An interesting take on the Crafars from Bernard Hickey in the Herald.
He starts off:
The Crafar Farms tragedy is a microcosm of many of the things wrong about our business and investment culture.
Then goes on to say:
We believe land is the best investment always. We are happy to load up with debt, even if it means we make losses. That’s because it means we can avoid paying tax and will make the money back through capital gains, which are not taxed.
We believe business owners have the right to run their businesses as they see fit to grow the economy. We believe the Government’s role is to make it easy for businesses to grow and employ more people, not to hunt down and prosecute wrongdoers.
He could be talking about the Talleys and Telecom. And the workers at Open Country Cheese won’t get any help from Kate Wilkinson, regardless of what the law says.
There are serious questions to be answered by MAF, Fonterra and the banks about why they let Crafar Farms grow so large, why Crafar was given so much debt and why he was given so many second chances after multiple convictions for environmental lapses and animal neglect.
But there should be a lesson for us in this. Debt-driven growth in land is not a solution to New Zealand’s economic problems. It stores up risks for our financial futures and the nation’s reputation.
He’s not wrong. Serious questions indeed. But this Tory farmers’ government let the banks off the hook over interest margins. Not much hope for answers from there.