A group of business leaders has called for action on Chinese-based foreigners speculating on the Auckland housing market, but many also have reservations about how the Labour Party highlighted the issue. The CEOs were asked about Labour releasing information on offshore Chinese house buyers a few weeks ago, and The Warehouse boss Mark Powell said it was time to talk about the issue. "Overseas non-resident purchases of housing is a legitimate issue of public debate, but the way this was done was very disturbing and played to the race card -- appalling," he said. See our full Mood of the Boardroom 2015 coverage here: Ninety CEOs answered the question, following Labour's data which contrasted 9 per cent of Aucklanders being of Chinese ethnicity with 39.5 per cent of residential sales in three months this year by one agency going to buyers with identifiable Chinese surnames, based on probability. South Pacific Pictures' John Barnett was disappointed about how the debate evolved after Labour released the leaked sales information to the New Zealand Herald. "The real issue is: Are new migrants buying new or existing houses? They are allowed to buy either but if their emphasis is on existing houses, we have a problem that government needs to address." Kim Campbell of Employers and Manufacturers said the shameful lack of meaningful data has sadly lowered this important topic to a slanging match on racial grounds. Franceska Banga of the NZ Venture Investment Fund said it was the wrong approach, but it highlighted the broader issue around immigration policy."
It was a cheap way of showing how house purchases are driven but its consequence left it appealing to red necks and not resolving the problems.A healthcare boss called for more information on foreign house buyers to be made public, saying the matter was important if people were buying just to own a property but not to live here or contribute to New Zealand. They needed to be taxed, or made to give back to the country somehow. Another CEO said the Labour release was a typical example of using random statistics inappropriately. "I feel very sorry for the Asians who have lived in this country for generations and have every right to purchase a property without hitting the headlines in this way."Anne Gibson