Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: A week on from the housing controversy

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Well, if you won nothing else, you got rid of half of Pagani and Quin's nascent "faction". I'd call that a win.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I don't doubt your good faith Rob – and I think there is other evidence suggesting that overseas capital is distorting the New Zealand residential property market and that that capital is currently flowing principally out of mainland China (China only overtook the US last year as Australia's biggest source of foreign property investment) – but the problem is that ethnic Chinese New Zealanders heard something very different to what you say you were saying.

    They heard a generalised othering and blaming, one they were required to opt themselves out of, and a lot of them were upset and scared by that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    but the problem is that ethnic Chinese New Zealanders heard something very different to what you say you were saying..

    A lot of other people did too. Rob throwing around his own brand of “cartoonish hyperbole” to caricature dissent isn’t adding anything much to the “sensible discussion” he keeps saying he wants.

    And this particularly got up my nose:

    Many were quick to accuse Labour of overt racism, despite Labour’s proud record on race relations in New Zealand.

    Recently, a lot of people were marking the 29th anniversary of the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act. Labour is, and should be, very proud of it’s part in that. But does that mean LGBT and allies are never allowed to be critical of Labour ever again? Nope, Rob, that’s not how a parliamentary democracy works.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    You harmed people with this.

    Your response is that the ends justify the means.

    And you didn't mean to harm them so it's OK.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Labour cares about this because the Kiwi dream of home ownership is rapidly slipping away from young New Zealanders of all ethnicities.

    And how hard would it have been to make that the message, rather than Twyford explicitly and repeatedly pitting 'Chinese' against 'hard-working NZers' as if the groups couldn't possibly overlap.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Nobody should read anything in our data analysis as being critical of Kiwis who happen to have Chinese ethnicity

    I'd buy this Rob if it wasnt for the fact that so many NZers of Chinese descent quite clearly read it as a criticism, based entirely on the way Labour chose to frame a very real issue, and the way in which that issue was then reported. Its hard to back away from that saying "hey now, thats not what we really meant" ....

    OTOH, Labour has achieved its goal of getting the issue talked about. Its just had to take quite a few punches to the face in doing so. It might have been ham-fisted, it might have been some kind of deliberate dog-whistle, but maybe the strategists think that the punches in the face were worth it to land a few on the Government.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to llew40,

    OTOH, Labour has achieved its goal of getting the issue talked about. Its just had to take quite a few punches to the face in doing so.

    As Keith and Tse-Ming and others keep pointing out it’s who ends up being used as human shields and written off as collateral damage over and over and over again. I really don’t know whether Labour’s leadership really get that – or even much care.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Ewan Morris,

    Others have explained more eloquently than I can why what Labour did in releasing this shoddy "data" was so wrong. (As a side issue, Phil Twyford has described the person who leaked the data as a "whistleblower". A whistleblower is someone who exposes illegal or unethical behaviour within an organisation, not just someone who leaks information you might find interesting.)

    My questions for Rob are: Isn't property speculation the issue, rather than where someone comes from? Is property speculation OK if done by New Zealand residents? And most importantly: what actual policies does Labour have to address property speculation, particularly now that it has backed away from a capital gains tax?

    Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • KathrynB, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I agree that Rob released this data in good faith, and I do not believe that Phil Twyford is racist. However, I do believe Twyford at least should have realised that the way this research was framed, it would be inevitable that people of Chinese ethnicity are going to feel more vulnerable as a result.

    Personally, I think not enough was done to make it clear that investors from PRC are becoming an issue in property markets elsewhere as well, and this is why Labour has reluctantly issuing research that indicates this may be a factor in Auckland house prices. Labour should have supplemented the Chine names analysis that indicated general overseas investment eg the REINZ figures on NZ mortgages .

    On top of this Labour should have apologised to the resident Chinese community when it became clear that many are upset. Instead there has just been defensive justification from Little and Twyford.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to KathrynB,

    On top of this Labour should have apologised to the resident Chinese community when it became clear that many are upset.

    Not having a crack at the Race Relations Conciliator might have been a good idea too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Russell Brown,

    @Russell: Certainly I acknowledge that some heard a different message than we were sending.

    For Labour, the distinction was always about speculation from *offshore* Chinese investors vs hard-working Kiwis of *all* ethnicities. How much of the blame for that disconnect in message-sent vs message-received lies with Labour, and how much of it lies with the liberal outrage machine amplifying the message-ultimately-received, exemplified by Phil Quin, is a topic I don't have enough distance to judge.

    I can't be any clearer in my repudiation of any blaming of NZers who happen to have Chinese ethnicity. That group is not at fault, at all.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Recently, a lot of people were marking the 29th anniversary of the passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act. Labour is, and should be, very proud of it’s part in that. But does that mean LGBT and allies are never allowed to be critical of Labour ever again? Nope, Rob, that’s not how a parliamentary democracy works.

    1. Agree with your conclusion. Nobody gives fealty forever.
    2. Wasn't what I said. Nobody demands fealty forever.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Sacha,

    Labour cares about this because the Kiwi dream of home ownership is rapidly slipping away from young New Zealanders of all ethnicities.

    And how hard would it have been to make that the message, rather than Twyford explicitly and repeatedly pitting ‘Chinese’ against ‘hard-working NZers’ as if the groups couldn’t possibly overlap.

    I don't think Phil Twyford ever pitted *all* Chinese buyers against *non-Chinese* hard-working Kiwis. He only ever pitted *offshore* Chinese buyers against *all* hard-working Kiwis. Andrew Little's comment are also, phrase-for-phrase, very close to the formation I gave and you approved of here.

    I think this is another side of the message-sent vs message-received issue that Russell raised and I addressed above.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    liberal outrage machine

    To paraphrase Helen Clark: Rob, when you’re in a hole, stop digging like you’re auditioning for Fox News or the Daily Mail.

    Seriously.

    Just stop.

    Please.

    You know what you call "the liberal outrage machine"? I call them citizens and electors who are allowed to get as uppity as they damn well please. If they're not able or willing to treat all this as some rhetorical game or stats-wanking thought experiment? Deal with it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kalka River, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    I can't be any clearer in my repudiation of any blaming of NZers who happen to have Chinese ethnicity. That group is not at fault, at all.

    Come on dude, wise up.

    What group is at fault?

    Well there are only two groups that are really at fault, the main responsibility being that of the governments for allowing it to happen.

    If your wife flogs off the family silver without your approval, you don't yell and scream and point the finger at the buyer who paid a good price do you?

    The overseas buyers are not at 'fault' anymore than I am at 'fault' for buying a sausage roll that was on sale this morning at the local bakery.

    So who to blame:

    (1) the national govt for not doing anything about it right now
    (2) the labour govt for the terms in the FTA that allowed this to happen
    (3) the greedy NZ homeowners ---many many of them white, holding out for a good price.

    Don't blame the customer---blame the idiots putting the stuff up for sale. Have the Chinese pointed a gun at the head of anyone demanding a sale? Of course not.

    But you chose to blame the customer ---because you knew you could get political mileage out of resentment because of their race, and the fact that they belong to a race that many whites resent for having money.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2015 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Jeff Weir, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    For Labour, the distinction was always about speculation from *offshore* Chinese investors vs hard-working Kiwis of *all* ethnicities.

    So you're not worried about speculation from *offshore* investors of *all* ethnicities? You're only worried about the Chinese ones?

    Since Jul 2015 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to KathrynB,

    Labour should have supplemented the Chinese names analysis that indicated general overseas investment eg the REINZ figures on NZ mortgages .

    Or even note gone for that big splash at all. As David Hood has been demonstrating in discussions on other threads, there is quite a bit of evidence at least suggesting that Auckland's house price spiral has been driven by foreign capital.

    Among the insights (from work he did in 2012): The growing gap between wealth+mortgages and the value of hosing in NZ and the "magic money" that implies.

    David also notes that the value of house sales in NZ increased by $4bn last quarter, while the value of mortgages increased only $1.5bn.

    Better to lead with things that won't get you accused of racism.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Ewan Morris,

    My questions for Rob are: Isn’t property speculation the issue, rather than where someone comes from? Is property speculation OK if done by New Zealand residents? And most importantly: what actual policies does Labour have to address property speculation, particularly now that it has backed away from a capital gains tax?

    Thabnks for the questions, Ewan. Here are some answers:

    1. The location matters. Offshore property speculation causes a net loss to the NZ economy, for no productivity gain. (Real estate investment doesn't create jobs or improve business practices.) Onshore property speculation has the same lack of productivity gain, but the gains accrue within the NZ economy. So onshore speculation is better for the NZ economy than offshore speculation

    2. Labour's policies are to restrict offshore speculation. With Labour, non-resident non-citizens will find no longer be able to buy existing residential houses. That takes some heat out of the market, allowing more NZ families of all backgrounds to own the roof over their head.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Kalka River, in reply to Jeff Weir,

    For Labour, the distinction was always about speculation from *offshore* Chinese investors vs hard-working Kiwis of *all* ethnicities.

    Good point---note the juxtaposition ---the cunning inscrutable oriental against the hard working white kiwi ----come on Raymond- --that is simply riffing on a stereotype and one that pops up in a lot of peoples heads automatically.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2015 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Jeff Weir,

    So you’re not worried about speculation from *offshore* investors of *all* ethnicities? You’re only worried about the Chinese ones?

    No, Labour is concerned about offshore speculators, no matter where they come from or their ethnicity. That's why our policy is to restrict foreign ownership of residential property for all offshore interested, no matter where they are from.

    Our discussion last week focused on Chinese offshore buyers because (1) the *data* indicated this group was a major outlier; and (2) because of all the other evidence, accumulated over many months in NZ andf consistent with experience in UK, Australia, US, and Canada, that it is money from China that's a prime contributor to housing issues in all those places.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    You know what you call “the liberal outrage machine”? I call them citizens and electors who are allowed to get as uppity as they damn well please. If they’re not able or willing to treat all this as some rhetorical game or stats-wanking thought experiment? Deal with it.

    Yes, Craig, people are indeed "allowed to get as uppity as they damn well please." And I'm allowed to disagree with them, even colourfully, because I, too, am "allowed to get as uppity as I damn well please." So, what's your point?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kalka River,

    3) the greedy NZ homeowners —many many of them white, holding out for a good price.

    If they plan to keep living in Auckland they don't have much choice but to take the market price for the house they're selling. I don't think "greedy white homeowners" is a very useful approach.

    If you're going to blame sellers, it would be more appropriate to concentrate on the speculative house traders whose buying-and-flicking-on may be part of the story behind those last-quarter figures cited by David Hood.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22807 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    Certainly I acknowledge that some heard a different message than we were sending.

    You used ethnicity as a proxy for nationality. People said your analysis was a sound way of determining ethnicity, but if ethnicity is not the problem, but nationality, why do that?

    I simply cannot believe people actually thought that if they defined a problem in terms of race, it wouldn't be discussed in terms of race. You were the ones who used "Chinese" to mean "foreign". Of course that made NZ Chinese people feel othered and threatened. Could you not find a NZ Chinese person to run it by before you released it? Did that not occur to anyone?

    If this really was cock-up and not conspiracy, Labour needs to apologise. Properly. Not "if people were offended", properly.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    For Labour, the distinction was always about speculation from *offshore* Chinese investors vs hard-working Kiwis of *all* ethnicities.

    But that is not what Twyford said at all, is it? His words were very clear, hence the immediate anger they aroused. Own it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond, in reply to Kalka River,

    So who to blame:

    (1) the national govt for not doing anything about it right now
    (2) the labour govt for the terms in the FTA that allowed this to happen
    (3) the greedy NZ homeowners —many many of them white, holding out for a good price.

    I'll take door number 1, please!

    Certainly I agree that the offshore speculators, while being the cause of the problem, aren;t to blame for it. They're simply taking advantage of a permissive set of rules. The keepers of those rules, which in NZ is currently a National-led government, are to blame for the rules that allow it all to happen.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

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