Water on agenda for review of Overseas Investment Act

The Green Party has ensured that the next set of changes to the Overseas Investment Act will look at water extraction and whether stronger tests should be set for land sales involving water takes.

Parliament has passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill but a review of the Act will now look at how adequate the existing tests are before sales of New Zealand assets can go ahead.

The ‘benefits to New Zealand’ criteria that can be used to approve or decline sales does not include water extraction.

The Greens have secured a commitment that the review will consider whether water extraction should be a factor considered when weighing up whether a sale should be approved or not.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage and Associate Finance Minister David Clark recently approved a sale of land to Cresswell NZ Ltd, which is owned by Nongfu Spring Co Limited, one of China’s bottled water suppliers.

The Ministers could only consider benefits such as jobs and exports while environmental issues like water extraction were left to local councils to determine under the Resource Management Act.

The review of the benefits test in section 17 aims to ensure consideration of water extraction issues is front and centre.