Only 2% foreign owned

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key made an assurance no more than 2 per cent of New Zealand’s farmland was foreign-owned as controversy continues over the sale of Lochinver Station near Taupo to Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin.

Labour and New Zealand First say they’ll block the sale of the 13,800ha property if they are in a position to do so after next month’s election, in response to strong public concerns over foreign ownership of farmland.

Mr Key and his Government have downplayed the scale of the issue and say they would act if there was evidence of a “run” on New Zealand farms by foreigners.

Yesterday, Mr Key said the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) told him in writing they believed “the amount of rural land that’s owned by foreigners is 1 to 2 per cent”.

An issue the media have not touched on much is that these proposed bans are illegal. We have the CER agreement with Australia, and under that can not ban Australians from owning property in New Zealand.

So Labour and NZ First’s policy would have us in breach of our oldest and most important trading agreement.

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