National confirms Landcorp would be sold (?)

Written By: - Date published: 4:46 pm, March 12th, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: assets, election 2008, john key - Tags: , ,

We have an interesting mixed message (once again) from National on asset sales. David Carter is quoted in the NZ Farmers Weekly as saying:

David Carter: “As Minister of Agriculture I would sell Landcorp. I don’t see taxpayer money best invested in farms” (10 March, 2008).

landcorp_small.gifHowever after the example was raised in Parliament today Mr Carter tried to defend himself, saying not only did never say it but that he had rung the paper to tell them so (sound familiar?). I’ll post the Hansard when it goes up later today. (see below for quote)

He need not be defensive. Mr Key is already on record saying Landcorp farms would be sold. Indeed National leader John Key told Rural News last year that he has concerns that Landcorp is not performing.

Key: “We think the economic returns are relatively low. We are not sure the State makes a terribly great farmer and don’t feel we need to own farms to do the research.” (Rural News, 25 June 2007)

Mr English confirmed last year that National will have a programme of the partial sell off of assets.

So was Mr Carter really misquoted? Or has he adopted his leader’s habit of saying what people wanted to hear?

Some may say “but Labour has sold farms too”. But there’s a difference between the odd sale (and purchase) in the pursuit of operational efficiency when you’re committed to overall ownership of the asset and a wholesale sell off.

Just to re-inforce the point, the Government took steps last year to place strict criteria around future sales.

(Hat-tip: ferg)

Update: Here’s what Mr Carter said:

Hon David Carter: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. For the sake of clarity, I just point out that I rang Mr Alan Emerson, the author of that article. That is not a direct quote of mine, at all. (Hansard, 12 Mar 2008)

18 comments on “National confirms Landcorp would be sold (?)”

  1. He was talking about Australian landcorp.

  2. Dancer 2

    or perhaps just light-hearted in his comment?

  3. steveo 3

    As clarification here is what Bill English actually said

    “I think the environment’s changed now, where people can see the Government’s got the New Zealand Super Fund there, they know it would be good to have more savings, and they want to save more,” he said.

    “I think the public is thinking more about investment now than about ideology.”

    The partial selldown of an SOE could be done in a variety of ways, such as something like 25 per cent of one being floated on the local stock exchange.

    Local mums and dads could be given an opportunity to buy shares, while the Government would – as long as it sold less than 50 per cent of the company – retain control.

    Or the stake could potentially go to an overseas owner or to a pension fund

  4. Tane 4

    Local mums and dads could be given an opportunity to buy shares

    Local mums and dads already own the SOEs.

  5. i think he meant “local mums and dads who can afford a share portfolio”.

    still, a National party that’s bereft of ANY new ideas and still wanting to sell public assetts huh? who would’ve thought it. no wonder they don’t want to talk about their policies.

  6. Tane 6

    i think he meant “local mums and dads who can afford a share portfolio’.

    Yeah, I figured the mums and dads who struggle by on $11.25 an hour doing double shifts to feed their kids weren’t the kind he had in mind.

  7. no. apparently they don’t deserve any public benefits, that would only encourage them.

  8. steveo 8

    Tane surely there can’t be any mums and dads who struggle by on $11.25 and hour doing double shifts to feed their kids – after three terms of Labour I thought we were living in a socialist paradise

  9. Tane 9

    Socialist paradise? Far from it Steveo, there’s still plenty to do. But if we’re talking minimum wage then I’d rather have a Labour government than a National one any day. Under nine years of National the minimum wage fell in real terms. Labour has increased it every year.

    Think about that for a second, if the last National government was still in power these people wouldn’t even be on $11.25 – they’d be lucky to be earning $7 an hour.

    Check out the graph on this page, it’s quite revealing:

  10. Local mums and dads already own the SOEs.

    That used to annoy the hell out of me when they started selling shares in Air NZ. “Your chance to own your country’s airline,” said the ads. “I already own it, you fucks! Stop trying to rip me off!” Eventually, the drugs kicked in and I realised shouting at the TV was futile. Voting against political parties who want to sell my stuff is however, not futile.

  11. Phil 11

    So, should the Govt even be owning farms in the first place?

  12. Rexel 12

    Of course they should be owning the farm.

    Landcorp is an assett owned by all for the benefit of all. Who gave National the right to sell off our farms.

    Labour should really be using the surplus to purchase further assetts for this country for the benefit of all. As property prices come down now is the perfect time for landcorp to increase their size and for the government to take a greater control in our primary industry.

    Labour….this can only be a vote winner.

  13. insider 13

    LAndcorp is a property speculation company. It is buying and selling farms all the time.

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    Landcorp makes minor changes in its portfolio for various reasons all the time, as do other SOEs, but it is not selling down its’ holdings overall.

  15. Landcorp has been selling off land as part of overall govt policy for a number of years. This mainly involved and still does involve selling to lease holders. This is so it can focus on a smaller amount of physical assets while reducing all the costs from having larger land holdings. The idea is to then make those remaining assets perform well under direct management from Landcorp. Landcorp does make a return to the Crown but those profits reflect the income instability in the farming sector itself.
    I’d also like to ask those who favor state farm ownership, would you as taxpayer owners who profess to be concerned about the environment be prepared to accept Landcorp increasing its dairy conversions to maximize returns? Due to very bad performance for sheep farming Landcorp has been doing this. How do you feel as an ‘owner’ about that?

  16. Ari 16

    It’s funny, you think National would have learned by now to read their interviews afterwards for mistakes. They can hardly blame other people for misquoting them if they’re going to let these mistakes sit around all the time 😛 Maybe they should start asking for transcripts before publication.

    Looks like this paper isn’t owned by APN at least, but given that farmers are big National fans anyway, it might not matter 😉

  17. gladfly 17

    Landcorp farms present an excellent opportunity for the Government to demonstrate how organic management could solve a number of pressing issues – carbon sequestration, water quality, food safety, soil security and so on. What a beacon they could be on the world stage and how easily this could be achieved.

  18. insider 18


    how quaintly naive. You don;t expect the government to be bound by the rules they expect the rest of us to follow, surely?

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