Leaked Cabinet paper reveals Government considering allowing potential influx of overseas landlords

Newshub has been leaked another Cabinet paper which reveals the Government is considering allowing for a potential influx of overseas landlords. 

The Housing Minister's preferred option is now allowing foreign buyers to invest in not just large-scale build-to-rent housing, but any residential land, if they intend to develop even one house on it.  

There's also a big legal warning: if they do this, it can't be undone.  

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was at Southern Field Days on Wednesday, in charge of a tractor, but losing control of Cabinet confidentiality.  

Newshub has been leaked another Cabinet paper, but Luxon said he's not worried about leaking.

Once incredibly rare, this is at least the fifth major leak since the new Government took office.  

"I walk my greyhound twice a day and she has less leaks than this Government," said Kieran McAnulty, Labour's Housing spokesperson.  

The draft Cabinet paper shows Housing Minister Chris Bishop wants to issue a ministerial directive - a letter that sends a strong signal that New Zealand is open for investment to increase housing supply.  

"The foreign buyer ban remains in place," he said.  

"That's a Coalition commitment... we're not touching the foreign buyer ban."   

National's foreign buyers' tax was killed by New Zealand First in coalition talks.  

In its 100-day plan, the Government signaled it would instead amend the Overseas Investment Act to make it easier for foreign investment in build-to-rent housing developments.   

The paper shows they're looking to go much, much further. 

"We're looking at a range of options to make it easier for build-to-rent housing in New Zealand," said Bishop.   

The Housing Minister proposes allowing foreign investment in not just large-scale developments, but all new housing, allowing overseas buyers to purchase residential land if they intend to build a single additional house on it as long as they don't intend to live in it.   

"There's a whole range of things that governments go through before they make policy announcements and we're not at the stage yet of making those announcements."  

Asked if he had got coalition partner New Zealand First across the line, Bishop said: "We are discussing internally and as a Coalition Government a range of options."   

The paper comes with significant legal warnings, including: "the Government could no longer decline an investment if it was deemed contrary to the national interest".  

And it can't be undone. Alongside a bolded "Legally privileged" title, the paper states: "our international obligations will prevent any future government from expanding overseas investment screening to include these assets in future." 

That's exactly what National was warned about and denied would be a problem last year.   

"I'm not going to comment on legal advice the Crown has received," said Bishop on Wednesday.

Not willing to comment on much - leaving the leaks to do the talking.

Jenna Lynch Analysis

So what's the likelihood of National getting the support to open up foreign investment this much?

National seems optimistic, but this is a draft paper hasn't actually gone to Cabinet yet and Newshub understands fulsome discussions are yet to happen.

The optimism is perhaps fanciful. This is not going to get past New Zealand First. It goes against what they believe in. The word Newshub is hearing from people in those quarters is it's dead in the water. 

As we have already well learned, unless you got it inked in the coalition deal, good luck to you Chris Bishop.