Foreign buyer ban government's first step in making housing affordable and giving young Kiwis 'a crack at their first home'

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament today making it harder for foreigners to buy houses in New Zealand - which the government says is the first step in reigning in the speculative housing market for the future.

In the future, only New Zealand and Australian citizens - and possibly people from Singapore - will be able to buy residential housing without undergoing special screening tests.

Exceptions may be made for citizens of Singapore as the ban on foreign buyers may run afoul of New Zealand's free trade deal with the country.

The proposed law change does not ban foreigners from building new homes and some migrants with resident class visas, such as skilled migrants, can buy a home if they pass a new test by the Overseas Investment Office.

Migrants on temporary visas, such as student visas, will not be able to buy a house.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said this is the first step in preparing New Zealand for the next market boom and giving young Kiwis "a crack at their first home".

The new information comes in a briefing to the new Housing Minister, Phil Twyford. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're making an amendment to the Overseas Investment Act and applying the mechanisms in that Act to residential land," Mr Twyford said.

"It will change the settings so that when the market turns and it picks up again and when we see another surge of foreign direct investment in the housing market, we're much less likely to see the kind of un-checked demand driving house prices up that we've seen in the last five years.

"It's not about the state of the market now - it's about the state of the market when it inevitably picks up.

1 NEWS political editor Corin Dann delves into what the new changes really mean for people wanting to get into the housing market. Source: 1 NEWS

"The market is cool right now and I don't think overseas buyers are any kind of significant presence in the market now - in contrast to two or three years ago where there was huge demand."

Mr Twyford said the government does not want to discourage migration - it just wants to know that people buying a home here want to stay here.

"We don't want to discourage people who genuinely ... want to make this place their home, they want to contribute here - and so if they've got what's called a Residents Class visa and ... if you can pass a test that will be set under regulations under the bill about [having] a genuine intention to stay here, you will be to buy a single home and live in it," he said.

"But if anything changes and you leave the country or your visa expires then you'd have to sell the property.

Phil Twyford also says those who get the affordable houses will be decided through a ballot, not means testing. Source: 1 NEWS

"New Zealand relies on immigration - we want to encourage skilled people to come here and make their home here and we don't want to put an obstacle in the way of that."

The former National government had been less than forthcoming about foreign investment numbers, Mr Twyford said, adding that he disagreed with the Overseas Investment Office's estimate that just four per cent of home buyers are foreign, but declining to give his own estimate.

"The former government refused year after year to gather credible data on this," Mr Twyford said.

"They did release data over the last couple of years but it was almost as if it was designed to confuse the debate rather than clarify it."

The introduction of the legislation is the first step in the government's plan to make housing more affordable for first home buyers.

"This is one small but important part of our housing reform agenda," Mr Twyford said.

"We've got other taxation measures designed to reign in speculation, we're going to build 100,000 affordable homes, reform the rental market, build more state housing - there's a whole range of reforms designed to settle the housing market down and give young Kiwis a crack at their first home."

The government is looking to pass the changes into law by early next year.

Phil Twyford says the new legislation will not affect genuine migrants, and is designed to dampen speculation when the housing market picks up again. Source: Breakfast



Man arrested after fatal stabbing in Upper Hutt

A man has been arrested following a man's death in Upper Hutt this afternoon after being stabbed.

Police have launched a homicide investigation.

Emergency services were called a scene on Golders Road in Upper Hutt shortly after 4:30pm and despite their best efforts to revive the victim, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police arrested a male nearby the scene of the assault and are currently speaking with him.

"There is not thought to be any risk to the public at this time, however the Police investigation into what happened continues," Detective Senior Sergeant Martin said.

Police car Source: 1 NEWS

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The Hastings' Four Square that sold four winning first division Lotto tickets

Hastings was the lucky home to four winning first division Lotto tickets last night.

Flaxmere's Scott Drive Four Square was the winning shop and TVNZ1's Seven Sharp meet with the owner.

"We have five first division winners in Flaxmere, and we have got four of them," owner Becky Gee said.

"Usually one shop gets one but one shop got four, unbelievable."

Last night there were 40 first division winners, who each get $25,000.

Ms Gee says she doesn’t know who the winners were yet, but says hopefully she’ll find out soon.

"Hopefully it’ll go to people who need it, to pay a lot of bills."

Lotto confirmed that one person purchased four of the winning tickets, which means they take home $100,000.

It turns out Scott Drive Four Square is where to buy a winning ticket. Source: Seven Sharp

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Watch: Three re-entry options for Pike River Mine explained in 3D graphic

Mining experts are gathered in Greymouth to look at the risks involved in the three re-entry options for the Pike River Mine, and 1 NEWS has explained the options using a 3D graphic.

The bodies of 29 men remain in the West Coast mine following an explosion on November 19  2010. Re-entry would allow experts to search for the bodies and gather evidence about the disaster.

The graphic shows the lie of the land above the mine and two distinct areas of the mine underground.

The mine drift, or access tunnel, starts from the entrance to the mine and runs 2.29 kilometres to what's known as the workings.

The workings are where the coal was being extracted and were the last locations of the 29 miners. The workings area contains a network of more than four kilometres of tunnels.

The first re-entry option is going in through the current entrance as it is now, with no secondary exit.

The second is the same but with a large bore hole made to provide a means of escape.

The other option is to create a new two-metre by two-metre tunnel about 200 metres long from up on a hill, to connect with another area for ventilation and a second exit.

Safety is the biggest priority and the findings will be reviewed over the next month.

After an explosion at the West Coast mine on 19 November 2010, the bodies of 29 men remain in the mine. Source: 1 NEWS


Taranaki man denies killing Waitara teenager in crash

A Taranaki man charged with dangerous driving causing death following an accident that killed a Waitara teenager last month has denied the offence.

The 37-year-old appeared in the New Plymouth District Court today where he also pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of cannabis, possession of utensils to consume methamphetamine, speeding and refusing to give a blood sample.

On 28 August, Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg, 18, died after the man allegedly crashed into her on State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Waitara.

The court heard that at about 6am the defendant was travelling towards New Plymouth when he crossed double yellow lines while overtaking another vehicle and drove into the path of Ms Keightley-Trigg.

Keightley-Trigg is one of 12 people to have been killed on the stretch of SH3 in the last 10 years.

The defendant was granted interim name suppression until 26 September, pending an appeal being filed over its potential lifting.

Defence counsel Paul Keegan argued that publication of the defendant's name could prejudice his right to a fair trial.

But Crown prosecutor Detective Sergeant Dave MacKenzie disagreed, telling the court that the defendant's right to a fair trial could be protected via other means.

Judge Garry Barkle said he was inclined to lift the name suppression in the interests of open justice but noted Mr Keegan had signalled his intention to appeal any such decision.

Judge Barkle therefore extended interim name suppression until 4pm on 26 September, pending an appeal.

The defendant, who has elected trial by jury, was remanded in custody to reappear on 22 November for a case review.

rnz.co.nz

Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg.
Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg. Source: NZ Police