Why do Australians only protest foreign buyers if they're Asian?

Why do Australians only protest foreign buyers if they're Asian?
Why do Australians only protest foreign buyers if they're Asian?

I'm wondering why Australians only protest about foreign investors when they're Asian.

Overseas investors have been buying our real estate in significant amounts for many decades, headed by buyers from the UK, the US and Europe.

It's become a source of outcry only twice in my lifetime: in the 1980s when the Japanese were doing it, and now with the rise of buyers from China.

In both instances, the extent and the impact of this foreign investment has been greatly over-stated. And the concern expressed about foreign investment has focused exclusively on the Asian buyers with little or no angst about buying of equal magnitude from other sources.

In the 1980s I was a specialist property writer working for the Courier Mail and later the Australian Financial Review. I remember being stunned at the outrage about Japanese investors buying in Queensland, although their ownership was but a drop in a very large pond and mostly focused on tourist accommodation. There were overtones of WW2 animosity amid claims of an invasion by financial stealth.

In terms of Australian families buying homes, the impact of Chinese investment is near zero.

None of the horrors imagined by the xenophobes came to pass and eventually it all faded away.

Now it's being whipped again, with China the target of people with a skinhead view of current affairs.

The strange thing is that the Americans were the largest foreign buyers of Australian real estate until recently. The Chinese have only recently overtaken them, more because of a decline in US investment than a rise in Chinese buying. I can't recall any outcry, not a murmur, about Americans dominating our real estate markets, pushing up values and pricing our kids out of home ownership.

But now the Chinese are being accused of all these things. Every time someone of Asian appearance is the successful bidder at a Sydney auction, it will be cited by someone with a room temperature IQ as evidence of the Chinese invasion and the death of The Great Australian Dream. The buyer could be a fourth generation Australian for all they know.

We even had a sad instance recently of a supposedly credible entity, Credit Suisse, stooping low enough to claim that a whole generation of young Australians was being priced out of the market by the Chinese, doomed to rent forever. The authors of that "report" should be ashamed of this irresponsible and unethical claim, inspired by nothing more than a desire for cheap publicity.

The notion is farcical. Foreign investors, Chinese or otherwise, do not operate in the same space as first home buyers. They have to buy new, so they focus mainly on off the plan apartments in the inner city areas of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the Gold Coast. As a percentage of the total Australian real estate market, their buying is miniscule.

They're not scouring Blacktown or Frankston for existing houses, which is what 85% of first home buyers opt for.

In terms of Australian families buying homes, the impact of Chinese investment is near zero.

But now, quite incredibly, we are going to have a parliamentary inquiry. Such is the hysteria whipped up by unethical journalists, our politicians have bowed to the mob and brought on a witch hunt.

We really are a nation of wankers when we behave like this. 

So what will be the outcome, I wonder. Will we ban foreigners from buying our real estate? Or will we ban the Chinese only?

And what about the resources sector? Every major resources project in Australia (most of them gas projects) is dominated by foreign investors. To be consistent, how about we ban them as well?

Given that there's barely a dollar of Australian money in any of these projects, that would effectively shut down the mining industry.

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

Community Discussion

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?