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Greens caution on foreign investment free for all

Greens urge Cabinet to reject foreign investment 'free for all'

Green Co-Leader Rod Donald is urging Cabinet to reject Treasury recommendations to reduce scrutiny of foreign investment proposals.

Tomorrow (Monday), Cabinet is expected to discuss plans to lift the threshold for foreign business buy-ups from $50 million to $250 million and to scrap the Overseas Investment Commission.

"Only last week the Labour Government had to buy back the rail track from its foreign owners and commit to spending at least $200 million to fix it up," said Mr Donald, the Green Party's Spokesperson on Finance and Trade.

"Now it is saying there should be even less scrutiny of companies that want to buy up our land, buildings and businesses in pursuit of profits. When will Labour learn the lessons from past mistakes, instead of repeating them?

"New Zealand needs much tighter restrictions on foreign investment, not a 'free for all' policy. The Greens are not totally opposed to foreign investors, but we do believe that they should be treated as guests, which means they should expect to live up to a code of corporate responsibility or be asked to leave.

"The Green Party wants all land sales stopped, the threshold for other investments reduced to $10 million and for these to be subject to a thorough national interest test that includes environmental, social and Te Tiriti O Waitangi impacts, as well as economic ones. There should also be a public submission process."

Rod Donald warned Kiwis not to be sucked in by Finance Minister Michael Cullen's talk of tighter controls on 'iconic' sites.

"Dr Cullen hopes to pull off a giant con job that will leave us with the façade of New Zealand ownership of sensitive land, while accelerating the sale of the rest of our land, buildings and businesses to foreigners. This foreign control agenda undermines New Zealand's sovereignty and is driven by Labour's infatuation with free trade agreements.

"The Labour Government must come clean with its intentions and subject them to a proper public inquiry before it tries to amend the Overseas Investment Act," said Mr Donald.

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