Labour’s housing policy might win votes from fellow-xenophobes and the economically illiterate desperates who think banning a tiny number of people from purchasing property will make a difference to house prices.
But the only real beneficiaries of the policy will be lawyers:
Labour’s policy to restrict foreigners from purchasing a home will hit Kiwis in the pockets and will line lawyers’ wallets, ACT Leader John Banks said today.
On Radio New Zealand this morning, David Shearer confirmed that Labour’s policy would put the onus on conveyancing lawyers to determine whether those purchasing a home are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents and are buying the home for themselves with their own money
“Housing is already unaffordable without Labour’s added proposition of more red tape and higher lawyers’ fees,” Mr Banks said.
“Under Labour’s policy, when any New Zealander buys a house, a lawyer is going to have to establish whether or not they are a foreigner.
“As there is no list of foreigners handy, every purchaser will have to be questioned by their lawyer and will have to prove their citizenship.
“Labour also expects lawyers to prove that the purchaser will be the beneficiary of the purchase and is not purchasing the home on behalf of someone else. But how would they know? Lawyers only know what they’re told by the purchaser.
“Labour’s dopey ban on foreigners purchasing housing is going to cost every New Zealander through increased legal fees and more red tape.
“It is recent immigrants to New Zealand who will sadly come under the most scrutiny from this policy that is not actually going to do anything to solve the problem of housing affordability.
“Instead of focusing on this kind of dog-whistle claptrap, Labour should be doing something about the real cause of the housing crisis – the lack of land supply for residential development,” Mr Banks said.
The policy will generate more work for lawyers as people seek to circumvent the restrictions by, for example, setting up companies registered here with resident directors.
One of Labour’s other polices, the capital gains tax, will also provide opportunities for lawyers as people seek to find loopholes.
There will no doubt be other new or increased taxes under a future LabourGreen government.
They too will provide extra work for lawyers from people seeking to minimise their liability just as tax increases under the 1999-2008 Labour governments did.
Labour in its early days aimed to govern for the workers. These days its policy provides a lot more gains for lawyers.