Does Labour have a research unit?

Political parties get public funding for parliamentary support services.

That could and usually does include researchers.

They’re the people whose duties ought to include looking carefully at policy proposals.

Does Labour have a research unit and if so was the xenophobic policy barring all foreigners except Australians from buying houses examined by it?

If so why didn’t they see two large fish hooks spotted by a journalist and a lawyer?

Not long after the policy was announced for Rob Hosking pointed out the numbers of non-resident “foreigners” owning houses David Shearer was quoting included ex-pat New Zealanders.

Shortly after that Stephen Franks pointed out the policy almost certainly breached the Free Trade Agreement with China:

. . . Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment)  all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal”  no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.

So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!

But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).

Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.

So Chinese would-be  investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.

Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139. . .

. . . What would happen if Labour got the numbers to legislate such a policy irrespective of the FTA? Parliament can, after all, legislate contrary to international law.

There would be serious legal, economic and political ramifications. The Chinese government could invoke the dispute settlement procedures in the agreement.  NZ exporters may lose their benefits under the NZ China FTA. NZ’s international standing as a good treaty partner would suffer. . .

The FTA was signed by a Labour government , several members of which are still in the Labour caucus.

What did they have to say about the FTA and Labour’s xenophobic policy?

. . . Their Leader said this evening to NewsTalk ZB’s Susan Wood that his colleagues responsible for the China FTA tell him it was not meant to prevent NZ from barring investment it does not want.

If that was what they meant, it is not what they signed. . .

The sooo boring detail of deals that stitch us up may have eluded the politicians who actually signed them, but until they are properly understood Mr Shearer, stop digging.

Did his colleagues not understand what they signed, or did they understand but fail to explain the fine print to their leader?

Either way it reflects poorly on them.

It also raises questions about the party’s research unit. They’re the ones who are supposed to look at boring details.

Did anyone bother to run the policy past them?

If not why not?

And if so why did the researchers fail to spot the flaws uncovered so quickly by a journalist and a lawyer?

Could it be the research unit is as disillusioned and dysfunctional as the caucus?

5 Responses to Does Labour have a research unit?

  1. robertguyton says:

    Comments from Kiwiblog:

    hj

    (I haven’t voted Labour, but) Labour’s proposal, together with a Capital Gains tax and other allied initiatives, would recover New Zealanders’ rights and opportunities to be able to afford a home.
    The negative, self-serving attempt by National and its cohort parties, to try to present the policy as racist (any excuse to try to scuttle the opposition) does not hoodwink thinking people, who can see that this is by no means xenophobia, but the determination by Labour, N.Z.First and Greens to take measures which will ensure democratic action, and the wellbeing and progress towards house-buying of ‘ordinary’ New Zealanders.
    Such attacks by the government do not command any respect!

    Insider

    Interesting that Denmark has followed Labour’s policy by banning foreigners and having a capital gains taxes on residential property investment.
    Denmark has the most unaffordable housing in Europe

    Like

  2. Gravedodger says:

    Sad Robert, now so bereft of any original thought, resorts to cherry picking and reprinting comments from Kiwi Blog where almost all comments are published.
    Oh apart from those of greenfly and the other aliases Robert Guyton employs to give cold comfort to the enemies of our nation.

    Shearer’s latest brainfart made up on a serviette from the Koru lounge, based on the musings of the yesteryear xenophobe has been demolished by people with knowlege, and totlly discredited by all published statistics as unworkable, unlawful under existing law and inneffectual.

    You are showing your desperation Robert, oik yer pants up and take a few deep breaths.

    Like

  3. Paranormal says:

    Unfortunately RG your kiwiblog commentator is not that thinking a person. If we had a problem with offshore property owners snapping up all the first home buyers properties then there might be something in it.

    The evidence that a real research unit would have looked at before coming up with a plan shows that offshore buyers only make up 3.6% of all sales. Let alone analysing what sector of the property market these scurrlious furriners are purchasing in.

    The fact that Denmark may have taken a knee jerk politically inspired reaction does not prove anything. Firstly the policy hasn’t worked yet. Secondly how does it address Denmark’s (and incidentally our) lack of supply issues?

    If you think more tax is the answer then take look at Sydney where they have a CGT and some of the least affordable properties in the world. How does that work?

    Like

  4. JC says:

    “The evidence that a real research unit would have looked at before coming up with a plan shows that offshore buyers only make up 3.6% of all sales.”

    Lets not forget that 4.5% of the houses being offered for sale are offshore owners, ie, the one cancels out the other.

    Thats where the research should be pointed.. understanding how foreigners buy and sell land and houses in NZ. The same thing happens in farm buying and selling.. a foreigner sells out to another foreigner so that total foreign ownership dosen’t necessarily change.

    There’s an economic opportunity here where we should better understand what foreigners are looking for and apply this in the regions, eg, there’s at least one street in Rotorua where non resident Aussies own the majority of the houses.

    On a related note we have one real estate agent asking people in the BoP to get in touch because the company has keen Auckland buyers.

    Thats the way it should be in a functioning market.. Auckland gets super hot, older owners sell to foreigners and retire to the regions with their extra loot and create a servicing industry to meet their needs. Of course, plenty of those AK sellers might move to the regions and start new businesses as well.

    JC

    Like

  5. robertguyton says:

    Bereft of original thought!
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
    Thanks, GD.
    Refreshed, I head for the boardroom.

    Like

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