Debate continues over foreign buyer register

  • 17/07/2015
Judith Collins (Simon Wong)
Judith Collins (Simon Wong)

National MP Judith Collins has attacked Labour's release of data showing the number of people with Chinese surnames buying homes in Auckland as racist but is open to the idea of a foreign buyers register.

The leaked data showed 40 percent of homes sold in Auckland over a three-month period were bought by people with Asian surnames, despite Chinese New Zealanders making up only 9 percent of the city's population.

Labour has refused to say where they got the stats, but earlier this week real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson fired an employee following an investigation which concluded the person was responsible for multiple leaks to media and political figures.

However, there was no evidence of the data being given directly to the Labour Party.

Ms Collins says both the data and the party's approach were fundamentally flawed.

"They've gone after people who have apparently iffy names, rather than looking at 'are these people foreign?'  As in, are they not New Zealand citizens are they not New Zealand residents?" she says.

Since the controversy, Opposition parties have continued demands for a register of foreign property owners so New Zealanders know exactly how many houses are being bought by non-residents.

Ms Collins say calls for a register are unjust as "we've never had that in New Zealand" but admits perhaps it's time the Government considering having one.

"I think that's a completely different debate and I think if we want to look at doing that – and we could do that – then that's what we should look at doing, but just going after people, in some cases people who had a Chinese great grandfather, and saying 'you must be foreign then', this is outrageous."

Deputy Labour leader Annette King says the issue is not the controversial science behind the data but the fact trustworthy statistics on foreign home ownership don't exist. She says the Government needs to stop "making excuses" and admit there is a problem.

"This was never intended to be chasing individual people, it was intended to highlight the fact that we have got a big problem in Auckland where Kiwis can't buy homes and we have not got the information we need to show the number of people who don't live in New Zealand who are buying up homes.

"We said that it was crude figures, but it was a proxy and we were trying to find data that the Government has been unprepared to provide and still they're shilly-shallying around it, with Steven Joyce saying 'We don't know when we'll release it, we don't know what we will release'."

Watch the video to see the panel discussion between Judith Collins and Annette King.

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