Labour: Housing market 'not a morality play'

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford
Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford

Labour Party leader Andrew Little has lashed out at 3 News after he was questioned about his party's data on Chinese homebuyers in Auckland.

The Labour leader took exception to being grilled, saying it was "desperate" and "inflammatory", leading the Prime Minister to say Mr Little had "lost his rag".

Mr Little was on the defensive, big time.

"Let's get the language right, alright? I'm not going to stand here and have a desperate TV3 reporter use inflammatory language on this. Cooked up? What was cooked up?"

Chinese New Zealanders are accusing Labour of causing racial division with its data that took aim at Chinese homebuyers.

"This is how a debate gets out of control," says Mr Little.

Labour took leaked real estate agency figures, identified Chinese-sounding names, used a mathematical formula to estimate how many were of Chinese ethnicity and calculated 39 percent of the sales were to Chinese people, which it then extrapolated to say meant many were from offshore.

"We, in my view, had a moral duty to release that information, as uncomfortable as it was, as imprecise as the conclusions were," says Mr Little.

It was imprecise. When 3 News visited some of the houses, the owners turned out to be Kiwi citizens or were applying to be.

Labour didn't talk any of the people in the data; its analysis was purely statistical.

There are no official figures to go on and the Government will only start doing that in October.

"What I do know is that our information won't be cooked up, and when someone asks me a question about it I won't lose my rag at TV3 like that member did before," says Prime Minister John Key.

"The Auckland housing market is not some kind of morality play for you to be the referee in; it's a market," says Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford.

3 News