Green Minister criticised for ‘rubber stamping’ foreign purchases of land

Green MP and Minister of Land Information Eugenie Sage is under fire again, this time for approving 21 applications to sell land to ‘foreigners’.

I think this illustrates the contrast between the ideals when in opposition and the reality of Government responsibilities – “I’m bound by the law, and as a minister, I implement the law.”

RNZ:  Green MP Eugenie Sage accused of ‘rubber-stamping’ land sales to foreigners

Eugenie Sage is being accused of continuing National’s practice of “rubber-stamping” the sale of sensitive land to foreigners.

New figures reveal the land information minister and Green MP has approved nearly every application to cross her desk over nine months, rejecting just 30 hectares out of almost 60,000 hectares.

Between 1 November and 26 July, Ms Sage approved 21 applications covering about 55,957 hectares. She turned down two requests relating to 30 hectares.

But Ms Sage said most of approved land – roughly 40,000 hectares – related to the sale of Mount White Station, a sheep and beef farm in Canterbury.

In that case, the Czech buyer already had permanent residency and his wife and children were New Zealand citizens.

“There was very limited opportunity for discretion because … it had only been triggered as an application under the Overseas Investment Act because he was out of the country for a period.

“I’m bound by the law, and as a minister, I implement the law.”

Many of the other applications related to forestry which was a government priority area, she said.

“We need more investment in forestry to meet the billion trees’ commitment to ensure that we are sequestering enough carbon to meet our climate change objectives.”

There appears to be a clash of policy priorities here – something common in Government, especially when several parties want different things done.

But I think that Labour and NZ First had both campaigned against foreign purchases of land, so all three parties seem to have taken different positions on this once in power.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford is warning the news will stir up more disquiet among the party’s supporters after an earlier backlash over Ms Sage’s decision to allow a Chinese water bottling giant to expand.

“Her role is meaningless. The party’s role is meaningless,” Ms Bradford told RNZ.

She was shocked Ms Sage approved the sale of so much land to overseas people.

“It’s virtually just rubber-stamping.

“You’d think that either [the Greens would] move their person out of the role or they’d negotiate a damn sight harder with their coalition partners about changing policy on it.”

Bradford has never experienced being in Government.

Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesperson Murray Horton said the approval rate made a “mockery” of the government’s promises to curb foreign investment.

“The Greens need to be a bit bolder, frankly. They’re in government for the first time ever.

“They have a mandate from their members and the people who vote for them to actually establish a point of difference.”

A mandate from 6% of voters is hardly a mandate to make bold changes.

It could also be argued that there is no mandate for Labour+NZ First+Greens to slash foreign purchases because that was never put to the voters as a joint policy.

However some changes have been made, and it is subject to one of the many reviews initiated by the current Government:

The government extended the Overseas Investment Office’s oversight in November and banned house sales to most foreigners in August.

Ministers also directed officials to review the Overseas Investment Act with changes expected by 2020.

Perhaps they can jointly seek a mandate in the next election for stopping foreign purchases.


More pressure on Sage: Minister challenged over Mackenzie greening (Newshub)

Crown decisions are allowing greater agricultural intensification in the Mackenzie Basin, new research has found.

The academic research, published last week in the Journal of NZ Grasslands, and funded by the business ministry, reveals two-thirds of intensive development in the Mackenzie since 2003 has been on Crown-owned land or land freeholded through tenure review. (Tenure review is a voluntary process which allows farmers to buy a portion of a Crown-owned pastoral lease, with the balance added to the conservation estate.) That reversed the trend before 2003, when almost two-thirds of intensification was on land that was already privately owned.

A big factor in the increase in farm developments was discretionary consents issued by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on pastoral leases.

Given Eugenie Sage is minister of both Land Information and Conservation, the article says it’s clear who has the power to make enduring and effective changes, to protect vulnerable land. “It is the Crown itself that can change its patterns of decisions to alter the trends in intensification. The choice and the power reside with the Minister of Land Information.”

Being a Minister can be a tough job.

44 Comments

  1. artcroft

     /  November 14, 2018

    Sage has actually been a good minister.

    • David

       /  November 14, 2018

      True, by doing exactly the opposite she and her party said they would do. Its a bit much to say she is bound by the law given all 3 parties campaigned on this issue and managed to sort the foreign house buyer ban pretty quickly.

      • robertguyton

         /  November 14, 2018

        David says: “Its a bit much to say she is bound by the law”
        Hilarious.

        • Gezza

           /  November 14, 2018

          It’s nice when someone starts your day with a good belly laugh.

          But why is that “Hilarious”, robert? o_O

          • robertguyton

             /  November 14, 2018

            The usual Righties’ complaint about Greens is that they are “above the law” or “struggle to comply with the law” etc. You’ll know what I mean, Gezza. Here, David feels, “it’s a bit much”!

            • David

               /  November 14, 2018

              She is in power why doesnt she change the law, they did it for foreign house buyers why cant they do it for sensitive land and farms ?
              Maybe like you she just finds all these principals hilarious, maybe she knows folks like you wont hold her feet to the fire because you find the whole thing hilarious.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 14, 2018

              “She is in power why doesnt she change the law”
              More hilarity!!
              “Why doesn’t she change the law?”
              Righto, chaps, today I’m changing the law! That’s right, me, by myself, right now, cause I’m EUGENIE!!!
              Oh dear, David!

            • Pink David

               /  November 14, 2018

              “Righto, chaps, today I’m changing the law! That’s right, me, by myself, right now, cause I’m ”

              Where is the Green Party bill to change this law? They are quite entitled to table one and seek support to get it to pass in the house.

              It’s rather sad to see the glee you trumpet that the Greens are ‘in power’, then the shameless weaseling you display here when they completely fail to achieve anything, and reveal they are actually completely powerless.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 14, 2018

              Your claim The Greens have completely failed to achieve anything should mean you have nothing to say on these matters, as there’s nothing to green-panic about; if they’re completely powerless, ignore them. From my point of view, they’ve made significant gains and influenced plenty of governmental action, so I’m up-beat and very happy indeed, with The Greens. In any case, over their next decade in Government, they’ll get what they want; softly, softly, catchee monkey!

    • Ray

       /  November 14, 2018

      I agree but I wonder if PG is using this as a way to goad poor old Robert who has been very active of late in comments, mostly quoting from the loathsome “Standard”.
      No sign of him as yet, obviously fell asleep under the apple trees and has not got back on his device, yet.

      • robertguyton

         /  November 14, 2018

        Good morning, Ray.Yes, I slept in a little today, having spent much of the night comforting my adopted grandson while he faced a scary asthma attack. He’s got through okay and didn’t have to go to hospital as he did last time. Just looking through these important political discussions now.

  2. Gerrit

     /  November 14, 2018

    Wonder if Robert will rush in and defend her.

    Sage has actually been a good minister. I think your comment Pete, about Bradford is 100% correct. It is; different in government.

    Wonder how long the radical feminist in the Greens will tolerate her?

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 14, 2018

    Bradford has always found complying with the law distressing.

  4. robertguyton

     /  November 14, 2018

    Eugenie’s sensible and considered decision to cull tahr is a good example of what happens when she shows backbone – Righties across the board went haywire. Sarah Dowie’s petition attracted thousands of signatures. She’s the darling of the macho male set, apparently.

    • Gezza

       /  November 14, 2018

      And WAS also the darling of a weirdo, by all accounts. But let’s say nothing more about that ! 😐

      Eugenie seems to be a “feet planted on the ground” sort of Green MP. A good coalition Minister. Learns well on the job. Capable of compromise and the proper, impartial exercise of Ministerial & Cabinet responsibility, in the absence of being able to achieve desired changes to law.

      • robertguyton

         /  November 14, 2018

        Gazza, can you name a Green MP who isn’t ” Capable of compromise and the proper, impartial exercise of Ministerial & Cabinet responsibility” and perhaps give an example of where this might have exhibited?

        • Gezza

           /  November 14, 2018

          JAG. Quotas for Femagers.

          • robertguyton

             /  November 14, 2018

            Where’s her failure to compromise and her partiality in the exercising of her Ministerial and Cabinet responsibilities???

            • Gezza

               /  November 14, 2018

              Your JAG claim?

              Well, as, for example, most of ma’s surgeons, including the senior Supervising Consultant Surgeon are females, as are most of the doctors at our local GP Centre, and the Public Service was liberally sprinkled with Female Managers including at the top echelons, we’ve had 3 GG’s and now 3 PMs, we’ve got countless judges, the Chief Justice included – there are so many examples of why there is no need to have a quota for women – I am assuming JAG succeeded in bludgeoning her weaker-minded colleagues (who are all on the pig’s back & some of them don’t much care for their departments, it seems) into buying in to this female senior manager quota thing. Where females are up the top jobs – they’ve got them.

            • Gezza

               /  November 14, 2018

              Busy day at Pookden Manor and ma’s place. I’m knackered. Haven’t even read all the posts yet today. Maybe after dinner.

              *Where females are up TO the top jobs – they’ve got them.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 14, 2018

              So…none then. Ok.

      • David

         /  November 14, 2018

        Gezza, we had Sage on the regional council and she is widely credited for destroying it and causing the government to step in. She was totally ideologically wedded to her position and literally wouldnt budge or compromise, she was particularly nasty and widely disliked by the staff with her autocratic attitude to them, quite an unpleasant lady by all accounts.
        She might have learned a life lesson from the experience and changed.

        • robertguyton

           /  November 14, 2018

          Ha! David’s got form around Eugenie! Despite others here saying she’s the most reasonable of the Greens and has done well as a Minister, David reveals she’s a wrecker, nasty and autocratic. Other Rightie commenters here say “true” Eugenie has been a good minister…hang on! That was David!!
          https://yournz.org/2018/11/14/green-minister-criticised-for-rubber-stamping-foreign-purchases-of-land/#comment-325533
          Confused much?

          • Ray

             /  November 14, 2018

            Sorry Robert but she basically destroyed ECan or so people who observed her in action tell me.
            Hence the surprise at her handling of her present Ministry, though I think she should have stayed strong in the Thar question, their time will come.
            Also sorry about your broken sleep, though I like the thought of you falling asleep under the buzzing bees on your apple trees.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 14, 2018

              Eugenie destroyed ECan!
              Wowsers!
              I wonder if those “people who observed her in action” were Rightwing Cantabrians? I’m guessing so.
              The kip under the apple trees is pencilled in for this afternoon. Beautiful day here in Riverton. I’ve been tending to my nursery; the plants are growing really quickly in this heat and the occasional rains have helped keep everything ticking over nicely. Found a bumblebee nest in the garden shed this morning – the buzzing was coming from a big bag of yak-felt fluff I’d collected. They seem to favour it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 14, 2018

              Hope you uttered a blessing for global warming, Robert. Making Riverton great again.

            • Ray

               /  November 14, 2018

              One of my pleasures at this time of year is to try and count the bumblebees on my raspberry row, about 25, not sure where they nest but old bags are a favourite.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 14, 2018

              Ray, bumblebee populations have burgeoned over the past couple of years, I reckon! I like them; they’re far more predictable than honey-bees and less likely to menace an accidental interloper. In any case, they’re so noisy, you’d not fail to notice you’d disturbed them! Are your raspberries netted? Blackbirds love mine.

  5. Zedd

     /  November 14, 2018

    damned if they do or dont.. as they see fit ?

    They should all just resign & return the country to ‘honest trustworthy’ Natl.. eh wot ??
    NOT 😦