ACT leader lays into Greens' "xenophobic" bill to restrict land sales to foreigners
"To make it even worse, a person not even born in this country seems to be hell bent on destroying the NZ economy."Featured comment
A private member's bill that would prevent foreign companies owning farmland of more than five hectares in size is "xenophobic", ACT leader John Banks says.
The Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill was introduced to the house yesterday as a private member's bill by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.
The Greens say the legislation would stop the sale of "senstive land" like the Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin.
During the legislation's first reading, Mr Banks said, "If we wish to prosper, we need foreign investment. Foreign investment brings capital, know-how, and jobs.
"We know this because up until approximately 1000 years ago there was no foreign investment in New Zealand, and there were no jobs, either.
"The history of New Zealand is a history of foreign investment."
Of 55 countries measured by the OECD, New Zealand is the fifth most restrictive on foreign invesment, Mr Banks said.
"Countries more open to foreign investment get more foreign investment – and that those economies grow faster," the ACT leader told Parliament.
"Take the example of James Cameron. The best film director in the world will soon live within an hour of this parliament.
"He’s bringing his capital, his know how, and perhaps jobs to New Zealand."
Mr Cameron has bought a 250ha dairy farm in the Wairarapa plus two nearby properties for a total of around 1000ha of land.
Earlier, when the Crafar sale controversy was at its height, Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills told NBR ONLINE that even the current law could spook foreign investors.
Some would look at the applications, appeals and counter-appeals Shanghai Pengxin was being put through and decide it was easier to put their money elsewhere.
Mr Wills said his first preference would have been for the Crafar farms to have been broken up, and sold in smaller lots to locals. But the fact of the matter was that New Zealanders had been spenders, not savers.
To get out from under $47 billion in farm debt, foreign investment was needed.
Finance Minister said China invested relatively little in New Zealand, given it was our second-largest trading partner.
Our largest, Australia, had invested around $52 billion by the end of last year. China had invested under $2 billion.
UPDATE: The Green’s Party's Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill was defeated at its first reading:
Ayes: 59 Labour 34; Green Party 14; New Zealand First 8; Maori Party 2; Mana 1.
Noes: 61 National 59; ACT 1; United Future 1.