Record immigration fuels New Zealand house price row

GMT 16:42 2015 Thursday ,23 April

Arab Today, arab today Record immigration fuels New Zealand house price row

New Zealand houses
Wellington - XINHUA

Arrivals from India and China drove a record gain in migrants to New Zealand in the year to the end of March, the government statistics agency announced Thursday.

However, the figures have stoked calls for the government to act on the country's housing crisis, especially in the largest city of Auckland.

The annual net gain of migrants hit 56,300 in the March year, well up from 31,900 in the March 2014 year and 2,500 in the March 2013 year, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Migrant arrivals were up 16 percent from the March 2014 year, while departures were down 13 percent, said a statement from the agency.

The net loss of 2,300 people to Australia in the March 2015 year was the smallest since the March 1992 year, which was also 2, 300.

The biggest net gains of migrants in the March 2015 year were from India (12,100), China (7,700), the United Kingdom (4,900) and the Philippines (4,000).

About three-quarters of migrants from India and half of migrants from China arrived on student visas.

However, the opposition Green Party said the figures showed the immediate need for a capital gains tax on housing and a ban on non- resident foreign buyers in order to curb property speculation.

"(Prime Minister) John Key loves crowing that high immigration is great for New Zealand, but where is everyone going to live?" Green Party housing spokesperson Kevin Hague said in a statement.

"We've had a net gain of 56,000 people in the year to March, mostly in Auckland, but construction of new housing is nowhere near to catching up with that," he said.

"We have a massive shortage of affordable, quality housing in Auckland, and there's a lack of incentive for immigrants to move anywhere but Auckland."

Last week, Reserve Bank of New Zealand deputy governor Grant Spencer issued a thinly veiled call for a capital gains tax on housing, arguing soaring house prices were a threat to the financial system and the national economy.

However, the government has refused to introduce such a tax, arguing it would be unworkable and ineffective.

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