Xenophobia and fear of foreign property investment sparks anti-Chinese racism

by on 30 May, 2015
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Racist fliers being handed out by the so-called “Australian Freedom Party.”

Everyone nowadays seems convinced of the fallacy that foreign investment—particularly Chinese foreign investment—is driving housing prices up and squeezing Australians out of housing market.

The Liberals and the ALP have picked up on this sentiment and introduced new restrictions on foreign development, including fines for “illegally” purchased property and extra tax payable by foreigners on new developments.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. In Sydney, the so-called “Australian Freedom Party” are distributing pamphlets that term foreign Chinese investment “ethnic cleansing” and “invasion.” It it is clear this dangerous racist nonsense has been caused by successive governmental intervention into the housing sector for political gain, both by increasing restrictions on development generally and blaming the resulting price increases on foreigners.

Why we should blame foreigners for having the audacity to choose to live here is simply beyond me. That is especially so when they choose to purchase property and clearly have the means to work and contribute to our society .Rather than decrying foreign investment, we should welcome the opportunity for more people of all backgrounds to spend their money on our shores. The more money foreigners spend here, the wealthier we become.

In reality, the cause of the housing affordability crisis is simple: restrictions on property development are preventing people from constructing the homes they want to develop, live in and sell.

Apartments in particular are a popular bugbear apt to prompt local residents into action and protest. In parts of residential, inner-city Melbourne, for example, it is almost impossible to build buildings over two storeys in size as a result of the introduction of so-called neighbourhood zoning laws. Yet the inner city suburbs are precisely where such apartments are most in demand. Accessible, close to the city and public transport, they are ideal for singles and couples. Similar restrictions on commercial and industrial developments also apply. And what holds true in Melbourne also broadly holds true throughout the rest of Australia. As Alan Moran points out, “Australia’s regulatory induced scarcity of land increases the cost of a fully serviced housing block complete with telecom, water, energy and road infrastructure from less than $100,000 to $300,000 or $400,000.”

The impact of more development on local housing prices is often complained of, but this overlooks the extraordinary benefits that come with more development: lower commercial and retail rent, lower retail and construction costs, and other savings that are passed on to consumers and intending homeowners. Simply put, life gets much cheaper if people live more closely together. That is, after all, why people congregate in cities and towns: for ready access to jobs and affordable accommodation.

With reportedly over 100,000 homeless people in Australia as result of dangerously overinflated land prices, relaxed zoning restrictions could not come any sooner. Nor should we be forgiving towards the politicians who have misled so many Australians into believing that our zoning restrictions are necessary, or that foreign property development is an evil to be decried.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and a deputy Victorian State director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. The views expressed here are his own.

 

9 thoughts on “Xenophobia and fear of foreign property investment sparks anti-Chinese racism

  1. What about foreign investors who do not live in Australia but are buying up property here anyway? I was under the impression that was the real issue, not immigrants simply buying a place to live?

  2. It’s the farmland that bothers me most but I agree with Johan, it is non resident, non citizen buyers causing part, if not most, of the problem. Greedy speculators too -which I hate to say as I believe in a free market.

  3. Property is an asset that a person owns. No different to an art work, a rare book or gold, etc.

    If they choose to sell, they are entitled to sell at the best price they can get. What right has the government to interfere with the free market?

    Having said that, many properties in Australia are sold to overseas residents so they have a bolt-hole to run to if things get a bit too hot in their home country. Same thinking as Swiss bank accounts, which they probably also have.

    You know it makes sense.

  4. “Why we should blame foreigners for having the audacity to choose to live
    here is simply beyond me. That is especially so when they choose to
    purchase property and clearly have the means to work and contribute to
    our society .” Choose to live here? No they don’t and that is the problem. They are buying up property for purposes other than living here. The purchase of large tracts of farming and grazing land is of concern to many who wont be fobbed off with claims that they are contributing to our society. Didn’t the government recently squash one such purchase? I wonder why they would do that?

  5. Holy crap Batman, Allan comes close to agreeing with me. A change from the good old MH days.

  6. Surely not the original Allan? If only we could coax the original Anton back. I miss his “science”.

  7. Yes. Anton is a professional engineer. At least you could have a meaningful conversation with him.

  8. AE, I fear the idea of preparing a safe haven might be fanciful. Do you have any idea how long it takes to list as a refugee then move up through the waiting list? You wouldn’t want them getting on a boat would you?

  9. Sorry Bat, not talking about refugees, more about millionaires on the run, e.g. After the Taliban come back in Afghanistan or ISIS threaten Baghdad, or changes in the Chinese govt. A quick skip the country, then access their Swiss bank account, get on Qantas and they are here.

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