A week is a long time in politics

Written By: - Date published: 10:36 am, May 5th, 2016 - 17 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, grant robertson, john key, national, spin, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , ,

John key overseas investment office

They say a week is a long time in politics.  Events surrounding the Overseas Investment Office and the Taranaki Farm purchased by South American businessmen with convictions for dumping toxic waste in a river Show how true this can be.  A collection of Radio New Zealand articles provides evidence of a stunning backdown.

Last Friday:

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) says it is satisfied due process was followed when it allowed two Argentinian brothers to buy a large north Taranaki farm.

Then later that day:

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is investigating after revelations two Argentine brothers it allowed to buy a large Taranaki farm have criminal convictions for environmental pollution.

Documents obtained by the Labour Party show Rafael and Federico Grozovsky – who bought Onetai Station in 2014 – were found criminally responsible for chemical dumping from their Buenos Aires tannery.

The brothers are linked with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is at the centre of the Panama Papers revelations about how the rich hide their wealth in overseas trusts.

The OIO had said it was satisfied due process was followed when it granted consent for the pair to buy the 1300 hectare farm near Awakino.

But, in a statement issued this afternoon, it said it was now investigating the serious issues raised in media reports.

Then on Tuesday:

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has apologised to the government for failing to conduct a robust inquiry when it approved the sale of Onetai Station in Taranaki to a foreign company.

The OIO last week said it was satisfied due process was followed when it granted consent for the pair to buy the 1300ha farm near Awakino, but shortly after said it was investigating issues raised in media reports.

The office knew that company had a previous conviction but failed to alert the government.

Also on Tuesday:

An independent investigation is being launched into the way Overseas Investment Office (OIO) carried out its good character test over the sale of a Taranaki farm to two Argentine brothers.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston said this morning she had “some concerns” over how the OIO carried out the good test, which it uses as it considers whether to give consent for a land purchase by overseas buyers.

Ms Upston said an investigation was triggered on Friday when the serious allegations about the brothers’ pollution convictions were made public.

“I do have some concerns about the process that the office have used around the good character test so I have asked that a review be undertaken about that.”

Then on Wednesday:

More pressure is being put on the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) with the Labour Party saying it has evidence other foreign companies should have failed the good character test.

Also on Wednesday:

This afternoon Prime Minister John Key announced the OIO would be getting a staffing boost so it can follow up on commitments made by investors buying property in New Zealand.

“That’ll allow us to do two things, for the Overseas Investment Office to process applications more quickly, secondly for the Overseas Investment Office actually to be able follow up on commitments and undertakings that are made by investors when they purchase property, for instance in New Zealand.”

The OIO is already under the spotlight for a botch-up over two Argentine brothers who were cleared to buy the Onetai Station in Taranaki, despite having a criminal conviction for a toxic chemical leak.

Mr Key said the government was now also allowing the office to substantially increase its fees, which would mean the office could beef up its staff by 25 percent.

Then today:

Mr Key said the move was not an admission that the OIO had not been doing its job properly.

But Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said the timing was questionable.

“I just find it remarkable that the government’s only done this essentially because the Panama Papers have emerged and then the Labour Party has followed it up.

“It’s a ridiculous situation for New Zealanders, who believe that our sensitive land should only be sold in the most extreme of circumstances, to discover that the OIO has barely even been investigating some of these applications.”

The whole incident makes you question the veracity of what we are being told.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

17 comments on “A week is a long time in politics”

  1. Ann Johns 1

    Tomorrow will bring some OIO official being thrown under the bus by Upston. There’s no such thing as ministerial responsibility anymore, it’s everybody else’s fault. They take their cue from their leader.

    • Ffloyd 1.1

      Upton should have stuck to nodding. She was pretty good at that.

      • Anne 1.1.1

        Upton should have stuck to nodding.
        Agreed. She has one of those large, agile heads that could nod at twice the rate of the average political head. Now she’s just another Nat. minister who has reached her level of incompetence…

  2. Lanthanide 2

    It’s a pity for Winston that he was never able to get cut-through on this, since he’s been ineffectually complaining about the OIO for years.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) https://www.icij.org is set to release a searchable data base of some 200,000 “offshore entities” related to the Panama Papers on 9 May, this Monday coming

    so perhaps the two ring circus featuring tax havens and the PMs “Better call Saul” style lawyer will get an extension…

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Personally I think it’s a bit of ‘false hope’.

      Obviously names of high profile politicians have been run through the database already, and no-one from NZ has shown up with direct involvement in anything.

      I guess there’s a chance that NZ business people and lawyers wouldn’t have been searched for yet and that could come out.

  4. TC 4

    CT have their work cut out as the msm have finally decided to question the hand thats been stroking their ponytails since 2008

  5. Jack Ramaka 5

    Brings back memories of the Holyoak and Gibbs purchase of Maori Land on the foreshore of Lake Taupo at Kinloch in the 1960’s currently subject to a TOW Claim, looks like the Tories have one set of rules for themselves and one set of rules for others, nothings changed same old, same old?

    • Macro 5.1

      Yes it’s a toss up between which of the two are the most corrupt. Holyoake certainly knew how to feather his own nest at the public (and in particular Maori) expense. Key is just simply incompetent as a leader for the public good and corrupt.

  6. Whateva Next 6

    …..and throwing some money at Pharmac while they are at it…..whilst it is wonderful news, I remain deeply cynical at the government’s motives and have ti ask if they would have done this without the Panama Papers. Future decisions for the good of those not in the 1%??? do we rely on leaks from people with integrity? It’s all a bit random isn’t it?

  7. Adrian 7

    Only the sloppy and lazy will be at risk of being named. Mossack Fonseca is only the fourth biggest of the tax dodging organisers so must only be responsible for a few percent of the avoidance arseholes business.
    Those with good knowledge of the financial and money trading industry ( not that anyone in NZ knows anyone one like that, eh ) are probably too well covered to be caught out by the MF revelations.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    It’s a ridiculous situation for New Zealanders, who believe that our sensitive land should only be sold in the most extreme of circumstances, to discover that the OIO has barely even been investigating some of these applications.

    Actually, I think you’ll find that NZers believe that our land shouldn’t be sold to foreigners at all.

  9. Byd0nz 9

    Stop voting, get real. If you want a nz for nz then instead of
    voting on polling day, have a demonstration, boycot the polls.
    Capatilism is only for the one percent, the rest of us are suckers.

  10. Boycot voting and you just get the same old government doing the same hidden agenda they`ve done for decades. You can`t change them. Just vote Labour for real effective change.

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