Continuing the foreign investment in New Zealand discussion, this Fran O’Sullivan article has a lot of useful material and background. Needless to say, Australia’s policy towards foreign investment is totally different from ours but Treasury thinks the best way forward is for us to do the opposite of what works for them, ie keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing only more so:
The Treasury advised National to revoke the “strategically important infrastructure” factor and signal a comprehensive review of the Overseas Investment Act 2005. It wanted to promote and encourage the flow of foreign investment, simplify the investment screening process and reduce the number of investments caught by the act.
It believed that foreign owners of New Zealand assets were likely to have interests closely aligned to New Zealand’s national interests. “As a result we do not think screening of strategic assets is required,” the Treasury advised. “However, if some form of screening is desired it should be added as a separate category, rather than only in relation to assets that are located on sensitive land.”
Worth remembering in the discussion around foreign ownership of our assets is that the most damaging infrastructure sale in our recent history was largely domestic: the Fay Richwhite purchase of the railways, which were then asset stripped and run into the ground causing massive harm to the wider economy. I guess Treasury advisors all have advanced degrees in economics so they know that in a free market such behaviour is logically impossible and thus did not happen – but it, y’know, did happen and logic suggests that ‘some form of screening is desired’ but based more on trying to prevent infrastructure sales to investors that might destroy key pieces of strategic infrastructure for fun and profit, whether that investment be foreign or domestic.