Labour leader David Cunliffe has signalled major changes
in foreign investment if his party is elected.
Mr Cunliffe's speech to the New Zealand Initiative in
Auckland this morning did not include any new policy, but
aimed to underline his economic credentials and spell out
Labour's wider economic vision.
The theme of the speech was that New Zealand needed an
economic upgrade which focused on value, not volume.
To make this upgrade, the country would require much greater
investment in a wider range of sectors, which Labour would
encourage through universal Kiwisaver and by restarting
contributions to the Super Fund.
An upgrade would also depend on well-managed investment from
Mr Cunliffe said foreign direct investment was poorly managed
at present and New Zealanders were losing out.
"Overseas investors are buying up land, farms and good
companies, then sending the profits and jobs offshore."
He said Labour would revamp foreign direct investment to
attract quality investors with credible business cases
designed around creating jobs and providing new technology to
New Zealand companies.
It would make changes to the Overseas Investment Office rules
to ensure that investors brought access to leading-edge
technology and new overseas markets.
"Overseas investors are welcome to be part of our economy but
they must contribute to the upgrade."
Mr Cunliffe foreshadowed major Crown investments in regional
areas, citing a new rail line to Marsden Point in Northland
and dredging the harbour at Opotiki to drive new aquaculture
He spoke of expanding research projects which fuelled
specific industries, such as Scion's forestry schemes in
Rotorua or the Wine Research Centre in Marlborough.
Mr Cunliffe railed against trickle-down economics and said
that neoliberal policies had pushed a growing share of New
Zealand's economy into the hands of the top few per cent.
The Labour leader said New Zealand needed to follow the
example of small states such as Sweden, Norway and Singapore
by driving its own sustainable long-term growth.
He said it was not a serious long-term strategy to "tie our
economic wellbeing to forces that are largely beyond our
"As an old Chinese proverb says: 'A peasant must stand a long
time on a hillside with his mouth open before a roast duck
He also reiterated Labour promises to introduce a capital
gains tax, renew the R&D tax credit, and to reform
- By Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald