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Overseas investors robbing Kiwis

9 May 2005

Overseas investors robbing Kiwis of first family home

The Overseas Investment Bill, reported back from Select Committee today, won't stop the wholesale sell-off of New Zealand's land and businesses and won't help Kiwis wanting to buy their first homes, the Greens say.

"The Government refuses to face up to the fact that its open-door policy on land sales is artificially inflating the price of properties, including residential housing," Green Co-Leader Rod Donald said.

"It's not just the family farm or the bach at the beach which is out of reach - first-home owners are now losing out to foreign investors.

"The Select Committee scrutiny of the Bill revealed the Government keeps no record of the extent of foreign ownership of residential properties," Mr Donald said. "However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that overseas investors, particularly Australians, are buying up residential property at the low-end of the market.

"This is adding to the woes of first-home buyers who can't compete against these cash-rich foreign investors."

Mr Donald, a member of the Committee, has written a minority report on the Bill criticising its failure to effectively monitor and regulate the foreign buy-up of Kiwi land and businesses.

"The overwhelming effect of this Bill will be to make it even easier for foreign investors to purchase and control New Zealand land, buildings and businesses.

"For example, the Bill narrows the role of the regulatory authority, by limiting its scrutiny to properties or businesses worth more than $100 million. If we're serious about ensuring that all foreign investment in New Zealand is in our national interest, we need to give the authority the ability to scrutinise all sales worth more than $10 million."

Mr Donald said the Greens want additional obligations to be placed on foreign investors in recognition that it is a privilege to own sensitive New Zealand assets.

"We believe foreign owners should be required to conform to a code of corporate responsibility or risk losing the privilege of owning assets here. This is to ensure we do not have a repeat of debacles such as the run-down of Tranz Rail."

Mr Donald said the Greens would support a number of positive amendments now contained within the Bill, such as improved public access to the foreshore, lakes and rivers, through the creation of marginal strips, but would continue to oppose the Bill as a whole.

ENDS

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