The Green Party’s members bill seeking to ban overseas investment in New Zealand land over five hectares is the wrong response to concerns over foreign ownership.
The media release says:
Today Dr Norman released a Member’s Bill that would effectively stop the purchase of New Zealand’s productive dairy industry by restricting the sale of farmland over five hectares to overseas investors.
I think that should read restricting the sale of farmland over five hectares to New Zealanders because the Bill says:
The purpose of this Act is to: prevent foreign ownership of sensitive land.
5 Sections 16 and 17 deleted and replaced
Sections 16 and 17 of the principal act are deleted and replaced with
“16 No overseas investment in sensitive land
No consent can be granted for overseas investment in sensitive land.”
This is a knee-jerk reaction to concerns over the purchase of the Crafar farms by Chinese investors.
If there is a problem with overseas investment in our land, this Bill isn’t the solution.
Not all land over 5 hectares is sensitive, nor is it all farmland.
New Zealanders’ lack of wealth in comparison to that of people from some other countries could make us vulnerable but overseas investment can have benefits too.
It’s not just who owns land but what they do with it, and its produce, which matters and most of that is controlled by local authority regulations and central government laws.
A blanket ban on land sales over five hectares is an overreaction to what, at least at this stage, is a problem of perception rather than reality.
We need to have a discussion on the benefits and risks of foreign ownership and if there is a need for legislation it should be based on facts not emotion as this Bill is.