Labour’s housing policy ‘potentially racist’
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.
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.