Labour’s hous­ing pol­icy ‘po­ten­tially racist’

Central Leader - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

The pres­i­dent of a na­tion­wide or­gan­i­sa­tion that rep­re­sents Chi­nese mi­grant groups says David Shearer’s hous­ing pol­icy is ‘‘pick­ing on’’ Asian peo­ple.

How­ever, Labour MP Ray­mond Huo says ‘‘pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of Kiwi home buy­ers’’ has noth­ing to do with race.

Late last month Labour leader David Shearer an­nounced a pol­icy that would re­strict the abil­ity of non-res­i­dents to pur­chase New Zealand houses as part of its pack­age to help Kiwi first-home buy­ers.

Mr Shearer says IRD records show more than 11,000 over­seas in­vestors own New Zealand properties that they don’t re­side in.

‘‘This pol­icy will re­duce de­mand and help take some of the heat out of the mar­ket. It will put Kiwi buy­ers at the front of the queue,’’ he says.

How­ever, the pres­i­dent of the NZ Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion Vir­ginia Chong is con­cerned the pol­icy is tar­get­ing Asian buy­ers.

Mrs Chong says there is a flawed per­cep­tion that Chi­nese na­tion­als are out-bid­ding Ki­wis in the Auck­land hous­ing mar­ket.

The sec­ond gen­er­a­tion New Zealan­der says peo­ple just see Asian faces in the auc­tion rooms and as­sume that they are for­eign­ers.

‘‘It’s all very well say­ing it’s Asians who have pushed up the price but I don’t think it’s Asians, we are just a con­ve­nient fob-off,’’ the Epsom res­i­dent says.

She says while they pol­icy may Band-Aid the prob­lem, it will not have any long-term ef­fect.

‘‘From my per­spec­tive it’s po­ten­tially racist and it’s con­trary to ex­ist­ing free trade agree­ments,’’ she says.

The pol­icy is based on the Aus­tralian and Hong Kong mod­els, as well as the ex­pe­ri­ences in Shang­hai and Bei­jing, Labour’s eth­nic af­fairs spokesman Ray­mond Huo says.

‘‘Those mod­els have be­come a well-ac­cepted prac­tice in China and other coun­tries to tackle sim­i­lar hous­ing un­af­ford­abil­ity is­sues.’’

Mr Huo says Labour makes no apolo­gies for putting Kiwi home buy­ers, in­clud­ing res­i­dent Asian and eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, ahead of off­shore spec­u­la­tors.

‘‘It is a shame that some have at­tempted to make this a race is­sue. Labour is fo­cus­ing on the real is­sue which is hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity,’’ he says. ‘‘Pro­tect­ing the in­ter­ests of Kiwi home buy­ers has noth­ing to do with race and our res­i­dent Asian and eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties ac­tu­ally stand to gain from this pol­icy.’’

Mr Huo says he has re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from mem­bers of New Zealand’s Asian com­mu­nity.

The pol­icy sits along­side the party’s Kiwi-build pol­icy to con­struct 100,000 af­ford­able homes over the next 10 years for first-time buy­ers. It has also com­mit­ted to in­tro­duce a Cap­i­tal Gains Tax and tax prop­erty spec­u­la­tion.

The Green Party is sup­port­ing the move to make hous­ing more af­ford­able for New Zealan­ders.

‘‘This is a sen­si­ble mea­sure that will help re­duce de­mand and lower prices mean­ing more New Zealan­ders can own their own home,’’ coleader Rus­sel Nor­man says.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Con­cerned: NZ Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Vir­ginia Chong says pol­icy to re­strict for­eign­ers from buy­ing New Zealand homes is ‘‘po­ten­tially racist’’.

Com­mit­ted: Labour MP Ray­mond Huo says the party’s pol­icy is to pro­tect Kiwi home buy­ers and has noth­ing to do with race.

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