New Zealand’s government announced today that on the 25th of December, a new measure will come into place stating that foreigners will not be able to buy existing homes starting 2018.

This measure came because of the house prices surge of the last few years, as it has happened in many touristic countries and cities around the world. As a consequence, many locals, and in this case, Kiwis, are not able to afford houses; home ownership is at its lowest level since 1951. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We are determined to make it easier for Kiwis to buy their first home, so we are stopping foreign speculators buying houses and driving up prices. Kiwis should not be outbid like this.”

She admits it might not solve the problem entirely, as in neighbouring countries such as Australia or cities such as Hong Kong, taxation has not been as helpful as governments wished. But “she nevertheless hopes the ban will ‘take some of the heat’ out of [the] market”. However, Australia is the only exception to the ban, since New Zealand is exempted from the country’s ban as well.

This policy does not only have consequences on the country and the foreign buyers itself, but in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Indeed, in this trade agreement between eleven countries, locals from these countries can have access to property in any of the other countries. This is why the government wants to pass the legislation this early on, so that the TPP is not ratified and can be renegotiated.

Affordable housing was one of Jacinda Ardern’s main concerns during her campaign with the Labour party. She is New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, its third woman in that position, and the youngest in 150 years. She has gradually been more mediatised worldwide, notably for her strong support of women’s rights, LGBT issues, and her take on mental health problems.

The government has also been putting forward innovative measures, such as considering creating climate change refugee visas, a Green party policy, therefore also ensuring the livelihood of the coalition. This visa would be “for people from the Pacific who are displaced by rising seas resulting from climate change”, according to The Guardian.

This new government led by Jacinda Ardern was only sworn in a few weeks ago, but has been very active and the population seems satisfied. The world should look closely at what will be done in the future, because New Zealand is getting more and more spotlight.

Carolina Duarte de Jesus

 

For further information:

ANDERSON Charles, “New Zealand considers creating climate change refugee visas”, The Guardian, 2017, [consulted online on 31/10/2017]. http://www.theguardian.com

BROCKETT Matthew, “New Zealand Bans Foreign Home Buyers After Price Surge”, Bloomberg, 2017, [consulted online on 31/10/2017]. http://www.bloomberg.com

ROBSON Sarah, “Foreign home buyers to be banned – PM”, RNZ, 2017, [consulted online on 31/10/2017]. http://www.radionz.co.nz

STEAFEL Eleanor, “Who is New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – the world’s youngest female leader?”, The Telegraph, 2017, [consulted online on 31/10/2017]. http://www.telegraph.co.uk