31 Jan 2012

Labour says Government could have turned down Chinese bid

7:31 am on 31 January 2012

Labour Party finance spokersperson David Parker says the Government could have turned down the Chinese bid for the Crafar farms if it had wanted to.

The Government insists it had no choice but to approve the application from Shanghai Pengxin because it met all of the overseas investment criteria.

But Mr Parker told Checkpoint that it is absolute rubbish.

He said that when he was Minister of Lands he rejected some overseas bids to buy farmland and those decisions were never challenged.

Mr Parker says one of the criteria in the law for sales of rural land is a requirement that a bid deliver a susbtantial economic benefit to New Zealand, over and above the cost of the purchase.

He says in the case of Shanghai Pengxin, which is subcontracting the actual farming of the land to Landcorp, that is -- at the very least -- arguable.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister says the Government would consider changing the law if the flow of sales to overseas owners, and public concern at the sales, increases significantly.