The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) congratulates the Government for passing the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, which will become law within weeks. At least New Zealand now has a Government that recognises that foreign control is an issue. More than that, it recognises that it is a problem and has set out to do something about it. What it intends to do, however, doesn’t amount to very much. But it’s better than a big fat nothing, which is what the previous National government did for nine long years.
The “something” which this Government is doing doesn’t amount to much – some restrictions on foreigners buying residential houses, which was always the least consequential aspect of the issue (and those restrictions have since been watered down). More substantively, some restrictions on foreigners buying farmland, which is a long overdue response to an issue that outrages New Zealanders right across the full spectrum of society.
Once again, there are all sorts of loopholes and exemptions – the entire forestry sector, which is a huge feature of land sales to foreigners; water bottling export plants; luxury golf resorts; prime real estate sold to millionaires and billionaires for bolt holes. And of the biggest feature of the whole foreign control issue – namely transnational corporations hoovering up local businesses and the wholesale dominance of whole sectors of the economy by transnationals – well, this “transformative” Government has neither said nor done a thing.
Some context is necessary. CAFCA's Key Facts - all taken from official sources - prove that from 1989 until 2017 - through cycles of Labour and National governments; under Prime Ministers Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, Clark, Key and English; under both FPP and MMP electoral systems: foreign control of the New Zealand economy increased 653%. That’s a sobering fact.
Nothing much has changed under Prime MInister Ardern (or temporary PM Peters). It’s very much business as usual. Indeed, one of this Government's very first actions was to back flip on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and sign NZ up to a deal that entrenches and extends the domination of the NZ economy by transnationals.
As CAFCA has always said, what we’re experiencing is recolonisation but by company rather than country. This Government is simply ameliorating some of the most visible and egregious effects but otherwise actively facilitating the process. As the old saying goes – don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed.