Housing crisis not a by-product of migration - Minister

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. File photo / Otago Daily Times
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. File photo / Otago Daily Times

The housing crisis in areas like Auckland is not a by-product of migrants buying up residential properties, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

The comment comes after the Green Party last month floated the idea of a tax on non-residents who buy residential property in New Zealand.

In Hong Kong, a 15 per cent surcharge has been introduced in an attempt to take some of the heat out of the property market.

Mr Woodhouse told TVNZ's Q+A programme today the housing crisis was not a by-product of immigration.

"I wouldn't accept that. We need skills and we are a migrant nation - we have always relied on immigration," he said.

"It's really important, I think, that people don't judge what's going on by how many Asian faces there are at the local auction."

Mr Woodhouse said the housing problem was "a supply side issue" and the Government was introducing changes to tackle that.

He said migration recently had been stable, and migrants needed somewhere to live.

Mr Woodhouse pointed to a recent BNZ survey that showed about 9 per cent of houses were owned by non-residents.

Of those, half the owners intended to come to New Zealand soon - and of the rest, there were as many non-residents selling houses as there were buying them.

"So I'm not sure it's true to say that immigration at the moment is driving up the price of houses."

He said a Hong Kong-style tax could be a barrier to skilled migrants seeing New Zealand as an attractive destination.

"I'm not sure that it's had the effect of dampening the house prices in Hong Kong."

- APNZ

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