A Labour Party Bill that would have imposed strict controls on the sale of farmland to foreigners has been narrowly defeated in Parliament.
Phil Goff, who drafted the member's Bill, says the Government has rubber-stamped nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy farmland over the last three years.
"The result is 140,000 hectares of our land, worth over $6 billion, has passed into foreign ownership in just three years," he said.
His Bill would have required foreign investors to prove that by purchasing farmland they were going to create a substantial number of new jobs or substantially increase exports.
National Party MPs said the previous Labour government sold off "huge chunks" of farmland to foreigners and the current government had tightened criteria for sale.
They argued the Bill would drive away valuable foreign investment which helped grow the economy and create jobs.
The Bill was defeated 61-60 on its first reading.
National, ACT and United Future opposed it.
Labour, the Greens, NZ First and the Maori Party supported it.