Can’t blame partners for broken promise

April 23, 2019

The Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) is upset the three parties in government have broken promises each made:

The government has broken an election promise to stem the sale of farmland to foreigners says the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ).

CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft was responding to recently released figures by Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) that the Labour led government’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approved the sale of 137,834 hectares of freehold rural land to foreigners -a substantial increase over 2017 when the sale of 25,696 ha was approved which was the lowest area of freehold land since 2003.

Other figures released by CAFCA were that the OIO approved a foreign investment totalling $12.5 billion whereas the average for the decade 2009-2018 was $8.2 billion.

This no doubt reflects increased land prices.

Some of that land would have been owned by foreigners, the rest would have been owned by New Zealanders. At least some of what they gained from sales would have been reinvested in New Zealand.

CORANZ’s Andi Cockroft said the organisation’s main concern was that access to recreation in many cases was lost.

“The goodwill of Kiwi family farms allowed access on permission but the reality is foreigners often come from a different culture of private estates where access is only granted to those willing to pay the price. The prime example is deerstalking, trout and salmon fishing in the UK which because of access fees virtually becomes the preserve of the wealthy upper class.”

He said the early NZ European settlers set out to avoid the UK system by setting up assn egalitarian society with equal opportunity to all, irrespective of wealth, ethnic background or class.

Consequently it is clearly written into NZ Law (Conservation Law Reform Act and Wildlife Act) that charging for the right to go trout fishing or duck or game bird shooting is prohibited.

Referring to the statistics released by CAFCA, Andi Cockroft said all three parties – NZ First, Labour and Greens – before the 2017 election promised to strictly control foreign land sales.

“Frankly it’s one big broken political promise,” he said.

That it’s MMP and parties have to give in on some policies is no excuse this time, because all three of the governing parties made the same big promise.

They’ve broken it but why?

Perhaps because they could break their promise but not the rules, although they’re going to try to change the Overseas Investment rules:

. . .But buried in the fine print were several proposals concerning farmers, mainly concerning what they had to do when selling farmland.

At present, farmland must be advertised for sale on the open market before consent can be given for any foreign purchase of that land.

This was always intended to maximise opportunities for the land to stay in New Zealand hands, by making sure any potential buyer was aware of the forthcoming deal.

But a document by Treasury said the intention of the law was not always achieved in practice. . . .

A similar observation was made about the bright line test for property sales.

This shows, again, that it pays to look at what is already in place, if it’s working and if not why, before leaping in with more regulations.

It is also a reminder that parties in opposition should not make rash promises that can’t be kept in government.

Upsetting people who didn’t support them is to be expected.

Upsetting those who did because of what they promised to do then breaking that promise harms not only them, it compounds the poor view too many people have of politicians and politics.


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