The Dim-Post

July 12, 2015

What we talk about when we talk about Chinese people

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 12:07 am

Today the Herald published a number of stories about:

The first picture has emerged of Chinese buying patterns in Auckland’s pressure-cooker housing market — and it suggests a powerful, big-spending influence.

Real-estate figures leaked to the Labour Party, which cover almost 4,000 house sales by one unidentified firm from February to April, indicate that people of Chinese descent accounted for 39.5 per cent of the transactions in the city in that period.

Yet Census 2013 data shows ethnic Chinese who are New Zealand residents or citizens account for just 9 per cent of Auckland’s population.

Cue a twitter and blogosphere storm in which people accused the Herald and Labour (mostly Labour) of race-baiting using misleading statistics. Keith Ng wrote this. Rob Salmond replied.

Let me back way up here and talk about what’s driving (some) of the interest in Chinese investment in Auckland property. Back in 2008 New Zealand signed a free trade deal with China. They quickly became our largest export market. We’ve never had a relationship like that with a country like China before. Their economy is more than fifty times larger than ours. It’s been growing at an insane rate, and it’s heavily protected but slowly opening up (the boom and bust in their stock exchange in the last few months is due to the recent legalisation of margin trading). We’re like a goldfish swimming alongside an aircraft carrier.

So our new relationship with China is going to impact on New Zealand and our unusually unprotected and unregulated economy in lots of different ways that no one predicted when the trade agreement was signed. Some of them might be good, others might be bad. A lot of people suspect that’s what’s happening in the Auckland property bubble – which almost everyone agrees is bad – is that speculation from investors in China are driving the price increases. But there’s been no way to tell because until a couple weeks ago the government refused to collect data on the residential status of property investors. All of the arguments have been based on anecdotal evidence which National has always dismissed as race-baiting.

Labour reckons that their leaked real estate data indicates that a large number of home buyers are Chinese, disproportionate to the population. The problem with that, as people have been tweeting at them all day, is that their statistical analysis also captures (a) New Zealanders of Chinese descent and (b) migrants from China, all of whom have as much right to buy houses in New Zealand as anyone, but the tenor of the stories strongly implies that they don’t, and that there’s something wrong with people from those groups buying houses in Auckland.

Politicians know that this kind of race-baiting really resonates with a huge section of the population. This is a country in which people were confiscating car keys off Asian drivers just a few months ago with the media and police cheering them on. So when a politician says ‘I’m not trying to be racist . . .’ and then says something that lots of Chinese people find deeply offensive I don’t think they should have the benefit of the doubt. It’s not up to Twyford (or me) to say whether he’s being racist or not – that’s a decision for Chinese New Zealanders, and a lot of them seem very offended. And in these cases the offense is usually intended. It’s baked into these kinds of tactics – accusations of racism ‘close the circuit’ in comms speak and amplify the story, winning sympathy with voters who think that the big race problem in New Zealand is white people being falsely accused of racism.

On the other hand, I do find the logic of what Labour are trying to say fairly convincing. In his post Keith converts the percentages in Labour’s analysis into raw numbers and seems to think that demolishes Twyford’s argument, but I think he’s wrong. I haven’t done a big fancy regression analysis to figure out the likelihood that the sales in Labour’s dataset can be accounted for by Auckland’s resident ethnically Chinese population, but I think the chance is very small. Maybe Labour’s right? Maybe a lot of the buyers in their data are foreign based Chinese investors?

Unfortunately we can’t tell based on what we’ve got. But we do need to figure out a way to talk about the ongoing impact of China on New Zealand without (a) the entire conversation being written off as racist or (b) offending Chinese New Zealanders. Feels like Labour’s just set us back aways there.

100 Comments »

  1. Speaking as a direct descendant of Canto gold miners in Central Otago, Phil Twyford, who’s one of the more capable of the Labour caucus, has rightly identified a hot-button issue. But in seemingly tarring overseas Chinese with the speculator brush, the delivery seems to have cracked a nut with a sledgehammer.

    If I were Twyford, I’d have simply mentioned a stamp duty would be levied on all house buyers without citizenship or permanent residency. That would avoid mentioning any specific ethnicities, and it would remain the capital controls issue it should be instead of turning into a racial one.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 12, 2015 @ 12:56 am

  2. I should also add that in Australia, non-residents can buy a house with no strings attached, so long as they build a new one. That approach basically favours greenfields investment from a clean sheet, as opposed to the brownfields investment of buying up existing assets that NZ has seen more than its fair share of.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 12, 2015 @ 12:59 am

  3. But we do need to figure out a way to talk about the ongoing impact of China on New Zealand without (a) the entire conversation being written off as racist or (b) offending Chinese New Zealanders.

    Well the centre left can’t.

    Comment by NeilM — July 12, 2015 @ 1:35 am

  4. I do happen to remember that last Auckland housing market surge and there was no talk then of evil Chinese. And recently there’s been a big turn around in kiwis coming back from oz and Auckldnd as a city has reached that tipping point of size where growth increases because of what a city can offer in terms of niche lifestyle. Like Sydney etc.

    But keep on with the Chinese line if you want, if it suits your politics but maybe own up to what your saying.

    Comment by NeilM — July 12, 2015 @ 1:42 am

  5. Is there really a need to balance Chinese people’s desire not to be offended with the need for people to have this “discussion” without being called racist?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 12, 2015 @ 2:32 am

  6. It’s not about Auckland housing or Labour MPs or any of our own Lilliput politics, but a useful test is to ask people you know to name five famous (living) citizens of the PRC. As opposed to the thousands of Americans we could name from movies, music, and the rest of the celeb world. It’s a test that many (most?) Kiwis can’t meet. “Five? The basketball guy? Jackie Chan? Deng Xiaoping?”.

    We have a hugely important and complex relationship with a country and people that we barely know. Until that changes, don’t expect our politicians to. They reflect public opinion, which is public ignorance.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — July 12, 2015 @ 3:13 am

  7. Wow, I didn’t detect any racism. I did see that they included a few Korean names as Chinese though (Kim, Lee).

    Comment by Korakys — July 12, 2015 @ 4:49 am

  8. This issue has nothing to do with the free-trade agreement. Investment from China was also believed to have fuelled the housing booms of the mid 1990s (which Winston Peters exploited with his Howick speech) and in the early to mid 2000s.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — July 12, 2015 @ 6:26 am

  9. If Labour (Winston Peters) want to start a serious discussion about foreigners buying homes (immigration) maybe they should stop using the language and ideas of racist dog whistling (racist dog whistling).

    Comment by Thomas Beagle (@thomasbeagle) — July 12, 2015 @ 7:40 am

  10. We can have a housing conversation – Greenfields, brownfields, density, RMA planning requirements, transport etc.
    We can have an investment conversation – small sharemarket and limited secondary opportunities, capital inflows vs outflows and net investment balance, impact of Basel 2 regulations on incentives for banks to favour housing (housing treated preferentially on banks capital adequacy requirements).
    We can talk economic development – are we using capital inflows to support new business start up, in particular in diversifying the economy e.g., IT, Engineering or moving up the dairy value chain.

    All of these are important and good conversations that relate to the opportunities coming from having people wanting to live or invest in New Zealand.

    None of these require anyone to ever say “look foreigner – fear the other”.

    Now either Labour has done some research and it says have if you alienate all these people, you will get x extra votes, or they haven’t done that research and have just gone for alienating potential voters in order to grab voters from NZF, who may never switch their votes because NZF offers the real deal on race baiting.

    So either Labour is deliberate in its racism, or simply stupid. Neither is a positive for Labour.

    National gets to assume moral high ground, collect new voters from migrants looking for shelter from racism or retain electoral strength by left aligned voters not voting.

    Comment by WH — July 12, 2015 @ 7:47 am

  11. New Zealand is at the bottom of the Pacific Rim, Auckland is essentially the last stop, cheap ,easy to buy into with massive returns. Billionaire Chinese investors will start to deal those properties amoungst themselves and cut New Zealanders right out of the picture,eventually we will become a minority in our own country, not racism – economic reality.

    Comment by Woz — July 12, 2015 @ 10:51 am

  12. I’d considered accepting that the policy wasn’t a dog-whistle, but then I read comment #11.

    Comment by AVR — July 12, 2015 @ 11:28 am

  13. “A lot of people suspect that’s what’s happening in the Auckland property bubble – which almost everyone agrees is bad – is that speculation from investors in China are driving the price increases.”

    You’re appeal to “almost everyone” in the absence of an argument is telling. What is the problem here? They can’t dig them up and ship them offshore. In a market with functioning supply it is a net positive – we can build more houses paid for by foreign investment (even if the foreign money doesn’t specifically go into new builds, this would be the effect. In a supply constrained market, it is a zero sum game – between renters and owner occupiers. The former is generally poorer, and so favouring the latter tends to be regressive. Or are we in favour of middle class political capture?

    Comment by Matthew W — July 12, 2015 @ 11:29 am

  14. Some time ago the Government of the day said , if you have a business plan and can invest a couple of million you can come to New Zealand and get residency. That piece of legislation opened a Pandora’s box. There are a million billionaires in China and there a many factors which make Aucklands location very attractive. A particular race could overwhelm a city by Stealth and Wealth. The Colonial establishment which has controlled NZ for the last 150 years is now being de-stabilised by world players with very deep pockets.

    Comment by Woz — July 12, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

  15. In his post Keith converts the percentages in Labour’s analysis into raw numbers and seems to think that demolishes Twyford’s argument, but I think he’s wrong.

    I think so too. Twyford’s point is that it’s unlikely that the 9% of Auckland’s residents in this ethnic group are buying nearly 40% of the houses in Auckland, so it’s reasonable to suspect a lot of non-residents are buying those houses. Keith Ng says the raw numbers show it is possible for that 9% to buy that many houses, but Twyford’s point stands – it’s unlikely when you look at the percentages. The issue here is about cashed-up non-residents driving a property bubble, not some kind of yellow peril dog whistle to voters.

    Of course, if Labour didn’t want to lay itself open to charges of racist dog whistling, maybe it would have been a good idea not to go to the media with a story that consists of a White guy saying he’s been combing the records for Chinese-sounding names and found altogether too many of them. How would they expect that to play out?

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 12, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

  16. We’re like a goldfish swimming alongside an aircraft carrier.

    Let’s not get carried away! That’s a difference of about one hundred million fold. It’s more like a goldfish compared to a large pike. Which is important because goldfishes and aircraft carriers have little to do with each other, on account of such a ludicrous difference in scale, whereas a goldfish is a small snack for a pike, and something that it most likely would eat if it could.

    On the other hand, I do find the logic of what Labour are trying to say fairly convincing. In his post Keith converts the percentages in Labour’s analysis into raw numbers and seems to think that demolishes Twyford’s argument, but I think he’s wrong. I haven’t done a big fancy regression analysis to figure out the likelihood that the sales in Labour’s dataset can be accounted for by Auckland’s resident ethnically Chinese population, but I think the chance is very small. Maybe Labour’s right? Maybe a lot of the buyers in their data are foreign based Chinese investors?

    Yes, word on all that. It doesn’t seem to me entirely crazy, even though the race-baiting alarm goes off. It screams of a need for more data. It suggest that people who now seriously try to maintain that there isn’t massive Chinese investment going on in Auckland are on the back foot. It’s one thing to say that they should be allowed, and quite another to say that they already are doing it on a large scale and we shouldn’t have any concerns at all about that.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 12, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

  17. “This is a country in which people were confiscating car keys off Asian drivers just a few months ago with the media and police cheering them on.”

    Just to be fair to Police, does anyone have a reference for this claim?

    I remember that a *555 operator apparently supported a caller’s confiscation of someone’s keys after it was described that they were driving extremely dangerously. On public reflection with the ensuing media feast, senior Police staff were walking a tightrope in trying to acknowledge that people might be justified in taking enforcement into their own hands under certain circumstances that would probably have to be assessed and validated afterwards, but to please please please leave it to Police. Then made more complicated by a problem of Police not really having enough resources allocated to the problem of tourist drivers in certain places. I don’t remember anything like Police cheering on people confiscating car keys off Asian drivers.

    Comment by izogi — July 12, 2015 @ 5:03 pm

  18. “Unfortunately we can’t tell based on what we’ve got. But we do need to figure out a way to talk about the ongoing impact of China on New Zealand without (a) the entire conversation being written off as racist or (b) offending Chinese New Zealanders. Feels like Labour’s just set us back aways there.”

    I agree we need to have a conversation but I don’t think it’s Labour’s fault that the race card keeps getting pulled out. It’s National that is doing everything it can to make race an issue.

    I’d suggest most of the people concerned about cheap Chinese money flooding into Auckland aren’t racist, they just don’t want foreigners – regardless of where they are from – from buying up all the property. That’s a legitimate concern.

    The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue shows that they have no idea how to fix the problem, and actually probably don’t think there is a problem, which is incredible to me.

    Labour has gone out of its way to make it clear it’s concerned about Chinese investors with shit loads of cheap money to throw around, not local Chinese. What more can they do?

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — July 12, 2015 @ 5:08 pm

  19. And has the NACT bloc already forgotten *that* Orewa Rotary speech? And the Clark Govt’s hasty response on the foreshore & seabed?

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 12, 2015 @ 5:41 pm

  20. Just to be fair to Police, does anyone have a reference for this claim?

    Well, “cheering them on” is most likely poetic licence. However, in at least one instance the perps went into a police station and handed over the keys they’d “confiscated.” At which point, the cops did not say “So, you stole someone’s keys? Best wait here while we see if we’re going to charge you with an offence,” just took the keys and let the perps walk. Near enough “cheering them on” for my money.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 12, 2015 @ 7:17 pm

  21. The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue shows that they have no idea how to fix the problem, and actually probably don’t think there is a problem…

    It’s the second one. Those Nat MPs who aren’t Auckland property speculators themselves will have donors and supporters who are. Skyrocketing Auckland property prices are the exact opposite of a problem for these people, and the absolute last thing they want is for someone to be doing something about it.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — July 12, 2015 @ 7:20 pm

  22. Skyrocketing Auckland property prices are caused by Kiwis selling their land to Chinese at ridiculous prices.

    Of course, they’re perfectly entitled to take the money and run.

    Comment by Nick K — July 12, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

  23. “It’s the second one. Those Nat MPs who aren’t Auckland property speculators themselves will have donors and supporters who are. Skyrocketing Auckland property prices are the exact opposite of a problem for these people, and the absolute last thing they want is for someone to be doing something about it.”

    Or in short, turkeys never elect their own Thanksgiving.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 12, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  24. @ Seb Rattansen: “I’d suggest most of the people concerned about cheap Chinese money flooding into Auckland aren’t racist, they just don’t want foreigners – regardless of where they are from – from buying up all the property. That’s a legitimate concern.”

    Exactly so. And it ain’t racism in any event; that’s a horse of a completely different colour, and local people’s alarm about non-resident buyers swamping the Auckland market doesn’t in any way qualify as racism. A relative lives in a shoebox apartment in the Auckland CBD; said apartment has recently sold, and the buyers are French. Because successive governments have been derelict in collecting data of any sort as to who’s buying what property in NZ, we have no way of knowing whether French buyers are flooding the market. But were it so, we would be equally concerned. It seems unlikely that this is the case, however: I’m not aware of Auckland real estate agencies hiring lots of French-speaking agents. On the other hand, we know that some agencies employ large numbers of Chinese-speaking agents: those agencies don’t do this out of a charitable desire to give recent immigrants from China employment opportunities.

    “The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue shows that they have no idea how to fix the problem, and actually probably don’t think there is a problem, which is incredible to me.”

    Bang on the nail! The government doesn’t see this as a problem, because they and their supporters benefit from rising house prices, and they don’t give a flying fig about the young, or first-home buyers, or the poor. The actual dog whistle here is the race card, not concerns about non-resident Chinese or whoever hoovering up property and driving prices up to unsustainable levels. Labour should be staunch on this issue, ignore National – and resident Chinese – bleating about racism, and pursue it with determination.

    And to everyone else shouting about racism: for heaven’s sake, get a grip! If you don’t have a contribution to make to the debate, just stay out of it. But enough already with the racism schtick: don’t try to shut up Labour, or the rest of us, by insulting us.

    Comment by D'Esterre — July 12, 2015 @ 11:43 pm

  25. @D’Esterre: In 2013 a residential market survey found that 32% of Auckland house sales went to either British or Australian buyers. No need to specially hire anybody with language skills there.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 13, 2015 @ 1:12 am

  26. Sorry, 32% of house sales to non-residents, not 32% of all sales.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 13, 2015 @ 1:13 am

  27. “The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue shows that they have no idea how to fix the problem, and actually probably don’t think there is a problem, which is incredible to me.”

    This is an Auckland only problem, so National portray it as resulting from the policies of the Auckland council (Labour/Green).

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 13, 2015 @ 9:39 am

  28. The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue…

    Labour praised by Peters, criticised by the Greens. Can’t see that that’s National’s doing.

    Comment by NeilM — July 13, 2015 @ 9:46 am

  29. It’s a long standing pattern of Labour’s – they finally get onto an issue that gets traction and then fuck it up in a spectacular fashion.

    They hammer away and hammer away, all well and good, then hammer away and hit their thumb.

    Comment by NeilM — July 13, 2015 @ 10:16 am

  30. It suggest that people who now seriously try to maintain that there isn’t massive Chinese investment going on in Auckland are on the back foot …

    I’ll take “being a Don Brash supporter in 2004” for $10,000 Alex.

    I don’t think it’s Labour’s fault that the race card keeps getting pulled out. It’s National that is doing everything it can to make race an issue.

    The fact that National keeps pulling out the race card every time Labour tries to raise this issue

    Exactly so. And it ain’t racism in any event; that’s a horse of a completely different colour,

    Bang on the nail! The government doesn’t see this as a problem, because …

    Explaining is losing.

    Those Nat MPs who aren’t Auckland property speculators themselves will have donors and supporters who are. Skyrocketing Auckland property prices are the exact opposite of a problem for these people, ….

    “What do you care about increased rates and one-off special charges? Your house just increased by $100K in the last year alone: stop bitching” – every left-wing activist in Auckland.

    Comment by tom hunter — July 13, 2015 @ 10:18 am

  31. Another problem with the data is that it all comes from one real estate agency. AFAIK, we don’t know which one, so for all we know it’s one which has actively targetted Chinese (resident or otherwise) and so has an unusually high number of Chinese buyers.

    I’m totally on the fence about whether Labour is dog-whistling or not, but if they did this without expecting that a lot of people (including many core voters) would perceive it as racist, they’re idiots.

    Comment by helenalex — July 13, 2015 @ 11:37 am

  32. “but if they did this without expecting that a lot of people (including many core voters) would perceive it as racist, they’re idiots.”

    And this morning’s media (at least what I heard) was basically Labour trying to explain how it’s not racist, instead of speaking about the issues it wants to speak about… just like so much of the discussion elsewhere is about whether Labour’s being racist.

    For a government that’s no stranger to letting its political interests influence what it does (as with many governments), there’s really zero political advantage in producing official figures, like a real buyers register, when it can see its main opposition stumble like this entirely through the frustration of not having them.

    Comment by izogi — July 13, 2015 @ 11:45 am

  33. There’s a proper statistical analysis of it all here:
    http://www.statschat.org.nz/2015/07/11/whats-in-a-name/

    Comment by helenalex — July 13, 2015 @ 11:45 am

  34. Twyford’s defence – if the govt doesn’t collect the data then people will just come up with all sorts of crazy nonsense.

    Comment by NeilM — July 13, 2015 @ 11:59 am

  35. @helanalex

    Lumley’s analysis is the most balanced and impartial i’ve seen on this topic. Thank’s for linking to it.
    This line, in particular, is the key for me:
    If you have a measure of ‘foreign real estate ownership’ that includes my next-door neighbours and excludes James Cameron, you’re doing it wrong, and in a way that has a long and reprehensible political history.

    Comment by Phil — July 13, 2015 @ 12:11 pm

  36. Haw haw.

    Asians are now (more or less) 10% of voters. It doesn’t matter what the actual facts of the matter are. Perceptions are more important in politics.

    National will be laughing all the way to the polls.

    Comment by Fraud — July 13, 2015 @ 12:34 pm

  37. @izogi

    This guy was fairly typical. Didn’t have a license himself. Didn’t like the way the guy was stopped to look at the view (from the photo, on a road with no restrictions and plenty of room to pass).

    The cops could have made it clear – you are not a cop. If you take a drivers keys then, unless there are totally exceptional circumstances, like they’re blind drunk or have already crashed, then you are committing a Crimes Act offence, will be charged with such, and will get a criminal record at the very least. If you don’t want that to happen, call #555 and report it, then get on with your day. Or apply to join the cops, if you feel that strongly

    Then charge the idiot referred to above and hopefully a judge will make an example. That would put a stop to it.

    (And I bet there are a whole bunch of NZers who make a tit of themselves first time out on the M4 roundabout or I101, but the Brits and Americans just give them a raised eyebrow and leave them to it. People in big countries with better things to do).

    Comment by richdrich — July 13, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

  38. If it all continues unregulated the future of Auckland looks grim. Racism does not come into it. The fact is these people have deeper pockets and get first dibs on anything coming up for sale. And not only are there millions of them theres hundreds of millions. I think young people should let foreigners have Auckland seeing they like it so much and live somewhere else in New Zealand. I would rather be a teacher in Gisborne than one in Herne Bay. At least sometime I might even own a house. The 28000 empty houses are not a good look either.

    Comment by bosun — July 13, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  39. To all those who constantly insist that is not about racism, please work out what happened. OK, you really don’t want to, so I’ll explain. This happened:

    1) Months of media/political coverage of the Auckland property bubble. A news staple, a conversation staple, you could hardly avoid it.

    2) Saturday morning’s Herald.

    It wasn’t about racism. It is now. Who changed the subject? Share the blame between Labour and the Herald, as you see fit. But don’t fucking blame us for reading exactly what they wanted us to read.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — July 13, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

  40. David Parker, David Parker.

    When one of the only Labour MPs not to say anything stupid is Mallard then it’s time for Labour to split and for MPs to choose if they want to head off to NZF of the Greens.

    Comment by NeilM — July 13, 2015 @ 6:42 pm

  41. One can’t but be impressed with the commitment to altruism.

    Each new Labour leader works hard to show the previous one in a better light.

    Comment by NeilM — July 13, 2015 @ 6:50 pm

  42. maybe it would have been a good idea not to go to the media with a story that consists of a White guy saying he’s been combing the records for Chinese-sounding names and found altogether too many of them.

    You mean Labour’s housing spokesman should have stayed silent while this info was delivered by a backbench MP? Not sure that would have been a winner.

    Comment by Ross — July 13, 2015 @ 7:15 pm

  43. It wasn’t about racism. It is now.

    Well, it is for those who are lazy thinkers…

    Comment by Ross — July 13, 2015 @ 7:18 pm

  44. Yeah, part of what makes me deeply suspicious is that it just happens that the group supposedly causing the problem is also the group it’s the most politically painless to discriminate against.

    In my experience real life is rarely that kind to policy-makers

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 13, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

  45. @Kalvarnsen: ” No need to specially hire anybody with language skills there.” Oh I dunno….Australians? Do they speak English even? And the jury’s certainly out on British from some parts of Old Blighty: good luck with Geordie speakers and Scots from around Glasgow. Translations services wouldn’t go amiss there.

    @ Helenalex: “Another problem with the data is that it all comes from one real estate agency. AFAIK, we don’t know which one, so for all we know it’s one which has actively targetted Chinese (resident or otherwise) and so has an unusually high number of Chinese buyers.” I’m guessing that it’s the agency we in this household like to call Barefoot and Thompson. It’s one of the biggest and sells the majority of houses in Auckland, I believe. It has also for many years targeted Chinese buyers, going right back to the 1980s. It employs very large numbers of Chinese agents; I think it is one of the agencies advertising in the Chinese media.

    “…if they did this without expecting that a lot of people (including many core voters) would perceive it as racist, they’re idiots.” My impression from Twyford’s comments is that he was concerned about just this sort of impression, but was of the view that it was important to get the information out there for debate. He’s right, and people who scream racism are wrong: they’re the ones dog-whistling, not Twyford. This has got nothing to do with racism, and those who say it has wouldn’t know racism if they fell over it in broad daylight. It looks as if successive race relations commissioners have succeeded in giving a good chunk of the population a false impression of what racism actually is. Or maybe the media is responsible?

    @ Sammy 3.0: “It wasn’t about racism. It is now.” No it bloody is not! Nor was it ever., and no amount of dog-whistling on your part makes it so. And don’t expect other people to explain to you why it isn’t racism: go do some reading and engage your brain. Then either engage with the issue Twyford’s raised or get off the page and shut up.

    Comment by D'Esterre — July 13, 2015 @ 11:55 pm

  46. The fact that Phil Twyford is standing his ground on the matter suggests he might be going full-on Waitakere Man.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/278575/no-back-down-over-chinese-buyer-claims

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 14, 2015 @ 2:19 am

  47. D’Esterre says any attempt to label it racist is a ‘dogwhistle’. It is a shrill and aggressive response.

    Reminds me of people who accuse ethnic minorities of not having a sense of humour when they refuse to play along with the office bully.

    The chap below may disagree, but what does he know? He’s plainly underqualified to have an informed opinion, when we have D’Esterre to pronounce what The Ministry of Truth has decided for us :

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11480344

    Bullshit. Labour set out to neutralise National by lying with Peters, this year, and now end up trying to neutralise Peters by well, just … lying.

    Comment by Lee Clark — July 14, 2015 @ 7:03 am

  48. Labour certainly aren’t resiling from this in the slightest.

    Their calculation must be they won’t lose any of the liberal conscience vote since that’s mostly gone off to the Greens by now.

    They spotted a window of opportunity – now before the govt released accurate data – to do a Peters and have given it quite a bit of thought.

    It’s quite bizarre but their strategy for a while had been.

    Comment by NeilM — July 14, 2015 @ 9:19 am

  49. The French have committed more terrorist attacks on NZ than we have on them.
    Men have greater upper-body strength than women and have invented more things.
    There is a higher ratio of Maori in prison.
    Farming pollutes more waterways than forestry.
    People with glasses have inferior and less competent eyes than those who don’t need them.
    Africans have a higher likelihood of having Ebola.

    Oh, “not singling anyone out” by the way, that’s just the “truth”. And if I was a politician stupid enough not to realise how inflammatory any of those sound, I wouldn’t deserve a vote either.

    Comment by roy cartland — July 14, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  50. @D’Esterre – lets be absolutely clear about this:

    If you’re targeting people of middle eastern ethnicity at airports for additional security screening, even though (1) you know acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people of all ethnicities, and (2) you don’t have enough information about any one individual to make an informed judgement… then you’re a fucking racist.

    If you’re making broad sweeping claims about properties owned by people who have Chinese sounding names, even though (1) you know foreign investment in NZ is an activity undertaken by people of all ethnicities, and (2) the data and analysis you’re relying to make a broad sweeping claim is, at best, of dubious quality… then you’re a fucking racist.

    Comment by Phil — July 14, 2015 @ 10:25 am

  51. for got sake people it is not racist it is a fact, this is what is happening in the market, Little just wants Key to wake up and smell the roses. what is wrong with trying to get kiwis into homes instead of overseas buyers on their phones who are not even in the country buying up existing houses

    Comment by Lilly — July 14, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  52. I’m a Labour member, and an activist, and a donor, and for once I unreservedly agree with Phil @49.

    Comment by Stephen J — July 14, 2015 @ 11:52 am

  53. >Their calculation must be they won’t lose any of the liberal conscience vote since that’s mostly gone off to the Greens by now.

    Seems likely to me, both that they think that, and that it is a true statement. It’s actually a strategic synergy. People for whom racism is the bigger issue have somewhere to go, and it’s a voting bloc that will probably ally with Labour anyway.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — July 14, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

  54. @ Lee Clark: “…we have D’Esterre to pronounce what The Ministry of Truth has decided for us ”

    And so it begins. This is how flinging around the racism epithet has the effect of stifling debate, even if that isn’t the intention. Racism is tightly-defined, and for good reason: it’s a serious accusation which in no way applies to the information Phil Twyford’s released. That information chimes with Aucklanders’ experience of what’s happening in the real estate market. Twyford himself has said that it doesn’t give a comprehensive picture; we know full well that overseas investors from other polities are buying up in Auckland, but it’s much more difficult to tell who they are.

    Here’s the thing: the information leaked pertains to Chinese. Maybe some other information will be leaked which gives a fuller picture of other off-shore investors. The government is, it seems, too pusillanimous to even collect proper data, so we are obliged to rely on informal means of finding out this stuff.

    It’s unfortunate that it’s Chinese who’ve been identified; but you can bet your bottom dollar that, were the counterfactual to apply, and Chinese citizens were being priced out of their housing market by overseas investors, they’d be making a big fat fuss about it, and that would be completely understandable. It’s nothing to do with racism.

    In my view, what we have in Auckland is a form of a Tragedy of the Commons. NZ is too small a polity – and Auckland is way too small a city – for any government to allow it to continue, without intervention with real teeth. It’s to the shame of successive administrations, going all the way back to the 1980s, that this situation has been allowed to continue unchecked for so long.

    A final point: I have good reasons – related to ethnic provenance – to comment under a pseudonym. This is why the racism dog whistle makes me mad as hell. Perhaps you’ve noticed…

    Comment by D'Esterre — July 14, 2015 @ 12:51 pm

  55. Labour must be anticipating Winston will soon retire.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 1:36 pm

  56. And so it begins. This is how flinging around the racism epithet has the effect of stifling debate, even if that isn’t the intention.

    Thank goodness left-wingers have been so circumspect in flinging around that epithet over the years. Who knows how many debates might have been stifled or when it might have rebounded on the flingers.

    Racism is tightly-defined, and for good reason: it’s a serious accusation which in no way applies to ….

    No, actually the definition has proved almost endlessly mutable, as Salon has just demonstrated with it’s article describing how The Cosby Show [….] enabled a pernicious type of right-wing “colorblind” racism to flourish.

    Chuckle! The revolution, like Saturn, devours its own children.

    Actually a closer literary parallel can probably be found in the old Jewish legend of the Golem, made from clay and animated with holy words to defend the Jews from anti-Semitic attacks. It was supposedly created by medieval scholar Rabbi Loew of Prague and some versions of the myth having it going out of control and becoming destructive of everything. One commentator also noted that:

    … people called the rabbi’s Golem “Dumb Yossel”, sitting in the room where the Rabbi held court, its head resting in it’s hands, without any mind or thought of anything at all, waiting to be summoned.

    A perfect member of the Labour cabinet then. And it has been animated by Holy Words, crashing around within the shadow cabinet and – this being the 21st century and all – cloned to inhabit the comments sections of left-wing blogs.

    Comment by tom hunter — July 14, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

  57. +1 D’Esterre. Nice point about the commons.

    Enough with the sanctimony of Clark et al.

    Comment by paritutu — July 14, 2015 @ 1:41 pm

  58. Front page of the Herald today: NZ Chinese = foreign. See the headlines. Live and work here, or never set foot here, same same.

    So, how’s that nuanced, totally not-racist debate going?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — July 14, 2015 @ 1:56 pm

  59. In my view, what we have in Auckland is a form of a Tragedy of the Commons. NZ is too small a polity – and Auckland is way too small a city – for any government to allow it to continue…

    It is not a tragedy of the commons, because Auckland housing is not a finite resource open to depletion. We have a housing shortage, yet we have people willing to invest obscene amounts of money in Auckland housing. We have people living in old decrepit sub-standard housing and we have people investing large sums of money into the market. We have a real-estate boom and we could easily parlay it into a construction boom, solve most of our problems within a couple of years.

    We want better housing, we want more housing and foreign investors want to pay for it. The solution presents itself, where everybody acts in their best interests and everybody wins.

    Unfortunately we also have Auckland City Mayor Len Brown (Labour Party) who prevents any new development for occurring. New apartments require approval after approval and still can’t get built. New suburbs, even those agreed with the government, are stalled at the last moment then shelved.

    Now Labour Party have come straight out and blamed foreigners (taking time to pay especial attention to the Chinese). For the “crime” of wanting to buy houses in Auckland.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 2:35 pm

  60. They spotted a window of opportunity – now before the govt released accurate data.

    I am not sure the government is going to release any meaningful data anytime soon. But let’s say it happens and it confirms that a significant proportion of houses are being bought by Chinese investors and or non-residents, you will no doubt be the first to shout from the rooftop “Labour Was Right!”

    Comment by Ross — July 14, 2015 @ 2:36 pm

  61. the “crime” of wanting to buy houses in Auckland.

    Except it’s not just about house prices. What about rents, accommodation supplements, LVRs, monetary policy, etc? They are fairly important matters in their own right and affect many if not most of us.

    http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/74904/bernard-hickey-argues-aucklands-housing-market-has-officially-disembarked-rest-country

    Comment by Ross — July 14, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

  62. From the link above:

    “This rent inflation is rapidly becoming a fiscal issue for the Government, given it spends more than NZ$2 billion a year handing out accommodation supplements to private landlords and Income Related Rents to Housing NZ. Taxpayers throughout New Zealand already provide subsidies for more than half the rental market, and that proportion is higher in Auckland. Taxpayers in Gore will be subsidising landlords in Mt Albert at an even greater rate and (sic) rents and prices surge.”

    Comment by Ross — July 14, 2015 @ 2:47 pm

  63. I recall making an earlier post about a family friend of mine who moved to Auckland for the sole purpose of his job. He’s a one-time Labour/Greens voter who started swinging to NZF in recent years, having lived and breathed the Auckland rat-race. From what he’s told me lately, he very much sounds like the target market for Twyford’s rhetoric.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 14, 2015 @ 2:57 pm

  64. i often hear the “release more land” mantra flung about – but im yet to see anyone having done any kind of analysis that shows exactly how JUST freeing up land actually dampens the growing demand (and by that i mean taking into account all steps in the property development chain and how many houses you need to hit market at the same time to have any effect other than each one being priced to the market max)

    its not like developers havent been using all methods available to keep prices up for ages – why would they stop now just because land was easier to get hold of?

    Comment by framu — July 14, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

  65. What about rents, accommodation supplements, LVRs, monetary policy, etc?

    And overcrowding, homelessness, leaks, draughts, lack of insulation, old buildings, unemployment, etc.?

    All of it could be solved if we built new homes, better apartments on the back of this real estate boom. On the one hand we have massive demand with lots of wealthy people willing to invest. On the other hand we have massive social need for that investment. And in the middle we have the Auckland Council (Labour) saying no to everything.

    Labour is blaming the (Chinese) foreigners for a problem that only exists because of the actions of a Labour mayor.

    Even if Labour were 100% successful and the foreigners stopped buying houses we’d still have rental stock that was inadequate. The only difference would be that then there’d be no way to fix the problems.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

  66. “Labour is blaming the (Chinese) foreigners for a problem that only exists because of the actions of a Labour mayor. ”

    really? – thats the only factor at play here?

    Comment by framu — July 14, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

  67. framu: yep, the shoutiest NIMBYs in recent years aren’t the eco-Luddites, but rather the the ones who’d like the RMA thrown in a bonfire on the one hand, and keep Auckland an overgrown country town on the other. Denise Krum is a case in point.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 14, 2015 @ 3:24 pm

  68. 62.i often hear the “release more land” mantra flung about – but im yet to see anyone having done any kind of analysis that shows exactly how JUST freeing up land actually dampens the growing demand…

    Well, you’ll be waiting a long time.

    Building more homes takes advantage of the strong demand to create more and better housing. We don’t dampen growing demand, we try to channel it into creating things that are useful to society.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 3:36 pm

  69. In China you cant even send your kids to school in the bigger cities if YOUR PARENTS weren’t born there as well.

    Comment by dukeofurl — July 14, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  70. People for whom racism is the bigger issue have somewhere to go, and it’s a voting bloc that will probably ally with Labour anyway.

    Assuming the Greens have nowhere else go but with Labour is most likely part of Labour’s thinking.

    Sadly I think Labour could get a boost in the polls with this but if they don’t then I’ll go out on a limb and predict Labour’s days as a significant political force are numbered.

    That’s the gamble they’ve made.

    Comment by NeilM — July 14, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

  71. really? – thats the only factor at play here?

    No, there lots of votes to be mined blaming foreigners that look different and have funny sounding names.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

  72. Local housing speculators are a big problem, too. Unfortunately they just happen to be as powerful and self-appointed as a parliamentary upper house. Not unlike a House of Lords, or a ‘landed gentry’ in the words of Prof Eaqub.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 14, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

  73. I am not sure the government is going to release any meaningful data anytime soon. But let’s say it happens and it confirms that a significant proportion of houses are being bought by Chinese investors and or non-residents, you will no doubt be the first to shout from the rooftop “Labour Was Right!”

    Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day.

    I’m a statistician by training and trade. I’ve seen (and worked on) dubious quality data and poor analysis that somehow still produces the ‘correct’ answer. That certainly doesn’t mean we should celebrate and laud the work that went into it and the way it was presented to the public.

    Comment by Phil — July 14, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

  74. 65.framu: yep, the shoutiest NIMBYs in recent years aren’t the eco-Luddites, but rather the the ones who’d like the RMA thrown in a bonfire on the one hand, and keep Auckland an overgrown country town on the other. Denise Krum is a case in point.

    Yeah, it is bipartisan crap.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 3:59 pm

  75. “Yeah, it is bipartisan crap.”

    Especially when the NIMBYism comes from people you’d expect to be pro-business free-marketeers. I’ve said it before, but the ultiimate litmus test for those fellas would be if Donald Trump gives up on his presidential ambitions, and decides to build a sizeable chunk of Manhattan or Chicago somewhere on the Waitemata isthmus. Bonus points if it’s in Epsom or Maraetai or Howick.

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — July 14, 2015 @ 4:03 pm

  76. “No, there lots of votes to be mined blaming foreigners that look different and have funny sounding names.”

    i was more meaning your claim that its all our crappy mayors fault (yes, hes crap)

    Comment by framu — July 14, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

  77. “Building more homes takes advantage of the strong demand to create more and better housing”

    well, your the first person ive ever seen making that argument – im not expert enough to merit or debunk it however so its yours🙂

    then why have so many been making the same argument vis a vis affordable housing and price rises via demand?

    Comment by framu — July 14, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

  78. “i was more meaning your claim that its all our crappy mayors fault (yes, hes crap)”

    There is plenty of residential zoned land around Auckland, its people sitting on the land and waiting for price rises thats the problem

    The council fast tracked the resource consenting of land to start the subdivision process and still very little happened.
    I used to be involved in this area and would see people getting the consents and flicking it on , as that was the quickest and easiest way to make money.

    Or you would see a large ( 300 lot) subdivision developed, and they would trickle feed it onto to the market – to keep prices high.

    The developers are the ones primary responsible for restricting supply- as they make more money that way- I have worked with the surveyors , engineers, earth works and who do the work for the developers and this is how it happens.

    Comment by dukeofurl — July 14, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

  79. then why have so many been making the same argument vis a vis affordable housing and price rises via demand?

    Price rises and demand aren’t the same thing, just linked. If the goal is to reduce prices then shutting off demand will do it. Likewise increasing supply will reduce prices.

    well, your the first person ive ever seen making that argument

    I don’t think that reducing prices is the ultimate goal here.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 5:19 pm

  80. i was more meaning your claim that its all our crappy mayors fault (yes, hes crap)

    Because at this time of high demand we should be seeing an avalanche more homes (houses/apartments) that are modern and well made, an improvement on existing stock and instead prices have risen, but consents for new homes haven’t (until very recently).

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 5:23 pm

  81. “…avalanche more homes (houses/apartments) that are modern and well made”

    The council doesnt build a single house, they are saying the quality has dropped contrary to your claim. Yes they are clumsy when it comes to a building consent but they arent holding them up for years.

    50% of houses are built speculatively as banks dont lend very easily to new home buyers with bare land. If you think the council is clumsy wait till you want a builder to build you a house on your own land. They have to approve every invoice even though they have lent you the money.

    The regular builders and small time speculators ( in a good way) need rising prices so the house they start to build is worth $25k more by the time its finished and time to sell
    ( which is when banks are happy to lend on a fully completed house)

    Its a crazy system but when prices are rising , materials are going up , good sections are hard to find, thats when activity is at its highest. When its all quiet, but still good demand no one wants to touch a ‘project’

    Comment by dukeofurl — July 14, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

  82. banks dont lend very easily to new home buyers with bare land. If you think the council is clumsy wait till you want a builder to build you a house on your own land. They have to approve every invoice even though they have lent you the money

    This is untrue in pretty much every possible way.

    At the ‘start’ of the build (i.e. after the cost and specification of the build is agreed, and around about when consent/approval is are received from the Local Auth.) the bank will confirm with the builder and the home owner how progress payments will be made. In my own experience, the first payment was made when the foundation is laid, the next when the home was ‘closed in’, and so on (It was 7 or 8 payments in total).

    The idea that the bank wants to approve ‘every invoice’ is just and utter bullshit.

    Comment by Phil — July 14, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

  83. Its a crazy system but when prices are rising , materials are going up , good sections are hard to find, thats when activity is at its highest.

    We’ve had rising prices for 5 years and the activity has taken place in Pokeno – the closest place to Auckland that isn’t run by Auckland. How does Pokeno get a building boom, but not us?

    When its all quiet, but still good demand no one wants to touch a ‘project’.

    Maybe no one local, but when some other people need to find a safe haven for their wealth in a stable country with a strong growing co-ethnic community – well then we get property boom. And that should be a good thing.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 14, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

  84. Ridiculous maths but adding the last two Dimposts together: if there was a strong rumour or inside knowledge Peters is standing down, the dirty cynical interpretation of what Labour is up to would make a certain nasty sense. I hope not.

    Comment by rob — July 14, 2015 @ 8:58 pm

  85. Well, it’s Tuesday. Labour is doubling down. DPF is saying nothing, and the National governments ministers are squirming and saying as little as possible. The loud mouthed PC liberals have as usual gone completely troppo and the more arrogant of the local migrant Chinese are proving to be a PR disaster by racistly accusing New Zealanders of all being lazy and, by implication, undeserving of their own country – comments that just confirm every middle New Zealanders deepest seated fear of the yellow peril far, far more effectively than a million NZ First rallies.

    Anyway, like I said – it is Tuesday. The polling will be in for all the major parties. All of the above indicates that Labour’s talking past the elites to middle NZ on this issue is scoring them huge brownie points with voters on Struggle Street.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 14, 2015 @ 9:41 pm

  86. I think you credit them with too much sense. I don’t think they are even sure what they are up to. A fair number of Labour electorates have large immigrant populations. Perhaps Labour have finally engaged CT to do their electioneering for them.

    Comment by Lee Clark — July 14, 2015 @ 10:07 pm

  87. @Sanc: I am loving your unironic use of the term “middle New Zealanders”.

    Don Brash’s ghost approves.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 15, 2015 @ 3:47 am

  88. @Sanc: I am loving your unironic use of the term “middle New Zealanders”.

    Don Brash’s ghost approves.

    That’d be Michael Bassett, right? And as Sanc noted, they’ve even dug up a mouthy Chinese who talks just like Alan Duff used to. Good luck with them polls, but one thing’s for certain – there’ll be unprecedented opportunities for every ethnicity & political persuasion to make prize dicks of themselves before this mess settles.

    Comment by Joe W — July 15, 2015 @ 5:26 am

  89. Michael Bassett is more like Mike Moore’s ghost.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 15, 2015 @ 7:09 am

  90. Bassett wrote a glowing review of Brash’s Orewa speech, some time before he was outed as its principal author.

    Comment by Joe W — July 15, 2015 @ 7:25 am

  91. Yeah but he owes his prominence to his tangential association with the 80s neoliberals, so he’s a figurative ghost.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — July 15, 2015 @ 7:30 am

  92. @ Tom Hunter: “No, actually the definition has proved almost endlessly mutable…” No it hasn’t. Racism is (and has always been) defined as attitudes and actions stemming from a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular ethnic group over others. The term has been co-opted by various groups to describe prejudice and stereotyping. but unless prejudice etc is based on racist beliefs, it isn’t racism. Phil Twyford’s information doesn’t count as racism.

    “…as Salon has just demonstrated with it’s article describing how The Cosby Show [….] enabled a pernicious type of right-wing “colorblind” racism to flourish.” Oh dear, you’re citing Salon, of all publications? Much raucous laughter in this household at that notion.

    @ Unaha-Closp: “It is not a tragedy of the commons, because Auckland housing is not a finite resource open to depletion…” The Auckland situation exactly fits the description: uncontrolled buying resulting in rocketing prices and bugger-all listings. Auckland is small, doesn’t have a vast amount of land suitable for development, and a cultural aversion to intensification. It clearly isn’t possible to build enough new houses to meet demand, even if Council turned consents around on the head of a pin. There aren’t enough resources to do it. And even were it possible, the sheer number of overseas investors, especially from China, which has a huge population, would likely still swamp supply. By the way – and tangentially – the swamp kauri trade is a classic example of a Tragedy of the Commons.

    @ Phil: “The idea that the bank wants to approve ‘every invoice’ is just and utter bullshit.”

    There was a case here a few years ago, which hit the courts. A bank lent money to a client for a new build. When, some considerable time later, said bank finally went out to check on progress, they found that no house had been built: both client and money had evaporated. There followed a long and expensive court case, the upshot of which was that the bank couldn’t recover the money, because they’d brought the action too long after the theft. The client wasn’t punished either, for the same reason. I suspect that this is a cautionary tale which is passed around bankers, and some will ride shotgun on expenditure if they perceive there may be risks in not doing so.

    “If you’re targeting people of middle eastern ethnicity at airports for additional security screening, even though (1) you know acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people of all ethnicities, and (2) you don’t have enough information about any one individual to make an informed judgement… then you’re a fucking racist.

    If you’re making broad sweeping claims about properties owned by people who have Chinese sounding names, even though (1) you know foreign investment in NZ is an activity undertaken by people of all ethnicities, and (2) the data and analysis you’re relying to make a broad sweeping claim is, at best, of dubious quality… then you’re a fucking racist.”

    Did you aim this at me personally, or is it just a careless use of “you”? You may be a statistician, but it seems to me that a bit of light Philosophy would round out your education: it’s a really good discipline for teaching argumentation. Listen to this, on RNZ this morning:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201762447/straight-conversations-about-racial-and-religious-differences

    It may cause you to reconsider making statements like the one above.

    Comment by D'Esterre — July 15, 2015 @ 11:47 am

  93. Do you believe that the Orewa speech – and subsequent campaign – was racist?

    In other words, do you understand politics at all? Do you understand that politicians in major parties in modern democracies will almost never be explicitly racist, but very often appeal to underlying racism?

    Willie Horton was a rapist and murderer. That’s an uncontested fact. Therefore, no racism!

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — July 15, 2015 @ 11:58 am

  94. I suspect that this is a cautionary tale which is passed around bankers, and some will ride shotgun on expenditure if they perceive there may be risks in not doing so.

    There are nearly one and a half million residential mortgage loans currently outstanding in NZ. Losses from fraud are inevitable and, most importantly, banks are pretty good at learning from mistakes and ‘plugging’ gaps in their risk management and monitoring processes when fraud occurs.
    No bank manager/lender has the time or inclination to ride shotgun on every new-build loan they make – they will watch some more closely than others, but the original comment by dukeofurl is, never-the-less, wildly innacurate.

    Did you aim this at me personally, or is it just a careless use of “you”? You may be a statistician, but it seems to me that a bit of light Philosophy would round out your education: it’s a really good discipline for teaching argumentation.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t intending to be a partonising twat, even though that’s the way it reads.

    Think of ‘you’, in this case, as equivalent to a ‘royal ‘We”😛

    Comment by Phil — July 15, 2015 @ 12:25 pm

  95. @D’Esterre : Auckland [stretches from the Bombays to Warkworth], a vast amount of land suitable for development [evidenced by the fact that 27% of the last decades population growth in Auckland has been rural Auckland]. It clearly is possible to build enough new houses to meet [even an incredibly high emergency] demand [as evidenced by Christchurch rebuilding after a devastating earthquake, such that rental costs have stabilised].

    It clearly isn’t possible to build enough new houses to meet demand, [only] if Council [is run by the incompetent buffoons Len Brown and Penny Hulse]. The rest of the country can do it, just not the Auckland Council.

    “There aren’t enough resources to do it*. And even were it possible, the sheer number of overseas investors**, especially from China, which has a huge population***, would likely still swamp supply****.”

    * – yes, there are plenty of resources; ** – lots of resources; *** – way too many resources; **** – OMG so many resources.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 15, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

  96. @D’Esterre : “By the way – and tangentially – the swamp kauri trade is a classic example of a Tragedy of the Commons.”

    Yes it is, takes 20,000 to 50,000 years to create a swamp kauri.

    The Auckland situation exactly fits the description:

    20,000 to 50,000 sure does seem about Len Browns top pace efficiency.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 15, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

  97. @unaha-closp

    I’m beginning to think you don’t like Len Brown. Did he try to Cosby you, or something?

    Comment by Phil — July 15, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

  98. Oh dear, you’re citing Salon, of all publications? Much raucous laughter in this household at that notion.

    Oh I quite agree, but then I’m a right winger. For many left-wingers over the years Salon has apparently been an invaluable source, hence it’s relevance in a discussion about the definition of racism.

    Racism is (and has always been) defined as attitudes and actions stemming from a belief in the inherent superiority of a particular ethnic group over others.

    That’s certainly what I thought as a teenager; then I went to university. Racism there is defined as all of the above – plus power. No power – no racism. This has been conventional wisdom at universities since the 1980’s. Appropriately enough here’s a NZ Herald editorial from 2007 about Winston where the writer concisely summarises this post-modern bullshit:

    Nor may Maori activists or their supporters sensibly be called racists. Racism has nothing to do with skin colour, and everything to do with power. Anyone who argues that those arrested in Tuhoe and elsewhere last month are more powerful than the state authority unleashed on them is deluded. Or trying to win votes by any means necessary.

    Got that? Racism has nothing to do with skin colour. Amazing is it not? You could argue that Labour is not as powerful as super-rich Chinese and therefore not racist. It might get them off the hook.

    Comment by tom hunter — July 15, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

  99. First article I read was the owners identified buying Auckland properties were matched with the electoral role. That shows these people are not residents and anyone who looks at this scene at all will have seen the huge influence they are having so the racism call seems to be a false flag trying to hide the fact the few are raking the money in while the majority of kiwis loose their ability to own and even rent a home. Simple really stop all foreign ownership. Oh yeah National love the money not what is good for the majority. PS trickle down works no where.

    Comment by universecentre — July 16, 2015 @ 12:35 pm

  100. @ phil,

    I’m not a fan, but no I’ve never been face down in the Ngati Whatua room.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 16, 2015 @ 4:12 pm


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