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Anti-business Act opposed to Greenfield investment

Anti-business Act opposed to foreign Greenfield investment

“For an investment amounting to $1 per small business, Investment NZ generated $484m in new investment and 1921 jobs. Now the anti-business Act Party wants to pillory those investors.”

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton is challenging MP Rodney Hide to state whether he wants the visiting investor programme stopped.

Under the programme, potential overseas investors are brought to New Zealand and shown opportunities developed by New Zealanders and needing an overseas partner to take off.

Jim Anderton says the visits are needed because many New Zealand companies have great ideas, but don’t have access to the markets, networks and – sometimes – capital that overseas investors can provide.

“Investors are brought here to look at new developments that add to the wealth of New Zealand, not simply to sell off existing kiwi-owned assets as previous government's did all too often.

“For the financial year to 30 June 2003 Investment NZ recorded eleven successful projects that in total will generate $484 million in inward foreign investment and create 1921 new jobs for New Zealanders.”

But Mr Hide – a potential coalition partner for the National party -- has attacked overseas investors and demanded itemised accounts for each of the visits. He lodged a parliamentary question asking whether ‘Investment NZ has ever paid taxpayers’ money to fly in investors to New Zealand’.

“The programme was announced in Budget 2000 and published in every budget and Investment New Zealand report for the last four years. If Mr Hide didn’t read them, he was not doing his job as an opposition MP,” Jim Anderton said.

102 visitors have been brought to New Zealand under the programme since 2000, at a cost of $1.04 million. The accounts for individual visits and the identity of the investors have been withheld.

“The total cost of the programme and its success is rightfully being disclosed. The public have a right to know the figures. But New Zealand Trade and Enterprise – the agency with the responsibility for developing New Zealand industry – says the cost of assembling individual invoices for virtually every cup of coffee, as Mr Hide requested, is ridiculously high.

“More importantly, visitors are not going to invest in New Zealand when anti-business politicians smear them for taking the trouble to consider us as an investment destination.

“What investor is going to put up the money to fund the development New Zealand urgently needs if they are going to be dragged through the mud, attacked in parliament and accused of every infamy for their trouble? “New Zealand is involved in an epic contest to attract high-value investment to help our companies expand sales and create jobs.

“Access to these investors is crucial if we are going to lift New Zealand’s income. Ask Peter Jackson how successful he would have been with Lord of the Rings if he hadn't had the partnership of a Hollywood studio. He didn’t need the visiting investor programme, but many New Zealand businesses can benefit from it.”

“Investment NZ can demonstrate tangible results in direct investments in New Zealand companies, increased trade, strategic arrangements between New Zealand overseas companies, job growth and technological developments.

“The cost to the taxpayer for this last year was around a quarter of a million dollars. In contrast, Rodney Hide would have us instead give each of New Zealand’s businesses a tax cut, which would be worth … $1. How many jobs would that have created?

“If Rodney Hide would cancel the visiting investor programme, he should state so clearly, and the business community of New Zealand – desperate to develop and grow – will be interested to know. His coalition partner, the National Party, should also disclose whether it is equally anti-business.”

Jim Anderton said when he became Minister of Economic Development, he heard a suggestion New Zealand should actively court the boards of global companies to hold a board meeting here.

“There are Australian states that actively seek out boards – hosting them at conventions, painstakingly building relationships, and providing accommodation for board meetings The idea is that the board will inevitably review local investment opportunities during its stay.

“We still don’t do that, and Australia is at a significant advantage because of it. We bring potential investors to New Zealand and entertain them. We try very hard to impress them and hope they work to build a relationship that results in jobs and increased opportunities for New Zealanders.

“It’s a positive programme, working well. It is also a programme that can be destroyed overnight by a shameless anti-business politician determined to insult and abuse every overseas business person to visit New Zealand,” Jim Anderton said.

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