Dr Kennedy Graham
The Government seems keen to put the 'For Sale' sign up on land that is currently off-limits to foreign investment, said Green Party MP Dr Kennedy Graham.
Finance Minister Bill English this afternoon attacked the rules around foreign investment as too complex for business. Of particular concern to Mr English was the fact that processing a sensitive land application involves the assessment of 27 different criteria and factors.
"There is a reason that rules around overseas investment in sensitive land is complex – we don’t necessarily want overseas investors buying large chunks of pristine New Zealand land and turning them into golf courses or amusement parks – or coal mines" said Green Party’s Foreign Investment Spokesperson Dr Graham.
"The Government and Act seem intent on greater foreign ownership of New Zealand for the sake of uncritical economic growth. However, when New Zealand firms fall into foreign ownership, dividend payments flow offshore further worsening our current account deficit. "
"Passive investment into New Zealand should not be confused with productive investment. The former simply exploits our country's productive capacity doing nothing to enhance our productivity. New Zealand if anything actually needs smarter foreign investment rules not weaker ones as National is proposing," said Dr Graham.
The recent jobs summit and the calls for regulatory reform were given as major reasons behind the latest push to weaken regulation around what land foreign investors can purchase in New Zealand.
"Which criteria does the Government want to weaken? Is it the criterion that protect indigenous fauna and wildlife or is it kiwi jobs and technology that will be sacrificed for the sake of overseas investment?" asked Dr Graham.
"Perhaps the Government would like to drop protections relating to public access having just mooted a proposal for a nationwide cycleway?"
"I acknowledge the Government’s desire to attract investment in the belief that this is good for the New Zealand economy. But that desire has transformed into a fetish. It needs to be resisted."