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Peters: Stopping the Sale of New Zealand

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
27 August 2014

Katikati Public Meeting
Wednesday 27 August, 1pm

Katikati War Memorial Hall, Main Rd, Katikati

Stopping the Sale of New Zealand
Futility of offshore ownership of house building companies.
What New Zealand First will do.

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and talk about what matters to New Zealanders.

New Zealand First is making foreign ownership a major theme in this election campaign for very good reasons.

New Zealanders know we are headed in the wrong direction on foreign ownership of our country.

And that is why New Zealand First is committed to halting and reversing the sell-off of our country.

Foreign ownership needs to be put in the wider context of our economy.
In case anyone forgets, for years we have been exporting or as they say “offshoring” our manufacturing base.

Go to any provincial town, places like Foxton, Oamaru and Masterton.
You will see premises of former factories that once employed hundreds – now theu are all gone!

We were told that that was the price of globalisation.

In the Brave New World of globalisation we were told we had to concentrate on our comparative advantage - as a primary producer.

That was the theory at least.

But where is National actually taking New Zealand?

Well, let us look at the reality of where we are at today.

Many of our best and most profitable businesses are now under foreign ownership.

For example, Fisher and Paykel Appliances went to Chinese whiteware maker Haier in 2012.

This year the Auckland biscuit seller Griffin’s Foods has gone to Universal Robina of the Philippines.

The supermarkets and chain stores have very high levels of foreign ownership.

The two main media corporates are foreign owned – the Otago Daily Times is the only major daily that is now New Zealand owned.

95% of the banking system is owned by Australian Banks.

The result is billions of dollars in profits and dividends going to Australia every year.

New Zealand is now just the branch office.

Telecommunications – this sector has been under foreign ownership to a large extent ever since the Telecom float.
There is massive foreign ownership of commercial property.

Recently, a Canadian Pension Fund bought a portfolio worth around a billion dollars from an AMP syndicate.
No guesses as to where the rents and profits from those buildings are now headed.

Thanks to the folly of National’s state asset sales a good proportion of the power producing cash cows such as Meridian, Genesis and Mighty River Power have ended up in foreign hands – hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue per annum has been lost.

Recently, Mighty River Power announced a bumper profit increase this year of 82 per cent – that once would have benefited the public.

Wellington’s power lines are owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) Holding. Since taking over CKI has made nothing but losses.

The losses are not real – and CKI bought a bargain not a dud – thanks to tax rules that favour foreign ownership.

Housing

Tens of thousands of New Zealand houses are now owned by people who are neither citizens nor residents of New Zealand.
No wonder that the level of home ownership in New Zealand is at its lowest level since 1951.

But who will really profit from all those houses that National and Labour are promising to build?

Well Universal Homes, an iconic company and one of our leading home builders formed in the 1950s, would be one builder/developer to profit.

But this company is also 100 per cent owned by Chinese interests despite having a shelf company in New Zealand linked to a similar company in Hong Kong but in reality 100 per cent owned by the Chinese government.

So will China be one of the serious beneficiaries of National’s limp plans to deal with the housing crisis?

Land sales

Now let’s look at land – the birth right of every Kiwi.

The facts are alarming.

Over one million hectares of New Zealand land passing through the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) into full or partial foreign control since the National Government came into office.

That’s six times the size of Stewart Island.

A staggering loss of sovereignty.

The Prime Minister is maintaining his mantra that it does not matter – it’s trivial.

In simple terms, under National there is a culture of priority for foreigners over New Zealanders.

They have calculated that the amount of funding that will flow back to National coffers from supporting foreign interests is bigger than if they support New Zealand interests.

It’s that cynical a calculation for National.

Those challenging New Zealand First’s stand use four weak arguments to dismiss New Zealanders legitimate concerns.

Like Mr Joyce and the Prime Minister they say “it’s trivial”.

They say the amount of land being sold “is minimal”.

Really?

A million hectares have been sold into full or partial foreign ownership under National.

They say “but our predecessor did it too”.

They say they have “a process to vet each sale”.

Selling almost 14,000 hectares in one sale is not trivial, nor is letting one foreign owner have 26,000 hectares of farmland.

They ignore that fact that all the sales are cumulative.

We are not buying our land back – it’s a one way process.

And it’s no excuse for National to say that because your predecessor did it too then it’s alright.

Labour at least are now contrite.

They have looked at the facts and changed their policy.

It took them far too long to come to the New Zealand First position but they have woken up at last.

Changing your position in light of the facts is the hallmark of rationality.

National are just pretending that there are no facts.

Overseas Investment Office

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) process is a sick joke.

It is a total façade – the pretence of doing something whilst rubber-stamping all applications from abroad.

The OIO has been approving a sale, on average over the past three years, every three days.

And the OIO completely fails to take into account the favourable tax position that applies to foreign owners.

Our critics say that any discussion of foreign ownership is racist and xenophobic.
So any criticism of foreign ownership is an attack on foreigners.

Let’s make it crystal clear, New Zealand First is opposed to the foreign takeover of New Zealand from any source.

But there is a big distinction between people like James Cameron the US film director and Chinese buyers.

Mr James Cameron is an individual but behind every Chinese buyer stands the State.

Effectively Shanghai Pengxin, who have been buying dairy land wholesale in Crafar Farms and Lochinver Station, is an arm of the Chinese state.
There is a word for this sort of state takeover of another country.

It’s called colonisation!

One of these days soon, New Zealand is going to wake up to the fact that the golden goose, dairying, and our marketing of it is no longer in our control.

Our brand is seriously being put at risk because we are naively allowing others to control it.

The National Government is deeply infiltrated and funded by foreign money interests – the Oravida scandal exposed the deep web of collaboration and collusion that reaches to the top of the National party.

Recently, over 16,000 New Zealanders participated in a Television poll asking if New Zealand land should be sold to foreigners.

94 per cent said no.

Are those 94 per cent all xenophobic racists?

No.

They are patriotic New Zealanders deeply alarmed at what is happening to their country.

What will New Zealand First do?

New Zealand First is committed to action to put the brakes on the sell off.

This is what New Zealand First is going to do.

We have a comprehensive programme to own our own country again.

That programme has a number of elements.

We’ll pass a law for a register of all land and house ownership.

We’re going to know, finally, who owns what and where.

And we’ll catch land and houses using the trust ownership veil as well.

We will impose rigorous control on land, house and state business sales to foreign interests.

The rubber-stamp is going in the bin.

And we will start the buy back,

We will use the Cullen fund and our KiwiFund, and tax law, to buy back what were once our assets.

KiwiFund, our new KiwiSaver option, will be run by a government agency with low fees and a capital return guarantee will invest primarily In New Zealand assets like land as well as infrastructure.

Like all our policy, our approach to foreign ownership is realistic, practical and affordable.

It’s just common sense!

ENDS

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