Housing row raised with English in China

  • 21/07/2015
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong/3 News)
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong/3 News)

The political row about the impact of offshore Chinese investors on Auckland's overheated housing market was raised with Finance Minister Bill English during his recent trip to China.

The latest debate stems from Labour's controversial release of data showing around 40 percent of houses sold in Auckland over a three-month period went to people with Chinese surnames.

The government accused Labour of "playing the race card" and a number of Chinese New Zealanders also spoke out about the tactics.

Mr English says while Chinese officials were "too polite" to raise the matter in formal meetings, it was aired with him informally.

"There was a bit of background comment - not so much about whether it's an issue, because all around the world there are issues about the rise of house prices in big cities, and in a number of places the discussion about the role of Chinese buyers in that, so that's not new.

"But there were a few comments about the tone of it, it seemed a bit more hard-edged than most places."

But Labour leader Andrew Little said that's not the feedback he's had and he doesn't think Labour is damaging New Zealand's reputation.

"We thought very carefully before we released it, but the information told a story that was in direct contradiction to what the government has been saying for the last couple of years," he said.

"We cannot be constrained about putting important information into the public arena on a very important and topical issue because people don't want to upset the Chinese government, that's not the basis on which we conduct debates in New Zealand."

Mr Little said he will travel to China later in the year and meet Chinese government officials.

NZN