7 Sep 2014

Scrap Overseas Investment Office - ACT

5:59 pm on 7 September 2014

ACT says New Zealand land is not collectively owned and the Overseas Investment Office should be scrapped.

ACT leader Jamie Whyte made the announcement at the party's election campaign launch in Auckland today.

ACT leader Jamie Whyte made the announcement at the party's election campaign launch in Auckland today. Photo: RNZ / Demelza Leslie

Making the policy announcement at the party's election campaign launch in Auckland today, the ACT leader, Jamie Whyte, said the office had no proper job to do.

Dr Whyte said land sales such as that of Lochinver Station in the central North Island to overseas buyers, should be encouraged.

The 14,000 hectare farm, near Taupo, is being sold to Chinese group Shanghai Pengxin, subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

If the sale goes ahead, there are plans to convert part of the farm into dairying.

It has been the focus of debate over foreign ownership. Dr Whyte said when foreigners invest in New Zealand, everyone benefits.

He said in the Lochinver sale, New Zealand was not selling its land, the Stevenson family was selling its property.

"Land in New Zealand is not collectively owned; it is privately owned. New Zealand is not yet a communist country."

Dr Whyte said the Overseas Investment Office should be abolished.

"It has no proper job to do. When foreigners invest in New Zealand, we benefit. There is no injury for the OIO to protect us from."

But Dr Whyte's proposal is being rejected by National Party leader John Key.

"We toughened up the Overseas Investment Act in 2010, our view as you've seen in this campaign has been broadly it's set in about the right place, New Zealand needs more capital to grow quickly and if we don't have that capital it has an impact on jobs - but we've got no appetite to loosen the Overseas Investment Act."

About 200 people attended ACT's campaign launch.

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