Do you think land sales to foreigners should be restricted?
The Greens have hit back at claims they are xenophobic, saying the National-led Government is bullying those it doesn't agree with.
A member's bill by Greens co-leader Russel Norman to restrict foreign purchases of sensitive land was last night narrowly defeated amid bitter debate in Parliament.
The Overseas Ownership (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill would have prevented foreign residents and international companies from buying sensitive land, deemed as blocks of more than 5 hectares and areas on small islands.
Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman told Parliament the bill was a joke and a waste of time.
"This would have to be the most stupid bill that will be brought to this House this Parliament."
He was forced to apologise for taking his comments further, by suggesting the Greens were high when they developed it. "It's like something they cooked up over a joint out the back of the Green Party conference."
Coleman said the bill was "blatant xenophobia".
ACT leader John Banks agreed, saying it was "wholehearted economic nationalism".
"This bill would be a disaster for New Zealand. It would close down New Zealand when it needs to be opening up, and leave the nasty after-taste of green xenophobia in our mouths."
Greens co-leader Russel Norman said today bill lost by only two votes after it was opposed by National and its "cling-ons", support partners ACT and United Future.
He said he was abused during last night's debate and told he had no right to speak about the issue because he was an Australian migrant.
"The John Key-John Banks Government is attacking people because they are migrants. I think that's offensive. Migrants do have a right to speak and be elected to Parliament once they become citizens."
The Government was "bullying", he said. "Anyone who disagrees with them, they bully. There was no reasoned arguments."
Norman said there was a pattern to such behaviour with Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday refusing to rule out publicly releasing the names of beneficiaries who spoke out, and National backbencher Maggie Barry saying last month that Labour MP Jacinda Ardern had no right to speak about paid parental leave because she didn't have children.
"They have become a very Muldoonist government. It is a sinister silencing of dissent. It is profoundly undemocratic and the kind of thing you'd expect in a totalitarian government."
The Greens were not anti-migrants but wanted to protect New Zealand from a global land grab which had seen nations buy up 2 million square kilometres around the world.
"We'd be mugs to let them do it in New Zealand because our food producing land is the goose that lays the golden egg and we should sell golden eggs to the world. We shouldn't sell the goose.
"If we allow it to happen, it will drive up the price of land in New Zealand so New Zealand farmers won't be able to afford it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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