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Time to review the Overseas Investment Office – why are so many things going wrong with the approval

Time to review the Overseas Investment Office – why are so many things going wrong with the approval of foreign investment? Do the Ministers responsible know what they are doing?

The New Zealand Maori Council has called for a review into the overseas investment legislation that has seen significant parcels of New Zealand land bought by offshore individuals and companies. Council Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has said the Government’s handling of the rules and the Overseas Investment Office to police the framework is not working in the interests of New Zealanders.

“In the last week we have seen some incredibly stupid things going on. First is on the again off again nonsense that is the application process of OceanaGold to buy further land in and around Waihi to install new tailing dams. In this case the original application was turned down by two Minsters and then approved not soon after thanks to a new application, pretty much the same as the first, after the company requested a judicial review. In that example it shows either Ministers did not know what the law was when the original application was turned down or someone wasn’t reading their briefing papers.” Tukaki said

“Then there is the example of the Countess buying one of the nation’s most historic farm parcels from a bloke living the good life on Paratai Drive who uses the systems to buy the land and then hock it off to his Austrian Countess claiming it was her responsibility to ensure she wasn’t breaching the rules. In this case old mate on Paratai Drive gets a little slap, the countess cops a fine and tickety boo. Well no tickety boo. There has been a clear breach of the rules and quite honestly I think all New Zealanders would be sick of this.” Tukaki said

“Sixty seven home sales were approved in the last few months and we don’t know who they were or where they are from. What I will say is that there is a history of overseas buyers buying these homes and they remain largely empty – the other thing I have a problem with is the fact that we have a housing crisis in the Auckland property market so it begs the question are empty homes sitting all around town really helping us to solve the problem?” Tukaki said

“In addition to this when it comes to private homes sales by overseas investors are we doing enough to ensure that the funds being used are not from ill gotten gains? A number of Maori have contacted me to also express their concerns about land sales in regional and rural areas where there might by sites that would otherwise be tapu or at the very least could be of archialogical significance.” Tukaki said

“The system of foreign ownership approvals and the process by which the office of overseas investment is making these assessments is obviously going wrong in some of the already well known cases which is why it is timely to review the rules, the regulations and certainly legislation.” Tukaki said

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