In an article on the economy that would have had my high-school economics teacher in fits, Bill Ralston says that it is hypocritical of the Government to block the sale of Auckland Airport because it is a strategic asset while the Government-owned New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Cullen Fund, as National dubbed it, I guess it was another Farrar idea) buys up strategic assets in other countries.
OK. Firstly, it’s a country’s sovereign choice to designate what assets they consider strategic and how they will protect them. If a country chooses to let assets we would consider strategic be sold, there is nothing immoral or hypocritical about buying them. Doesn’t mean we have to sell ours.
But more importantly, actually crucially to the crux of the whole argument, the Canadian Pension Fund wants to buy a controlling share of Auckland Airport but the Cullen Fund is not allowed to buy and hasn’t bought controlling shares of any company.
The Cullen Fund has not ‘bought up’ any foreign strategic assets. The Cullen Fund has a few shares in airports in other countries (and some in Auckland Airport) just as 40% of Auckland Airport is now held by a number of different foreign investors. The Cullen Fund is investing in foreign strategic assets in exactly the way we allow foreigners to invest here. Some hypocrisy, Bill.