It’s clear Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage’s decisions on overseas investment are arbitrary and highly ideological, and she shouldn’t be in the job, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“It’s no secret Ms Sage hates mining. She turned down an application from OceanaGold to buy land in Waihi for gold mining despite the company having substantial and identifiable benefit to the region.
“By contrast, it seems her prejudice against farming means she will accept any foreign investment applications that takes land out of farming and puts it into trees.”
It has been revealed the Government has pre-approved Japanese company Pan Pac Forest Products to purchase 20,000 hectares of land without having to go through the Overseas Investment Office.
“The Government’s approach to foreign investment is impossible to follow. It declines a large number of applications, but when it suits the Minister, some foreign investors get the green light.
“International investors will be scratching their heads. Following the Government’s arbitrary decision on oil and gas, made with no advice, this Government’s inconsistent attitude to foreign investment is undermining confidence in New Zealand as place in which to invest.
“New Zealand needs more investment, both domestic and foreign. But National is seriously worried about this latest case with Pan Pac Forest Products. Foreign investors can’t buy farm land to farm, or to convert to horticulture or vineyards, but they can buy productive farm land on a massive scale to put into forestry blocks.
“This is creating massive distortions in land use decisions in rural New Zealand. The mass conversion of land away from food production into trees will remove jobs from around the country, and will destroy communities throughout rural New Zealand.
“The cynicism of this Government is again on show, keeping this latest decision secret until after the NZ First conference; for, after all, Winston Peters said in 2017 before the election, ‘we, in New Zealand First are going to stop land sales to foreigners’.”