Political parties get public funding for parliamentary support services.
That could and usually does include researchers.
They’re the people whose duties ought to include looking carefully at policy proposals.
Does Labour have a research unit and if so was the xenophobic policy barring all foreigners except Australians from buying houses examined by it?
If so why didn’t they see two large fish hooks spotted by a journalist and a lawyer?
Not long after the policy was announced for Rob Hosking pointed out the numbers of non-resident “foreigners” owning houses David Shearer was quoting included ex-pat New Zealanders.
. . . Under Article 138 of the NZ China FTA (National Treatment) all investments and activities associated with such investments made by investors of both parties must be treated, “with respect to management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment or disposal” no less favourably than investments of its own investors. The list does not include “acquisition” or similar words.
So under that provision a Chinese house buyer must be treated the same as a New Zealander after acquiring residential property, but the protection does not extend to prospective buyers. Whew for Labour!
But wait – another Article (the most favoured nation clause) commits New Zealand not to pass law that discriminates against Chinese investors in comparison with other overseas investors (such as Australians).
Article 139 requires that investors of [China] be treated no less favourably than investors of any third country [Australia] “with respect to admission, expansion, management, conduct, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment and disposal” of investments.
So Chinese would-be investors do not get direct rights to insist on investor equality but they can’t be treated worse than Australians.
Labour has said Australians would still be allowed to buy residential property under their policy. This would breach Article 139. . .
. . . What would happen if Labour got the numbers to legislate such a policy irrespective of the FTA? Parliament can, after all, legislate contrary to international law.
There would be serious legal, economic and political ramifications. The Chinese government could invoke the dispute settlement procedures in the agreement. NZ exporters may lose their benefits under the NZ China FTA. NZ’s international standing as a good treaty partner would suffer. . .
The FTA was signed by a Labour government , several members of which are still in the Labour caucus.
What did they have to say about the FTA and Labour’s xenophobic policy?
. . . Their Leader said this evening to NewsTalk ZB’s Susan Wood that his colleagues responsible for the China FTA tell him it was not meant to prevent NZ from barring investment it does not want.
If that was what they meant, it is not what they signed. . .
The sooo boring detail of deals that stitch us up may have eluded the politicians who actually signed them, but until they are properly understood Mr Shearer, stop digging.
Did his colleagues not understand what they signed, or did they understand but fail to explain the fine print to their leader?
Either way it reflects poorly on them.
It also raises questions about the party’s research unit. They’re the ones who are supposed to look at boring details.
Did anyone bother to run the policy past them?
If not why not?
And if so why did the researchers fail to spot the flaws uncovered so quickly by a journalist and a lawyer?
Could it be the research unit is as disillusioned and dysfunctional as the caucus?