Prime Minister John Key has signalled the Government may tighten rules on foreigners buying houses if a new register shows a scale the public is unhappy with.
In his first day back at work since Labour released data showing a large proportion of house sales in Auckland in early 2015 were to buyers with Chinese sounding names, Key conceded that the public wanted to know the scale of foreign buying. …
“We’ve been a pretty pragmatic government. If we think we need to take steps to address an issue which we see coming of great concern, we’re prepared to look at it.”
Under proposed legislation the Government will begin to collect the residential tax status of buyers as a proxy for how many houses are being sold to foreigners.
So rather than judge off people’s surnames, the Government will collect much more reliable data. And this decision was announced months ago – so Labour’s stunt was an unnecessary own goal.
Key said information on buyers from markets from Britain and Australia would be “a bit polluted by New Zealanders who live over there”, whereas the “vast bulk” of buyers from mainland China were unlikely to be New Zealanders.
So this data won’t be perfect, but it will be reasonably robust.
Key said that he believed the scale of the issue would not be on the level which Labour appeared to suggest, but if it were he would consider it “a problem”, he told reporters.
“If you’re asking me if 30 per cent of all sales of residential property in New Zealand was to foreigners, would I think that’s much bigger than I expected and be a problem, I’d say ‘yes’.
“Because around New Zealand I’d be amazed if that was the case. Even in Auckland I’d be absolutely staggered if that was the case, but let’s wait and see the data.”
I’m looking forward to seeing the data.
He was dismissive of Labour’s research, based on personal examples.
“My next door neighbour’s Mark Ching. I look more Chinese than he does, but according to Labour, he’s a problem,” Key said.
“My son’s Max Tim Key, and he’s born in Singapore. If you saw that name on a piece of paper and I wasn’t prime minister, you’d assume he was Asian.”
I wonder what Labour’s Bayesian analysis says about whether someone named Key is Chinese?