13 Oct 2015

Overseas Investment Office 'dreadfully understaffed'

5:17 pm on 13 October 2015

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is slow and understaffed, the Labour Party says.

Water trough

The Overseas Investment Office is tasked with overseeing purchases of sensitive New Zealand land, which often includes farmland. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The comment by Labour land information spokesperson Stuart Nash follows a Chinese company's withdrawal from a $42.7 million offer to buy 10 Northland farms.

Labour Party candidate Stuart Nash.

Stuart Nash Photo: SUPPLIED

The Dakang New Zealand Farm Group said it spent five months dealings with the OIO without progress.

The company - through its partial owner Shanghai Pengxin - had just been through an even longer delay over the Lochinver Station near Taupo, and Mr Nash said this was wrong.

"The OIO is dreadfully understaffed, under-resourced. It's sending very bad signals to the overseas investment committee," he said.

"The fact it took over a year for the Lochinver decision to be delivered is unacceptable. The fact that we've just had a major overseas investors say he's pulling out before a decision has been delivered, again, is unacceptable."

The government said it was concerned about delays but had not decided what to do about them.

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