So here we go again, an idea thought up in the upper offices of Labour with merit, executed like those making the decisions are in their first day of politics.
I say ‘merit’ because I think many people are in agreement with the idea of foreign money (from whatever country) flooding into our housing market will indeed put pressure on locals (of any ethnicity) when it comes to buying houses. A register of international buyers is not an idea that any political party opposes and in fact National will eventually bring in and then take the kudos for doing so.
However good ideas every day, whether their good business ideas, good relationship ideas, good political ideas or any kind of ideas, fall over due to those trying to impose them. Usually with political ideas it’s the execution that fails that party and this is a classic example of that. There is also the consideration of those opposing Labour and their ability to change the narrative of the issue which National has done perfectly, but not without help.
My sources inform me that Labour gave the policy to the New Zealand Herald several days before they released it, embargoed, to fact check and prepare themselves to write about it once Labour made the issue known publicly and I am reliably informed that the Herald then leaked the information to National. What this did is give National the ability to get ahead of what Labour was doing and formulate a strategy to combat what Labour was trying to say. For future reference National poll everything, they research and get public opinion on everything which usually takes two days. If in the future National comes out with a cast iron position on a major Labour or Greens policy that is not yet in the public domain then it’s a pretty safe bet they have been leaked the information and have already tested it.
In saying all of that the way Labour has handled this information is sloppy and amateurish and even though National got ahead of the release, it still only too Lisa Owen on The Nation 8 minutes to accuse Phil Twyford and Labour of playing the race card all without the polling that National did, she came to the same conclusion.
The conversation about international money influencing our housing market is valid…very valid…but what Labour has done is basically give a green light to every red-neck, right wing, talkback calling bigot fodder to continue to treat the Asian community like second class citizens. If you don’t believe me just have a read of, Masterton native, Raybon Kan’s article from Wednesday.
And now we have groups like HouGarden.com, one of NZs biggest websites for Chinese immigrants to find property in NZ, stating that Chinese buying in NZ are looking for better education opportunities for their children, not investments as there are much better investments elsewhere. Their evidence for this is that when people are on their site some of the most searched words were “school zone, double grammar zone, Maclean, Westlake, Rangitoto and Auckland Grammar.” This again is a terrible news item for Labour but not quite as bad as the leaker of the information from Barfoots now losing his job…wonder how that will sit with the core Union member Labour supporter.
Finally, I am also dismayed that no one yet has actually offered a solution to the housing bubble in Auckland. So Labour is promising to ban international speculators, fair enough, but my question, as always, is “then what?” The average house price in Auckland is approaching $800,000 (see why we moved to Dunedin) and if this move ends up ‘correcting the market, then what about all those people who have bought in this market and just had $200,000** wiped off their equity…what about them? Or if the prices of houses still remain near $800,000 on average how are first time home buyers going to afford that?
An idea with merit that at it’s core most would support, executed poorly: Labour 2015
** arbitrary figure