Labour’s policy would breach the FTA Labour signed

Richard Harman at Politik reports:

would exempt Australians from any restrictions it might put on foreign buyers of New Zealand real estate.

In a move that raises questions about the reasons for appearing to single out Chinese residents, Housing spokesman, Phil Twyford says the Australian exemption is because of the Closer Economic Relationship with Australia. …

But back in the Labour Party Mr Twyford has been continuing to assert that Labour would ban all foreign buyers.

He repeated this claim in a piece he wrote for the Herald. 

But he told POLITIK that “sometimes simplicity is the enemy of nuance.”

“Our policy is to ban all foreign buyers with the following exceptions —“If you intend to come here and settle.”

“If you build new.

“Australians – in the spirit of CER, given that they exempt Kiwis from their restrictions on offshore speculators.”

This tells us two things. The first is you can’t trust an article written by Phil Twyford. Sure in a live interview you may need to go for simplicity, but in a written op-ed for a newspaper, it is disgraceful to lie about your own policy.

But assuming he has told the truth to Harman, he has killedhis own policy. Stephen Franks explained why in 2013:

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139.

So Labour’s policy is a soundbite, not an actual policy that could be implemented.

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