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Green Party pledges to curb sale of land to foreigners

September 24, 1999

Greens pledge to better Winston's record on land sales

The Green Party today pledged to do all it could to curb the sale of foreign land to foreigners, releasing a "rural affairs" policy against such sales.

Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons referred to today's Press which reported that Lilybank Station, a luxury lodge and pastoral farm 50km from Tekapo had been "sold" by Indonesian Tommy Suharto to a Singaporean for a token $1.

"Labour and National-New Zealand First governments have persisted in selling off important land and forestry assets in recent years, and now overseas corporates are playing cynical power games to hide the true ownership of parts of New Zealand," she said.

Ms Fitzsimons also criticised New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters for continuing to sell chunks of New Zealand while he was treasurer and deputy prime-minister.

"Mr Peters crusaded through the country in 1995 and 1996, claiming that he would stop all sales of land to foreign companies and individuals. In 1995, he promised that he would stop the emergence of a New Zealand in which we are 'strangers in our own backyard and serfs in our own country'. After the election, he conveniently forgot those promises, selling out all the voters who wanted to see New Zealand preserved in New Zealand hands.

"Mr Peters swore he would reverse the sale of Forestcorp to a consortium of Brierley's, Fletcher's and Chinese interests. But once New Zealand First had the balance of power, he neglected to even mention the Forestcorp sale at the coalition negotiations. All his bravado about returning the cheque to the consortium immediately after the election was nothing but hot air."

Ms Fitzsimons says that she is particularly concerned by the sales of valuable parcels of coastal farmland, such as the sales of Wairarapa stations Glenburn and Castlepoint.

"We are selling off big chunks of our heritage, and allowing foreign owners to repatriate the profits overseas. As treasurer and deputy prime-minister at the time, Mr Peters had the power to stop this kind of sale, but he did nothing. Voters should think carefully about whether they can trust New Zealand First's rhetoric this time around."

In 1995, the Overseas Investment Commission granted permission for 61,891 hectares to be bought by foreign interests. During Mr Peter's reign as treasurer and deputy prime-minister, the Overseas Investment Commission granted permits for 62,136 hectares in 1997, and 70,540 hectares in 1998 to be sold into overseas hands.

"Mr Peters had the power to stop these kinds of sale, but he did nothing. More than that, as treasurer, he signed off the deals."

The Green Party has strong policies to restrict sales of New Zealand land to foreigners. For example as part of its rural affairs policy the party says: "Productive land ought to remain in the hands of the individuals, families and communities who work with it, not foreign investors. Rural communities need the opportunity to shape their own economic destiny as well as ensure support for essential services. For these communities to thrive, it is important that the proceeds from rural production are largely spent within the local economy. The Green Party will not allow the sale of land to persons who are not NZ citizens or permanent residents. There would be an absolute prohibition on foreign companies with more than 49% overseas ownership buying NZ land, with part-owned foreign companies having to satisfy the criteria of the Overseas Investment Commission."

Jeanette Fitzsimons MP 025 586068, 07 8686641 or 07 8686511

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