Saturday, July 11, 2015

These aren’t the xenophobes you are looking for

Yesterday’sHerald story on the housing crisis fueled by apparent Chinese foreign investment brought out the semi-regular discussion on xenophobia on social media. Suffice to say there are a bunch extremely defensive people who say that the data justifies the apparently non-xenophobic aversion towards Chinese house buyers. Labour absolutely made the wrong move defending their untenable position of picking on Chinese names to justify a policy proposal to ban foreign purchases.

Here are some things they could have done:

1. We have been given a list of Auckland home buyers from a specific realtor and we are deeply concerned at the suggestion that somehow Chinese people are to blame for the current housing crisis. We understand that foreign home buyers include people from China, Britain, America and a number of other countries but the government refuses to collect and publish that information making it extremely difficult to assess the impact of foreign ownership on New Zealand House prices. We reject xenophobic analysis of home-buyers using Chinese last names and instead ask that the government make efforts to collect information about non-resident home ownership.

2. We are concerned about the lack of representation of Māori and Pasifika names on the list which suggests to us that any policy needs to include ways we can increase Māori and Pasifika home ownership given housing poverty among these groups are the highest in the nation. The government has continuously failed address this problem.

Labour MP Phil Twyford
3. We think there are several factors that are driving house prices up and pushing Kiwis out of ownership. The Government urgently needs to consider policy options such as restricting foreign ownership, introducing a Capital Gains Tax, and finding ways to insure that wages keep up with housing costs. The government has failed to enact evidence-based policy to deal with the housing crisis that seems to be growing at an unprecedented pace.

4. This is what Labour would do in Government [insert non-xenophobic policy proposal] and this is why we believe this will ease the crisis [insert non-xenophobic impact analysis].

But Labour did not do this. Instead they sent one of their brightest performers, Phil Twyford, to go on The Nation and defend an allegation - foreign investment is shutting Kiwis out of the housing market - by using xenophobic data analysis based on extremely unreliable and inaccurate data.

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