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Govt Congratulated for Preventing Airport Takeover

Chief Reporter

CAFCA Congratulates Government for Preventing Auckland Airport Takeover
But Don’t Stop Now, There’s Lot’s More To Be Done

The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) congratulates the Government for its decision today to veto the sale of Auckland International Airport to the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. We fully agree, as does a substantial chunk of public opinion, that this proposed takeover would not be of benefit to New Zealand.

For the benefit of the “experts”who endlessly lecture that NZ must become more like Australia to “be competitive”, we’re pleased that the Government has listened and partially adopted the Australian prohibition of foreign ownership of airports. Except that Australia prohibits foreign ownership of all airports, not just international ones or “strategic” ones. So CAFCA is happy to join the “experts” in urging the Government to become more like Australia and ban foreign ownership of any airport.

And we expect to see these new overseas investment criteria to protect strategic assets on sensitive land used to block any renewed attempt by the Christchurch City Council via its holding company to sell the Lyttelton Port Company overseas.

But don’t stop now. We’re delighted that the Government, which rammed through the 2005 Overseas Investment Act, is finally starting to see sense about the whole foreign “investment” scam. It’s never too late to admit your mistakes and make good the damage done by decades of slavish adherence to this fundamentalist cult which has reduced us to tenants in our own home.

First, the Government needs to get its story straight, as it is pursuing contradictory policies on foreign “investment”(it must be election year). In the same week that it correctly stopped the Auckland Airport sale it has signed the highly controversial Free Trade Agreement with China, which has adverse investment components.

More ominously, the Government is reopening the P4 Agreement (NZ, Chile, Singapore, Brunei) to include an investment agreement, with the addition of the US.

If this happens, suddenly we have a Free Trade Agreement with the US by the back door, and the US makes it very plain that it wants any remaining “restrictions” on foreign investment in NZ removed as “barriers to trade”. That means any “restrictions” on foreign ownership of land, airports, strategic assets, fisheries, etc. The lot. For consistency’s sake, if nothing else, the Government must stop this dangerous move which will lead to the complete elimination of any remaining protection of NZ as a sovereign economy, rather than simply a South Pacific branch office.

This decision to veto the Auckland Airport takeover makes a welcome change of direction by the Government but it’s only a start. There’s plenty more stolen property to be reclaimed. The Government has made it plain that it might be about to resume ownership of the nation’s railways system (it had the chance only a few years ago when TranzRail finally fell to bits, but got cold feet and let Toll buy the trains and ferries while it bought back the track network). Good, and the sooner the better we say. The sticking point with Toll is about money. Why? The country has recently waxed indignant about the very likely possibility of the thieves of the Waiouru Army Museum medals being paid all or part of the reward money, thus profiting from their crime. The suggestion of having to buy back what belongs to the people of New Zealand, namely former public assets, raises the same question. Why should those who are in possession of stolen property be allowed to profit from that fact? Take them back.

For those who wring their hands saying “where will we find the money now that all the foreign investors have been frightened off”? (not that we’ve noticed any sudden stampede to the first class departure lounges), how about using the billions accumulating in the Super Fund to actually be invested in this country rather than playing, and currently losing, on foreign stockmarkets. Now there’s a radical thought – using New Zealanders’ money to develop New Zealand.


ENDS

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