Labour unwavering on Chinese buyer data

Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)
Labour Party leader Andrew Little (Simon Wong)

Labour and leader Andrew Little are fast falling out of favour with some in the Chinese community, and even some within the party itself.

Its analysis of home ownership in Auckland based on Chinese-sounding surnames has been slammed for inciting racism and has now led to the resignation of an influential party member.

Bo Li is a proud homeowner, proud New Zealander, and one of many Lis who owns a house in Auckland.

In fact, Li is the third-most popular Chinese surname on the list Labour is using as proof Chinese buyers are pushing Aucklanders out of the market.

Mr Li doesn't just think Labour is racist; he thinks it is inciting racism against Chinese.

But it's not just the Chinese community reviling Labour. Party member of 30 years Phil Quin has resigned over what he calls racial profiling.

"It's ham-fisted, it's amateurish and above all it's racist," says Mr Quin.

Mr Quin is careful not to draw comparisons, but says it was the seed of racial intolerance that led to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

"Imagine this story but replace the name Chinese with Jewish or Tutsi and contemplate how that would read."

Labour is unrepentant, standing by the unlawfully leaked real estate data and its analysis, which suggests three-quarters of Chinese buying in Auckland don't actually live in New Zealand.

"It's always disappointing when a member resigns from the party, but the correspondence coming to my office in the last day or two has been overwhelmingly in favour," says Mr Little.

It's finding allies in obvious places, like New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters.

The Government will soon start collecting data about buyers living overseas, but it won't differentiate between whether or not they're New Zealanders, which means there'll be no way of knowing if the numbers are as high as Labour says.

"The data will bear no relation to it and Labour knows that because actually it admits their data has nothing to do with foreign buyers; it has a lot to do with people with foreign-sounding surnames," says Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

So neither side is offering the full picture.

3 News