“The Government has this evening rejected a policy that would have reduced barriers to investment from people and businesses in like-minded countries and meant greater prosperity for Kiwis,” says ACT’s Associate Finance spokesperson Damien Smith.

“Australia receives 80 per cent more foreign direct investment (FDI) per person than New Zealand, this is one reason why their median wage is 42 per cent higher than New Zealand’s.

“Our highly restrictive rules put up needless barriers to FDI with the overall impact of reducing investment and making us poorer. According to the OECD, it’s easier to invest in Myanmar, China and Saudi Arabia than New Zealand.

“My bill would have made it easier for investors from friendly OECD countries to come to New Zealand and invest while fostering stronger trading links. The exemption wouldn’t have applied when there was a national security interest at stake, or to residential land.

“Labour backbenchers said they wouldn’t support the bill because they’re satisfied with our foreign investment system. This is the same system that meant in 2019 we only attracted $860 of FDI, compared to Israel who attracted more than twice that at $1,917, and Estonia who attracted nearly three times as much with $2,400. Labour’s satisfaction with this shows how unambitious they are for Kiwis’ future.  

“Our country is in real danger of slipping away from first world status. Former communist countries that we used to feel sorry for are overtaking us. Our wages are falling further behind countries like Australia and the UK. We can’t afford to not be accepting money from overseas investors in friendly OECD countries right now.

“The Government needs to shed the attitude of the closed-off hermit kingdom or we will carry on in comfortable decline and Kiwis will keep getting poorer. ACT wants better for Kiwis, we want to make New Zealand the preferred destination for ideas, talent and investment.”

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Damien Smith