Shifting the goalposts with overseas investment in sensitive land

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill introduced into Parliament under urgency by the Coalition Government in December last year is yet to become law.

In spite of this, a recent decision made by the Conservation Minister and the Associate Finance Minister suggests that even though the law hasn’t changed, the goalposts may have nevertheless shifted for new overseas investment in regional New Zealand.

Bathurst Coal Limited applied to the Overseas Investment Office (‘OIO’) to acquire the Sullivan Mine on the Denniston Plateau.

The OIO, having presumably undertaken its usual rigorous review of the application, recommended to the relevant Ministers that the benefits to New Zealand of the investment were sufficient to pass the relevant statutory test and therefore that the application should be approved.

Notwithstanding that advice received from the OIO, the relevant Ministers were not satisfied that the benefits to New Zealand of the investment were likely to be substantial and they turned down the application.

Does this signal a slightly shift in approach – almost certainly yes (and, to be fair, this is consistent with media coverage of the Government’s position). How big is that shift and where should we now draw the line – who knows? 

Where individuals stand on the foreign ownership debate will vary. One thing that I would hope we can all agree on is that businesses need a certain regulatory environment and goalposts in which to operate. 

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

Geoff Caradus

Geoff Caradus

Position: Partner
DDI: +64 3 545 6717

Topics: All Select