New Zealand Labour Party

Ministerial fingerprints all over botched foreign buyer data

Well-placed sources in the Government say the Land Information survey on foreign buyers was delayed while Ministers re-wrote the survey questions, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.

“I’m told the survey was delayed by Cabinet while Ministers – including Steven Joyce –interfered with the way the questions were framed.

“This is pure political manipulation and it has all the hallmarks of a Steven Joyce special.

“It would have been so easy to simply ask home buyers if they were citizens or residents. But instead the Government produced a convoluted set of questions that made nine months of data collection effectively useless.

“National has got itself into another housing fiasco by deliberately designing a survey to muddy the water and confuse the public debate about the impact of foreign buyers in the real estate market.

“Their latest calculation excludes house-buying foreigners on temporary work and student visas. This is a nonsense and it is cynical for Ministers to suggest the data says foreign buyers only account for 3 per cent of sales.

“In fact, the latest batch of data only shows the foreign buyers could be anywhere from 3 to 31 per cent. It is effectively meaningless.

“This was always an exercise in spin and manipulation from a Government that is deep in denial on the issue of foreign buyers.

“When the big banks, both here and in Australia, recently stopped lending to foreign buyers, it demolished what little credibility the Government had when it argued they are not a significant presence in the market.

“National’s attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes has well and truly back-fired. If they have a shred of decency, they will now redesign their survey to actually determine how many people are buying properties who are not residents or citizens. It is that simple,” Phil Twyford says.