Labour hits out at overseas investment breach fines; Says document shows OIO investigations since 2011 show 250,000 hectares of sensitive land was illegally sold; Average fine of $8,500 a 'wet bus ticket'

Labour hits out at overseas investment breach fines; Says document shows OIO investigations since 2011 show 250,000 hectares of sensitive land was illegally sold; Average fine of $8,500 a 'wet bus ticket'

Labour has hit out at New Zealand's overseas investment compliance regime, saying a document released by Land Information New Zealand shows the Overseas Investment Office imposed fines but retroactive clearance regarding 31 purchases of sensitive land investigated since 2011.

Over 250,000 hectares of land had been purchased by foreigners without the required approval, Labour leader Andrew Little said on Tuesday.

The LINZ document shows the Overseas Investment Office since 2011 has investigated 115 cases of land acquisitions by foreigners where it suspected required approval had not been sought.

Of these, 39 are still under investigation, 31 attracted penalties but retrospective consent, and in 27 cases there was no break of the Overseas Investment Act.

In 14 cases no action was taken due to reasons including that the assets had been disposed of, it was not in the public interest to take an action and that the owner was no longer considered an overseas person. One case attracted a civil penalty under section 48 of the Act, while another was settled.

The average fine for breaches across the 31 cases that attracted penalties was $8,500, Labour said. The value of the land concerned was over half a billion dollars.

“No wonder foreign buyers aren’t bothering to comply with the law when the penalties the Government imposes are so trivial. It’s cheaper to ignore the OIO and pay the fine if you get caught than it is to go through the approval process. What does this say about how the Government values the role of the OIO as guardians of our sensitive land?" Little said.

“The fact so much of our land is being sold into overseas ownership illegally shows the OIO doesn’t have the resources needed to do its job properly."

See the release from Labour below:

Over 250,000 hectares of land have been bought by foreigners without required approval from the Overseas Investment Office since 2011, and the response was a slap with a wet bus ticket by National, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“Our land is being sold into foreign ownership illegally on a massive scale, and National is doing nothing about it.

“The OIO had to validate the purchases retrospectively. It imposed fines in 31 cases of land being sold without approval, totaling 257,000 hectares valued at over half a billion dollars. The average fine was $8,500, or less than $1 a hectare. In other cases, no fine was imposed or the buyers were allowed to make a donation to charity to settle the issue.

“No wonder foreign buyers aren’t bothering to comply with the law when the penalties the Government imposes are so trivial. It’s cheaper to ignore the OIO and pay the fine if you get caught than it is to go through the approval process. What does this say about how the Government values the role of the OIO as guardians of our sensitive land?

“The fact so much of our land is being sold into overseas ownership illegally shows the OIO doesn’t have the resources needed to do its job properly. National is clearly not concerned about foreigners buying sensitive land if it is failing to give the OIO the tools to do its job.

“Labour will properly resource the OIO so it can better police who is buying our sensitive land and give it the tools to ensure foreign buyers are sticking to the conditions of their purchase. Overseas purchases of our land should only be allowed when they create real value for New Zealand,” says Andrew Little.

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17 Comments

11
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one word.. "JOKE"

This mean people who voted National "JOKER" for the government and their elite friends and overseas buyers are laughing on average kiwi.

We the people are to be blamed for voting national.

It is one thing to make a mistake; it is another thing to keep repeating. Election not too far away.

14
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What the heck, National?

This is ridiculous. This government is at best asleep at the wheel, and at worst morally bereft and complicit in the worst sell-out of New Zealand from under young and upcoming Kiwis that's ever occurred.

Aren't they meant to be governing for New Zealanders?

Asleep at the wheel or morally bereft? I had a sudden vision of the car scene from a clockwork orange, that probably sums up This government for me and answers your question.

Good point re A Clockwork Orange.

Ultra-violence certainly describes National's treatment of young Kiwis chances of home ownership.

10
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Don't worry these foreigners will sell our country back to us one day. At ten times the price of course (and no tax). Those guys probably have a meeting once a year to swap jokes about how stupid Kiwis are to let them do this.

Well, hopefully they may stay and need domestic helpers. Kiwis will provide a nice, friendly and obliging ready-made servant class.

That's a bit close to the truth to be funny

People will look back in 100 years and wonder why we sold the country, water and the people for some blankets and a few tools.

The "Key-English" legacy - How we sold NZ for pennies on the dollar because we could!

We have manoeuvred ourselves into becoming a capital gains economy. The expectation of capital gains underpins both farming and housing, with the immense debt load in both sectors based on this expectation. Our well-being - our wealth creation as it's called - depends on this rather than earnings. Salaries and wages - bar those for a few - are not high. Productivity gains are illusory. GDP, roughly, tracks immigration.

Few, it seems - bankers or business-people - invest to build something over time. Instead, we play pass-the-parcel with our assets. And as long as this is the way we expect to earn a living, the country and its citizens need to sell whatever is saleable, or as the politicians and bankers put it, attract foreign investment. It means, quite simply, delivering our future into the hands of others. Short-term thinking, for sure, but long-term results for our children.

NZ is such a small island that these foreigners can buy it number of time.

Every day one hear a news or an article that convinces that it is high time and NZ need a change : Change Of Government.

If the government does not have hidden agenda why will they manipulate and hide correct overseas/Non resident data.

Was exactly the same under Labour unfortunately.

Should they ever get in again, watch them tapdance around this issue along with not reducing immigration numbers.

Now is the right time to be demanding action from Labour, the Greens etc. And Winston.

After the election will be too late.

Other political parties may or may not provide solution but one thing is for sure that national will not provide any solution. In fact national is the reason. So even if one assumes that all political parties are same and have to take a chance - better vote for change.

I'm afraid National will win the next election with it's minority support - ACT and Maori/Mana. I think it is important to recognise that these minority parties are equally culpable - particularly the Maori/Mana party who are happy to oversee this incompetency in the OIA.
Too many NZer's continue to be blinded by their equity gains and purchasing power from borrowing at low interest rates.
Immigration, FHB'ers struggles to get on the property ladder and sale of NZ land and water to foreign buyers is barely recognised as a threat to their economic stability - if anything it promotes it.
Hence, National will get their vote.
New Zealand as a country is perhaps it's biggest commodity - it can be traded for a return on investment. The Chinese interest in investing in our infrastructure and water is evidence of this.

Regardless of who governs this country (exception NZ First) it won't be pulled back... once it's sold, it's gone forever...unless of course the government decides to buy it back.

I don't get too excited when the day arrives in NZ when our children or grandchildren are purchasing bottled drinking water from Overseas companies when our reservoirs dry up..

Maybe it is all a result of assets value being disconnected for the cash-flow they can generate

Our neighbors property is worth between $25-45m , high country sheep and beef. It has been sold 6 times since 2000, 3 times to NZers and once to a Australian , Swiss and Hungarian-American.
So they sometimes do come back to NZ hands. 2 other things interestingly, 2 of the NZers sold because of financial stress which suggests it's overvalued.
The other is the current owners is doing a great job farming low-input holistic system , spending real money on fencing and weed control ( probably because they have lots or tax write-off) but it is good to see