Green Party ensures water on the agenda for government review of Overseas Investment Act

The Green Party has ensured that the next set of changes to the Overseas Investment Act will look at water extraction and whether stronger tests should be set for land sales involving water takes, Green Party Co-Leader Marama Davidson announced today.

Parliament passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill this week which will stop overseas speculators buying up our houses. A second round of amendments is being developed by Associate Finance Minister David Parker.

“In response to Green Party calls for action, the review of the Act will now look at how adequate the existing tests are before sales of New Zealand assets can go ahead,” Green Party Marama Davidson said today.

“The ‘benefits to New Zealand’ criteria that can be used to approve or decline sales does not include water extraction – they should.

“Water is one of our most precious resources. Our lives and our environment depend on it.

“The National Government was happy to sell our land and our water with no constraint. This Government is looking at what needs to change to protect our resources for future generations.”

“The Greens have secured a commitment that the review will consider whether water extraction should be a factor considered when weighing up whether a sale should be approved or not.

“We need to ensure that we are not giving away this resource to international corporations to reap profits from at the expense of New Zealand’s best interests.

Some sales of New Zealand property to overseas owners are classed as sensitive under the Overseas Investment Act which means Ministers approve or decline applications to buy property.

“Ministers are constrained by the current inadequate law. We’ve been able to tighten the rules to ensure housing isn’t sold to offshore landlords, now we need to look at whether purchases that allow people to extract water need to meet a higher bar”, said Ms Davidson.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark recently approved a sale of land to Cresswell NZ Ltd, which is owned by Nongfu Spring Co Limited, one of China’s bottled water suppliers.

The Ministers could only consider benefits such as jobs and exports while environmental issues like water extraction were left to local councils to determine under the Resource Management Act.

“We will review the benefits test in section 17 of the Act and ensure consideration of water extraction issues is front and centre”, said Ms Davidson.