04 March 2008

Winston Cullen's populist xenophobia

So according to Stuff Michael Cullen is as hysterical as Sue Kedgley. Who would have thought! Like some squawking bird he has thrown up his hands in leftwing xenophobic horror at the "gateway to the world" falling into foreign hands. You can see the talons of foreigners, eagerly trying to pillage what is "ours". Of course it seems to be ok for the Christchurch gateway to be held by a loony leftwing council and the Wellington one by a New Zealand investment firm.

What absolute nonsense.

The hurried legislation is Labour making a marriage with "don't trust the wogs" NZ First, pandering to the xenophobic fears of some on the conservative right as well as the anti-globalisation left - with no objective basis for it whatsoever.

The government will now have the right to interfere in ANY private land transaction, as "ministers will be able to block the sale overseas of any land or assets if it runs counter to the need to maintain New Zealand control of strategically important infrastructure on sensitive land."

What is this "strategically important infrastructure" or "sensitive land"? Better hope it's not yours, or those of a company you own shares in - because Ministers can now pillage part of the asset value -purely due to xenophobic hysteria.

The arguments Sue Kedgley rattled off in her press release are all too ludicrous, and I pulled them apart a few days ago. I said the Greens are Canadaphobic only partly in jest, because they are xenophobic when it comes to ANYONE from another country making an investment in New Zealand.

The impression is that somehow Canada Pension Plan would blow up the airport, or treble landing charges, in other words do anything OTHER than run it to maximise a rate of return.

Of course this isn't the first time. Dr Cullen deliberately delayed allowing Singapore Airlines to raise its shareholding in Air New Zealand to 49% because of a preference to consider the Qantas offer, which had already been rejected by the Air New Zealand board. It is speculation to claim that this dithering was because of a preference for an ANZAC Air NZ over a more "foreign" one. This dithering saw Air New Zealand collapse, until Dr Cullen forced taxpayers to bail out and nationalise the airline.

So I want three questions to be answered by those on the left who will cheerlead this on flying the red flag as they do...

1. What evidence is there and what incentives are there for a foreign owner of a New Zealand company to treat the assets and the business in a manner differently from a New Zealand one? Give verifiable examples, not simply tired rhetoric.

2. What is the financial value of land being "strategic"? Will you compensate the owners for this over and above the previous market value now reduced because of this legislation?

3. If the land is so "strategic" to you, why don't YOU and those who agree with you come together and buy it? Clearly the value is so high that you are willing to use force to ride roughshod over private property rights and contracts. Can you explain why you are unwilling to use your OWN money to demonstrate how strategic this land is?

Finally, I expect the shrieking Greens and xenophobic NZ First to support this, along with xenophobic Anderton. That will be enough, but will Peter Dunne, National and ACT stand on some principle? (The Maori Party is inherently racist so I expect nothing from it).

By the way, this isn't about privatisation - this is about already privately owned shares not being allowed to be sold to a willing buyer. Just think about it, and think about your own xenophobia.

It is racism, just a kind the left champions.
UPDATE: Not PC rightfully points out that "Too many New Zealanders don't like foreigners, however (or investment, for that matter). We think we might catch nasty diseases from them -- things like hard work and being enterprising".
Sue Kedgley is taking the credit for this nonsense, repeating her absolute doggerell that "New Zealand could not afford the economic, environmental, biosecurity or security risks of allowing control of our main aviation gateway to pass into foreign hands".
Go on Sue, explain yourself will you? Why do foreigners pose risks that locals don't?
Meanwhile Winston is cheering it on, like the Muldoonist he is.
UPDATE 2: No Right Turn makes the ultra nationalist/socialist assertion that privately owned shares comprise “our” strategic assets. If HE finds it strategic, why does he not buy them from those who don’t see it as being strategic? At the very least he argues this is about the balance of payments deficit - without explaining that this deficit is privately funded. The owners of Auckland airport shares are not responsible if some New Zealanders spend more overseas than they receive from overseas. It is not THEIR responsibility to make money to pay someone else’s deficit. Sadly he panders to the xenophobic populist nationalism of Winston Peters that is more about prejudice than it is about economics.

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