The Government has “rubber stamped” $6 billion worth of farm sales to overseas investors over the past three years, Labour claims.
Labour MP Phil Goff’s bill seeking to curb rural land sales to overseas buyers failed by just one vote in Parliament on Wednesday, sparking an angry debate and accusations of racism.
Speaking during debate on his Overseas Investment (Owning our Own Rural Land) Amendment Bill, Goff conceded the last Labour government allowed too much land to be sold to overseas buyers – “but to its credit it changed its policy four years ago”.
Opposing in opposition what you did in Government isn’t credit, more hypocrisy.
The bill sought to curb foreign investment in rural land by imposing a rule that it must deliver benefits over and above what a New Zealand investor could produce.
Goff accused National of rubber-stamping every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farmland over the past three years.
“It is clear that National has not followed up on public concern about the ease with which foreign investors can buy New Zealand farmland and ministers are just acting as a rubber stamp. The result is 140,000 hectares of our land, worth over $6 billion, has passed into overseas ownership in just three years.”
And how much was sold under Labour? Goff and his colleagues approved 1,431 applications for 650,00 hectares.
So the rate of land sales is one quarter what it was under Labour.
Incidentally the amount of land in NZ is 26,802,100 hectares. So the amount sold under National is 0.5%. Also note that in some of these cases it would be one foreign owner selling to another foreign owner.