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Monday, February 20, 2012

When economic self-sabotage becomes economic treason

Maurice Williamson was on radio and TV soon after he and the other Minister had approved the sale of the Crafar Farms to the Chinese saying his hands were tied and he had to approve it. He was insistent he had no choice, although he also seemed very much in favour of it anyway. That would make quite a damning piece of evidence against the government's process as far as getting a court to reverse the decision, let alone in establishing a motive for a wider crime. As it happened the court did derail the decision, though not for Williamson's telling comments. As usual Michael Fay (the rival bidder) uses the legal system to get his way rather than possessing any business acumen; but at least thanks to his efforts the decision has to be made again with a higher threshold than simply whether an overseas buyer has the money.

The Crafar farms buy-up by the Chinese is based on LandCorp running it. So the Chinese are going to be absentee landlords and nothing more. They have no special skills or value to add to the farms or to the country - on that basis alone the "investment" should fall over.

But what of Landcorp's role? Looks like a corporate farmer from their website, with dividends and announcements to market, etc. But what they don't seem very proud of - because they don't want to mention it in lights anywhere - is that it is an SOE, a government owned company.

So we have a government owned company in league with a foreign buyer. The government itself is trying to sell off the nation's productive farmland to foreigners - in this case a front company for a foreign government. This is an astounding, sickening twist in the Crafar farms saga - a perverse situation. This has gone beyond just economic self-sabotage.

This National government will sell it all without flinching, without conscience or regard to the interests of this nation.

Keep well in mind that the reason they are selling the power companies and Air NZ off is not because of deficits or paying for the Christchurch earthquake or anything at all to do with the current situation. National have had a policy to sell off assets in the second term well before the financial meltdown of 2008. Asset sales for the Nats have nothing to do with practicality, pragmatism or efficiency. It is an ideological commitment, nothing more, nothing less.

The Ministerial approval came just a week before a trade conference in NZ where Ministers and Chinese delegates met. We hear from the Greens that Chinese officials met Overseas Investment Office staff for a briefing. This deal was a long time in the making at government-to-government level. They are fully in cahoots and no Chinese walls - as it were - and bureaucratic technicalities were going to withstand orders and undertakings made at the top.

Now the Crafar farms are going to become Chinese state assets (by proxy) with the NZ government supporting the purchase. With our own entranced, second-rate intellectuals confidently asserting that China owning chunks of the value chain - although not actually "investing" any capital beyond the purchase of the land - is going to somehow benefit the country. Some farmers have said they don't mind! Not the quickest, our farmers.

It may be that the Crafar farms represent a small area, that the overseas buyers to date only own 1% or so of total land; but an aggressive state-backed aggregator of land, like the Chinese, in for the ultra-long haul and who will not sell-down will quickly change that scenario. If the Chinese population can rise from 1% to 5% or so in only 20 years due to government policy, there is no reason why 20 years from now the Chinese (that is to say the Beijing-controlled businesses), due to government policy, may be owning well over 5% of farmland.

With a NZ government the right hand of Chinese investment we are now in the realms of economic treason.


At 20/2/12 9:44 pm, Blogger jane said...

Nobody likes the smell of rat, which is all over this Crafar farms deal, which, right from the start, smells like vermin. Somebody must have (excuse the pun) creamed it when the milk payout yoyo-ed and caught the Crafars on the hop, and I read the Greens, among others, were sticking the boot in at the environment court to make an example of them for dirty dairying; previous comments on this blog confirm that there are dangers inherent in owning productive/beautiful tracts of land.

At 21/2/12 12:16 am, Blogger Andre said...

Many countries worldwide lease land to Chinese investors with many of their governments copping flak from the public over the issue. Yet Landcorp is planned to be the lessee of the Crafar farms for $18 million per year to the Shanghai Pengxin Group, who are believed to offer around $200 million for the sale. So not much over ten years the original sale price will be paid back as lease.

Anyway regarding this country’s previous sale of land to various overseas investors, with a peak of about 42,000 ha in 2000, and some estimates of up to 7% of land in foreign ownership, as far as the general public is concerned how profitable are these deals to the country? This is an issue that transcends partisan politics or “bolocktics” going by the track record.

At 21/2/12 4:27 pm, Blogger peterquixote said...

New Zealanders overwhelmingly oppose asset sales.
Even centre right people.
We saw what happened before, and it did not do good for New Zealanders

At 22/2/12 11:58 am, Blogger Frank said...

Not just the Chinese...

Multinational agri-corporations will also be racing to buy up arable land, as the human population climbs to a 9 billion by 2050AD.

He who controls food production by the middle of this century will hold power and wealth that makes the OPEC nations pale in comparison.

And the real belly-bursting fuinny thing about all this? Just as we stand on the edge of earning incredible export-wealth by production and supply of protein to nine billion mouths - we're about to sell that same means of production to overseas investors.

Jeezus, how bloody thick are we, as a nation?!

At least the Arab states realised the value of their oil resources and took back control from multi-national oil companies.

We haven't learnt a single da,mned thing from history.

The only think that puzzles me; whilst National is so blinded by neo-liberal dogma that it would sell our children to work in Indian sweat-shops - why the f**k were 1,058,638 New Zealanders stupid enough to vote for such short-sighted politicians?!?!

At 22/2/12 11:25 pm, Blogger Andre said...

Reading the following article: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/latest-edition/6368092/Who-is-really-buying-New-Zealand which states:
“Figures released by the Overseas Investment Office show that of the 872,313 hectares of gross land sold to foreign interests over the past five years, only 223ha were sold to Chinese.

People from the landlocked principality of Liechtenstein had purchased 10 times more land than the Chinese - 2,144ha in the same period.

The top buyers were the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Israel. The United States had 194 purchases for a total of 193,208ha.

The figures do not show if there are any New Zealand ownership shares involved.”

Considering the whole Crafar Farm debacle and the hazy mainstream media coverage of foreign land sales in New Zealand, since many here are opposed to any form of sale to overseas investors, it appears the mainstream media has a firm bias in covering sales and in particular playing the race card. It seems hundreds of thousands of hectares are sold over the years but when the Chinese want a piece of the action, miniscule in comparison, there’s a massive furore over the issue.

The public should demand more transparency over all these sales regardless of who is purchasing. The general public really has no idea how these sales are advantageous to the country as a whole, but are no doubt profitable to the global corporate and oligarchic cancer spanning the globe.

Since for many here even owning a home is a distant and fleeting dream let alone any form of property ownership or investment, is particularly more outrageous. Those working on these foreign owned farms are no doubt earning low wages for their corporate or oligarchic masters to reap handsome profits, effectively rendering them akin to serfs. Citizens deserve precedence over non-citizen corporations.

Anyway it’s not surprising the media can sensationalise the Crafar Farm debacle, with race related issues debated in the media in this country on a largely weekly or daily basis, with much ignorance apparent, something reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The mainstream media seems to play on the prejudiced notions of the “yellow peril” even though the country is sold off wholesale to others for years. If anything the populace of this country seems to largely lack a sense of being a unified people with many factors such as ethnicity, wealth et cetera exaggerated from many corners as a degenerate means to define some superior to others.

Since Israel is a top buyer of land would seem more concerning than Chinese investment interest given their track record in Palestine, would they consider establishing exclusive settlements here?

Considering the Crafar farms total about 7,900 ha with King Country Maori currently occupying one of the farms in protest that two of the farms totalling about 1900 ha are part of a Treaty settlement, given the government’s ignorance to the matter, are they prepared to render Maori akin to South Pacific Palestinians?

At 24/2/12 9:26 am, Blogger countryboy said...

' Michael Fay ... thanks to his efforts ' ! What ! ? Did I just read that ? Yes, I understand the context but please tell me I didn't just read that ! The only reason that cunt wants to buy the Crafar Farms is because he does possess business acumen Tim ! He can spot a deal a mile off for fucks sake . If the deal goes in his favour , he'll just flog the farms off later for a profit and more than likely to the same Chinese company that are trying to buy the farms right now . @ Frank . Dead on the money . And where the fuck are the farmers in all this ? You will be next , you do know that don't you ! They'll pick you off one by one . You'll cringe behind your tractors and watch as your neighbours get sold up and who do you have your mortgages with ? Foreign owned banks ? Do you farmers actually think that these insane rural property values are here to stay ? What will you do when your plummeting capital value falls below QV and you're still trying to pay off that massive mortgage you took out to pay for improvements and in doing so , you fell face first into a trap laid out by the tax department . You will now find yourselves in the shit because the arse has suddenly and mysteriously fallen out of all the things you produce ? Wake up you fucking idiots ! Let me reiterate ; Parasites like Fay are no friends of ours and he won't be planning on doing us any favours .Farmers ! You are the economic engine of our country and you have a solemn responsibility to act responsibly and to know your enemy so stand still and take a long hard look at yourselves .

At 24/2/12 9:30 am, Blogger countryboy said...

@ Andre . Brilliant ! Keep it coming !


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