Law change to make foreign ownership of NZ land harder would be knee-jerk reaction to Crafar sale, and not needed now, Key says

Law change to make foreign ownership of NZ land harder would be knee-jerk reaction to Crafar sale, and not needed now, Key says

A law change to further restrict foreign purchases of New Zealand farmland would be a knee-jerk reaction to the sale of the Crafar farms, and is not needed now, Prime Minister John Key says.

Key has been quick to defend the Overseas Investment Office's decision to grant Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Pengxin the right to purchase the 16 Crafar farms, which was rubber stamped by government Ministers on Friday.

Key's defense came as the Labour Party attacked the decision over the weekend, saying the farms should have been sold to a local consortium led by investment banker Michael Fay, whose bid for the farms is estimated to be about NZ$40 million lower than Pengxin's. Key responded on Monday morning by saying the government did not have the legal right to turn down the sale, and he questioned whether Labour was changing its policy to being opposed to all sales of land to foreigners.

However, Key has said that if the government were to see a wholesale buy-up of New Zealand farmland, overseas investment rules may need to be tightened. The Crafar farms sale, although a large individual sale, did not fit into this category, he said.

During the weekend, Shearer said Labour's opposition to the sale of the farms to Pengxin was not xenophobic or racist.

“Both John Key and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson have said that Labour is anti-Chinese and racist because of our opposition to the Crafar farms being sold to a Chinese company,” he said.

“I have been called much worse. What concerns me is that, by implication National is labelling every New Zealander opposed to the sale as anti-Chinese and possibly racist simply because they oppose the sale of profitable New Zealand-owned assets to foreign interests. Surveys show up to 85 percent of New Zealanders oppose selling our land to overseas owners. John Key and Williamson should retract their statements," Shearer said.

“In 2010 John Key himself said he would hate to see New Zealanders as tenants in their own country. He may have changed his mind. But Labour hasn’t. We have always said we are not opposed to foreign investment," he said.

"However we also believe no overseas purchaser has an automatic right to buy New Zealand land. That is a privilege, and any purchase must provide some added value. In this case, local farmers can add more value than a foreign company with no farming expertise."

'Rules ok for now'

Speaking on RadioLive this morning, Key said he did not think overseas investment rules needed to be changed again, after the government did so in September 2010, making it harder for for foreigners to buy land.

Putting foreign sales in perspective, the amount was relatively small compared to the number of farms supplying Fonterra - 72 farms sales to foreigners in the last 18 months before the sale of the 16 Crafar farms, while over 10,000 farmers supplied the dairy co-operative alone.

Meanwhile, it was getting tricky on who was deemed to be a New Zealander, he said.

“If you are a New Zealander who’s lived in the UK for the last 40 years, are you a New Zealander? Well, yes you are: you hold a New Zealand passport, you were born here. So it does get a little bit tricky," Key said.

The government would watch out for wholesale interest from foreigners for New Zealand land.

"If the flow of sales starts to accelerate and people really become very concerned, then we can always change the law," Key said.

"But when someone like –[Labour Party leader] David Shearer gets up and says, ‘if I was Prime Minister I would stop it,’ I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that. Because you’ll have to say to your Ministers, ‘say no, but by the way you’ve got no reason to do that because they comply with the law well.’ You actually don’t have the legal right to do that. You’ll be judicially reviewed and you’d lose," he said.

"Or [Shearer is] saying they’re going to change their policy to no foreign sales. Well they didn’t campaign on that. Or he’s just making it up as he goes along.

"We can change the law, but at this point I would have thought that’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction," Key said.

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8 Comments

As long as Maurice Williamson is making the final decisions on these matters they will always be approved.  The majority of his constituents in Pakaranga, which includes Howick, are Asian.  If he ever turns one down he won't get re-elected, he's in survival mode.

The government cannot treat applications from Chinese investors
differently from similar applications from other countries’ investors
under what is known as the ‘most-favoured-nation’ or MFN rule. As long
as they have the money they will be guaranteed to buy up our land no matter
what Key says about changing the law. The 2008 FTA gives China the right to
sue if we discriminate. One hopes Key understands this?

To quote comment from
  http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/crafar-farms-deal-ticks-the-boxes-%E2%80%93-but-where-does-it-end
 
"If our sovereignty has been sacrificed on the Alter of Free Tade agreements, then it occurs to me that Parliament is irrelevant; elections are a pointless exercise; and John Key is merely an economic manager of Sub-Branch New Zealand Inc."
How  are the roads around the Crafar farms?

Change the law, many countries do very well without land sales, they allow foreign investment vial lease agreements.  It's not hard to do, it's not about being racist either, thats the old divide and conquer, labelling people, in an attempt to sway public opinion, against those with a different view.

it doesn't matter what the law says. Key and his band of merry men will do what they want...

Africans whose leaders have allowed Chinese 'investment' in their countries have found there is no job benefit or financial gain to them because their new colonial masters have imported their own staff, equipment and even food. 
Has anyone asked why we are selling our land to the invaders and occupiers of Tibet who have brutally crushed the people there and destroyed monasteries in order to impose Chinese politics on the Tibetan people?
 
 
     

Yes they have Tommo...that question was first asked by King Country Maori...back in the 1860s....the only variation was that Australia was mentioned and not Tibet....how times change.

Here you go - "Paddock to Plate" - vertical integration
Overseas purchases of AU agricultural land last year $12 billion
This video report is available for one day. See it now.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/today-tonight/video/