Fran O’Sullivan has a good piece this morning on the policy priorities that appear to be emerging from the coalition talks:
Fran O’Sullivan: Winston Peters wish list has sensitive topics
Peters has put overseas investment, the NZ currency and affordable housing near the top of the issues he wants the new regime to tackle.
And given the sensitivity of the three policy areas he singled out for attention yesterday both he and the other main governing party will want to avoid any suggestion of a return to Fortress NZ and a managed economy.
In particular, foreign investment has provided a lifeline for the NZ economy, companies and householders in recent years. It is foreign investors who (in the main) fund the Government’s bond programme, own a good deal of our sharemarket – and by inference our listed companies; and own our major banks. The level of New Zealand household and farm debt will have to be factored in.
Should we have relied on that “lifeline”? Look around at our low productivity, low wage economy. Look at our polluted rivers and carbon emissions. Our crazy housing market and our homeless. Our failing health and troubled education systems. Our record suicide rate. Perhaps we would have done better on another path.
It is fatuous to believe that any foreign investor is not going to act in its private interest.
Exactly. Their private interest is to extract profit from this country, not to build it (e.g. aussie banks). But I digress.
On top of that NZ First wants to impose strict controls over foreign ownership; create and maintain a comprehensive register of foreign ownership of land; prevent vertical integration and foreign control of key export industries; restrict ownership of residential land and farmland to New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents who are exercising their right to residence and majority New Zealand-owned companies.
As well it wants to prohibit the further sale of “strategic state assets” to overseas buyers and require foreign companies operating in NZ to pay their fair share of taxation.
The other key issue is housing affordability. Expect a smorgasbord of policies to deal with this difficult problem.
These policy priorities are clearly anathema to National. Depending on the details Labour may be more accommodating, but it’s a risky path given signs that “the economy” is already flatlining.
Meanwhile poor Winston is coming to terms with the fact that whatever he does he’s about to blow away part of his support base (that’s the problem with refusing to commit during the campaign):
NZ First leader Winston Peters says he is feeling the pressure of the coalition negotiations, and any decision he makes will cause “disappointment and anguish”.