What is in a name?
To steal the words of Juliet, “What’s in a (sur) name?”
The person who released the real estate data was no Juliet and the names were no roses.
I am not sure if it was a slip of the tongue or a deliberate move, while releasing the surnames, that the word ‘Chinese buyers’ rather than ‘off-shore buyers’ was used.
Nevertheless it has created a storm rather than a solution.
One of the reasons is that hard working migrants face immense challenges and glass ceilings in their struggle to settle successfully in a new country. The general perception is that they get more than they lose by moving away from home.
However, every hard working migrant is sensitive and feels hurt if rather than acknowledging his/her contributions, he is named and blamed for the ills facing the country from time to time.
It is most of these hard working permanent resident New Zealand Chinese who now own houses in New Zealand that feel hurt and singled out by the release of the data.
The heated housing market has been catching headlines for a long time now without any substantive solutions.
While the quick fix suggestions and the blame game has been on, one is forced to sit back and ponder as to what all the hoopla is really about.
There is nothing exceptional happening in the Auckland housing market which is different to the other parts of the world. Rising property prices is actually a world phenomenon.
Take any place, for example a developed country like USA and Canada or emerging economies like India and China. Each one of these countries has cities and regions that attract people for various reasons. Therefore house prices in some of those cities are higher compared to others. A similar trend is catching up between Auckland and rest of New Zealand.
With globalisation, most of the countries encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
But no country wishes to break the colonial ties of one country then only to be under another colonial landlord. That too when the debate on changing its flag is still ripe.
Therefore, every country has the right to restrict foreign buyers while keeping in mind it’s trading advantages and disadvantages. However, every deal has some give and takes.
It may be worth weighing the economic benefits too before restricting or blaming a particular country or ethnicity.
Get facts please
Why blame a community without definite data when lack of long term planning, policy and inaction of the government that has contributed to the current housing shortage.
The issue of surnames has actually taken the heat off the real perpetrators of these crisis.
High migration should again not be seen as a negative factor in the larger scheme of things.
New Zealand population is ageing and is likely to affect its productivity while increasing pressure on the health sector. Therefore a streamlined intake is a must but only after a proper research and identification of long term skills shortage. Those in pipeline through our Universities to fill these specific gaps will have to be included in this assessment of long term shortage so that later it does not eventuate into job crisis.
Restricting offshore buyers might only be a drop in the ocean. But we need to set our own house in order by finding creative and innovative solutions to the housing shortage rather than speculative blaming.
Until New Zealand introduces bureaucratic accountability, it will continue to be bogged down by the hit and trial efforts of its mediocre.
Can we afford not to have effective long term plans and policies based on research?
It is time that those drawing hefty salaries off the tax payer’s money are required to show real turn around. After all return on investment is the norm.
Gurbrinder Aulakh is a Barrister & Solicitor at George Bogiatto. He is also Deputy Chairman, Auckland Regional Migrant Services and member on the boards of many social and community organisations. Mr Aulakh clarifies that the views expressed in the above article are his own and many not represent those of his law firm or those of the organisations with which he is involved.