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Foreign ownership rules still too lax - Greens

Foreign ownership rules still too lax - Greens

Green co-leader Rod Donald today welcomed new rules which will stop key parcels of land being sold to foreigners on the sly, but said foreign ownership rules were still far too lax.

"I am pleased the Government had finally given effect to 1998 legislation, and I have to say it's well overdue," he said. "But these rules won't stop the big overseas companies from getting their hands on parcels of New Zealand farmland, it will just make the process a little more open."

The new rules, which come into force this week, will require farms to be advertised before being sold to foreigners, and will require the Government to consider whether overseas farm sales will bring 'substantial and identifiable' benefits.

But Mr Donald said if the Government was really serious about stopping the wholesale sell-off of New Zealand to foreign corporations, it would go further and:

* Bring down the investment threshold that triggers scrutiny by the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) from $50 million to $10 million.


* Require the OIC to consider the impact on social well being, environmental sustainability and economic sovereignty when assessing whether an investment will benefit New Zealand.

* Introduce and monitoring a code of corporate responsibility for foreign investors

* Expand the "national interest" test to include the environmental impact of an investment, the impact on the social fabric of the local community and compatibility with Treaty obligations.

Mr Donald said most of these Green recommendations had been supported by the Government members of the Finance and Expenditure Committee during their review of the OIC last April.

"While the Government puts off taking action on these recommendations, massive land purchases continue to tear apart the social fabric of small communities around the country with disastrous consequences."


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