrave said he did not want to be interviewed on this issue. “I very much would rather not talk about it, I’m sorry.”

But he did say that he had no idea how Labour had obtained the information he was sacked for passing on.

“I don’t know them. I don’t know the Labour people. I honestly just don’t know (how the party got it).”

So who did give the data to Labour then?

If you go back to the newspaper’s first story on the issue they said at the time:

The Weekend Herald has seen the leaked sales figures data and reviewed Labour’s methodology. The party updated its figures based on our feedback. We were not able to redo the analysis independently, as it relied on data sets such as the electoral rolls database, which is only available to political parties.

So, we know that the Herald worked with Labour before publishing the story which is surely against all journalistic ethics. When I say worked, they closely shared information and refined the data together.

We also know too that The Nation was heavily involved, because they prepped a show and arranged people to appear on it like Phil Twyford before the story was even run. That must include producer Tim Watkin.

Slater posted more commentary and quotes, heading towards:

Right now the focus should be on NZ Herald staff, in particular Anne Gibson, and staff on The Nation programme including Tim Watkin who is the producer.

They have a problem, because both outlets have shilled this data and had prepared in advance and worked with the Labour party on this data in order to get a comprehensive media uptake of the story.

And:

We have statements from Peter Thompson, denials from Grant Hargrave and contradictory statements from Phil Twyford.

All this means is that the data was laundered, by persons unknown, so far.

Hargraves handed over the data to media. The focus is now on Anne Gibson and Tim Watkin to explain how it was that they came to work with the Labour party when the leaker of the data says he never gave it to them and it was only supplied to media.

Phil Twyford has made many media statements now and they simply don’t hold water. I think it is safe to assume that he is lying about the involvement he claims about a whistleblower.

We also know that Labour data man Rob Salmond extensively worked on this data. So Labour’s involvement seems to be well after the fact and well after media got their hands on the data.

What is interesting too is the snippets of info I have gleaned today from other media sources, one of which told me that David Fisher was gloating, along with several of his fellow Herald staff members about “his” big real estate and housing story coming up. This was several weeks ago. So we know that the Herald has been working on this now for more than two weeks, possibly more.

To the final accusations:

What we have here now is the nub of the real story. That the Herald and The Nation got hold of some data, they knew that data was illegally obtained and would breach privacy laws. They needed clean hands and so they fed the data to Labour, then worked on it with them (self admitted) and then ran the story contemporaneously across their networks, all with Phil Twyford claiming that they were the source of the data all along.

We now know those claims are false and that Phil Twyford is lying at worst, or being economical with the truth at best.

What is more alarming now, given what has transpired and we have found out, is that the NZ Herald, in collusion with The Nation and the Labour party have laundered stolen data to give it a “public interest” wash, and removed themselves from the original crime of obtaining the data all to run a political hit job on the government.

There is a name for this, Nicky Hager coined it, it is Dirty Politics. It is also combined with my phrase Dirty Media.

Slater often tries to spread the Dirty tag around. To an extent it’s a fair point to make.

There simply is no other explanation for events.

Media contacts must have fed this to Labour in order to sanitise the data and give them clean hands, but the ham-fisted manner in which it begun, clearly with a trail that IT experts were able to quickly follow and then with Phil Twyford machinations have led to this unpacking on them all.

You have the largest print outlet seemingly involved in manufacturing a political story, working hand in glove with a political party and another media outlet, Mediaworks (The Nation) involved as well.

These are serious accusations against NZ Herald and Mediaworks and The Nation. They usually try their best to ignore Slater.

However Bill Ralston picked up on it on Twitter, asking questions.

Interesting ethical questions being raised about and giving the leaked housing data to @PhilTwyford

Ethical mainly although legal is also a possibility but seems nicked data is fair game.

Actually we can settle this quick. did you or Tim Watkin give the Asian housing data to ?

The Nation and producer Tim Watkin responded:

Oh that all. Not even going to honour that with a click, but FYI the data came from Labour to us

Yes we can. No. And it’s bloody insulting to suggest I’d favour a party.

Thanks for your speedy reply. Just asking the question and looking for the facts.

Sure. But you know I’d have to sack myself if so. & why think WO knows anything?

It would be unethical (& dumb) for journos to leak data to a party & dress it as its data

It seemed an astounding post and deserved your strong denial.

Mate, if I had that data, why would I give away the scoop?!

Ralston put the question to the Herald again:

Thanks for that. So did you give the data to ?

I can’t find any response from anyone from the Herald.

But Labour’s surname cruncher and data analyst Rob Salmond added:

Labour had data first & passed to both and . WO 100% wrong. Who knew, right?

While the way the Herald in particular handled the story remains questionable, depending on their degree of cooperation with Twyford/Labour, the puzzle remains about how the data got to Labour and from whom.

Twyford made it clear on a number of occasions that he dealt directly with a leaker – he describes them as a whistleblower.

Radio NZ reported in ‘Whistleblower’ sacking unsurprising – lawyer:

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the individual he worked with wanted to shine a light on a very real issue.

“The whistleblower came to me out of a sense of public interest.

“The person’s motivation was that they see a massive presence of off-shore speculators snapping up New Zealand’s homes and pushing up house prices higher and higher.”

Employment lawyer Peter Cullen said the staff member was not a whistleblower, and was justifiably sacked.

NZ Herald in Property data leak: Barfoot & Thompson staffer fired:

In a statement which did not confirm whether the fired staffer was his source, Mr Twyford said: “The whistleblower who I worked with wanted to shine a light on what is a very real issue for New Zealand – foreign investment pushing up house prices and shutting people who live here out of the property market.”

He said he had not revealed his source’s name to other Labour colleagues or staff, including leader Andrew Little. “I’m not going to reveal the identity or even speculate about the identity of the person or the firm from which the information was obtained.”

“I think the whistle-blower I dealt with did Aucklanders a favour and put this information into the domain out of a sense of public duty. I think Aucklanders owe that person a debt of gratitude.”

Under the Protected Disclosures Act, there is protection for “whistle blower” employees but it only applies in limited circumstances. It applies where an employee reveals serious wrongdoing such as corruption, conduct that poses a risk to health and safety, criminal activities or gross negligence by public officials.

But the person sacked by Barfoot and Thompson says he had not contact at all with anyone from Labour.

But he did say that he had no idea how Labour had obtained the information he was sacked for passing on.

“I don’t know them. I don’t know the Labour people. I honestly just don’t know (how the party got it).”

There’s a number of possibilities including:

  • Hargrave is lying.
  • Twyford is lying.
  • There is another leaker from Barfoot and Thompson who either had direct access to the data like Hargrave, or who received the data from Hargrave, and they passed it on to Twyford.

But:

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford, who released leaked real estate figures to the Herald, said Barfoot’s decision was “extremely disappointing”.

Why would Twyford be ‘extremely disappointed’ if he had had no contact with Hargrave. Unless perhaps he knew Hargrave had passed the data to his ‘whistleblower’.

And Twyford thinks his source/sources should be protected as if he was a journalist:

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford would not discuss the source, claiming the same confidentiality claimed by journalists. “I can’t in good conscience say anything about my sources or any of my contacts with the source and I intend to protect that confidence as you would as a journalist,” he said.

But:

University of Canterbury journalism lecturer Tara Ross said politicians did not have the same liberties in relation to confidentiality as journalists.

She said journalists answered to their audiences while politicians were vying for government. “There are plenty of occasions where material comes through an electorate MP in the first instance. It’s an important relationship.

“But it’s a difficult relationship on the basis they are a party political animal.”

And with doubt about the source of the data and how many hands it passed through it also makes dfata verification difficult:

Auckland university’s Professor Thomas Lumley – who has blogged about Labour’s analysis at statschat.org.nz – said the steps between the source of the information and the analysis raised questions about the data used.

“If there is a chain of people, you have to wonder if the numbers Labour analysed are the same numbers [that were] leaked. There’s no evidence its different but you can’t tell it’s the same.”

All this to show statistically that 39.5% of one real estate company’s sales for one three month period in one city sound Chinese.

And it started a massive debate on far more than foreign property purchases.

It’s hard to know what will come right first, the Auckland property market or Labour’s data analysis credibility or racial integrity.

The Quin response – how Labourites treat their own

The Labour Party’s decision to dump on not just all New Zealanders with Chinese ethnicity but all New Zealanders with potentially Chinese sounding names has divided their support base. Some are defending Labour’s actions, some are horrified that Labour would so blatantly play a race card.

One of the latter is long time Labourite Phil Quin who emailed his resignation to the party secretary.

Dear Mr. Barnett

In light of Labour’s calculated decision over the weekend to deploy racial profiling as a political tactic, I resign my membership of the party.

I am stunned that Labour, as a matter of conscious political strategy, would trawl through a dubiously ­acquired list of property buyers to identify Chinese­sounding names. Even as I write the words, I can scarcely believe that senior party leaders – or anyone of good conscience, for that matter – thought it an advisable course of action. That they are now defending it – even attacking Susan Devoy for her principled comments on the subject – compounds my disappointment.

I lived and worked in Rwanda for several years, including in 2014, during the twentieth commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi minority. Many of my former colleagues, still dear friends, are among the few who survived the slaughter. They taught me something about what happens when political parties start compiling lists based on ethnicity. Nothing good can come from racial profiling of the kind Labour chose to employ in pursuit of a headline and a poll bump.

Some have applauded that as a principled action.

3 News reported Labour unwavering on Chinese buyer data:

Labour is unrepentant, standing by the unlawfully leaked real estate data and its analysis, which suggests three-quarters of Chinese buying in Auckland don’t actually live in New Zealand.

“It’s always disappointing when a member resigns from the party, but the correspondence coming to my office in the last day or two has been overwhelmingly in favour,” says Mr Little.

Many of those not in favour have chosen to express their disappointment elsewhere, like Quin. His letter was posted at The Standard – Phil Quin resigns from Labour – where there was some support.

But some Labour supporters are happy to be rid of anyone who is not in their own favoured faction. It’s as if they have support to burn and don’t care about shedding stalwarts.

Here are some of the comments celebrating Quin’s resignation.

Saarbo:

Good riddance, Quin’s always been a fuckwit.

mickysavage:

He is no left wing saviour. He has attacked the party publicly for years and think we made a bad decision in keeping Helen Clark as leader. He with the Paganis are firm believers of Blairite third way politics, the sort that gave us the beneficiary on the roof speech from David Shearer.

He was also allegedly in the process of setting up an alternative left wing party and/or faction within Labour based on Progress in the UK. I suspect that we will see some more activity on this part so his self martyrdom needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

lprent:

I have never figured out what in the hell those bozos like Quinn were trying to achieve. Sort of socially conservative basher with a rather strange crony capitalistic bent. But I really suspect that it has more to do with some kind of “I want power/I love the game” leverage than actual thought through convictions.

Anyway, I’d be rather pleased to see them fade to obscurity.

leftie:

In my humble opinion, it is no great loss this pretender has resigned. Labour is better off.

Thom Pietersen:

Agreed – part of the ideological nutbar PC brigade – Labour – working people, working, not bloody bludging. Maybe he could join the elitist arse sitting privileged geoglobal money party (I’d bang in a bit of totalitarianism – if people would keep shtum about the price of a TV).

Irascible:

In all my years in the Labour Party I’ve never met, heard or seen Phil Quin taking an active or positive role at any level. Anything I’ve ever heard about him has been derogatory and derisory. His resignation should, therefore be seen for what it is, grandstanding by a nonentity in an effort to rebuild his often ignored ego.

Anne:

Glad he’s gone and I hope he takes his right-wing third way friends (eg. Josie Pagani) with him. They can set up their own little think tank and run down Labour (as they have been doing for a very long time) ad infinitum.

Sanctuary:

+100 Anne

All this has done is given the likes of Quinn and whole pile of other middle class, identity politics Blairist ex-Labour types the fig leaf they needed to start honest about the fact they nowvote National. Bye bye, you won’t be missed.

Paul:

So hardly a loss then.

Mark:

Well if thats all it took to get rid of that prick, the Labour Party should have done it ages ago. Now if we were really lucky Josie might join her good friend. That would be the icing on top.

KK:

Good riddance.

Jenny Kirk:

Great to see him go ! He’s just a parasite and rightwing with it.

ankerawshark:

 Good the issues has forced the resignation of Phil Quin.

Te Reo Putake:

Glad he’s gone, wish he’d gone a long time ago. National and ACT are his ideological home and they’re welcome to him. The NZ Labour party doesn’t need constant undermining from people who use their membership as a device to destroy the party from within. It’s cheap, cowardly and dishonest.

Good riddance, Phil. You were very, very average.

G C:

Bye Phil bye – nobody cares

geoff:

Phil Quim quits……and nothing of value was lost

keyman:

never heard of him so wont miss him sounds like a twat

Blue:

Good riddance to Quin – that’s probably the only bright spot to come out of this fiasco.

whateva next?

ad nauseum rather! Labour is about co operation, cohesion and compromise, not a federation of self interested separatists. Time to sort the wheat from the chaff.

A highly ironic comment.

Labour sort of need all the wheat, chaff, oats and barley that they can get don’t they? Or will those remaining be happy being a 20% party?

Improving tax compliance on capital gains

In the past Labour MPs have repeatedly claimed and implied that property speculators don’t have to pay tax on capital gains. A year ago then leader David Cunliffe and finance spokesperson David Parker both pushed this fallacy. From Cunliffe and Parker repeat claims on property speculation:

David Cunliffe in a speech to Young Labour:

We have too many children who are getting sick because they live in cold, damp, cramped houses with black mould growing up the walls. Sometimes owned by speculators who just push the rent up while getting rich on tax-free capital gains.

David Parker on The Nation:

“You need to tax the speculators….capital gains tax”
“Loan to valuation ratios would not be needed if they were taxing speculators and building affordable homes.”
“National Party, despite the fact that we had 40 percent house inflation, they’re not doing anything about it. Not taxing speculators…”

Presuming they must have known that IRD does pursue compliance on taxing the capital gains of speculators this looked dishonest.

It’s good to see that Andrew Little seems to be either more informed or more honest. He recently suggesting that the Reserve Bank target speculators as reported in Focus on spec buyers: Little

 Mr Little said the Government must take action on property speculators who were damaging the housing market.

Mr Little is known to not favour the introduction of a capital gains tax, something Labour had campaigned on in the last two elections and lost.

Mr Little said there were several options the Government could take to prevent property speculators building up large housing portfolios and pushing up house prices.

First home buyers, or those who wanted a rental property for retirement, were being shut out of the market by lending restrictions that should be targeted at property speculators who sometimes owned 10 to 20 houses and sat on them, he said.

”The solution needs to focus on Auckland. There is no point in a family trying to buy a house in Wanganui, where prices are dropping, being subject to lending restrictions designed to lower house price inflation.”

Another solution could be those buying multiple properties needing a higher level of equity for subsequent purchases, he said.

But the most important action was to build more houses to increase supply.

He’s on the same page as National in seeing the need to increase the supply of houses. And I’d expect him to agree with Bill English in his approach in IRD to clamp down on speculators.

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday rejected calls by the Reserve Bank to remove tax incentives for investment housing, which the bank has blamed for rising house prices in Auckland. But he said there was an ongoing discussion about whether the Inland Revenue Department could be doing more to enforce existing rules on property trading.

Mr English said there was already a tax in place for people who bought property with the aim of reselling it.

And with real estate agents and buyers reporting high levels of trading activity in Auckland, “there is a question of whether that should give rise to further enforcement activity”.

Speculators are already taxed, when the IRD can determine that they have been speculating.

At present, speculators have to declare that they are buying a house with the intention of reselling it. They are then taxed on the sale.

The IRD scrutinises property transaction records to make sure people are complying with this rule. In particular, it looks at how quickly a house is sold and the number of houses a person is selling.

Figures released by the IRD showed that $52.4 million was collected in 2013/2014 from speculators or traders – either from one-off speculative transactions or patterns of dealing. This figure is expected to increase in 2014/15. The IRD has already collected $63.2 million.

So IRD are addressing speculation and their tax take is increasing.

Any potential changes to the IRD’s resources would be announced as part of the Budget on May 15.

That suggests that the rules are seen as sufficient but that more resources may be provided to improve compliance with tax on capital gains when speculating.

Labour policies could help property speculators

Labour’s monetary and tax policies could benefit property speculators in several ways, despite continued claims by leader David Cunliffe and finance spokesperson David Parker that under National speculators are not taxed (they are taxed, see Property speculators are taxed).

Cunliffe “Speculators…getting rich on tax-free capital gains”.

Parker: ““National Party, despite the fact that we had 40 percent house inflation, they’re not doing anything about it. Not taxing speculators…”.

Reducing lending rates, exempting family homes from Capital Gains Tax and lower rates of CGT could all benefit property speculators by reducing their costs and tax.

Reduced lending rates

In Labour’s Monetary Policy Upgrade announced yesterday they said they would allow for increasing Kiwisaver contributions to help keep the official cash rate (and lending rates) lower.

Give the Bank a new tool to adjust universal KiwiSaver savings rates as an alternative to raising interest rates. This would mean Kiwis would pay money to their retirement savings instead of higher mortgage payments to overseas banks.

Property speculators who borrow money to fund their property developments and house purchases will benefit from lower interest rates.

Family home exempt CGT

In his policy speech yesterday yesterday David Parker reiterated that family homes would be exempt CGT.

Our capital gains tax pushes against the tax bias which currently encourages capital into the speculative sector at the cost of the productive sector.

In addition to improving the economy, this will make the tax system fairer, and will take pressure off house prices.

As in most other countries, it will not cover owner occupied homes. The family home will be exempted.

A common way of property speculating and dealing is to purchase a home and live in it (as a family home), do it up, then sell it to benefit from a capital gain.

In Mistaking property dealing for property investment Inland Revenue make it clear that currently purchasing a ‘family home’ with the intention of reselling it is speculating and is taxable.

Some property buyers refer to a “buy and flick” strategy. This approach is most likely to mean you are a property speculator or dealer for tax purposes.

If one of your reasons for buying a property is to resell it, whether you live in it or rent it out, you’re speculating in property and your profit is likely to be taxable.

Labour would appear to exempt this type of speculating from CGT.

Reduced CGT rate

Inland Revenue state:

Dealers and speculators must pay income tax on any gain they make from reselling their property.

If that is replaced by a Capital Gains Tax it could reduce the rate they are taxed. Labour’s proposed CGT rate is 15%.

Income tax rates for individuals (excluding ACC Earner Premium):

  • up to $14,000 10.5 cents
  • from $14,001 to $48,000 17.5 cents
  • from $48,001 to $70,000 30 cents
  • $70,001 and over 33 cents

Any earnings at all (not just from property speculating) over 14,000 are currently taxed at a higher rate than the proposed CGT.

Note: it’s not clear exactly how Labour would handle these situations. Their monetary policy and CGT could be modified with exceptions and additional requirements.