The Government needs to answer questions about how it came about that a single area of high-end residential property was chosen for a carve out from the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“Serious concerns about have been raised about how the coalition does deals and the public deserves answers.
“Why did the Government not seek proper information about who the potential beneficiaries were of the Bill’s only carve out? Which Ministers and MPs met or communicated with iwi and other potential beneficiaries of the Te Arai exemption?
“And exactly what role was played by the lobbying firm part-owned by the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff?
“All these questions need answers; and that’s before we come to what appears to be a clear breach of the Cabinet Manual by the Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters.
“Paragraph 2.65 of the Cabinet Manual makes no distinction about how distantly a Minister might be related to the potential beneficiary of a decision when identifying a conflict of interest, but Mr Peters clearly thinks he is too distant a cousin of Ngati Manuhiri Settlement Trust chairman John Paki for it to matter.
“The Cabinet matter makes it clear that when it comes to family and close associates it does matter.
“A clear conflict arose for Mr Peters when it became clear a member of his whanau might derive or be perceived as deriving some personal benefit from a government decision.
“One of the two iwi that would have benefited from the exemption was Ngati Manuhiri, chaired by Mr Paki, who is also listed on land title documents as one of three proprietors of the 283 hectares in Lot 1 of the Te Arai South Precinct covered by the exemption.
“Treasury advised Mr Parker the exemption may positively impact the commercial value of Ngati Manuhiri’s land, transferred as part of the iwi’s Treaty settlement.
“The exemption would have given Ngati Manuhiri and its co-investors 15 years to commercially develop and sell properties on the land – an opportunity given to no other New Zealand landowners under the provisions of the Bill.
“We know from statements in Parliament that NZ First Ministers were staunch advocates for the Te Arai exemption, following meetings with iwi representatives and their co-investors in Te Arai.
“This was a murky deal and the public deserves answers.”