Act in haste . . .

Labour leader David Shearer had to make his mark in his Q&A interview on Sunday but he’s done it for the wrong reasons.

His proposed changes to the law on foreign ownership were a rushed response to the xenophobic reaction to the sale of the Crafar farms, so rushed it has some glaring errors.

Alex Tarrant pointed out yesterday that the media release gave the proposed Bill two different names and also:

In the rush to get this Bill written before Shearer appeared on Q&A on Sunday, you managed to indicate that you would repeal all environmental, heritage, conservation and walking access requirements on foreign landowners for Ministers when making their decisions.

Now I know you didn’t mean to do this – you told me so this morning – but if you’re going to go on national television and announce you’re presenting a member’s Bill to change one of this country’s laws, then I for one would be hoping you’ve given it serious consideration, had a few people look over it, and had another look at the actual legislation to figure out what you’ll be repealing.

Today Derek Cheng says:

The present law lists a number of factors ministers can consider in determining whether the bid would bring “substantial and identifiable” benefit to New Zealand. Among the factors are protection for native flora and fauna, heritage and cultural sites, and wildlife and walking access.

But Mr Shearer’s bill would wipe these factors completely, effectively meaning an application that ticked the box for more exports but destroyed the environment could get the green light.

He said yesterday there was never any intention to remove environmental protections. “And there may in fact be other issues raised at select committee that we would end up including in the bill too.

Of course there wasn’t any intention to remove these protections but mistakes like this look sloppy. They take attention from the proposal to yet another example of Labour looking like a poorly performing opposition rather than a government in waiting.

When you act in haste you get time to repent at leisure.

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