Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford has dominated the nation’s political debate with the release of figures showing that, despite Chinese residents making up only nine percent of the Auckland population, house buyers with Chinese surnames brought just under forty percent of the houses sold in Auckland in a three month period earlier this year.
Twyford argues that most of these purchases are by offshore Chinese speculators, showing the extent to which the price of housing in Auckland is being driven up and making it near impossible for young and first home Kiwi buyers to get into the market.
Well known critics are labelling Labour’s view racist and are horrified about the affects on the Chinese community. Interestingly, these people have never said a word about the racism that Maori have had to endure over the years.
What did people like former Helen Clark advisor Keith Ng and economist Shamubeel Eaqub say when Maori rights were breached during the Tuhoe raids by the police in 2007 or when Labour rolled out their shameful foreshore and seabed act in 2004? Nothing. Just like Nick Smith and Stephen Joyce who are citing the race card over Twyford’s allegations.
Ironically, they are the same ministers who backed Don Brash’s racist 2004 campaign alleging “Maori special rights.” As one of the architects of the ‘'Iwi Kiwi’ campaign, Joyce loved the response that he received from ignorant kiwis who believed that Maori were getting special treatment.
Labour won't be too uncomfortable about being accused of racism by a party that ran the most racist political campaign in the last couple of generations. They are on target with a chance now to atone for their past mistakes.
Like National, theirs is not a great history in terms of playing the race card. Let's never forget their infamous foreshore and seabed policy which was their response to National's attacks on Maori. It was another example of racism that stopped Maori from going to court to test foreshore ownership and led to the creation of the Maori Party.
As well as this, when they were in Government, their record in terms of restricting foreign investment was poor. Instead of coming out with a policy of restricting foreigners owning property here and a proper capital gains tax that would drive speculators out, they did nothing.
Now that Labour's new leadership is in place and with an acceptance that they have erred in the past, they need to maintain a strong response to the housing crisis in Auckland if they are to stay on the right track.
Whilst Labour’s figures are a little crude and focused in this case on the nationality of the foreign purchasers, only a fool would deny that foreign investors are buying up New Zealand housing and driving up house prices as well as rents at a high rate.
The Tories are aware of this, but they want to keep their supporters happy - particularly the well-off ones.
At the same time, they are losing this issue on the street. Your average Kiwi knows the truth my advice to Phil Twyford is keep it up.
Willie Jackson and Alison Mau, 12-3pm weekdays on RadioLIVE
source: data archive