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Ban on foreign ownership of farms, homes a bottom line - Peters

LATEST: Peters’ promise to restrict land sales can be ignored

Mr Peters still don't be drawn on which political party he would support after the election, but he told TVNZ's Q+A that addressing the issue of foreign ownership of farms and residential property has always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.

“The reality is that’s always been a bottom line for New Zealand First," he said (a statement that presumably only applies to the time since his previous coalition deals with National and Labour).

A two-way trade process has seen Chinese companies invest in the Crafar Farms, and recently gain approval for a milk processing plant in Pokeno, while Fonterra and other NZ companies have ploughed hundreds of millions into companies that control milk production in China. A free trade agreement with China has helped NZ achieve its first November trade surplus since 1991 as the country became our largest trading partner. In February, NZ racked up a record trade surplus as China bought our milk, meat and logs.

Mr Peters is having none of it.

"We are making it very clear where we stand in this election.  People out there don’t want wiffle waffle they want certainty.  We want Auckland housing, New Zealand housing, to be for New Zealand people.  We want New Zealand farms for young farmers in New Zealand in particular, not to be owned by everybody around the world, and absentee owned at that.

“I have the same view the Chinese have.  You cannot buy a house, a flat, or land in China.  You can lease it for 70 years but you can't buy it.  The Chinese are not stupid, they're one of the world's most clever economies and clever people.  It's for that reason and other reasons that I take the view that they know more about how to run certain things than we do."

Polls underplay NZ First support
The NZ First leader also said support for his party was higher than polls indicated (read an analysis of 2011 election results vs various polls here).

“The polls have been overly kind for National election after election, and against a real night result they’ve been far too high.  For Labour they’ve been about right up and down but about right.  For the Greens they have been excessively favourable to the Greens, always way above what they find they get.   And for one party we're always below what we really get, so your so-called 7% polls are nonsense.  We're doing far better than that.”

Mr Peters has also made buying back power companies a coalition bottom line - but has left himself the wiggle room that he could still support a National-led or Labour-led government on confidence and supply, even if they don't adopt that policy.

LATEST: Peters’ promise to restrict land sales can be ignored

What do you think? Do you support Winston Peters' policy to halt sales of farms and residential property to foreigners? Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll. 

RAW DATA: Q+A transcript:  WINSTON PETERS Interviewed by CORIN DANN


SUSAN         Well one very clear winner in the latest One New Colmar Brunton political poll, New Zealand First has more than doubled its support to 7% at the expense of both Labour and National.  Once again Winston Peters is positioning himself to be a powerful player after September's election.  He's with Corin.


CORIN          Thank you very much Susan.  Mr Peters thank you very much for joining us on Q + A this morning.  You're just back from China, it's the second time you’ve been there this year.  What were your impressions there, because there's been a lot of focus on the relationship between New Zealand and China lately?  Are you comfortable with where that is going?



                    Look understanding what's going on on the ground in China is very very important for New Zealanders and for New Zealand politicians, and it's an explosive economy with serious problems and we should not over understand or over appreciate or misunderstand any part of it in terms of our own long term economic interests.  And that’s why we went.  It's a seriously important market, but it has problems.


CORIN          You of course famously opposed the Free Trade Agreement involving China, do you still oppose that deal?


WINSTON    Look exponentially the trade with Australia and China grew higher than ours without a free trade agreement before the mineral extraction crisis.  So you know what I'm saying, said back then, and I'm saying it now, quality always sells, and you need to protect your own and defend your own interests.


CORIN          But our deal's gone from about 2 billion dollars at the start now to 10 billion dollars exports.


WINSTON    Oh no doubt about that, that’s was great, but who says it wouldn’t have gone there anyway, because if you sell best quality product worldwide you get best quality results.


CORIN          But would we have got the benefit from lower tariffs?


WINSTON    Well the fact is that the tariffs are still there. You see they had no barrier against their product coming to our country.  And we gave way everything and it's even stalled the tariff against a low wage economy.  There's always a cost for that.


CORIN          Your manifesto at the last election said you would review that deal.  Are you standing by that?  Would you seek a review of the Free Trade Agreement with China?


WINSTON    Well it's always the case where you should be reviewing what you’ve done to ensure that …


CORIN          But a formal review in the sense that could see it changed?


WINSTON    Well again, it's always a sound practise in business or in anything you engage in to review the progress that you're making.  This idea that we sign an FTA and put it away forever against any scrutiny is nonsense.  The people are entitled to know well, how has it gone?  Have the promises been fulfilled?  Are the conditions being kept by all parties?  Of course a formal review is still justified.


CORIN          So just to get this clear.  So this deal is – they're now talking about a 30 billion dollar two-way trade.


WINSTON    No no, no no, that’s what their speculating, not talking about.


CORIN          I mean it's been a huge success hasn’t it?


WINSTON    Well no one's denying that.  But I tell you why it's a success, because we sell the world's premium product, and in fact if we'd have set ourselves for the infant formula business we could have trebled what we're doing.  That’s what international experts are saying, and getting near the 30 billion already.  But we didn’t do that, and we're selling lots of our milk in this most lowest common denominator of value.  So don’t get carried away with this.


CORIN          Okay, you’ve obviously being concerned in the past about the investment side of it, the coming from China into New Zealand.  Are you still concerned?  For example when it comes to farm sales in New Zealand would you block farm sales to China or anywhere else for that matter?


WINSTON    I have the same view the Chinese have.  You cannot buy a house, a flat, or land in China.  You can lease it for 70 years but you can't buy it.  The Chinese are not stupid, they're one of the world's most clever economies and clever people.  It's for that reason and other reasons that I take the view that they know more about how to run certain things than we do.


CORIN          Okay so let's be clear about this.  Could you support a government that doesn’t block that type of sale?


WINSTON    We have no intention supporting any political movement that doesn’t understand our national interests and their duty to New Zealand people to ensure that these products, which were given to us because we happen to be the forming countries and populations of New Zealand, that these things are in our hands to be handed in trust on to our people.  You compromise that we've got no desire to …..


CORIN          I've got to be really clear about this, because there is a lot of concern in places like the Auckland housing market, the people feel like they're being outbid by foreigners buying up housing.


WINSTON    Well they are dramatically being outbid.


CORIN          Would you make that – I know you don’t like the term bottom line – but would you make that an explicit requirement of your potential support for a government?


WINSTON    Every commentator and every politician who's watching this election very carefully should read our manifesto very carefully.  We are making it very clear where we stand in this election.  People out there don’t want wiffle waffle they want certainty.  We want Auckland housing, New Zealand housing, to be for New Zealand people.  We want New Zealand farms for young farmers in New Zealand in particular, not to be owned by everybody around the world, and absentee owned at that.


CORIN          Can you give us certainty because we know Labour of course has a similar policy to you, they would bloc.


WINSTON    They do now, they didn’t used to.


CORIN          So can you give us certainty by saying you couldn’t support a National government unless they did the same thing?


WINSTON    Well look I'm not going to get caught into a trading deal on what happens post-election.  After all I'm here to talk about what New Zealand First stands for, not what National Party or the Labour Party or some other party who's belatedly come to their commonsenses stands for now.  On all these matters for 21 years there's been one party with certainty as to our ownership, as to what constitutes overseas investment, as against overseas raid, we've made it clear time after time.  So let's not get on to that.


CORIN          Yes and I know a number of voters are presumably voting for you because they believe that and they know you have that policy, so surely you can give those voters certainty by saying we're not going to support a new government unless they do it.


WINSTON    But those voters do know what New Zealand First and Winston Peters stands for, that’s why they pack halls around this country, and why we're on the ascendancy.  And all around New Zealand, particularly in country place, people are coming up because they want to hear the message again upon which they can rely post- election 2014.


CORIN          Okay just one more.  So can we assume that if you were to go into negotiation with a potential National Party or something like that, at the very least the idea of non-resident housing and that issue of foreigners buying will be at the top of the pile.


WINSTON    Every National Party person knows that now.  Every ACT Party person knows that now, every Maori Party person knows where we stand now.  Why don’t you?


CORIN          Well I do, but I want you to give voters – surely your voters deserve to know that that’s something that you're not prepared to compromise on.


WINSTON    But my voters know that now, that’s why they're joining en masse.


CORIN          So it is a bottom line?


WINSTON    Well you know you say bottom line as though it's some sort of just tick this box and move on.  The reality is that’s always been a bottom line for New Zealand First.


CORIN          Okay, let's move on then.  You have emerged now into a position of kingmaker, not just as something that people ….


WINSTON    Look I belong to a political party that going to be 21 years old in two months' time.  Why do you paint it as a personality thing when in fact we've lasted longer than any other new party, and one of the reasons why we have is because we're democratic.  We get to all make the decision not just me.


CORIN          Yeah sure, but your support has surged to a point where we haven't seen it since 2005 when you were last a Minister effectively, when you came in under the Helen Clark government.  Are you in a position now with 7% where you're feeling a bit more confident that you might look to be a Minister in a future government?


WINSTON    Look I hope that our Political Scientists are watching this programme, but they know full well the following things.  The polls have been overly kind for National election after election, and against a real night result they’ve been far too high.  For Labour they’ve been about right up and down but about right.  For the Greens they have been excessively favourable to the Greens, always way above what they find they get.  
And for one party we're always below what we really get, so your so-called 7% polls are nonsense.  We're doing far better than that.


CORIN          Okay, so maybe you're up to 10%.


WINSTON    Well if we are, I think the public are entitled to know, if these polls that we are paying for, because this is TV One, if these polls are being commissioned by taxpayers' money, why not the best poll possible.


CORIN          These polls are being run by excellent pollsters and I'm not going to have a debate about our polls right now on TV.


WINSTON    They're dribble actually.


CORIN          No they're not dribble, they're very good polls.


WINSTON    Okay, how can you have a 10% spread between leading pollsters and not meet to see what's wrong?  They're not responsible.


CORIN          I'll give you that.  Let me go with our theory.  Say you are at 10%, but that’s all the more reason why we want to know now, because your role in the next election has got even bigger, and therefore done we need – there is more pressure on you now to be more explicit about your position, and whether or not you would be prepared to be a Minister.


WINSTON    Look with the greatest respect New Zealand First makes countless speeches in the biggest meetings around this country.  You all know that, you don’t turn up.  Now you want me to be explicit what we stand for.  Read the darn things, read the manifesto.


CORIN          But I know you want to be on the cross benches.


WINSTON    Tell the people out there what they need to know and not turn it into a two horse race…


CORIN          You have said you will sit on the cross benches.


WINSTON    I said of all the options we have, that is one we also have.


CORIN          What I want to know is if you sit on the cross benches which presumably you support issue by issue a future government, not necessarily in a coalition formal arrangement, could you also be a Minister?


WINSTON    I don’t know why you'd make that assumption, that’s issue by issue.  Who made that assumption?  You could sit on the cross benches with a clear set of agreed positions that have already been decided on shortly after the election.  There are all these alternatives.  What New Zealand First objects to is being put into a pigeon hole over there which is not democracy, which is not politics and told that that’s what we should or should not be doing.  We wish to see stable government.  We wish to see sound government that lasts for not 34 months like it's happening now, but for 36 months as it should be happening.  We wish to see sound economic and social programmes, and whatever gets us to do that in the national interests we will do.


CORIN          Do you have a worry then about – you talk about stable government, is there a scenario that where there's too many parties where it starts to get unstable, where you couldn’t support that?


WINSTON    Well the great thing about now is the decks are being cleared as we speak and there are parties that won’t survive this election.  There’ll be fewer contenders in 2014.


CORIN          Would you prefer though to have a smaller number of parties to support?


WINSTON    Well it's always better to have a smaller marketplace as you know.


CORIN          What about the Mana Party and Dotcom, I mean we've heard talk of an alliance.  Could you, for example, support a government with Mana Party and Dotcom in alliance?


WINSTON    Well I can't conceive of the Mana Party going with Dotcom, and if they do I can't conceive of them surviving.


CORIN          Would you support them though?  Would you be comfortable being in an arrangement though?


WINSTON    Now look my party, New Zealand First is – I've given 21 years to this party.  Why are you asking me to support them?


CORIN          I'm not asking you to support them, I'm asking you whether you could support them if they were in a position where they were propping up presumably a Labour government?


WINSTON    But they won’t be, I mean this is ridiculous.  All these speculations that I'm hearing demonstrates enormous – not for me of course – but enormous naïveté and inexperience on the part of people.  Where do they get off in the morning guessing that this might happen, that might happen?  What's very clear in 2014, when the election's over one party will have the balance of political responsibility.  That party's called New Zealand First.  What we do we know we have great responsibility for, and that’s why we're not going to make off the cuff decisions without full discussion with the party.


CORIN          Mr Peters thank you very much for your time.

Comments and questions

'People don't want waffle, they want certainty'. Was that the same man who was going to get rid of National but decided to go into coalition with them? The same man perhaps who was not interested in the baubles of office, but had a change of heart when the baubles were offered? The same man who likes to keep the others honest, but has no difficulty holding up a 'no' sign when the answer was yes? No can't have been that man; the man who made those comments was a bit younger.

Whether you like him or not Winston is the smartest politician in NZ - and has been for nearly 30 years.

National made a big mistake letting go years ago and backing losers like Shipley and Bolger.

Winston also only needs about three policies each election to achieve the magical 5% - all are normally controversial but he knows which subjects to attach to get votes

Winston makes Key and Cunliffe look like school boys

Smartest? If you consider a person who lies blatantly to fool 5% of the population to vote for him, then he is the smartest.

And yes, Winston shows what 5% or more of New Zealanders really are, doesn't he? Ignorant, racist, xenophobic and above all, hypocritical like the man they vote.

Hope he gets the 5% - witnessing 3 years of hypocrisy dripping out of his mouth every time he opens his mouth will be a pleasure indeed!

Winston.... yawn... moving right along. Talk about something interesting people, not this charlatan for the blue rinse brigade.

Well said AJFA. Doctor, heal thyself.

I didn't say that I like him or agree with him - far from it - just that he is definitely the smartest

And yes he takes the 5%+ who are Ignorant, racist, xenophobic and above all, hypocritical away from other parties - that's smart

Will you be buying back homes and farms already sold?

First of all for Winston First is to get over the 5% Line,then crack his antideluvian whip.

Winston has my vote - not because I don't support free trade, because I do, but because I don't support the rape of New Zealand by the National/Labour/China coaltion.

If Winston can actually articulate a policy that rids NZ of foreign buyers for farms and residential and commercial property then I think he will glide across the 5% line.

Justice for All - smart in politics is about getting re-elected. That's all.

....add to that a review of the immigration rules ... 5% will become 10%.

Winnie can't resist the baubles even when he is NOT in office. He is just as hypocritical as any other politician.

Does his stand on "foreign ownership ban" applies only to foreign Asian ownership , or any foreign ownership? One can't help but think that this is the start of his usual anti-Asian rhetoric in his election campaign to reel in the ignorant, hypocritical 5% voters.

National politicians, due to self interest and looking after their supporters will never do anything to stop house prices going ballistic in Auckland. All they have done is ask the council to speed up the resource process. They have thrown the ordinary person to the speculators and investors.
After seeing Winston on Q & A yesterday I am going to vote for him. I have voted for National in the last 2 elections.
The most important thing for any family is the ability to have the opportunity to buy their own house, not rent from someone living in Beijing!!

National politicians, or any other politicians, can only bring Auckland prices down by making fewer people want to live there, whether tenants or owners.

He's a very smart man. Bringing the racist out in us all.

Winston just boosted his poll numbers by a couple of extra points. This ownership issue is a huge issue with the electorate.

Could not agree more,
National have not done anything to slow house price increases.
It will be to their detriment at election time and give Winston the big break he needs.!!

Winston can only ever be in opposition. The man just talks in continuous riddles.

In my working life I come across many staunch National and ACT supporters - this topic about foreign ownership of NZ (particularly property) seems to be a real hot-button issue with them and one that particularly grates.

I think what National forget is many of these wealthy conservatives have children who they are now watching struggle under hefty mortgage debt or in turn subsidise into ownership often putting their own retirement at risk.

National should wake up to this before it gets ugly.

I concur. It is slowly dawming on many that while they may okay as they own their own home, that their adult children will be renters forever unless they step in and offer finance. National has severley underestimated the issue - and i too I am very tempted to punish them as a result.

What politicians say: "Foreign ownership is such a small percentage, and it has no effect."

What real estate brokers and bankers I know are saying: "It's a massive proportion of the people we're seeing buying houses, and the people we're writing mortgages for."

Of course, they all admit you won't see either industry publicising that because the status quo is great for business.

Making land ownership a right of citizenship or permanent residency should happen, just as it is the case in many overseas places. Foreigners should still be allowed to buy apartments - just as they can in other countries that restrict foreigners from owning land.

The problem is, politicians are playing the short game for their own personal gain, at the expense of the long term interests of the country.

Coming from the same wee man,who was, and still is completely against the NZ free trade deal with the Chinese.Trust Winston First sure can't.After being in parliament on and off for thirty five years,seems he has done little for NZ other than bad mouth it.Wonder what is his problem .Maybe for all his years ,after this election when he gets dumped by the educated voters,he could get a job,as a Grinch at Christmas time.

The sheer ignorance of most of the comments above is staggering. And it certainly shows how uninformed historically most of these commentators are.

The buying up of New Zealand farmland, companies, strategic assets etc. is hugely disadvantaging New Zealanders. None of these Chinese companies is operating without the consent of the Communist government.

Australia is being much smarter here, and Winston, not the chattering classes with their usual spoonful of ant-Winston bile, represents the views of mainstream New Zealanders.

Winston's timely pledge is one I am sure he will honour For all his no doubt mistakes, he quite genuinbely cares about this country.

Something very wrong is going on behind the scenes when the OIO is actually forbidden to consider the downsides to New Zealanders of any foreign bid for ownership. The mandate to do so has been deliberately withheld from the OIO.

Do none of you wonder why?

And yet, wealthy overseas investors -particularly Chinese where corruption is endemic - can outbid New Zealanders any time...and they are now doing so.

it's a bit late for most of you to wake up...

Many Chinese New Zealander s whose families have long been here are dismayed at what is happening. They're far more aware than the usual tediously cocky commentators.