Associate Finance Minister David Parker has been misleading New Zealanders for weeks by insisting that the exemption for the Te Arai Development from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill was to prevent claims of a Treaty breach, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“We now know that’s just wrong. Before Mr Parker took an exemption for the Te Arai Development to Cabinet, he had received clear advice from Treasury that ‘the Government had no legal obligation to exempt Te Uri o Hau or Ngati Manuhiri from the Bill’.
“Treasury advised that Treaty settlements are generally final at the time of agreement with the understanding that the Government will still pass laws of general application, and that the specific treaty settlements in question contain no specific obligations that require an exemption.
“When asked on what legal basis he decided there was a need to grant the exemption Mr Parker stated in Parliament that his decision ‘was informed both by my conversations with ministerial colleagues and the advice that I had from Treasury, which was in itself informed by legal advice’.
“But Treasury went as far as to say Mr Parker should not state Te Arai was exempted due to the need to honour a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.
“And to further muddy the issue, Mr Parker attempted to exempt residential development land from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill that had no iwi ownership whatsoever and has now confirmed he did not verify the exact ownership details of the land before proceeding
“Given we now know that Treasury advised there was no legal issue and recommended against the exemption, it must be asked just what was said between Shane Jones, Kelvin Davis and David Parker to justify this rushed decision which is so at odds with the intent of the Bill.
“Mr Parker’s contradictions and lack of information on Te Arai continue to raise serious questions as to the real reason that Cabinet granted Te Arai an exemption which the Government must explain.”