23 Apr 2020

Let rich people build more luxury homes in NZ - Xero founder

5:40 pm on 23 April 2020

A prominent businessman is proposing letting rich foreigners build luxury holiday homes in New Zealand to stimulate the economy.

Xero CEO Rod Drury

Xero founder Rod Drury. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Rod Drury, the founder of accounting software company Xero, has presented his ideas to stimulate the economy at Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee meeting.

Drury said in places like Queenstown, tourism has completely stopped and that will have a flow on affect for the construction industry.

"It would just seem to make sense that we should revisit the question of should we allow people from overseas who would love to build and buy down here to buy some property?

"What is interesting about that is that it could happen quite quickly," he said.

Drury said it wouldn't need to be in all parts of the country, with areas like Queenstown, parts of Auckland and the Tukituki Valley in Hawkes Bay being obvious spots where about a thousand sections could be built.

But Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson was against the idea.

"Why would we focus the attention for our construction sector on building luxury holiday homes for billionaires when we've still got a housing crisis in New Zealand, shouldn't we be instead focused on building affordable housing for New Zealanders?"

Davidson also raised the point about selling off New Zealand's assets.

However, Drury responded that there could be a provision that those buying property would need to contribute to a fund for affordable housing to be built.

On selling off assets, Drury said it would only be a small amount of land bought.

"It is not competing with places that most New Zealanders would usually buy and I think the diversity by having those interesting people here and we can use their networks is pretty compelling," he said.

He said he can't see a downside to letting wealthy people from overseas build homes, as they would be only here a few months of the year and would not use many resources.

However, he did admit it was one of the most controversial ideas he presented to the committee to boost the economy.

The idea is very unlikely to gain traction with the Government who passed a ban on foreign buyers.

That was further concreted today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who brushed off the idea at this afternoon's daily press conference.

"That philosophy has existed in New Zealand for a number of years, and it has never been one I have subscribed to or believe actually achieves what people claims it does," she said.

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