National not likely to relax land sale to foreigners

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Labour Party leader Phil Goff says the Government is softening the public up for another policy about-face.

Radio New Zealand | 27 July 2010

The Government has signalled it is unlikely to change overseas investment rules to make it easier for land to be sold to foreigners.

It is reviewing the Overseas Investment Act, with Finance Minister Bill English due to report back to the Cabinet soon.

Prime Minister John Key says it has become evident there is growing interest from foreign investors in land.

But he says he doesn't see how selling farmland to foreign investors advances this country's interests.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says the Government is softening the public up for another policy about-face.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says public pressure has forced the Government to back down on moves to make foreign investment easier.

Waatea News reports that the Green Party is submitting a private members bill which would bar sales of more than five hectares of land to foreigners.

Mr Norman says the Overseas Investment Act defines any rural block of more than five hectares as sensitive, so making it illegal to sell such land to overseas interests would only require a simple amendment.

PM concerned at increasing foreign investment

Mr Key says he is worried an increasing amount of New Zealand farmland might be bought by foreign investors.

He says the Government has to take into account the growing foreign interest in land when it considers any changes to the Overseas Investment Act.

Mr Key says it has become evident that China has a lot of spare cash to invest and so too do many large pension funds from around the world and the Cabinet will have to take that into account.

However, the Prime Minister says it is not a matter of banning foreign investment in land and it is a complex issue.

Mr English says it is not clear whether the increased foreign interest in land is short-term or a permanent feature.

He says it is a matter of striking a balance between getting the economic benefits from foreign investment and the concern people have about land they want protected.
Original source: Radio New Zealand
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