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Sticking up for NZ: Alliance On Foreign Investing

Sticking up for NZ: the Alliance Foreign Investment policy

Immediate release

2 November 1999

Foreign corporations who own $126 billion worth of New Zealand look after themselves, but who looks after New Zealand? Alliance leader Jim Anderton said today. He was launching the Alliance Foreign Investment.

"If the government doesn't look out for New Zealand's interest, then who does? New Zealanders need a government prepared to go in to bat for New Zealand jobs, New Zealand business and the environment.

The policy will subject any overseas purchase of 25% or more of a New Zealand company to national interest tests.

New Zealand land over five hectares, or land of special interest, such as islands will be restricted to New Zealand ownership.

"National has walked away from its responsibility to look after the interests of New Zealanders. It would rather leave the door to foreign ownership wide open with no one standing guard," said Jim Anderton.

"National is happy to turn a blind eye to job losses, to the local businesses that go under and to the huge swathes of our land now owned by foreigners.

"The Alliance wants to be part of a government that looks after New Zealand's interests. The bottom line must be, that if it doesn't benefit New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses, then why would we do it?"

Under the Alliance policy general investments (in factories, services and commerce) will be subjected to a national interest test.

Purchases by overseas interests of 25% or more of the share capital of a company will not be allowed to proceed if the investment would not create new jobs, introduce new skills and technology, develop new export markets or improve the environment.

"Foreign investment in land will be subject to similar tests, plus a requirement that ownership or control of land is restricted to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and companies which are 50% or more New Zealand owned," said Jim Anderton.

"During APEC National sneaked through an extension to the threshold at which Overseas Investment Commission consent is needed before a foreigner can buy New Zealand assets, from $10 million to $50 million.

"That would mean that only three purchases of New Zealand assets other than land would have required OIC approval in the first half of this year. They were INL's $94 million purchase of Sky, Edison's $1.2 billion purchase of Contact Energy and St Lukes Properties' $135 million purchase of Queensgate Mall in Upper Hutt.

"This opened the door to virtually open slather foreign ownership. It cements New Zealand's place as the country with the least restrictions on foreign ownership in the developed world.

"While investment that opens new businesses or helps to expand existing ones can be good, the same can't be said for purchases of existing businesses and farm land. It just means that profits earned by New Zealanders will go to the overseas owners and make our overseas deficit even worse.

"It's time New Zealand had a government that stood up for our country's interests on the world stage. I intend to be the heart of that new government," said Jim Anderton.


ENDS

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