While voters have been told they can expect an announcement on the party’s position “very, very shortly”, New Zealand First has wasted no time making its position known, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s morning news round-up. To receive The Bulletin in full each weekday, sign up here.
Expect an announcement on foreign buyer ban from National “very, very shortly”
As we reported in our Live Updates yesterday morning, a redacted document shared to Twitter allegedly included details of National’s policy on New Zealand’s foreign buyer ban. On Tuesday night Newshub’s Amelia Wade reported that it looked as though the party was set to announce a U-turn on the ban after Christopher Luxon said “we will have more to say” in the next few weeks. When asked if he would scrap the ban on TVNZ’s Breakfast yesterday morning, he said National would have more to say on that subject soon and voters could expect an announcement on the party’s actual position “very, very shortly”.
Reversal could be permanently locked in by recent trade agreements
Labour has criticised the possible future announcement and warned any reversal could be permanently locked in by recent trade agreements. Labour passed the ban before the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade deal came into effect. As interest.co.nz’s Dan Brunskill notes recent trade agreements and the “most-favoured-nation” clause in those mean other signatory countries would have the right to buy on the same terms as New Zealanders if the law was now overturned. David Parker says “Labour believes New Zealanders should not be outbid by wealthy foreign buyers… National needs to come clean on their plans to sell out New Zealand again.”
The housing market then and now
Obviously, the housing market has changed somewhat since the ban was introduced in August 2018. The national median house price then was $550k. It’s now $770k, down from the great heights of $925k in November 2021. Quite obviously, there are myriad factors impacting affordability. While headlines persist about tough markets and sales volumes at the moment, yesterday’s monetary policy statement from the Reserve Bank revealed the bank thinks house prices are now likely to rise much faster over the coming years than previously forecast. Infometrics chief executive Brad Olsen says “from an affordability point of view, if you’ve got no change in mortgage rates, and prices are hockey sticking up a bit, affordability will be even more cooked. It’s a bit difficult to stomach.” On the foreign buyer ban, Olsen says the impact of the policy has been negligible. “Everyone needs to commit to building more and more housing and increasing housing supply instead of tinkering with demand again,” he said.
Prime territory for New Zealand First
As Newshub’s Jenna Lynch notes, protectionist sentiment is prime territory for Winston Peters and New Zealand First. Peters has long railed against foreign buyers. This makes any moves to undo the ban a particularly awkward talking point should the National party need New Zealand First’s support to form a government after the election. Peters said yesterday that during a housing New Zealanders should not be competing with foreign buyers who don’t live here. Referring to the National party, Peters said “I would have thought they’d have enough sense not to go down that track.” As it currently stands, Christopher Luxon has not ruled out working with New Zealand First.