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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The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.