Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Foreign Investment Good Character Clauses Needed

28 August 2000

GOOD CHARACTER CLAUSES NEEDED IN NZ’S FOREIGN INVESTMENT LAWS

Dear MP,

The Government has recently instituted “smart sanctions” against the criminals responsible for the Fiji coup. It was also reported to be investigating law changes, or introducing new laws, to enable the seizure of any New Zealand assets owned by George Speight and co. This is very commendable.

As you know, CAFCA has, this year, launched a campaign calling for an Inquiry into, and the seizure of, New Zealand assets owned by Indonesia’s Suharto family and cronies. We have previously written to you about this. To our pleasant surprise, the Government has taken up the issue, to some degree, and offered to help the Indonesian government should assistance be requested to have some of those NZ assets seized.

What is required is more than an ad hoc response to criminals such as George Speight and the Suhartos. New Zealand’s foreign investment laws need overhauling, as does the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC), the body that administers them. One specific area that needs drastic improvement is the need for “good character” clauses in those laws, to prevent the likes of the Suhartos and their cronies (or Speight and co) ever being able to invest in NZ in the future.

On each of its monthly decision sheets approving a foreign investment proposal, the OIC routinely states that the applicant is “of good character” . We challenged this once, and presented the OIC with pretty good evidence that the applicants definitely weren’t of good character. The OIC’s response took more than a year, and concluded that nowhere in New Zealand law is “good character” defined. Needless to say, it rejected our complaint. This year, the Ministry of Fisheries objected to several of the (unidentified) foreign fishing companies bidding to buy Brierley’s stake in Sealord, because it deemed them not to be of good character and enclosed evidence to back it up. In every case, the OIC overrode those objections from a Government Ministry, and recommended to the Government that every single applicant was of good character (as it turned out, the Government vetoed any sale). Something needs to be done to tighten up this farcical situation

There is a model that New Zealand can follow. A number of individual states in the US have “Good Character” (or “Bad Boy”) laws. A corporation’s good character, or lack thereof, is considered to be important in deciding whether or not to allow that company to invest in the American state. A corporation's “culture” can become the basis for denying business opportunities. These laws give US states the right to refuse licences and permits to companies that have a history of violating the law - criminal, civil or environmental. And these laws are applied. Waste Management (best known in NZ for urban wheelie bins and controversial rural landfills) is one of the giant transnational corporations that have fallen foul of them. Indiana is one state that refused a permit to it; in the first half of 2000, communities in both California and New York declared Waste Management unfit for business, and had their decisions upheld in court.

CAFCA would be happy to supply you with details on this. One point to note – the American laws take into consideration the corporate good character of the applicant; New Zealand only considers the individual good character of those owning or controlling the applicant.

We urge you to ensure that “good character” clauses are inserted into New Zealand’s foreign investment laws; and that those laws be reviewed, overhauled and strengthened.

As a model for regulating foreign investors, we enclose our Corporate Code of Responsibility *. We would be happy to discuss it with you, and welcome your views on the subject we have raised.

Best wishes

Murray Horton Secretary/Organiser

* The Corporate Code of Responsibility can be found on CAFCA's Website http://canterbury.cyberplace.org.nz/community/CAFCA

CAFCA Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa PO Box 2258, Christchurch email: cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

There Is A Field: Reimagining Biodiversity In Aotearoa

We are in a moment of existential peril, with interconnected climate and biodiversity crises converging on a global scale to drive most life on Earth to the brink of extinction. However, our current worldview and political paradigm renders us incapable of responding adequately due to its disconnected and divisive default settings.

These massive challenges can, however, be reframed as a once in a lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change how humanity relates to nature and to each other. Read on The Dig>>

The Dig: Scoop’s Engaged Journalism Platform Launches
The Scoop Ecosystem has grown bigger with the launch of The Dig - a new public interest, in-depth, Engaged Journalism platform. More>>

 

Unscoped Or Missed Damage: Resolution For Canterbury Owners Of On-Sold Homes

People with over-cap on-sold* properties in Canterbury can now apply for a Government payment so they can get on and repair their homes. More>>

ALSO:

Hamilton-Auckland: First Urban Growth Partnership Signed

New Zealand’s first urban growth partnership between the Government, local councils and mana whenua was signed at a meeting of mayors, chairs and ministers in Hampton Downs today. More>>

ALSO:

Vote On Action Next Week: Secondary Principals Walk From Negotiations

“Unfortunately we consider there is no further value in continuing negotiations at this point. The government has not been able to table an offer that will be acceptable to our members.” More>>

Patrol Car Stolen, Glocks Taken: Manhunt In Gore

The driver rammed the patrol car before fleeing on foot with Police chasing, also on foot. The man has then circled back around, stolen the patrol vehicle, which had the keys left in it, and rammed another Police car... Two Police-issued Glock pistols were stolen. More>>

ALSO:

"Shocking And Dangerous": Accused Mosque Shooter's Prison Letter Posted Online

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has sent seven letters from prison and had two others withheld, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. Corrections has now blocked the accused gunman from sending or receiving mail... More>>

ALSO:

Standing On List Only: Paula Bennett To Run National’s Election Campaign

The National Party is pleased to announce the appointment of Paula Bennett as our Campaign Chair for the 2020 General Election, President Peter Goodfellow says. More>>

Waiver For State Care Inquiry: Historic Abuse Survivors 'Can Speak Freely'

Abuse in state care survivors can take part in the forthcoming Royal Commission proceedings without being bound by any confidentiality obligations to Crown agencies under their historic claim settlements, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said. More>>

ALSO:

Trail Trial: Sexual Violence Court Reduces Lead-Up Times And Trauma

An evaluation of New Zealand’s first sexual violence court has confirmed that the approach taken in the judge-led pilot considerably reduces the time that cases take to reach trial. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels