And the PM and Nick Smith seemingly don’t want to know, with their extraordinary avoidance of one of the main reasons why New Zealanders are now being priced out of the market. This is of course the influx of extraordinarily wealthy Communist Chinese, to such an extent buying up land, businesses, and housing that many own multiple properties.
Who has been protecting New Zealanders’ interests – certainly not this present government – when the Chinese-owned buyer of Canterbury Dairy farms (according to a report by Fairfax‘s Tim Hunter) is now claiming it got a huge bargain, paying $41 million less than they were worth. “Milk New Zealand Holdings, owned by wealthy Chinese businessman Zhaobai Jiang through his company Shanghai Pengxin, bought 13 dairy farms around Ashburton in a takeover of Synlait Farms last March… Shanghai Pengxin recently applied to buy Lochinvar station near Taupo for about $70 million.” Other wealthy Chinese have been quite openly stating their own intent to buy up even more New Zealand farmland and encouraging others to do so.
One brave real estate agent on Auckland’s favoured North Shore says in concern that all the houses his agency now sells are going to Chinese investors. Not only does this of course mean they are in direct competition with New Zealanders, but many also own multiple properties. The ramifications are obvious to any except, apparently, Prime Minister Key and his entourage…
Questioning what this is doing to New Zealanders’ abilities to be able to afford a home has nothing to do with xenophobia – or of a lack of appreciation of the fine, hard-working Chinese who have already settled in this country, some of whom have now voiced concern about the influx from Communist China; the formation of a new Chinese political party owing allegiance to Beijing; and China’s growing economic and strategic interest in this country. Factoring in John Key’s highly personalised and costly campaign to change our flag – and to repudiate our links with our own people, our colonial forebears – it is little wonder that a concern of informed New Zealanders is whether “something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
For example, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognise that New Zealanders are being priced out of not only the housing market, becoming John Key’s prophetic tenants in our own country, but that the ability of the ever-increasing exodus of extraordinarily wealthy Chinese from this repressive Communist country to outbid most New Zealanders any day – to not only acquire our housing, our farmland, our businesses and even our strategic assets – is no advantage to this or the future generation of New Zealanders. In essence, a good case can be made for the fact that lax regulations and insufficient concern by this government for the interests of New Zealanders is very much responsible for the plight of so many elbowed out of our housing market – and now squeezed off the land. But whose country is it? And where are New Zealanders themselves being consulted?
An NBR report states that the head of a company that helps Chinese buy properties overseas says NZ is one of the most sought-after targets. Moreover, “ ‘China’s plans to ease the restrictions its citizens face when investing overseas will result in increased Chinese capital flowing into New Zealand’s property market and contribute to rising house prices, ‘says an economist.”
Although Housing Minister Nick Smith has predictably claimed that Chinese investment in New Zealand is not significant, and was not having a large impact on property values, ANZ’s chief China economist, Li Gang Liu, has warned the New Zealand Government would need to introduce suitable “policy responses” to address a potential increase in Chinese investment in this country’s property market. “Chinese money should not [be allowed to] negatively affect local residents’ socio-economic welfare.”
New Zealanders agree. However, Prime Minister Key and Nick Smith apparently don’t want to know about New Zealanders’ very real concerns. Why not? We know that Smith boasted that he asks: How high…? when his leader tells him to jump. But is this good enough for a Minister who should be representing the country’s interests?
And why are the media not homing in on Key’s extraordinary reluctance to face up to New Zealanders concerns? The question has to be asked whether or not our Prime Minister has a quite different agenda. As recently as December, Key claimed that Chinese investment is not a significant issue. Few would agree with him… particularly when he has attributed the extraordinary leap in house prices basically to the result of a buoyant economy… a claim many would dispute.
Highlighting Hugh Pavletich and Wendell Cox’s findings in The 11th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, the NBR records that “ in recent decades these prices have soared, and Auckland is now one of the 10 least affordable cities in the world, at 8.2 times the median household income up from 6.7 two years ago. The article prompted denials – and promises – from Housing Minister Nick Smith, laying the blame on restrictions on the supply of land and excessive controls, while criticising some of the statistical methodology used by the authors – but at the same time again blaming the Resource Management Act for a failure to deliver cheaper housing.
However, the Housing Minister’s assumption that the government has this massive socioeconomic problem well in hand, with the building of far fewer new houses than can possibly cope not only with the present demand – but also including that from new immigrants – (while also factoring in the far greater affordability of wealthy, particularly Chinese investors) – is highly challengeable…if not risible.
Across the Tasman, Tony Abbott’s government has been moving to implement a foreign home buyer register and other controls, plus a $1500 fee on foreign buyers — a token amount, but one able to be raised in future. So why is it so very predictable that John Key’s back-up spokesman, Finance Minister Bill English, has previously called controls on foreign buyers xenophobic, preferring to avoid this very real issue, which he attributes to controls around planning permission and increasing supply…
Although the latter certainly exist, successive governments’ poor decision-making and aversion to facing up to facts, is part of the problem. And a key concern of many in this country is whether we are facing an issue of foreign investment, or foreign takeover.
It was apparently Ronald Reagan who originally said that government was not the solution – that it was the problem. And when we look at the far more stressful environment in which so many New Zealanders are working today, it’s simply not possible to avoid the fact that it has been poor decision-making by successive governments which has impacted on the lives of so many.
What when the face of this country has changed so much that the 40 hour working week is now a poor joke; that stability in the job market is virtually unknown; and that the even more demanding “meeting targets” -and working to the unfair, even markedly greedy aspirations of the CEOs of already extremely wealthy corporations – has increased stress levels? What when arbitrary decision-making and sheer greed has intruded more and more into the lives of what would be called ordinary people – the backbone of the country?
These now represent the ever-increasing financially disadvantaged – in comparison with wealth holders here and overseas. It has become a huge problem, nationally and internationally – the disparity between the massive accumulation of wealth in the hands of very few – compared to by far the majority of those working in the trades, the professions, the casual workers and the jobless – many through no fault of their own unable to achieve a regular and sufficient income.
Although it is constantly argued by the Right that the fact that there is a gap between the extraordinarily wealthy and the majority of the population is simply is none of our business – merely an envy-based concern – they are wrong. While it is fair and reasonable to maintain that money honestly earned by some is no concern of others – provided the standard of living of the people of a country as a whole is sufficient for families and individuals to maintain financial stability – this is certainly not the case in New Zealand today.
Who is responsible for the fact that one income is now not enough for so many New Zealanders to have children and raise their families – without mothers having to leave their babies and toddlers in less than optimum childcare? What has happened to this country that in so many cases now both a mother and a father have to go out to work to support the family? The answer of course, is that government decisions these recent decades have detrimentally impinged upon the country as a whole – not only in this, but in many other areas of our daily life.
A crucial issue of concern right now for so many is that New Zealanders can’t even afford a house in which to raise a family – no, not a high-rise apartment – just a basic house with a lawn area for children…some room for a garden to plant vegetables and perhaps a fruit tree or two… What many of us grew up with as a matter of course is now completely out of reach for so many. And the government doesn’t want to know. Moreover, it is inexplicably embarked on selling state houses which have long been a considerable help to disadvantaged families. Many of these will now be acquired by speculators, or by those owning other properties – and undoubtedly will add mark-up rents.
One of the reasons why we have reached this shocking state of affairs is not only consistently poor decision-making by MPs whose priority has been safeguarding their own interests and positions – but the fact that too many New Zealanders have failed to insist that governments of the day operate democratically – prioritising the interests of the people of the country – rather than singing to another tune entirely – as is the case at present with regard to our unaffordable housing market.
In Switzerland, for example, every decision made by the government has to pass through the scrutiny of the Swiss people. Within a 100 day period following the passing of any legislation, if even as small a number as 50,000 show sufficient disquiet to call for a what is called a Facultative Referendum (quite different from what is known as a BCIR a Binding Citizens Initiated Referendum) then this must take place. The Swiss people have long seen to it that their government must obey the wishes of the people. It was the Swiss themselves who very intelligently decided that they would not become part of the EU, so that that they would retain control of their own decision-making, rather than kowtowing whenever Brussels demanded yet another requirement.
New Zealanders need to take on board the fact that we can achieve the same ability to take control over the country’s directions – rather than supinely putting up with a continual power grab governments which do not prioritise interests of their own people. It is by insisting upon same 100 Days proviso that we can do so – see www.100ays.co.nz .
In a recent NBR article. Oliver Hartwich of The New Zealand Initiative, which closely resembles the former New Zealand Business Roundtable in its far Right policy theorising, claimed considerable success for the achievements of Key’s National Party. “To make this all the more astonishing, in accomplishing these reforms the National Party has actually increased its electoral appeal, being just one seat short of an absolute majority in Parliament.”
Its “electoral appeal”! This can well be regarded as factually incorrect – a good example of how incomplete information can distort the reality of a situation.
As the 100 Days website reminds us, a Dominion Post correspondent pointed out that an inaccurate presentation of voting participation at the recent election should be corrected. “It wasn’t either 20% or 23% of New Zealanders who did not vote. Rather, it was 31% – if the 23% of registered voters who did not go to the polls is added to the more than 8% who hadn’t registered at all.
“Moreover “when those who aren’t enrolled or didn’t vote are factored in, National received the support of 33% of the voting public – compared to 36% who voted for other parties.” In other words, only a minority voted to reinstall Key’s government. Most New Zealanders did not want National back.” It was simply the fragmentation of the vote among so many other parties that facilitated its return. It certainly does not have the mandate for unilateral action that John Key likes to claim – as, for example, with asset sales.
What we may need to continually remind ourselves, is that, as historian Barbara Tuchman states in The March of Folly, governments get most issues wrong.
New Zealanders realistically concerned about the directions we are being taken, whether or like we like it or not – and without any genuine consultation – would be wise to question what issues our government is getting wrong at present. Are we in fact becoming tenants in our own country? The evidence certainly points this way.
And without individual action, contacting, e-mailing, or phoning electorate MPs and our other parliamentary representatives to protest, the question of whether or not we are facing virtually unrestricted foreign investments – or a foreign takeover in a virtual commercial colonisation of this country – will become little more than an academic one.
Who else but New Zealanders can claim back this country?
© Amy Brooke – join us to help support our 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand campaign. www.100days.co.nz