Houses for sale and sold in central Auckland suburbs on November 25, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: New figures paint very different foreign buyer picture

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: ASB data paints very different foreign buyer picture, fuel tax passes into law, and a battle is brewing on the West Coast over grazing rights on heritage land.

ASB has come out with significantly higher rates of houses being bought by foreign owners, in a recently released analysis, reports the NZ Herald. Previously it was understood to be around 3%, with around one in five in Auckland City and Queenstown. ASB says those centres are still higher, but the real overall total is likely to be between 11% and 21%. Economic development minister David Parker says the figures are “a vindication” of the foreign buyers ban.

How was the figure arrived at? As per the ASB economic note,  in the March 2018 quarter, just 3.0% of total property transfers were to non-residents, and a further 7.4% of purchases were made by non-New Zealand citizens. Corporate entities accounted for a further 10% of purchases. Their conclusion was that “anywhere from 11% to 21% of reported purchases involved a non-NZ citizen.”

Meanwhile, Winston Peters says prices need to come down dramatically on some houses, reports Interest. Peters wants houses to be available at “no higher than five times the annual income of a young couple.” Currently the median house price is a bit over six times the annual average household income, which is not quite a like for like comparison, but it is indicative of relative un-affordability. That’s particularly the case in Auckland, where that measure blows out to nine times annual household income, rather than around six.

What effect will the foreign buyers ban have on house prices? The IMF came out with some analysis on it a few months ago (reported by Interest) saying it won’t have much of an effect, as foreign buyers “seem to have played a minor role” in the housing market. But if ASB’s figures are correct, that assessment may have to be revised.


The regional fuel tax on Auckland motorists has now officially been passed by Parliament, reports Newstalk ZB. Whether you like it or not, it’s happening, and motorists will pay 11.5 cents per litre from July 1.

Speaking of taxes and third readings of bills in Parliament, a newly passed law for collecting tax from multinationals will collect around $200 million a year. Radio NZ’s6am bulletin this morning mentioned that the tax won’t affect digital companies like facebook, but revenue minister Stuart Nash says that’s the next group of companies in the government’s sights.


A battle is brewing on the West Coast over a farmer’s right to graze cows in a Unesco World Heritage site, reports Stuff. The rights held by the farmer go back 150 years, and he’s received backing from the West Coast Commercial Gold Miners’ Association, who want to see conservation land put to more economic use. But the vast majority of submissions that came into DOC over the rights were opposed to the continued grazing, including from a scientist who says the have photographs of environmental degradation caused by grazing.


A man has been arrested in the wake of alleged sexual assaults at a Labour youth camp, reports Radio NZ. The 20 year old will appear in court on four charges of indecent assault. The Labour Party say they support the Police’s decision to make the arrest, and youth minister Peeni Henare told Radio NZ that the incident had forced the party to review policies and safeguards around events.


The Electricity Authority is pushing ahead with big changes  to transmission pricing, reports Radio NZ. There will be winners and losers from the proposed changes, because prices would go up in places like Auckland and Northland, which are further away from power generators. Incidentally, the story was republished by the Otago Daily Times with the brand new headline: Change would mean cheaper power for Otago. So some people will be pleased if it goes ahead.


Rates of benefit suspensions are way down in a short space of time, reports Radio NZ. Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said she’s instituted a policy change, by which any benefit suspension has to be signed off by a second senior-level staffer. Around 80 benefits are still being suspended every day, down from 100 a bit over a month ago.


This is a lovely story from the Taranaki Daily News front page today. Two teenagers nicked a tip jar from a New Plymouth diner, then got caught when they tried to come back to spend it. But after writing the owner a really nice apology note, one of the teenagers has now been offered a job. So let that be a lesson to all the kids out there – if you’re willing to learn and work hard, then crime really does pay.


The website Stuff turns 18 today. In the time it has existed, it has gone from an online clearing house for newspaper content, to being the most dominant website in the country, and having an entire media company rearranged so that Stuff will be at the heart of it. Along the way they’ve also published some of the best (and admittedly, a bit of the worst) journalism ever seen in this country. The Stuff story is recounted from the perspective of the company here, and is a very interesting read for anyone who is keen on media history.


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A random selection of items recalled over the last few years (Photos: recalls.govt.nz)

Right now on The Spinoff: Jihee Junn has gone through dozens of pages of recall notices, so you don’t have to. Toby Manhire has done that thing when he takes a stupid statement from a prominent broadcaster and rips it to pieces – today it’s Mike Hosking’s turn. I did some fact checking on National party claims around the numbers of striking workers under the new government. And finally – and I’m very sad about this one – Rebecca Stevenson is leaving us, so we need a new business editor. Here’s the job listing.


Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won the Presidential election in Turkey, that will not only keep him in power, but give him wide new authority. Erdogan has consistently become more authoritarian over his stretch of more than a decade at the top of Turkish politics, but even more so since a failed coup against him in 2016.

Al-Jazeera reports that Erdogan will now be able to act as an ‘Executive President,’ rather than a regular old normal President I suppose. What that means in practice is that he will have sweeping authority to appoint those around him, issue executive decrees (like what US Presidents can do) and impose states of emergency, like what was imposed in the aftermath of the coup. During that period, more than 150,000 people were detained or purged from their jobs, especially in the public sector and army. Media outlets and schools have been shut down too, in an effort to combat the influence of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Erdogan says was behind the coup.

Erdogan’s election win was convincing, picking up a clear 52% of the vote against a fractured field. His party also won a convincing majority of seats in Parliament. But there are concerns being reported that the election was in some ways crooked – Duetsche Welle for example says the ongoing state of emergency meant there were severe restrictions on campaigning, which hurt the opposition. DW also report that Russian President Vladimir Putin, also effectively an autocrat, sent very swift congratulations to Erdogan, noting his “great political authority.” Indeed.


Taranaki will get to play their rugby at Yarrow Stadium this season after all, but at a much reduced capacity to what they previously had, reports Stuff. They won’t be using either of the two main stands, because they’re considered to be earthquake risks. But it will be a huge relief for the province, especially as they are the current holders of the Ranfurly Shield.

Football World Cup results and spoilers

Australia’s Football World Cup has ended in ignominious defeat, going down 2-0 to Peru, to finish with 1 competition point overall. The result didn’t do the Peruvians any good though, as they still failed to qualify from the group including France and Denmark.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s World Cup could end in a matter of minutes. At the time of publishing, they were 1-0 up against Nigeria, in a game that even if they win, they still might not go through. Argentina are reliant on Croatia beating or drawing with Iceland too – though the Croatians have been in amazing form. There’s a significant Croatian community in New Zealand (especially West Auckland) so they could be a good option if you need to back a team to feel invested in the tournament.


From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that one of the best reasons for lighting up the Auckland Harbour Bridge, is that it makes diversity impossible to ignore.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.


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