NZ's foreign buyers' ban influenced by 'new US Civil War' - author

An American author has suggested New Zealand's move to ban foreign buyers from purchasing property has been influenced by a new American Civil War. 

Military historian and global strategist Michael Vlahos said in a podcast interview the strong division between right-leaning and left-leaning US citizens has led to a new American Civil war, which has "already influenced decision-making by other countries".

But the New Zealand Government has never said the policy was influenced by US instability. The curb on foreign purchases of New Zealand property was passed into law last Wednesday with the goal of making it easier for Kiwis to get on the property ladder. 

Mr Vlahos has pointed to New Zealand as an unlikely nation to introduce a conservative policy to defend itself from a supposed influx of wealthy Americans looking to escape US turmoil. American multimillionaires such as ex-NBC host Matt Lauer and entrepreneur Peter Theil have purchased sections in high-demand places like Queenstown.  

"From New Zealand we learn that the legislator has taken the extreme step of banning foreign owners from purchasing New Zealand property, which for several years now has been passing into the hands of very well-to-do international thinkers," said US radio host John Batchelor in his podcast The John Batchelor Show

Mr Vlahos spoke to Mr Batchelor as a guest speaker giving his interpretation of New Zealand's new foreign buyers' policy. But he didn't mention that the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill would still allow overseas residents to purchase new apartments in large developments and multi-storey blocks. 

It is New Zealand's existing homes that will remain off limits to non-residents, but people from Australia and Singapore will be exempt from the policy because of free-trade agreements. 

"There is a news item that caught Michael and my attention these last days, that suggests that the American Civil War has already influenced decision-making by other countries," said Mr Batchelor. 

"New Zealand claims that these foreigners are using New Zealand as a bolt-hole - a place to escape to when everything falls apart, on the basis of inequality. In other words, New Zealand has already accepted the premise of Soylent Green [a post-apocalyptic science fiction film]."

Mr Vlahos spoke about the influence of globalisation and how New Zealand - despite being "so anti-fascist and so politically-correct" - has made the move to "preserve its identity" by banning foreigners from purchasing property. 

He made the suggestion New Zealand is slowly becoming more like Poland, which has a government considered to be far-right and against immigration. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been urged to confront Poland's president Andrzej Duda when he visits New Zealand next week for supposedly not respecting democracy. 

Mr Vlahos seems to think New Zealand has made the right move in banning foreign buyers, saying New Zealanders shouldn't have to be caretakers of the world's "elite" who, if things go into apocalyptic collapse, can "fly in their private jets to New Zealand and live in luxury". 

He said a sense of community and kinship is more important than money, and believes New Zealand has caught on to this, despite having a reputation as being open for business. 

But Trade and Economic Development Minister David Parker, who is responsible for the bill, says the policy's aim was to help make the dream of home ownership more of a reality for Kiwis - with no mention of an American Civil War.