Labour responsible for selling land - Key

John Key. Photo / Getty Images
John Key. Photo / Getty Images

Prime Minister John Key said that if Labour were to look at its own track record, "they were responsible for about 650,000ha of land being sold overseas".

National had toughened up the Overseas Investment Act in 2010 - giving ministers two new factors to consider when looking at the sale of sensitive land. Mr Key said there was a brief discussion at cabinet yesterday on the Crafar farms sale.

He said he had "a sense" of what the recommendation from the Overseas Investment Office to ministers Maurice Williamson and Jonathan Coleman was.

But the ministers would not have a sense of what he thought the final decision would be.

"It's not appropriate for me to be involved in that decision-making process. The law is quite clear."

Mr Williamson as Land Information Minister and Mr Coleman as Associate Finance Minister had the sole responsibility to make the decision.

The receivers have effectively set a deadline of January 31 for the decision to be made.

Mr Key said that with less than 1 per cent of all farmland owned by foreigners "I don't think we have a substantial issue."

"There have been sales of farms to foreigners. The German pension fund has been buying in the South Island recently.

"There have been other buyers from overseas. But in terms of the data that I have, the sales that have taken place in the three years that we have been in office have been pretty modest."

- NZ Herald

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