Sunday, August 04, 2013

Democracy under attack, again By Bryce Edwards 1:35 PM Monday Jul 29, 2013

Boom. Like a grenade into the housing debate, Labour's latest policy announcement advocating a ban on foreigners buying houses is certainly creating polarising debate and an outbreak of accusations. Mike Hosking says today that 'This in a nutshell is pure racism' - see: Another headline-grabbing policy from Labour. He also says, 'I assume Winston will be fuming at Labour's housing plan - fuming but smiling. It's right out of his playbook. There is always fertile political ground by bagging foreigners, so with Labour looking to ban foreign ownership of housing unless they build, they might well be on to an electoral winner. It doesn't make it a good policy or sensible or logical, but then politics isn't always about doing the right or proper thing'. Similarly, Cameron Slater is attempting to attach the label of 'Chan Ban' to the policy - see: Labour's policy based on fear not facts. A more sophisticated analysis is offered by Liam Dann in his column, Home-buying ban runs high risks. But again he likens it to 'Kevin Rudd's hardline refugee policy', with the political objective of making the leader 'look tough'. But is the policy really reactionary, racist or xenophobic? Labour says 'no' - see TV3's Labour denies housing policy 'anti-Asian' and Isaac Davison's Labour defends buyer policy. Unfortunately for Labour, however, Winston Peters is quoted in defence of the policy, using examples of Asian buyers and 'people in mainland China'. Damian Christie also provides a strong defence of Labour's policy in Johnny Foreigner & the Auckland Property Market. So will the 'foreigner ban' policy even work? The verdict on that is still out, but already plenty of commentators say that the effect is likely to be fairly insignificant - see, for example, TVNZ's Realtor doubts impact of Labour housing policy. But for a highly rational rebuttal of Labour's policy, see Canterbury University's economist Eric Crampton's blogpost. The spotlight is very much still on the vulnerability of Labour's leadership at the moment. The best recent commentaries on this are Vernon Small's Leadership woes undermine Labour, which says that the leader's 'last throw of the dice' is probably too late, and he explores some of the rival options. Fran O'Sullivan surveys those options too, and throws up the possibility of Phil Goff returning to the leadership - see: Shearer must cosy up to business bosses.

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