Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scandal Down Under: A Line Crossed?

Yesterday, driving to and from a meeting in Ashburton (so about an hour each way to listen to the radio), I caught up with two significant items of NZ news. Both scandalous. The bigger scandal concerns an advert doing the rounds of South East Asia and possibly Queensland touting the Auckland property market as an easy pickings investment gold mine off the backs of workers paying half their earnings in rent.

For non-Kiwis reading here, we are in the midst of great national anguish about property prices in Auckland our largest city and about consequential rising rents there, and also in Christchurch. Auckland in particular seems to have rising prices because of cashed up buyers from overseas. (Speaking from Christchurch, when we looked at buying a property here a year or so back, I was surprised at how many properties were for sale by Asian landlords who did not appear to be domiciled in NZ.)

Now we can and should do the yadayada recitation of the facts of trade and investment in a global market which means that if I want to buy a property in, say, Singapore (e.g. for my business office or for my children to live there) then a Singaporean resident should be able to do likewise in NZ. No question.

The scandal is not that we are open to overseas investors, the scandal is that we may be out of sync with our neighbours and their tax regimes so that by comparison we are effectively Asia-Pacific's tax free haven for property investment. If this is so, is it not time for the gummint (government) to do something about this? Why should NZ workers subsidise overseas investors when an NZ worker investing in their property markets would be subject to a tax regime for doing so?

Of course this raises the question whether the government has ministers capable of listening to people and reading the body language of the body corporate of NZ. Which leads, naturally, to the second scandal of the day.

Even overseas readers will have heard of this one as it is being carried by newspapers all over the world. Our Prime Minister, John Key, has been pulling the hair of a waitress, and in doing so has demonstrated poor listening ability and even poorer skills at reading body language, neither understanding the waitress's offence at his actions nor listening to his wife Bronagh.

Now there is more than enough comment swishing around our MSM and blogs so I have only one thing to point out here by way of additional comment:

It is time that secular leaders in the nation were compelled to undertake the 'boundaries training' that Christian ministers are compelled to take as a requirement for holding licences for ministry. (I presume such training is also compulsory for a host of roles such as counsellors, teachers, medical practitioners). No one undergoing such training would assume for a nano second that touching, let alone pulling the hair of another person is acceptable behaviour.

The Prime Minister's behaviour has been appropriately described as weird. Something also weird, really, really weird, it seems, is to be found in this blog post on The Daily Blog (the site of the original breaking news story yesterday): the employers of the waitress thought it appropriate to ask NZ famous journo Rachel Glucina to be their PR person for the day.

That is not only weird. It seems to me to be particularly stupid re crossing of lines and boundaries. (LATER: trying to make sense of the NZ Herald and crossing of boundaries gets trickier as NZH denies do so, see here).


Kurt said...

What you are describing has been happening here in NYC for decades. It's disgusting.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Father Ron Smith said...

The 'Crossing Boundaries' by our Prime minister, Peter. Is it any more heinous than the borders crossed in the Church of England by the Gafcon Primates?

I disapprove of both types, myself.

Peter Carrell said...

Might depend, Ron, on who is wagging the tail!

Michael Reddell said...

Houses shouldn't be scarce commodities, and would not be (outside Chch temporarily post-earthquake) if it were much easier to use land to build on. It has been done elsewhere - Houston is an excellent example. Tax issues are, at best, of third order importance (and particularly in Auckland - and again outside Christcurch - rents are very low relative to house prices).

My assessment of the housing issues is here:

Peter Carrell said...

Well argued Michael
I see a long term (or perhaps medium term) issue re a 'land supply plan' which leads to affordable housing. (Perhaps associated with a national discussion about economic development and migrancy ... it is notable living in Canterbury that lovely suburban Chch homes are available at half the price of equivalent Auckland homes ... and that many workers from other nations are willing to work in Canterbury ...).

In the short term I wonder if the govt could do more to offer an appropriate tax regime to deter advertisements like the one I draw attention to.