Media reporting on Labour’s housing policy

September 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matt Harman at Fuseworks writes:

The non-resident buyers policy followed a fairly typical pattern – as soon as it was released there was a flood of information and opinions released to the media – some in support of the policy, but mostly not.  

This isn’t a Party specific problem – we’ve found the same pattern with virtually any announcement made by any political party.

Themes that gained the most traction were that the policy is xenophobic and that it only targets a very small portion of buyers.

Backers said that having no restrictions is causing a housing bubble, that similar policies are common in other countries and NZ land should be kept in NZ hands. …

We compared the media reported responses to Labour’s policy for the three days immediately following the announcement, to what was reported in the following two weeks.

Initial reporting focused heavily on four themes:

  • - Labour’s message that the approach was common overseas
  • - The view put forward by John Banks and others that it is xenophobic
  • - The view first expressed by lawyer Stephen Franks that the policy may violate NZ free trade agreements (FTAs)
  • - The view put forward by the National Party and others that the policy would likely target a small proportion of buyers
  •  

In the following two weeks the responses related to NZ FTAs and the number of buyers it would impact receded, while the xenophobic narrative continued to be a high proportion of the overall discussion.

I am not surprised the media narrative changed, as it transpired Labour’s policy would breach several FTAs they themselves signed!

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5 Responses to “Media reporting on Labour’s housing policy”

  1. Ian McK (237 comments) says:

    Bet Labour/Greens will not stop PIs from buying property . . . after all, they want their votes. They are promoting themselves as irresponsible, irrational, panic-ridden, fiscally illiterate losers, increasing by the hour. I would not be surprised if the weird one has made further approaches to his close friend Dotcom for help. Birds of a feather. . .

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  2. Bob R (1,420 comments) says:

    ***The view put forward by John Banks and others that it is xenophobic***

    On that basis having border control in the first place is xenophobic. What a stupid, stupid argument.

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  3. hj (7,166 comments) says:

    So the Governments own Savings Working Group is xenophobic?
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

    as is the Australian Productivity Commision:
    “Among policy and analytical circles in New Zealand there is a pretty high degree of enthusiasm for high levels of immigration. Some of that stems from the insights of literature on increasing returns to scale. Whatever the general global story, the actual productivity track record here in the wake of very strong inward migration is poor. In an Australian context, the Productivity Commission – hardly a hot-bed of xenophobia or populism – concluded that any benefits from migration to Australia were captured by migrants and there were few or no discernible economic benefits to Australians. And that was in a country already rich and successful and with materially higher national saving and domestic investment rates than those in NZ.”
    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/mi-jarrett-comm.pdf

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  4. hj (7,166 comments) says:

    We looked at the coverage between the 29th of July and the 15th of August.

    The non-resident buyers policy followed a fairly typical pattern – as soon as it was released there was a flood of information and opinions released to the media – some in support of the policy, but mostly not.
    ……………………
    When it comes to the political topics that people are most passionate about – health, education, crime and the economy – we’ve found that any news or announcement is immediately contextualised witha flood of different perspectives from our politicians and lobby groups seeking to amplify, dismiss or angle the story to their advantage.
    ………
    Themes that gained the most traction were that the policy is xenophobic and that it only targets a very small portion of buyers.

    so traction in the media is a matter of interest group lobbying and (I would add) group identity.

    What happens when there is a report by a government appointed think tank which says thing neither the government or left-wing liberals (“anti -immigration feeling has no place in the Green Party say’s Mr Locke”) want to hear…? A deafening silence:

    John Carran, 2 April 1996
    “Vehement opposition to immigration, particularly from Asian countries, in New Zealand from an ill-informed and xenophobic rabble persists despite overwhelming evidence that immigration will improve our long term economic prospects.
    In 1988 The Institute of Policy Studies published detailed research by Jacques Poot, Ganesh Nana and Bryan Philpott on the effects of migration on the New Zealand economy. The research, which abstracted from the social and environmental impact of immigration, concluded that “…a significant migration inflow can be beneficial to the performance of the New Zealand economy and subsequent consumption and income levels.” The authors point out that this is in general agreement with Australian research on the economic consequences of immigration.

    Savings Working Group
    January 2011
    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

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  5. hj (7,166 comments) says:

    so traction in the media is a matter of interest group lobbying and (I would add) group identity.
    ……………..
    or there is a lack of defense of any policy seen as anti-foreigner (even when it is a matter of keeping your own house in order) as it is distasteful to liberals who always want to be seen as the good -guys and distance themselves from “the rabble”. These influential liberals are more likely to be high income global citizens. There is also sympathy for open borders from elements on the left (Bryce Edwards attacked Shearer’s initial announcement as “xenophobic”).

    At least Shearer’s policy was seen to be doing something whereas National has a policy of population increase.

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