It will come as no surprise that Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister have again approved the sale of the former Crafar farms to Chinese-owned consortium Milk NZ Holding Limited; the Beehive website reports, with links to the OIO decision:
Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have approved the new recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited to acquire the 16 Crafar farms.
“New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations around overseas investment,” Mr Williamson says.
“Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring, while providing a range of safeguards to protect New Zealanders’ interests. They are applied evenly to all applications, regardless of where they are from.
“We have sought to apply the law in accordance with the provisions of the Overseas Investment Act and the guidance of the High Court.
“We have carefully considered the OIO’s new recommendation. The OIO sought advice from Crown Law and independent legal advice from David Goddard QC. The Ministers also sought advice and clarification from Mr Goddard.
“We are satisfied that on even the most conservative approach this application meets the criteria set out in the Act and is consistent with the High Court’s judgment.”
Dr Coleman said the consent came with stringent conditions.
“These 27 conditions have been imposed to ensure Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Dr Coleman says.
The conditions require Milk New Zealand to invest $16 million into the farms and to protect and enhance heritage sites.
“The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial.”
The earlier decision to approve the sale was overturned by the High Court on application from Sir Michael Fay's group, the unsuccessful tenderer for the farms. Both the Overseas Investment Office and the ministers have reconsidered the application as directed to by the High Court, and have applied the test which Justice Forrest Miller required.
It was always likely that the end decision would be the same. So we now stand back and await the outpourings from the usual suspects (NZ First and the Green Party), and the recent converts to xenophobia including new Labour leader David Shearer.