Bryan Bruce’s documentary ‘Who Owns NZ Now?’

Written By: - Date published: 9:33 am, September 13th, 2017 - 27 comments
Categories: housing, im/migration, journalism - Tags: , , , , ,

Perhaps a bit lost in all the poll froth last night was the screening of Bryan Bruce’s new documentary (reviewed by Colleen Hawkes on Stuff):

Housing crisis documentary pulls no punches on eve of election

Who owns New Zealand now? The NZ On Air-funded documentary that screened on Three on Tuesday, September 12 confronts the housing crisis head on and it’s an eye-opener.

This doco doesn’t just ask why house prices have soared while our home ownership rate is falling – it also wants to know why we have people sleeping in cars and “rental refugees” in Whangarei.

And this doco wants to know why, when NZ signed up to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago, are we not keeping one of the fundamental rights we agreed to – adequate housing.

Today, we have a low-wage economy. Since the 1960s wages have increased 59 per cent, but housing has gone up a massive 280 per cent. As Bruce says: “Our market-driven economic system has created huge income inequalities that didn’t exist 30 years ago.”

DEREGULATION

That’s one key factor. Bruce points out that successive governments have also embraced competition and the deregulation of the banking system, which has had a “dramatic effect on who gets to own their own home today, and who doesn’t”.

IMMIGRATION

But there’s another factor that has contributed to the housing crisis, and, you guessed it, it’s immigration.

But just how much of an impact does this have? The figures are all over the place […] There is no data, just a heck of a lot of anecdotal evidence.

One advertisement encouraging vendors to promote their properties to people in China says in 2013 Chinese buyers spent $US37 million on residential property and guess what? New Zealand is the fourth most popular country they search for. (New Zealand is also the fourth most unaffordable city in the world, after Hong Kong, Sydney and Vancouver, and that’s not a coincidence.)

And this is where it gets really interesting. There is no register of foreign buyers. Information from land transfers is collected for tax purposes, but foreign shareholders in companies and trusts buying property in New Zealand go unnoticed.

“The Government is not collecting information on who is buying how much of New Zealand, where, what kind of value or even where these people are coming from.”

EMBRACING ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

But there are alternatives to traditional home ownership, and New Zealand needs to embrace these. …

Read the full piece for plenty more, and catch up with the documentary if you can. A brief interview with Bryan Bruce here.

27 comments on “Bryan Bruce’s documentary ‘Who Owns NZ Now?’”

  1. Ross 1

    It was well put together and not a politician in sight which may have been a good thing as Bruce would have been accused of bias. But certainly the current Government came off looking incompetent but the last two Labour Governments were not without fault as well, especially the Lange Government.

    The most important thing from the doco is the idea that there are alternatives to the status quo. The mantra from Roger Douglas and Co during the neoliberal revolution was “there is no alternative”. And “short term pain for long term gain”.

    • cleangreen 1.1

      100% Ross.

    • The mantra from Roger Douglas and Co during the neoliberal revolution was “there is no alternative”. And “short term pain for long term gain”.

      Which has really been short-term pain for longer term pain except for the rich who are doing really well by bludging off of everyone else.

      • greywarshark 1.2.1

        DTB has mentioned rich so I’ll put this great little link that solves all our daily money problems with the right application of economics 101.
        Thanks Bush Baptist from Bowalley Road.

  2. Darth smith 2

    Why should we except being disenfranchised

    • greywarshark 2.1

      Darth smith
      accept is agree with
      except means different from

      Big difference.
      Why should we accept being disenfranchised, except for politicians who can give up their homes to the needy and live in a shoebox for all we care. FIFY
      It might not be what you had in mind but I just popped it in – seemed right somehow.

  3. Barfly 3

    Seems Granny Herald didn’t want people to see it

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11921349

    Still shilling for National

    • Ed 3.1

      Duncan Grueve.
      What an ignoramus.

    • tc 3.2

      Duncan Grueve should take it up with national as they stacked the NZ On Air authority.

      People aren’t stupid and now more will go and watch it at TV3 on demand now dueto this article, not very clever these shills are they.

      I’ve heard a few sheeple starting to piece it together themselves now due to the heralds blatant nact bias forcing them to cast a wider media net.

      • Cinder 3.2.1

        I refer to “The Spinoff” as “The Suck Up” nowadays.

        It does come across as rather envious of the fact that his production company has had successive projects funded (18 projects over 18 years!).

        And do the sums Duncan. $4.5 million divided by 18 equals $250,000 per production. Chickenfeed, especially for a media company which employs over a half dozen people per production.

        But Grieve does have a love affair with “The Block”, so perhaps a little conflict of interest?

        • tc 3.2.1.1

          Not really a conflict of interest being in the Herald, probably a minimal acceptable level of conflict.

          A love affair with the Block seems to indicate Duncan’s focus and intelligence at about the primary school level which as you’ve pointed out is where his maths is at.

          • Cinder 3.2.1.1.1

            I meant more that “The Block” continues to drive belief in the NZ property sector as a “do up and flick on” economy.

            And you can’t move on the Spinoff without hitting “The Block” this and “The Block” that.

            All bought to you by sponsored and partnered content.

            And the whole tone of the article is ageist and demeaning. “Cheaply made”, well Duncan, $250,000 doesn’t go far nowadays. It’s barely a deposit on an Auckland house.

            • tc 3.2.1.1.1.1

              Yes the Block ticks a few boxes as it’s also ADD type TV like the biggest loser, Say yes to the dress , real wives of redneck montana good ole boys, celebrity banality reality TV made cheap to fill up the schedules.

              There’s even an entire H&G channel of rennovation/property fixated shows and the block has it’s foot in property and human conflict camps, Big brother take a bow.

              I recall a few senior TV EP’s stating in the 90’s when BBrother came along that quality TV will now be under threat with the cheaper lowest common demoninator emotive telly like it.

              They were right but they lucky for them they worked in a public broadcaster who turdbull hasn’t managed to make a murdoch entity…..yet !

    • ianmac 3.3

      The doco made huge sense to me. That “review” by Grieve was without substance or help at all. Idiot!
      We have to collect data. The tax paper was a sop to voters. Bound to only reveal a tiny 3% of info and that was dishonest.

  4. Bruce also points out that fast-track investor visas to wealthy immigrants have not resulted in expected economic growth and job creation. Same thing happened in Australia and the UK, but those countries have toughened up on their fast-track programmes as a result. And in Canada, the scheme has been described as a “sham”, with immigrants coming through the investor programme declaring a lower income in Canada than any other group, including refugees.

    That should be an eye opener. Wonder if these rich people coming in to NZ on the fast track investor thing also have less income than the refugees coming in.

    And what is the solution? It turns out building more houses may not be the answer (just when we thought this was all that was needed). Supply can exceed demand when no-one can afford to buy a house at any price, as shown in the Ireland experience.

    And, as one Canadian real estate agent points out, those of us who do own a home like the idea of affordable housing, but we don’t want to sell OUR house for a song. Home ownership is entrenched in New Zealand and this is reflected in our laws.

    There’s a path to a fair solution.

    1. Ban foreign ownership.
    2. Build lots of state housing with housing NZ given the mandate of ensuring that there is a two percent over supply of housing everywhere.
    3. Ban the private banks from creating money thus making the government as the only entity that can create money in NZ.

    This should crash the housing market which leads to

    4. Offer to buy peoples houses thus turning them into state houses that the previous owners (this only applies to the people who lived there) then have a lifetime lease and pay 25% of their household income in rent.

    Basically, get rid of the idea that we all have to own our own houses but also get rid of the rentiers.

    • mikesh 4.1

      I agree with most of the above, but would suggest that taxing imputed rent would make renting more attractive as compared with owning one´s own home.

  5. greywarshark 5

    I pass on a link to a piece on land tax for anyone who feels like a change from looking at polls or chicken entrails.

    From 2010 item in Ethical Economics – The Case for Taxing Land
    In the June issue of Prospect, Philip Collins argues that ‘the UK taxes labour and endeavour too much, and land and property too little’.

    The New Statesman (24th June) pointed out that ‘with the exception of Spain, Britain has the most unequal concentration of land ownership in Europe … 69% of the 60 million acres in the UK are owned by 0.6% of the population’.

    http://www.ethicaleconomics.org.uk/page/27/

    That British stat sounds amazing 0.6%? Maybe it should be 6% which would be bad enough for owning nearly 70% of the land.

  6. savenz 6

    The National government does not keep any real details on immigration and non resident buyer status for property buying, because they want it to go under the radar and no one to be able to find out what the true figures are.

    It’s just been discovered that immigration statistics are just whats been put on arrival cards not actual reporting of numbers which are considered to be 30% higher that what is officially documented.

    The foreign buyers list does not include residents who are studying or on temporary visas. You can get residency in NZ with a packet of weetbix that’s how easy it is, to live here. (unless you are an educated, experienced honest application and then you seem to fail to meet the government’s criteria). In 10 years you qualify for super and get a NZ taxpayer paid UBI for the next 25+ years of retirement. Sadly by the time young ones get to retirement it will all be gone however. Look at how many retirement villages popping up in NZ. Corporations are making money out of the extra oldies moving here with money. The problem is, many have contributed little to NZ and will now be drawing on the health and super system in particular. Probably the highly profitable retirement village organisations aren’t paying any taxes either, because of all the tax loop holes surrounding off shore and on shore income. All you have to do is get one of your adult children to live here and then start the sponsor ship process.

    To get permanent residency all anyone has to do is to enter a relationship with a local person and you are home and hosed. The so called “skills” criteria is just a fraction of people who are now migrating to NZ.

    National’s immigration and property system is designed to be and is a confusing mess to keep the ponzi offshore and onshore property rout going as long as possible and to get as many undereducated and dishonest (in a ‘pretty legal’ sort of way) people to live here, and donate and vote for the National party.

    In a bizarre sort of way it seems that often people who leave their country then try to turn their new country into a similar mess they were trying to escape from in their own country. And it’s rich pickings for some.

    If Labour bothered to pick up on this type of rout instead of the perception they want middle NZ already paying taxes to pay more taxes they would gain more traction with middle NZ. Labour should go after the disgusting offshore tax haven model that John Key has designed for NZ. A super rich playground for corporations with money for jam from government and local sources via the asset sales and a low wage economy full of people forced to work low paid non secure jobs.

  7. Andrew 7

    One statistic that Bryan did not include while talking about ways to counter the housing crisis, specifically to do with the measures that can be taken on by government, is that 78% of NZ MPs own more than one house, while 53% own three or more.

    The party with the largest average number of homes was National, with 3.43 per MP, and while the people in power benefit from the current system of housing as a free market, they will never vote in legislation that would impact their personal wealth.

    • popexplosion 7.1

      People want to pay more for homes, it’s status. And so what if they borrow to do so, growing debt was how Key got ahead, it’s the way the world works. Financial-media complex that degrades our environment, cultures, society, liberty, in order that men like English can serfify their own grandkids. If these neo-libs weren’t all idiots it would be laughable how ironical. Neolib Does not lead to free markets quite the reverse since it stop holding power to account.

  8. North 8

    The Bruce documentary left me enraged that today’s crisis is the outcome which the powerful knew would occur. Worse, advisedly they acted/failed to act in a way which enhanced and deepened the disaster we face. All for the further enrichment of the few. They deserve contempt. Particularly when piously they invoke Freedom and Choice. Bastards they are ! I mean it was only a couple of years ago that elitist gargoyle Michelle Boag ceased the constant whine that first home buyers were demanding Victoria Avenue, Remuera. “There’s your housing crisis……neh neh neh snort !”

    Here’s the oft and well quoted John Kenneth Galbraith:

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

  9. greg 9

    the interests of the locals don’t exist in new Zealand if young and disenfranchised don’t vote the current there will be no action

  10. Nic the NZer 10

    This documentary was excellent. Something which was highlighted but is easy to pass over is that the massive income inequality is also part and parcel of the new market driven philosophy.

    One of the first things to go with Labour 4 was the political goal of full employment. Instead the government endoursed using unemployment to target low inflation. This approach has since involved leaving the level of unemployment to be market determined with obvious negative pressure on lower quintile wage rates and inequality resulting. Apart from driving inequality this has also reduced the rate of GDP = national income growth. This in turn has meant house price growth has jutted out.

  11. Richard 11

    I lived in Beachhaven, North Shore last year. Traditionally working class suburb. The shops had three real estate agents out of 12 shops. I saw two auctions held on the footpath, the bidders were 90 percent Asian . The statistics are deliberately obscured in my opinion

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