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Key concedes Left has it right on foreign ownership

Written By: - Date published: 11:16 am, July 6th, 2010 - 39 comments
Categories: Economy, overseas investment - Tags:

PM warns against Kiwis becoming ‘tenants’ – The Herald

John Key says that we’ve got to make sure we don’t sell too many of our assets and end up sending the profits overseas. Good stuff, it’s exactly what the Left has been saying and the opposite of National’s policy until now. I guess we’ll have to see if Key backs up his words with action.

Back when Labour protected Auckland Airport being taken over by the Canadian Pension Fund, Key said they were just “play[ing] politics” and refused to back the new restrictions on foreign ownership of sensitive land. Now, he seems to have woken up.

The rest of the world owns $292 billion worth of assets in New Zealand.In a typical year (not last year), we send about $14 billion worth of profits overseas on those assets. That means about 8% of our economy goes to paying the profits of foreigners on money they have effectively* lent us to fund our consumption.

That’s not the formula for being a sustainably wealthy, independent country. Ultimately, when you borrow you put yourself at the mercy of the lender. New Zealand’s debt undermines our sovereignty, the choices we can make as a nation can’t piss off our debtors too much.

So, it’s great news that both major parties, along with the Greens, Progressives, and Maori Party, now oppose increased foreign ownership of our economy. It’s a stark contrast from 20 years ago, I guess we’ve learned a few of the lessons from the failure of neoliberalism.

But will the government back it’s talk with action? That’s what really matters.

Key could do worse than looking at the Greens’ ideas on foreign ownership of land and looking at Labour’s ideas on monetary policy.

*more complicated than that of course but if we hadn’t received that foreign capital we would have had to reduce our consumption to fund the investment instead, or not undertaken it.

39 comments on “Key concedes Left has it right on foreign ownership”

  1. Emp 1

    If the left has it right on foreign ownership why did labour let vector sell to the Chinese in 2008? http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10506639&pnum=0 Why did Labour sell central north island forestry to the Harvard Fund in 2003?

    Labour were playing politics over Auckland Airport. Vector and the Harvard sales were just as sensitive. The Left when in government don’t have a consistent position on foreign ownership, they play politics when they want to and damage assets by not having a coherent position. Face it Marty your lovely Labour Party are a bunch of hypocritical liars on foreign ownership.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      2 things:
      1.) Labour is actually right wing (centre right). They’re only left in relation to the radical right of NACT.
      2.) I’m sure Marty is actually a Greens supporter (I could be wrong on that) and he did say “Left” not “Labour”.

      As for you questions: It’s because Labour still holds to the delusional neo-liberal paradigm that has caused NZ so much damage since it’s introduction by the 4th Labour government in the 1980s.

  2. Len 2

    Could not agree more

  3. burt 3

    Emp nails it. The Auckland Airport debacle displayed the most self serving side of Labour. Clearly the Labour party think 100% ownership and control by Chineese interests is fine while 22% voting rights and minority shareholdings by Canadians are bad.

    How thick do you think we are Marty-G ? What chance did you think there was that the blatant studipity of Labour wasn’t going to be highlighted when you post prep school “Labour good” spin like this dross.

    • Tigger 3.1

      To be fair those Canadians are notoriously untrustworthy…must have something to do with all that maple syrup they eat.

  4. burt 4


    I think the answer to your questions is; It’s OK when Labour do it.

  5. george 5

    You people are idiots. You don’t care how bad something is just as long as someone else has done it? Idiots.

    • Rex Widerstrom 5.1

      Precisely, george. Until Labour, or National, or any other party, comes out with a written policy commitment it’s safe to assume they’ll all continue to adopt the “pants round our ankles” “negotiating” stance on foreign ownership which has characterised the last 25 years or so of NZ politics.

      And even then history suggests their promises won’t be worth the paper they’re mis-spelled upon.

      More likely than not, if a party emerges with an anti-foreign ownership stance as did NZF in 1993, or any would-be politicians is brvae enough to advance such a platform, the rest of them will again clamber over one another to be the loudest in their denunciations of “racist dog whistling” and other such nonsense.

  6. I dreamed a dream 6

    There is one very important point that’s being missed by all sides of the discussion here, that is, Labour is opposed to the sale of strategic assets to foreigners. Labour is not against the sale of all assets, rather strategic assets. The discussion then should centre around what assets are considered strategic assets.

    For sure, the Auckland Airport is without doubt a strategic asset.

    How about farms, forests, Vector, …? Are they strategic? I leave that to you to decide 🙂

    • Emp 6.1

      Strategic assets is hypocritical bullshit IDAD and you know it. It only came into being when Cullen wanted to play politics with auckland airport. Honestly look me in the blog eye and tell me that an airport is more strategic than a monopoly lines company. Key’s comments are about dairying and becoming tenants in our own land, foreign ownership of agriculture. Tell me honestly that Crafar selling to the Chinese is more strategic than dairy selling to Harvard, or the billion CNI forestry deal to Harvard, all happening under a labour government. Don’t come here and come up with strategic assets bullshit, it’s just proof of labour’s hypocrisy over foreign ownership. Try and spin all you like but if you want to have a serious discussion don’t expect people to take you seriously when you come up with stupid claims like “strategic asset” a term you only use when it suits your interests to play politics.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        All ownership is strategic and as such foreign ownership needs to be banned.

        • Emp

          I think you’re wrong bastard but at least your consistent and not a labour party hack coming up with stupid definitions just to suit your argument.

          • felix

            You seem very familiar for some reason.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Any foreign ownership shifts sovereignty and return on capital out of NZ and thus decreases NZers ability to control their own destiny.

      • Lanthanide 6.1.2

        Or how about: policy develops over time, and Labour now have a policy that they won’t sell strategic assets, even if they have previously done so in the past? This is similar to National apparently stepping in this direction now also, where previously they did not.

        Now that that’s out of the way, care to address the issues currently at hand, or are you going to whinge about the past some more?

    • burt 6.2

      Strategic assets I guess the Wellington power network in it’s entirety isn’t a strategic asset because parliament has it’s own backup generators. Auckland airport on the other hand is strategic because MPs want to travel lots and need the ability to fly to China to beg our political masters for the power to be turned back on in Wellington.

      See simple eh . Self serving Cullen used the “how could it effect me’ test to determine strategic or not .

  7. roger nome 7

    Why is there no discussion as to the actual impact of foriegn ownership in the comments from the right? Have the right really been reduced to “yeah, we were stupid and wrong all the time, but Labour were too”? It’s a bit late for those of us on the left that have been campaigning for a soverign Aoteroa, with a favorable ballance of payments, meaning we ballance market efficiency (attracting investment to profitable areas, thus providing employment and growth) with the need to retain profits/capital in NZ (provides higher labour productivty and therefore wages).

    Has the right really only just grasped this concept? Are you people really all so annoyingly thick?

    • Emp 7.1

      So where’s the three hundred billion gonna come from to buy back all this stuff from foreigners rn. Let’s stick it on Chris Carter’s credit card, just like all of labour’s other stupid ideas just whack it on the debt pay it back never. That’s right you have no idea.

      • Lanthanide 7.1.1

        The idea is that you don’t sell it in the first place. Duh.

        • burt

          Unless you have a red logo, then selling it is good and buying it back for twice book value is even better.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Selling them, at the behest of the RWNJs, was a major mistake and the 5th Labour government took steps to correct those mistakes. I would have preferred if the 5th Labour government had just renationalised rail, Telecom and others without compensation to the capitalists that screwed us over big time, unfortunately there’s this thing called the “rule of law” where peoples property rights are protected even if they’ve been thieves.

    • burt 7.2

      Why is there no discussion as to the actual impact of foriegn ownership

      Because not all of us just nod and agree with partisan hacks about what is and what is not a strategic asset. Easy for you, you just look at the colour of the team selling stuff and when it’s red there is only good impacts but when the selling team is blue all impacts are bad. The rest of us are still struggling to see what strategic actually means because we don’t just listen to our team leader who can’t explain it but knows he is right when he makes his mind up on the day.

      • felix 7.2.1


        You’ve made your feelings very clear with regard to those who support ideas on the basis of which “team” proposes them.

        Do you have anything to say to the rest of us? Anything at all?

    • insider 7.3

      Roger it’s a good question

      Probably becuase the counterfactual is hard to assess – we’ve seen it in this thread where Draco said the 4th Lab Govt caused so much harm. But we don’t really know how things might have been if those changes hadn’t happened. Only our gut beliefs.

      I’d say look at the countries that do well and encourage investment and those that don’t. The benefits of freer trade seem greater than restricting it. For NZ we get some advantage from foreign ownership ,which is the benefit of scale and technology/information transfer. We can’t do and learn everything from scratch so it makes sense to take advantage of other’s experience.

  8. freedom 8

    Are John Key’s comments against foreign ownership not dissimilar to the Hillary Clinton Independence Day speech where she asked Governments to repect the rights of their citizens

    complete bs and doublespeak

  9. roger nome 9

    Freedom – it may be that Key has been advised by his focus-group analysts that he needs to create the perception that Brand Key is opposed to foriegn ownership of NZ (something most New Zealanders have always been opposed to).

    It certainly would be in line with his MO thus far (i.e. lie where ever it suits his branding needs).

    EP – who said anything about buying back the assets?

  10. butnahyeahnah 10

    Burt – You don’t seem to be holding down your side of the argument very well. I personally think that NZ shouldn’t be owned by globalist – would you agree or disagree with me?

    • burt 10.1


      I personally think that NZ shouldn’t be owned by globalist would you agree or disagree with me?

      I generally agree with you but I think you missed the key talking point.
      Globalist’s are only bad when the deals are done under a National govt. Labour govt’s do good deals with globalist’s that benefit NZ unlike National who do deals that only benefit their rich mates . See it’s all about the colour of the political party logo, red = good and blue = bad.

      But hey if you can explain why selling the entire power network in our capital city to Chinese is OK while selling a minority shareholding in an airport (with reduced voting rights) to Canadians is bad then go right ahead and prove you actually have a position on asset sales that goes beyond party logo colour.

      • butnahyeahnah 10.1.1

        Nah, I fly no party colours – being white, young and earning a living I hold little or no trust in either of the baby boomer bourgeoisie parties, directly proportional to their representation of me and mine.
        It seem to me that National tactic of saying “look at labour they did worse” is infantile to the extreme – and you have said I have missed the point while throwing that badly thought out rhetoric at me?
        There is a word in there I used… “Globalist”, and yes selling off anything to the globalist to my mind is HEAPS worse than selling off some shit to an authoritarian communist dictatorship. Why? It’s about long term control of our future – I don’t think that NZ’ers will ever have an uprising that throws out democracy and begs to become part of “one china”. I do however fear the incessant greed shown by your generation for freshly printed money and easy money brought to us by the same clowns triggering the coming dark age. My generation(X) will be forgotten – yours hated forever for selling out to the elites.

      • Jum 10.1.2

        it was already privately owned, and no, I didn’t agree with the sale then, either. Communication, defence, transport, prisons, water, land, workers are far too valuable to sell to any foreignors and I should add NZers with foreign loyalties – Fay Richwhite, Brierley, Key, Douglas, Hide, Brownley, etc.

        I can’t believe anyone being stupid enough to sell off prime airport land that foreign or NZforeign thieves would then develop and earn billions from. Such short term and selfish thinking is not possible if people care about the future of their children’s children and New Zealand’s unique nature.

  11. coolas 11

    Isn’t Key in China right now

    Maybe he supports the LandCorp bid for Crafer Farms so all Landcorp holdings can be sold to the Chinese later on

    We get Panda’s. They get land.

    • Jum 11.1

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who is thinking ahead. With the Chinese plans to own the land, build the milk processing infrastructure, own the dairy cows, control the water assets and send all milk product overseas, the Chinese will let nothing stand in their way. I’m not surprised they’re offering Crafar to keep his house. Landcorp should allow him to keep his house, he should be fined a large amount of money for cruelty to his animals – the money being given to NZSPCA – and to be a manager on Landcorp farms, orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,

      – why can’t NZers hold a $100 shareholding of one share each – about 2 million people equals about $200million to bid for the land. No one can own more than one $100 share and only Kiwis can. It will more than repay our outlay in the future as land becomes so valuable.

      Key will sell off NZers without a moment’s thought if it means he gets tax cuts and workers down. “We’d love to see wages drop” Key has no loyalty to us; New Zealanders need to be reminded of that.

  12. Bored 12

    There is something bloody dangerous about selling land to foreigners…they have a tendency to see it as their own (naturally) and to then be prepared to get very militant if there is any challenge. Or they wish to occupy it. China is bloody big and we are far to small to resist. Give them an inch and they might take a mile. Anybody doubting this needs only to delve into recent histories of what happened when US ownership in Central and South America was challenged, or perhaps the supposed claims of “national interest” prior to WW2.

  13. Gazza 13

    Tigger! I would rather trust the Canadians than the Chinese.

  14. Jum 14

    We do not need to sell our SOEs or strategic assets. If private companies have built their organizations up without any freebies or tax breaks from government then they have the right to sell them.

    Anything built up with taxpayer money DOES NOT BELONG TO ANY Government or private company to sell off. The government does not own our assets. Key keeps repeating that government owns the assets; he needs to be reminded they are not his or his government’s to sell.

    Perhaps we can relate the sales of assets to the voting pool they receive at the next election. Every asset sale loses 100,000 party votes, the reason being their value as a government is lessened in the public eye because they are too stupid to think of alternate ways to bring prosperity to NZers, other than by reducing our ownership, increasing our debt and permanently advertising New Zealand as a low-wage economy to the investors Key is lining up to ravage New Zealand.

    When will NZers wake up and realise if foreignors invest in a low-wage economy they will do all in their power to keep our wages down, as promised to their shareholders. Surely Kiwis can’t all be that short-sighted, although judging by the NAct comments on here, their short term thinking is certainly indicative of that.

  15. Jum 15

    This government is lying about the true value of our SOEs and their strength to remain fully viable in Kiwi hands. When Kiwibank can be progressed with just a couple of days of government spending and yet government is spinning us that Kiwibank cannot be maintained without bringing in investment from the rich ‘moms and pops’ of banks and asset stripper firms, we know that this government is deliberately fabricating a case to sell.

    There are many ways of retaining our own sovereign assets and ensuring that all New Zealanders gain the benefit of them – co-ops, employee owners, etc.

    This government can’t even look at the foreign ownership rules that other countries force upon investors – no total ownership, lease only terms, building not land, investment in New Zealand must use Kiwi workers, Kiwi workers must build (train coaches…) and so on. What is Key being offered to betray New Zealanders and separate them from what belongs to them?

    Greed and the syphilis of power has eaten away at any intelligence and fairness in this government.

  16. Bronwyn 16

    Now that LandCorp have failed in the bid to buy the Crafer Farms, what are we left with? John Key this weekend indicated that he has no issue with total sale to China – that makes a lie of his opinion stated in the opening item of this forum.

    I believe that this large amount of land should not be sold to non New Zealand interests, regardless of wether there is a reciprocal agreement or not.

    There are a number of reasons for this point of view.

    1. New Zealand is a nation of producers. We use the land to provide items to trade with the rest of the world, and that land is irreplaceable, when it is nolonger in our ownership we may in future not have the ability to feed ourselves, or to trade with the rest of the world.

    2. Our identity is our land. Look at the Maori land rights claims -we are passionate about our land ownership, and we will never be able to in future say we made a mistake and take a land rights claim to foreign owners.

    3. Selling land like this is a foreign take over with out the blood shed of war, but the result is the same.

    4. What benefit (in the short and long term) do we as a nation get from this sale?

    I am passionate about ensuring this sale does not proceed. What is being done to educate the public to stop it?

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