“It is utterly awful, Amy. It is not what my father fought for in 1939-45.”
What is this “bright line” nonsense? This extraordinarily un-kiwi phraseology is foreign to New Zealanders, much more like the kind of language the Chinese employ in descriptive writing. We could more accurately describe this disastrous Prime Minister’s decision (much too little, and far too late) to apply a very minimal check on the buying up of New Zealand’s housing stock – Auckland’s in particular – with a concept familiar to New Zealanders – that the horse has bolted.
The reaction above – “It is not what my father fought for in 1939 to 1945” – which reached me from one of New Zealand’s most outstanding apolitical lawyers, a much-respected QC of integrity and international stature, reflects the incredulity of so many New Zealanders from all walks of life. We all now know that the country is being sold out from under our feet – and that, on the evidence, obvious for some time now, John Key and his National government apparently couldn’t care less. Hence the too little, too late, temporary-only dampener put on foreign investors who are neither New Zealand citizens nor New Zealand residents, but are entering this country in unprecedented numbers, and are buying us out.
And yes – this is not what New Zealanders – our fathers, our uncles, both men and women of a preceding generation, whom we honour with “Lest We Forget”… gave up six years of their lives for – if not their whole lives – in the Second World War alone – to preserve this country and other democracies. It was above all for our own land that they fought – the land we walk on and work on – for our own people. They did it for their own generation – their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters… for their children, and for their children’s children. And it is we, their children and their children’s children who now – (either through the utter negligence or deliberate agenda of this culpable government) – are being out shut from what they left us. We are and more prevented from owning what should be our farms, our housing stock – our businesses – and our strategic assets. In other words, we are well and truly facing the sell-out of New Zealand.
We should make no mistake: this is an unprecedented and extraordinary happening. And we are losing this country. Given our depressed economy, given the way Bill English is borrowing to beat all previous records, we know very well that most New Zealanders can be, and are now being outbid for our country by foreigners with far deeper pockets.
The OIO admits there is no limit on how much land can be sold under our feet… No ceiling of 25%, 50%, 80%…? – or as much as the increasing exodus from other countries worldwide will contrive to snatch up – the mega-wealthy seeing New Zealand as a safe haven from the social unrest and instability throughout Europe, and most other parts of the world.
Remember how John Key has consistently denied there’s even a problem with the housing market in Auckland? But then this Prime Minister apparently has a problem with the truth of issues – as noted by journalists on more than one occasion. Having denied there is a housing problem – which has already done enormous damage to the Auckland housing market and disadvantaged so many New Zealanders, unable to compete with the intrusion of the super-rich into this country (particularly those from communist China seeking a bolthole from a country now facing its own economic downturn), Key now claims he himself suggested the tax to Inland Revenue around five years ago. He states it was opposed to the idea and only recently changed its mind about it.
However, apparently the IRD’s suggestion was for a 10 year period, to rein in foreign investment. Key’s settling on a 2 year one instead suggests his preference is not to represent New Zealanders on this issue – but, rather, for it to impact as little as possible on foreign investors. And who’s telling the truth – particularly given that one wonders why the PM would have suggested a solution to a problem he has denied exists – and also given that the Greens claim that the IRD and Treasury have both supported a capital gains tax in the past?
However, it seems John Key likes to be thought of as Number One. There’s an interesting parallel here, with Prince Harry, on his recent visit, being presented with a gift of greenstone (pounamu.) It was given to him by the Governor-General. But the garrulous Key immediately confided to the media the information that he himself was looking into giving the Prince a greenstone treasure – it was just that Sir Jerry Mateparae got in first.
On went our charismatic PM, indulging once more in a bit of centre-staging: “I know Prince Harry really wants some pounamu. He admired it when we were at Gallipoli [for the Anzac Centenary commemoration]…I was standing next to him at Chunuk Bair and we were watching a kapa haka group perform, and Prince Harry made a special mention of the greenstone necklaces the group were wearing…He said they looked really beautiful, and he asked where he might be able to buy one. I told him it was pounamu and you don’t buy it: you must be gifted it.”
The latter, of course, is completely untrue. Greenstone jewellery and artefacts can be bought all over the country…But is it any more untrue than our Prime Minister’s claim, prior to the last election, that the government’s budget was in surplus – when, in fact, this Thursday will now be the seventh – or is it the eighth year in a row that we are facing a budget deficit because of this government’s mishandling of the economy? The fact that Key and his National Party are thought as being successful financial managers must be one of the most successful deceptions being practised on New Zealanders in recent years – with far too little scrutiny by the media.
But to abbreviate Key’s strangely elaborate claim of “I thought of it first…(with his “ I” suddenly becoming “we”…”So, we looked into gifting him a beautiful piece as a memento of his trip here, but the Governor-General said he would be giving him something. I know Prince Harry will treasure it…” etc. We get the picture. Our Prime Minister is The One Who Thinks of Things First – as with the” bright line” jargon? But most importantly, this totally inadequate proposal is going to do very little to address the rapacious swoop on the Auckland housing market by foreign investors – greatly aided by those New Zealand real estate agencies which went to Communist China to recruit them, bragging about the fact that they could keep on buying and keep renting to NZ tenants, who can’t afford to buy the houses themselves…and informing them how easy it was to not pay tax here. We have been basically sold as a pushover – which few would dispute.
But why has this been the case for so long? And why, after 2 years can the same foreign buyers still now sell, and avoid this new tax? Key’s oddly named “bright line” is going to do very little to solve what is happening. It simply prevents anyone buying a house to on-sell it with a view to making a non-taxable capital gain, being able to do so within two years. After that it’s open slather, as usual.
This proposal does nothing whatever to prevent those foreign investors – the majority markedly from communist China – buying up multiple houses and renting them to New Zealanders. The Reserve Bank seems to have overlooked the fact that in making it harder for New Zealanders to invest in buying property, by increasing the amount of deposit needed before a mortgage can be granted, it has made it even easier for foreign buyers, capital-rich, to crowd out our own people from the market. And is this supposed to be an improvement?
The only possibly productive part of this too-little-too-late proposal from the PM, and apparently only because of the government being leaned on to do its part, is the requirement that buyers will now (why only now! An eye on-the-ball, competent government, acting on behalf of New Zealanders, would have seen to this long ago) be required to register with the IRD, and open bank accounts in this country.
Once again New Zealand first leader Winston Peters is the only politician representing those New Zealanders who do not belong to the moneyed class controlling most of the investments in this country (apart from Labour’s Stuart Nash, making highly relevant comments in the NBR – but we’ll come to this – about National’s scandalous transfer of $7.45 million dollars of New Zealanders’ money to a foreign-owned farm in Saudi Arabia).
Peters points out that this new policy – not even due to come into force until October 1 – is “but a pittance” and completely ignores the issue of offshore purchases of New Zealand land. and massive immigration. He accurately labels the tax as a “weak attempt to deal with a major problem”. He is not wrong, when “The tax still allows offshore land banking and offshore purchasing of homes to rent, and does not affect the “past rash” of offshore buying of homes and farms prior to October 1.”
Peters has also predicted the Companies Office will “receive a torrent of applications from new property companies all in the name of virtually anonymous offshore property investors”.
Moreover, as Key pointed out in a candid moment some months ago, the wealthy know how to structure their affairs to arrange paying minimal, if any, tax. He appears to be helping here, by structuring his new proposal to make it game, set and match as usual for those anxious to afford to help New Zealanders become” tenants in their own country” – a position he once famously invoked – and since has done nothing about. As he now says, his proposed curb “is quite different from an investor buying with a long-term view of renting their property to tenants.” Apparently it’s business as usual, in this respect.
And while the government, in an apparent attempt to deflect the media and the country’s attention from the gobbling up of our farmland, businesses, assets and housing, keeps focusing its statements on the need to free up more land and build more housing – (housing which cannot possibly keep pace with the record number of immigrants) this appears to be a useful ploy to distract attention from the fact that it has done nothing to curb the record immigration numbers of more than 56,000 people per year, which is adding to the pressure of the Auckland housing market.
Moreover, it would be interesting to see how many supposed New Zealand companies are actually owned by New Zealanders. Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon, for example, is not owned by New Zealanders, but by Malaysians.
The New Zealand First leader may also not be wrong, when he said in a recent interview, “There’s a day of reckoning coming for us, sad to say. A lot of people in Auckland are about to lose their equity in their homes as they did in 2007 and 2008 when the market collapsed…Now, a wise government would step in and try and stabilise things, cut back on demand, stop offshore buying. The second thing is cut back on this massive immigration – which is not about production, remember this: it’s about consumption.”
His last statement is completely accurate. It is not surprising that even the downturn in the dairy industry will not stop foreign buyers grabbing our land. In fact there are all the signs that we are going to be increasingly dispossessed in our own country. Given the dairy downturn, farmers with their backs to the wall are being forced to borrow at exorbitant, quite shocking rates of interest. Those who don’t make it will be more likely to have their farms bought by foreigners, particularly Communist Chinese investors. Is this going to contribute to social stability in this country – and to New Zealanders feeling that the country is still ours?
Overseas analysts are writing well on these new phenomena – firstly on this fact that the super-rich are looking for places in our country and others as a bolthole – and because of the increase in social instability worldwide. And secondly, because today’s exodus from Communist China is unparalleled in its or our history – and New Zealanders are looked upon as a ripe plum ready for the picking.
But there’s no decent investigation being taken up in this country. And yet it affects us all. Already, a former American and long-time New Zealand resident, a hard-working owner of a small business argues that it is now too late for us. Is he right?
These questions need answering…but, unfortunately, too many of today’s better journalists are kept too busy meeting deadlines to undertake this. But it needs to be done – with urgency – particularly given that our cock-a-hoop Prime Minister has become an arguable liability to this country- with the National Party falling in line behind him…also managing not to see what’s right in front of us all. As National Minister Nick Smith so famously said, when his leader tells him to jump, he asks how high…
The issue that Labour’s Stuart Nash has raised in the NBR is almost incredible, the revelation that “National is spending over $7 million supplying mostly undisclosed goods and services to a privately-owned farm in Saudi Arabia whose owners will retain ownership of the taxpayer-funded assets.
“About $6 million has been allocated to contract Hawke’s Bay company Brownrigg Agriculture to develop a consortium of New Zealand companies to deliver unspecified goods and services for a New Zealand agri-business demonstration farm being constructed near Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
The government has also spent an additional $1.45 million on airfreighting 900 pregnant ewes from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia for a pilot research breeding programme – even though the profits from the future progeny of those ewes will be pocketed by the Saudi landowner.
“In addition, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) is refusing to confirm that no more New Zealand taxpayer money will be invested into the demonstration farm, which is owned and managed by Saudi Arabia’s largest livestock trading company, the Al Khalaf Group. Co-owner Hamood Al Khalaf, in partnership with George Assaf, reportedly owns three other farms in the wealthy Hawkes Bay area… Swedish investors now apparently own 8 NZ farms. Chinese, German, Russian and American buy-ups of our land – in some cases several by the same buyer – do not equate to what our fathers, uncles and grandfathers fought for, gave up their lives for, in the hope that they were making this country safer for future generations of New Zealanders.
Make no mistake; the pace of the sell-out of this country is accelerating. And only a fundamentally democratic movement supported by New Zealanders and challenging all the political parties, can now save it, at this late hour.
It can be done – the Swiss did it, to rein in their own government – and for themselves to claim the right to make the decisions concerning the country’s directions. The fact they succeeded with just one small but crucial provision, has made them the most successful and prosperous democracy in the world – as we detail in our 100 Days website!
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© Amy Brooke – Convener, and author of the essential reading (available on Kindle, or any good bookstore) The 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand – what has gone wrong and how we can control our politicians.
For further background information – http://www.amybrooke.co.nz