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Government responsible for Westland Milk sale

Media Release 16.08.19


The responsibility for the fact that Westland Milk Products is now in the hands of an overseas conglomerate 25% owned by the Chinese government can be laid fair and square at our government's doorstep.

Successive New Zealand governments have not only actively sold off publicly owned assets but have thrown open the doors to foreign takeover of New Zealand's most productive businesses.

Preparations for the sale to Inner Mongolian Yili were being put in place as far back as February and it was the subject of significant discussion at the highest level of the New Zealand government.

Ministers chose to sit on their hands in the hope they wouldn't have to intervene, and then breathed a sigh of relief when Westland’s farmers, left with no other option, gave the sale the green light last month.

There's been a deafening silence from Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who, when not in government, loudly opposed the sale of Silver Fern Farms to a company from China.

He then voted for the TPPA, which guarantees foreign companies access to New Zealand assets, despite campaigning against it in the run up to the election.

The best New Zealand First could do was draft perennially loose cannon Shane Jones to direct an attack on farmers blaming them for the outcome.

Just days after they voted to approve the sale Mr Jones said "New Zealanders need to be able to rely on the government to ensure the OIO regime does not empower farmers to continue to sell our nation's birthright".

That’s the height of hypocrisy, especially given that the government has had nearly two years to do something about tightening up the Overseas Investment Office rules to curtail such sales, but hasn’t yet lifted a finger.

China now holds the largest foreign investment footprint in most of New Zealand’s primary food related sectors, including dairy, infant formula, meat, horticulture, health supplements, and honey, and is our largest foreign investor in new tourism infrastructure according to business commentator Fran O’Sullivan.

That foreign ownership is now posing a serious threat to our food security in an era of uncertain weather and economic times.

Those sectors are the country’s major earners of overseas income, and our governments have helped China to gain control of them, with profits being shipped off to China instead of staying in New Zealand, benefiting kiwis and our economy .

Ends

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