The announcement that the government is to simplify foreign investment rules has attracted the usual hysterical responses.
Colin Espiner started it:
Slices of the South Island high country and assets such as ports and airports may again be for sale to the highest overseas bidder under changes to investment rules being considered by the Government.
That should read . . . sold to the highest bidder who may be from overseas because the vendor is unlikely to sell to a foreigner if a New Zealander offers a better deal.
Finlay McDonald Macdonald * continued the emotive slant with a piece headlined Bending over backwards for foreign coin.
The critics always see a freeing up of investment rules from the point of view of another buyer who may not be able to pay as much, rather than the seller who will receive more which could then be invested in something else, here or overseas, both of which will have benefits for New Zealand.
Critics also don’t appear to see that if we stop foreign investment here it is hypocritical to reap the rewards from New Zealand investment overseas.
But the worst of the criticism is nothing more than xenophobia based on ignorance.
It’s not who owns land or other assets which matters, it’s what they are permitted to do – or not do – and that is governed by laws and regulations, including district and regional plans, which apply to everyone.
Those who oppose foreign investment ignore the benefits it brings to New Zealand and New Zealanders.
One of the farms we visited last week is owned by immigrants who brought a lot of money with them when they came. They poured it into their property and have worked hard to increase its productivity and improve it not just economically but environmentally. They employ other New Zealanders, send their chidlren to local schools, are active in the community and have strengthened the economic and social fabric of the district.
They are by no means the exception and if the rules are simplified to allow more people like them to invest here the critics will be proved wrong.
* Thanks to David Cohen for corrrecting my spelling.