We’ve been here before. Labour’s new housing policy has ‘closed the circuit’. Via RNZ:
Labour’s political opponents say its promise to crack down on overseas investors buying houses in New Zealand is desperate, xenophobic and racist.
Labour said on Sunday that if elected, it would try to drive down house prices by barring non-residents from buying existing houses, flats or apartments.
Vacant land could be purchased only if buyers committed to building a house on it.
Australians would be exempt due to a reciprocal deal.
But Housing Minister Nick Smith said there is no evidence to suggest that foreign ownership has any effect at all on house prices and the policy is a desperate ploy to win votes.
ACT said the policy is racist, anti-investment and anti-Chinese. It says high house prices are caused by lack of land supply – not foreigners buying property.
The strategy here is that when critics of the policy go on the news and call it racist, voters who support the policy feel that they’re being called racist – which they aren’t, some of their best friends etc – so they feel solidarity with the politician and party advocating the policy. Rumour has it the policy was incredibly popular with soft-National voters in Labour’s focus groups. It’s also Green and NZFirst policy, so Labour can’t lose any votes to their competitors over it. (Being in charge of Labour’s policy development – Go to Green Party website. Copy. Paste – seems like nice work if you can get it.)
Is it racist? I don’t know. I’d like to see some actual data on whether this is really a problem instead of anecdotes about there being loads of Asians at Auckland property auctions. I do know that any time a political party in New Zealand wants to boost its position in the polls it’s always by legislating against someone. In the National Party under Brash it was Maori, under Key its beneficiaries, and now Shearer’s ‘cracking down’ on foreign property investors – a less vulnerable group than solo mums, sure – but its still a depressing trend.