New Zealand First recommends the authors of the “Open for Business: Removing Barriers to Foreign Investment” report should bring themselves up to date.
“Have the authors, the New Zealand Initiative, not noticed that the barriers to foreign investment were removed decades ago?” asks New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.
“Do they not remember that when the floodgates to foreign ownership were opened in 1984 foreign ownership of the New Zealand share market was 19 per cent.
“Today, 30 years later, it is around 70 per cent.
“Hardly a day passes without another foreign buy up of an existing New Zealand-owned asset, a business or resources. The latest is CHH’s pulp, paper and packaging going into Japanese hands for a billion dollars.
“It’s been an open-for-sale approach for years yet the result under foreign investment-ownership is productivity more than 20 per cent below OECD average, a lacking of innovation and a reliance on a few raw materials.
“We have a huge and growing gap between the rich and poor, a ballooning debt and every day the number of New Zealand companies producing goods of added value is diminishing. Much of this is the result of the lowering of barriers.
“Back when this economic experiment started in 1984, our biggest bank was New Zealand owned.
“On examination, the New Zealand Initiative report is hopelessly flawed, extremely right wing, and demonstrates little understanding of overseas ownership conditions.
“Countless countries have barriers to foreign ownership, and China in particular.
“Arguing that New Zealanders who bought on a New Zealand only market should now have the right to sell everything and anything on the world market, demonstrates how facile their logic is.
“Do they not understand whilst one can move to Australia, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are being denied equality of citizenship in that country.
“Removing all screening barriers would simply be a recipe for wholesale money laundering in the New Zealand economy.
“Their statement that ‘the onus of proof for keeping our regulated FDI (foreign direct investment) regime should be on those who want to keep it’ is not only stupid, but a call to economic anarchy.
“But perhaps the level of integrity that should be attached to this report, is best judged by demanding an embargo till 11am today, whilst they appeared defending their report on TV1 and TV3 four hours earlier.
“All in all, this report has the depth of a bird bath,” says Mr Peters.