Government proposals requiring real estate agents to look at the passports of buyers in order to prove their identity and basis for buying Australian real estate have been likened to requiring yellow stars on their clothing by the Property Council of Australia, who have also warned about the health impact on ‘honest Australian property speculators’
‘University tests have shown conclusively that imposing buyer identification requirements increases the risk of tinea cruris, thrush and ringworm on potential families looking to purchase their first home in Australia’ said Andrew Mihno – Executive Director International Capital Markets – of the PCA before adding ‘and it is common knowledge that requiring anyone in the real estate industry to look at who is buying houses is highly carcinogenic and related to higher incidences of testicular cancer, lung cancer, spleen tumours and polyp formations on the forehead of those required make enquiries. This proposal entails risks which would need to be factored in, and would lead to higher transaction costs for vendors.’
The comments come after Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison flagged an increased government commitment to at least becoming aware of how many foreign nationals were laundering corruption proceeds though Australian real estate. Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board, headed by Carlyle Group Advisor, Brian Wilson has failed to decline approval for any single application to buy Australian real estate by foreign nationals for more than a decade, and AUSTRAC which oversees capital movements into Australia’s financial sector hasn’t identified a single cent of corruptly gained fund entering Australia since 2011.
The increasing number of Australians attending Saturday auctions where they find they cant understand auctioneers speaking in Cantonese and who search online for ‘Australian real estate’ to find their houses for sale in languages they don’t understand, before wondering where the vendors got the photographs of their furniture, is seeing a firmer regulatory approach being floated. Treasurer Morrison included the words ‘vigorous’, ‘stiff’, ‘firm’ and ‘legal’ into his sentences when speaking about the governments position. A government spokesperson, who didnt wish to be named, said that after the two year investigation into the failings of FIRB by Kelly O Liar, which identified a number of regulatory failings, and identified a clear need for the examination of real estate transactions going back more than a decade, the long wait for any action whatsoever meant that next time he spoke on the subject the Treasurer may be forced to use the words ‘punish’ and ‘charges’ – though clearly stating that there would be a lot of hand wringing and empty gestures prior to that dramatic step.
Asking to look at passports for proof of visa status from foreign Real Estate buyers can cause testicular cancer according to the PCA.
James Laurenceson, Deputy Director and professor at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney added that any suggestion that any Chinese national ever had ever purchased Australian real estate in contravention of Australian laws, or outlaid more than 50 times the average annual salary in China, or 100 times the maximum annual legal limit for capital flows out of china to buy a 35 metre studio apartment in Sydney or Melbourne was nothing short of racism.
‘We need to be clear here,’ he said at the China Australia Friendship Society Annual fundraiser for impecunious Australian politicians, ‘That any such suggestion is straight out racism, and we know that racism is like the plague in that it spreads through rats and fleas and on spores in the air, with some types even possibly viral. Once we start it is incredibly contagious and it is offensive to the Chinese government and people of China. China is making an immense contribution to our national wealth and has single handedly taken on the funding of our political process, to transform its role to that of expiator for the actions of a one party state – no matter who you vote for! How is that for generous!’
Laurenceson said that the position of the Australia-China Relations Institute was quite clear, with the organisation wanting a free Australian residence given as an Australian national gift to all Chinese born children at birth ‘as a step to fostering a positive mood for all Chinese kids about their Australian cousins.’ He has also added that his personal view was that encouraging the stationing of Chinese military personnel in Australia to counteract the ‘insidious’ spectre that Australians may feel culturally closer to American service personnel stationed here ‘is an idea worth exploring, if we can allocate the funding to make it worthwhile for the Chinese.’
Gordon Chang, salesman at LJ Hooker North Ryde, said he thought that being required to prove their right to buy Australian real estate, would leave his clients feeling victimised and traumatised, and that asking them for a passport, in particular, was the same as the Nazi regime requiring Jews to label themselves with yellow stars on their clothing. Apologising for his weak English and explaining that he had only been in Australia for 9 months he said ‘Buyer no like when gweilo (foreigners) want to know about passport and money. They should sell house and buy new one!’
Dr Andrew Wilson, Chief Economist at Domainfax, added that foreign buyers were ‘essential’ to maintain house price momentum ‘for a nation with housing metrics stretched far far beyond where they had ever been stretched before’ and that trying to reduce their ability to launder corruption proceeds in Australia would be ‘little short of expecting Australian real estate vendors to undergo a colon tumor removal with a rasp or a cheese grater. Won’t someone think of Australia’s property speculators? We need, as a nation, to focus on what is important. Foreign buyers are important.’
The government is expected to unveil its latest plans to identify foreign buyers and their presence in Australia’s real estate market at some indeterminate point in the future, when analysts are tipping it will attract less attention, and feel for foreign buyers laundering money in Australian real estate ‘like the velvet lips of a true professional upon the throbbing member of Australia’s premier investment asset class’
Analysts anticipate a happy ending for foreign buyers of Australian real estate from any government move.