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Smith's Bill Unprincipled, Says Eckhoff

Smith's Bill Unprincipled, Says Eckhoff

Thursday 5 Aug 2004

Gerry Eckhoff - Press Releases - Rural - Public Access Petition

ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff today said Dr Nick Smith's Private Members Bill would better reflect the Greens' or Progressive Party's phobia over foreign investment, than that of a senior member of the National Party.

"It is extraordinary that the National Party, once based on property rights and private enterprise, could sanction such overt abuse of those who wish to enjoy and contribute to our country," Mr Eckhoff said.

"Under this Bill, any rural landowner - wishing to sell land to foreigners - must first relinquish to the Government any part of that land which faces the water's edge. While the foreign buyer will be compensated for the loss, the New Zealand buyer won't be.

"Dr Smith, a keen tramper and hiker, seems to believe that farmers wishing to sell or retire should accept a devalued price for their land because he demands access to other people's property.

"Dr Smith's Bill covers all land where a water body exists, not just coastal land. Inland streams, rivers and lakes will have to be `laid off'. Not only do foreign investors have to apply to the Overseas Investment Commission, they will now lose the `quiet enjoyment' every landowner is entitled to.

"This unprincipled Bill will affect thousands of New Zealand landowners, and could well devalue their land by reducing the number of potential buyers - including overseas purchasers wishing to reside in New Zealand.

"Dr Smith should reflect on the fact that his family was once `foreign'. Perhaps he should make the Bill retrospective?

"What amazes me is that National Party Leader Don Brash voted with the rest of his Caucus for this Bill. I had previously thought that he was in favour of property rights," Mr Eckhoff said.

ENDS

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