Land Information New Zealand’s decision to appoint a Deputy Chief Executive to prop up the embattled Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a welcome step that underlines how much work the OIO has to do to properly do its job, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.
“The appointment comes in the wake of a number of serious failures the OIO and is supposed to take pressure off Minister Upston’s struggling OIO. Sending in a senior official to try and clean up this mess shows that the Minister has lost faith in her own agency.
“A number of serious problems have been identified at the OIO this year, such as allowing criminal polluters linked to Mossack Fonseca to purchase Onetai Station in 2014. The OIO’s new boss should be asking how that occurred and checking to see how many other potentially dodgy deals have been approved.
The priority tasks of any new OIO boss must include:
- Don’t let criminal polluters buy farmland next to a river.
- Keep a record of how many criminals are granted consent.
- Don’t rely on statutory declarations from smiling lawyers bearing gifts.
- As above, especially if the lawyers come from Mossack Fonseca.
- Aim for an approval rate below 99.85%.
- Make sure consent holders stick to their conditions by properly monitoring them.
- Teach staff how to use Google.
- Hold onto your job.
“Unfortunately, one official can’t make up for this legacy of mismanagement and ‘dropped balls’ that have placed sensitive New Zealand farmland in the hands of criminal polluters. Louise Upston, who commentators rate as one of National’s poorest performing ministers, needs to take responsibility for her agency and stop hiding behind officials,” says David Cunliffe.