In her recent columns, and particularly yesterday, Fran O’Sullivan has been going quite quite strange
I experienced a bit of this myself last week when the website, thestandard.org.nz, branded me an “enemy of the people” for supporting the sale.
Well the site didn’t, RedLogix did in this post. He was specifically responding to Fran O’Sullivan gloating (and that is the only appropriate word) about the Crafar decision in a previous article with this wee gem of complete idiocy.
The Crafar decision is a victory for economic rationalism over blind xenophobic nationalism. Long may the former reign.
As RedLogix pointed out Fran walked well over the line with that statement. In effect she was saying that anyone who even questioned the validity of the Crafar decision was both racist and economically illiterate.
Like RedLogix, I take considerable offence to that because I too have considerable question about the wisdom of the Crafar farms decision.
I can hardly be called economically irrational bearing in mind that I was trained and have worked in management for a decade, have a MBA from Otago, and have spent my entire life working in businesses. I have spend the last 20 years writing code and building export businesses to locations all over the world from the US to India to Argentina.
Xenophobic? Hardly – you should met my family. Not to mention that in the business end of the industry I work in (export based IT) it is rare to find people who were born here. We simply don’t train enough people at the skill levels that are required to sustain the rapid expansion over the last few decades
Nope that is all diversion that as one of the commentators pointed out, if you put a pseudonym on it, is precisely characteristic of a newbie troll trying to divert attention from a topic with interesting questions.
But what is interesting in her diversion article was a following paragraph…
To my mind the deal provides much greater upside for New Zealand than many of the other farms sales which have gone to foreign interests in recent years.
Ah yes, that is the crux of the actual question that Red and many of the 700 odd comments on his post were asking. It is also the question that Fran in my view seems to wish to avoid addressing at all costs.
If you hunt through Fran O’Sullivan’s recent articles in the Herald on the Crafar farms you’ll find the problem with the Crafar farms decision and why so many people are concerned about it including many in the rural and semirural communities where people like RedLogix live. Where is the justification for selling farmland to absentee owners who don’t understand farming and who bring no special skills to the task does for the rest of NZ?
Well you can’t find out by reading Fran O’Sullivan.
In a article entitled “Why Key will let Chinese buy Crafar farms” you find this solitary statement about the valueadd of the sale.
That is also where the value proposition for New Zealand-sourced dairy production lies. Not simply in exporting vast quantities of milk powder to Fonterra’s customers and competitors offshore (including within China) for them to refine. This will lead to more jobs in New Zealand – not fewer.
It is the sole reference in the entire article that is purportably on the topic to the question that many of us have been asking. Hardly enough detail to convince anyone and it looks like it was placed there as a virtual figleaf to say that it’d been mentioned. The rest of the article is full of irrelevent crap.
None of Fran’s other articles carry much more detail of interest to the OIO decision. We are told in “Key hits stride with Crafar farms decision”
For one thing, Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson has personally stayed on the OIO’s case to make sure it did an in-depth investigation into Shanghai Pengxin’s application before forming its recommendation, – though Williamson stresses the OIO’s decision “was theirs alone.”
Which along with the title merely raises questions about the depth of political interference in what should be non-political decision.
Pengxin has pledged to co-operate in developing retail and distribution opportunities within China for high-value New Zealand dairy brands, something that is notoriously hard to do without deep pockets and on-the-ground capacity. It will also later form 50-50 joint-venture partnerships to produce more refined products here instead of simply shipping sacks of milk powder off to China.
In other words there are some fine promises with no actual details? At least that is how I read this statement of pure meaningless PR bollocks. And if that was the case why does Pengxin need vertical integration down to the level of the cowshit in the milking shed. All they have to do is to buy either the raw milk or the processed milk powder from farmers or other suppliers. The statement raises more questions than it answers.
We can understand why the deal makers in Auckland (that Fran has represented so ably over the decades in her writing) like the decision. It looks to me like it provides them with a useful precedent for sales of farmland to non-residents and overseas companies who have little interest in developing the NZ economy and are mainly concerned about buying hard assets like land rather than building local businesses. But on the way through it opens up a new line of business for the Auckland service industries in clipping the ticket as sales of farmlands to overseas companies proceed. I’m afraid that their welfare is not synonymous with the welfare of the NZ economy regardless what Fran seems to think. I’d anticipate seeing many more attacks on the whole OIO process by the Auckland service industry anxious for more fees in the coming months.
And I’m sure that it helps the secretive Tim Groser and Murray McCully in their deal making with the Chinese government. It is probably good at getting the Chinese to help fund National’s burgeoning fiscal debt that is largely a result of their highly unproductive tax cuts.
But in all of Fran’s writing on the subject of the Crafar farms sale to Pengxin, what we don’t see is why the OIO thought this was a good decision within their limited decision framework. What we see is a whole pile of diversion into other topics.
At this point even the summary of the basis of the OIO of the decision don’t appear to be visible on the net for the rest of us to read (although Fran points out that a briefing to the minister has some information). We rely on the people in the media to help get the information circulated and it is clear that Fran in her long business career as a journalist, editor, and columnist has access to this information. Of course as an journalist she seldom bothers to provide URL’s to the public information so others can look at it and make up their own mind. For instance she refers to a draft strategies for both
But she has failed rather spectacularly in the task of explaining the basis of the OIO’s decision to her readers. Because after rereading her articles all I am left with is more questions about both the decision and the process than when I started.
In my view, she appears to be acting less as a journalist and more as a shill for a small group of business interests in Auckland and the Chinese and our governments. When called to task by the likes of RedLogix and others around the blogs and elsewhere she responds with factuous diversions about xenophobia and business rationality (the latter from someone who appears to lack much business experience).
I see that much smoke and mirrors being then I start to look for where the body is buried. I’m starting to wonder if she has been involved making policy and strategies that she is defending and trying to divert attention from with silly statements for one of more of the parties concerned.
(So Fran has no excuses).
I will be following up with another post on how much of a newbie Fran is at this whole network thing. It isn’t just her. Most of the older columnists appear to be having difficulties understanding the cultures that the networks have spawned over the three decades I’ve been playing around on them. In particular that they are now subject to criticism from many knowledgeable sources and they’d better learn how to do a better job.