Labour unveils agriculture policy

By Patrick O'Sullivan of Hawke's Bay Today -
File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

Labour has announced a clampdown on foreigners buying land and will widen the parameters of the Reserve Bank to help keep the New Zealand dollar's exchange rate down, should it regain power at next month's election.

Party leader Phil Goff released Labour's Agriculture policy today at the Hawke's Bay Show.

He said New Zealand cannot afford to lose control of the country's best income-producing asset.

"We have to ensure we do not become tenants in our own land," he said.

"The real danger with the attractiveness of New Zealand farmland is that overseas buyers will buy up our land, buy up our future and the profits from our farmland will be will be repatriated overseas.

"No overseas person has the right to buy our land. It should be a privilege and it should remain that way."

Potential buyers will have to prove they offer additional value to the country from their purchase of any parcel of land greater than 5ha.

"The norm will be that New Zealand land will be New Zealand-owned," he said.

Labour Agriculture and Rural Affairs spokesperson Damien O'Connor said foreigners aggregating farms were making them unaffordable.

"The opportunity for New Zealanders to step into farm ownership is far more difficult.

"Young New Zealand farmers are effectively competing with the overseas capital that can be obtained at a far lesser rate, so we have to at least rebalance the playing field to make sure New Zealanders have an opportunity. As farms get bigger less New Zealanders are able to afford their next farm."

Mr Goff said the New Zealand dollar was too high and too volatile and Labour would move quickly to change that.

"We are pretty much on top of inflation except when GST goes up, therefore we've got to have broader objectives. It has got to be about helping the export sector, its about stability of the New Zealand dollar and it has to be about the overall prosperity and employment in New Zealand."

A 12.5 per cent tax incentive for research and development will be introduced and $16 million will be committed to a sustainable farming fund.

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