Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy on Auckland Property Crisis

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy throws in her ten cents worth concerning overseas investors forcing up the price of Auckland property. No doubt conscious of past criticism where she has been perceived to be less than willing to enter the arena she now chooses to blunder into the fray Ill-informed and with no better strategy than to regurgitate the drivel spouted by vested interests such as Property Institute of New Zealand Chief Executive Ashley Church.

Devoy claims that "complex economic problems" are being blamed on "ethnic communities". The problem is certainly not complex -it is a simple matter of overseas demand vastly exceeding supply creating an affordability crisis -neither is it being blamed on any ethnic community. The blame rests fairly and squarely on a government obsessed with neo-liberal ideology -everything is for sale to anyone and the devil take the hindmost. It is the government and real-estate interests that have cynically turned this into a race issue in an attempt to discredit their critics.

"Economists have voiced real concerns with the legitimacy of the half baked data that’s been released this weekend" says Devoy. Which economists I ask? I have seen no such authoritative commentary. However, given the failure of the government to collect proper data is it not reasonable for concerned parties to estimate the number of overseas purchasers by any means possible? The use of Chinese names to estimate that part of the demographic is merely a tool -one that does not exist for many other parts of the demographic, e.g. British and American overseas buyers whose names are already common within the NZ populace. It is perfectly reasonable to estimate that the overseas Chinese part of the overall buyer demographic is around 39.5% minus 9% i.e. more-or-less 30%. Of course the overseas buyers of other ethnicity exascerbate this even further and are no less a problem.

Sadly, Devoy fails to understand the true nature of the issue she attempts to address -this is the problem with appointing a sports personality to do a diplomats job. It is likely that this was a deliberate ploy when choosing her for the post as politicians rarely choose to place those of high intellectual rigour into positions where they might find themselves criticised by that person.  She specifically blames Labour's Phil Twyford in her press release and accuses him of singling out certain New Zealanders "because they have a Chinese sounding surname". This is not only false it is an abuse of her Office. She should apologise or resign.

It is no good asking people to stop talking about it and "be nice". If Devoy seriously wants to defuse any potential conflict between resident Chinese and other New Zealanders, she should call for an outright ban on sale of property to all non-resident buyers.

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