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Posts Tagged ‘Shanghai Pengxin’

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

25 April 2013 20 comments

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Continued from:  Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Once upon a time, at the bottom of the world, there was a small country that prided itself on being a fair, open, and uncorrupted society.

I’m no longer sure about the last bit.

Last year, Transparency International ranked New Zealand as the #1 least corrupt nation on Earth. We ranked above Denmark (#2), Finland (#3), Sweden  (#4), Singapore (#5),  and  Norway (#6).

I’m no longer certain we deserve that top ranking, either.

The further that the Sky City/Convention Centre and Crafar farm deals are  scrutinised – the stronger the odour of something unpleasant fills our nostrils.

To recap, let’s start with the Crafar farms deal with Shanghai Pengxin.

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Tahi: Crafar Farms/Shanghai Pengxin/National Government

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The timetime of the Crafar deal runs something like this,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd to buy Crafar Farms.

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

At least, that is the version for public consumption.

Recent revelations indicate that much more was taking place behind the scenes. If we take that timeline and add the revelations that have come out in the last few months, the picture takes on a murkiness and a hint on something decidedly shady,

5 October 2009: Crafar Farms placed into receivership, owing $216 million to creditors.

2 December 2009: KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED registered. (Then changes to ORAVIE LIMITED, 20 December 2010. Then changes to ORAVIDA LTD, 20 January 2011. Then changes to ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED, 13 May 2011. ) Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi.  (Source)

11 June 2010:  National Party receives $50,000.00 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

30 July 2010:  National Party receives $150,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

18 November 2010: MILK NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION LIMITED* registered. Directors: Terry Lee and Jiang Zhaobai. (Source)

22 December 2010: Government  blocks  bid by Natural Dairy to buy the 16 Crafar farms on ‘good character’ grounds.

27 January 2011: KordaMentha accepts offer from Shanghai Pengxin International Group Ltd  to buy Crafar Farms.

31 May 2011: National Party receives $100,000 donation from Susan Chou. (Source)

22 July 2011:  ORAVIDA LTD registered. Shareholders: Jing Huang, Julia Jiyan Xu, and Deyi Shi. (Source)

27 July 2011:  ORAVIDA PROPERTY LTD changes name to  KIWI DAIRY INDUSTRY LTD.  Shareholder: Deyi Shi (Source)

13 April 2011: Shanghai Pengxin lodges application with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to buy the Crafar farms.

26 September 2011: Crafar farms receiver KordaMentha  rejects a conditional NZ$171.5 million offer for 16 central North Island dairy farms from a group led by controversial former merchant banker Michael Fay.

22 November 2011: National Party receives $50,0000 donation from Citi Financial Group. Shareholders: Yan Yang and Qiang Wei. (Source) (Source)

22 November 2011: National Party receives $1,600 from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

26 November 2011:  NZ General Election

30 November 2011: National Party receives further $55,000 donation  from Oravida NZ. (Source) (Source)

27 January 2012: Government ministers approve Shanghai Pengxin’s application to purchase 16 Crafar farms.

15 February 2012:  High Court delays sale of Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

20 April 2012:  Government ministers , Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman  approve the Overseas’ Investment Office’s (OIO) new recommendation to allow the sale of the 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin.

*   “Milk New Zealand Holding Limited”  is the official applicant and purchaser of the 16 Crafar farms. It is supposedly a subsidiary of Shanghai Pengxin,

” Applicant

3. The Applicant is Milk New Zealand Holding Limited (“the Applicant”), a Hong Kong incorporated company which is an overseas person under the Act.

4. The Applicant will register as an overseas company under the New Zealand Companies Act 1993 prior to acquiring the Investment. The Applicant does not have any current interests in New Zealand as at the date of this Application.1

1 The 99% ultimate owner of the Applicant, Zhaobai Jiang, has a [redacted]% interest in a company ([redacted*])that has applied for consent to acquire development land at [redacted] . No decision has yet been made on this application.” – Source

(*Note: Despite OIO redacting the second company, this blogger has  found that it is actually “NATURE PURE LIMITED“.  Terry Lee and Zhaobai Jiang are both listed as Directors.)

Despite numerous company name changes; newly registered companies; and a lengthy trail of shareholders, the one link that does stand out between Shanghai Pengxin and financial donations to the National Party is Terry Lee.

Mr Lee, along with Deyi Shi and  Xing Hong, registered KIWI DAIRY CORPORATION LIMITED on 2 December 2009, which, after several name changes, ended up as ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED  on 13 May 2011. Xing Hong was also a one time Director of ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

Deyi Shi is still a current Director of both  ORAVIDA NZ LIMITED and ORAVIDA PROPERTY LIMITED.

On 22 and 30 November, 2011, the National Government received donations totalling $56,600 from Oravida NZ Ltd.

A further $300,000 was donated to National by Auckland businesswoman, Susan Chou, who, through her husband Zhaowu Shen, had a connection with Jack Chen and NZ Natural Dairy Ltd – the first unsuccessful attempt by Chinese investors to gain control of the Crafar farms.

Two months later, on 27 January 2012, National approved the sale of 16 Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin subsidiary, Milk New Zealand Holding Limited.

Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions from the facts presented.

Continued at:   Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

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Sources & References

OIO:  Decision required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005: Milk New Zealand
Holding Limited

CAFCA:  December 2010 decisions

NZ Companies Office

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000

Elections NZ: Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000

Interest.co.nz: Govt Ministers rubber stamp Overseas Investment Office approval of Shanghai Pengxin’s Crafar farms bid

Acknowledgements

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: Chinese cash flows to Nats

Adam Bennett, NZ Herald: China link to Nats’ $200,000

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First blogged 28 April 2012

Another of John Key’s lies – sorry – “Dynamic Situations”

21 June 2012 2 comments

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An  email sent to Dear Leader, last year,

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from:    [email]
to:    john.key@parliament.govt.nz
date:    Sun, Sep 11, 2011 at 12:32 AM
subject:Purchase of farmland

Sir,

At a recent public meeting in the Hutt Valley, in answer to a question from
the audience, you responded that purchases of farmland, by overseas buyers,  
would be restricted to ten farms per purchaser.

Can you confirm that this restriction is in place, and when the regulation was
enacted?

Regards,

- Frank Macskasy

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No response (or even acknowledgement)  was ever received from the Prime Ministers office.

The issue arose during a public meeting in Lower Hutt, organised by Hutt Grey Power,  on 24 May last year. People were concerned about the sale of 16 Crafar farms to overseas investors. The audience were most clearly unhappy at the prospect that foreign investiors were buying up vast tracts of our productive land.

Key made reassuring noises and said that his Party were “looking” at putting a limit at the number of farms a foreign investor could buy. He proposed a cap of ten farms. (Though even that  was not well received by the audience.)

In media reports though, he was somewhat less specific,

Prime Minister John Key says the Government would look at changing the law to limit foreign ownership of productive land if there is growing public concern.

However, he says such a change in response to the sale of the Crafar farms would a knee-jerk reaction.”

See:  Law change possible over foreign land buyers – Key

See:  PM: Change to foreign ownership law possible

Nothing ever happened, of course.

This was yet another example of John Key uttering vague reassurances with no intention of following through. And on 20 April, this year, Ministers Williamson and Coleman consented to foreign investor, Shanghai Pengxin, buying all 16 Crafar farms.

See:  Govt’s Crafar China sale decision slammed

No wonder that John Key’s reputation is becoming more tattered with each passing day. After a while, people start remembering these things.

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Three Questions to Key, Williamson, Coleman, et al…

22 April 2012 2 comments

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National released this media statement on Scoop.co.nz yesterday, when they announced their intention to proceed with the sale of the Crafar farms to Shanghai Pengxin,

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Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

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Friday, 20 April 2012, 11:22 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Land Information

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Associate Minister of Finance

20 April 2012
Media Statement

Ministers approve Crafar farms bid

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Associate Finance Minister Jonathan Coleman have approved the new recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) to grant consent to Milk New Zealand Holding Limited to acquire the 16 Crafar farms

“New Zealand has a transparent set of laws and regulations around overseas investment,” Mr Williamson says.

“Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring, while providing a range of safeguards to protect New Zealanders’ interests. They are applied evenly to all applications, regardless of where they are from.

“We have sought to apply the law in accordance with the provisions of the Overseas Investment Act and the guidance of the High Court.

“We have carefully considered the OIO’s new recommendation. The OIO sought advice from Crown Law and independent legal advice from David Goddard QC. The Ministers also sought advice and clarification from Mr Goddard.

“We are satisfied that on even the most conservative approach this application meets the criteria set out in the Act and is consistent with the High Court’s judgment.”

Dr Coleman said the consent came with stringent conditions.

“These 27 conditions have been imposed to ensure Milk New Zealand’s investment delivers substantial and identifiable benefits to New Zealand,” Dr Coleman says.

The conditions require Milk New Zealand to invest $16 million into the farms and to protect and enhance heritage sites

“The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial.”

A copy of the OIO’s new recommendation is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/oio-recommendation-crafar-farms-20120420.pdf

A copy of the OIO’s decision summary is at: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sites/default/files/docs/overseas-investment/decision-summary-201110035.pdf

ENDS

Source

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Jonathan Coleman says that, ” The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. 

Maurice Williamson sez, ” Those rules recognise the benefits that appropriate overseas investment can bring…

And Our Dear Leader, John Key, smiles, waves, and said,

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source

The questions I have for John Key, Maurice Williamson, Jonathan Coleman, et al in  National are;

  1. What possible benefit is there to  New Zealand when the Crafar farms owe a massive $216 million to predominantly Dutch and Australian  banks; the sale to Shanghai Pengxin is for $210 million; and the purchasers intend to invest only an addition $14 million in the 16 farms – $875,000 per farm? The proceeds for the sale of the Crafar farms will not stay in New Zealand – they will flow back to Australia.
  2. How can the sale of a revenue-earning asset (eg, farms) to overseas investors be ‘beneficial’ to New Zealand when the profits from those assets will flow overseas, to offshore bank accounts. Profits will  not be spent nor further re-invested in this country.
  3. Considering that New Zealand is a world leader in dairy production, what does Shanghai Pengxin – a company specialising in property development (the sixth largest in China; Appendix 5, para 42) and not dairying – have to offer us that the alternative New Zealand consortium, led by Michael Fay, and other local dairy farmers could not? Is this, effectively a vote of No Confidence in local farmers?

Several politicians have made several comments that the new Chinese owners will bring ‘new skills and innovation’ to our dairying industry.

This blogger finds that rather hard to believe. All of a sudden, New Zealanders are incapable of developing their own farms?

But perhaps the issues we should be most concerned out is a loss of revenue from those farms, as profits are repatriated overseas.

Michael Fay estimates we could lose $15 million per annum once the farms are producing milk for export,

Sir Michael says at the forecast payout of $6.35 a share, the new owners would earn $30 million a year, half of which will go to state-owned enterprise Landcorp for farming the land.

“This transaction with Shanghai Pengxin is a very, very bad investment for New Zealand. It doesn’t stack up on any economic basis,” said Sir Michael.

“It’s hard to see that half of it going overseas constitutes an economic benefit to this country. It’s a cost, it’s hard to define it as an investment”. ” – Source

And Bernard Hickey wrote about our loss of income as we sold more and more assets into overseas ownership, steadily worsening our current account deficit,

For decades we have spent more than we earned as a nation and funded the difference by borrowing foreign money through our banks, or directly in the form of companies borrowing offshore or the government borrowing from foreign funds and banks. If we couldn’t borrow the money, we would sell assets, be it companies, land or state assets.

We’ve been kidding ourselves for decades that, like the L’Oreal ad, we were worth it. We have run chronically high current account deficits for most of the last 30 years. We believed, and have been encouraged by our leaders, bankers, and asset buyers, that New Zealand could afford it and we deserved it.

But in our bones we knew we couldn’t, and it’s great to see Justice Miller at the High Court now tell us in this decision it has to stop, even if the government can’t or won’t do it. His ruling that any foreign buyer has to prove a bigger benefit to the nation than a local buyer sets a very high threshold.

It effectively says that any buyer has to invest an awful lot more, create a lot more jobs and pledge to reinvest dividends here, otherwise there is an inevitable drain on the nation.

In the last decade we have reached the limit of how much we could borrow and sell. For any chronic overspender, there is a point where they can’t borrow any more because they can’t afford the interest payments and they don’t have anything left to sell. Just before that moment comes, they accelerate their asset sales and borrowing to pay the interest on the previously borrowed money and to pay the dividends on the previously sold assets…

… The government itself has been the heaviest borrower through the bond markets. It doesn’t matter who we have borrowed it off, but again China is the biggest creditor through its sovereign wealth fund. Our state owned enterprises have also been borrowing heavily overseas and the government is about to start selling the jewels in the crown, at least some of which will go offshore.

The irony is that this frenzy of last minute borrowing and asset selling accelerates the process of making our economy unsustainable, because it pushes up our economy currency and hampers our ability to export our way out of this mess.

Just in case you question the logic, here’s the chart showing how New Zealand’s Gross National Income per capita, which is what we get to keep after we have paid the interest and the dividends, has been falling since 2003.”

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Source

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Quite simply, the more we borrow from overseas; the more income-generating assets we sell to overseas investors – the more money we end up losing on every deal. The profits that used to stay in NZ to be re-invested, are now flowing out to other countries; other peoples’ bank accounts. Leaving us poorer and poorer year after year.

Selling farms after selling most of our profitable State Owned Enterprises will make things worse.

It’s also hard to see how any potential New Zealand purchaser can compete with the incredible wealth and access to funds, that nations such as China possess. Indeed, the Overseas Investment commission made this very point in Appendix 5, para 19/a when it stated,

“… 19. The purchase price for the farms is NZD $[redacted] m, plus payment for the stock, estimated to be NZD $[redacted] m. The Applicant is willing to pay this price because:

a) it has access to relatively low cost capital;”

We are in dire straights when an offshore investor can outbid a New Zealander because they have access to cheap funds to which we do not.

This is not a level playing field. The deck is now stacked firmly against us.

The deal with Shanghai Pengxin calls for further investments,

  • The Applicant must invest the higher of NZD $14m or the value agreed between the Applicant and Landcorp in
    clause 4.4 of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”) on investment for development
    purposes on the Investment.” (ref Appendix 1, para 6)
  • The Applicant must establish an on-farm training facility for dairy farm workers in accordance with clause 5(c) of the draft Property Management Agreement (see attachment “1”). The Applicant must contribute a minimum of NZD $[redacted] m towards the capital cost of establishing this facility. (ref Appendix 1, para 7) We don’t know the value of this “training facility – the OIO has blanked out that information.)
  • The Applicant must give two scholarships of not less than NZD $5,000 each year to students of the on-farm training facility. The first two scholarships are to be awarded by 31 December 2013.” (ref Appendix 1, para 8)

Aside from some walking tracks and other contractual obligations (which we recently discovered are not followed up by anyone from the Overseas Investment Commission – so we cannot be certain that the OIO’s Conditions of Consent are followed through by Shanghai Pengxin, nor any other foreign investor) – what does New Zealand gain, financially, from this deal?

Let’s re-cap:

  1. Sale price of $210 million – goes to foreign-owned banks in Australia and Netherlands. Benefit to NZ: nil
  2. Profits from export of milk from the 16 Crafar Farms – mostly remitted to China. Benefit to NZ: nil/negative ($15 million p.a. loss in overseas income)
  3. Additional investment required in farms – $14 million*. Benefit to NZ: nil. $14 million gain – wiped out after one year of profits ($15 million) remitted back to Shanghai Pengxin, in China
  4. Scholarships for two students, @ $5,000 per-person. Benefit to NZ: $10,000 p.a.

And that, folks, seems to be it: $10,000 per year.

In return, the new foreign owner gets,

  • $15 million p.a. in profits
  • 15 million Fonterra shares
  • dairy products exported to China (along with profits made)

Now, unless this blogger’s arithmetic is seriously out-of-kilter, it’s hard to see how Jonathan Coleman’s comment holds true that,

The combined effect of the benefits being delivered to New Zealand as a result of this transaction is substantial. 

What, precisely, are those ‘benefits’?!?  Because none are apparent to this blogger.

Some further matters that warrant comment:

Point 1.

Mr Key says that,

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – Source

Let’s deal with that straight away.

It’s bullshit.

In 2002, when American millionaire, John Griffin purchased historically-significant Young Nick’s Head on the East Coast,  there was considerable anger and opposition from many locals, and throughout New Zealand.  Such was opposition that a hikoi to Parliament ended up with 200 people protesting on the grounds,

Around noon on Monday 5 August a group of about 200 protestors arrived at parliament grounds, Wellington. Many of them had been on the hikoi (march) from Young Nick’s Head, Gisborne, which left 11 days earlier. Most of the hikoi participants were from the Ngai Tamanuhiri iwi, who were dispossessed of the land around Young Nick’s Head in the 19th century.

The protest group asked to see finance minister Michael Cullen, who is to decide on Friday 9 August whether to allow the sale of Young Nick’s Head to the US millionaire John Griffen. Mr Cullen was not available, nor the prime minister Helen Clark. The Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt, told the protestors they could not stay on the grounds overnight, and were not to erect any tent or other structure. (The precedent was the tent embassy in parliament grounds after the Hikoi of Hope in 1999, which maintained a presence for four months before being broken up with arrests).   ” – Source

When Shania Twain purchased 25,000 hectares off South Island high-country near Wanaka, in 2004, there was considerable anger and resentment,

”  The contentious issue of foreign ownership of New Zealand land is flaring again following a government decision to allow Canadian singer Shania Twain to buy nearly 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of picturesque mountain farmland.

Foreign ownership of New Zealand land stirs high passions among the nation’s usually phlegmatic citizens.

Farmers in this primarily agricultural country argue wealthy offshore investors are pushing land prices far beyond their potential worth as productive property, while other New Zealanders argue their birthright is being sold to the highest bidder…

… Anti-foreign ownership groups estimate that between 6 and 7 percent of commercially viable New Zealand land is now owned by offshore interests.” – Source

New Zealanders have always opposed land sales. Ever since Pakeha colonisers came to this country and said to Maori, “Have we got a deal for you!!”, there has always been a scepticism toward the sale of land to foreigners. That feeling exists regardless of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, etc.

In fact, John Campbell took Key to task on this very issue when the Prime Minister tried to play the “racism card” on his show, on 20 April,

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John Campbell Prime Minister interview Crafar Farms Sky City Casino

Source

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KEY:  “… let’s say you just want to say ‘no’ because they’re Chinese-“

CAMPBELL:  ” I don’t think anyone- Wait a second. I think that’s underhanded and disingenuous. I don’t think anyone is saying ‘no’ [because they're Chinese]. I think people are talking about 8,000 hectares of prime dairy country and it’s foreign ownership not Chinese ownership.”

Despite Campbell making that point succinctly, Key carried on with the same theme – as no doubt he had been instructed by his media advisors, to stick to a couple of core-points.

It suits John Key – as it did with Maurice Williamson – to attempt to paint opposition to the Crafar Farm sales to Shanghai Pengxin as “racism” or “xenophobia”.

No one likes to be called racist (except for for right wing extremists – but they’re deranged anyway), and to have that accusation thrown at the public is National’s shameful attempt to portray opposition to the Crafar sale as ‘irrational’.

Somewhere up on the Ninth Floor of the Beehive; in the Prime Minister’s department; John Key’s media advisors are busily spinning this line to deflect criticism from their Boss.

These paid merchants of mendacity are clever buggers; university educated – and taxpayer funded. We pay to have them teach politicians how to spin bullshit to us.

Not a nice thought, is it?

Whether Key’s spin doctors and media advisors  will be successful re-defining the debate is another matter entirely. They have their work cut out for them, going by polling by Fairfax and NZ Herald,

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Good luck in trying to dismiss two-thirds or three quarters of the public on this issue, Mr Key. As they say in business; the customer is always right.

Point 2.

Ministers could have overturned that decision, but there were no reasons to do so. The OIO correctly interpreted the legislation, and had they turned it down simply on the basis of being Chinese, it would not only be unlawful but unacceptable and would have been overturned in the courts.” – John Key, 27 January 2012

This is the second line that Key’s spin-doctors have advised him and other Ministers to push: that the law allows these sales to proceed and MPs hands are tied.

Except… when it suits John Key, he is more than willing to trade off the law for other considerations,

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Source

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In return for a new $350 million convention centre, John Key simply has to change the gambling laws.

Just as John Key changed employment laws in October 2010, to suit Warner Bros, in the making of “The Hobbit” movies,

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Source

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Funny ole world, in’it?

John Key sticks to the “letter of the law” like a fly to dog poo.  But when it suits him and his cronies, he can be… flexible.

What you are witnessing, my fellow New Zealanders, is what is colloquially known as “Crony Capitalism“.

Is this really how we want our country to be governed?

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* Note: the original OIO condition of a once-only $14 million investment has been increased with the latest OIO review, to $16 million. This blogger replies with a “whoopty-bloody-doo“; it makes little difference in the long term.

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References

The OIO Decision:  Decision required under the Overseas Investment Act 2005: Milk New Zealand
Holding Limited

Additional

No checks on foreign buyers of Kiwi land

NZ to lose ‘millions a year’ from Crafar sale

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Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis (part # Rua)

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2010

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"If we ended up in a position where New Zealanders are tenants in their own country, I can't see how that would be in New Zealand's best interests." - John Key, 27 July 2010

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2012

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"No where is that better illustrated than in the Crafar farm deal where the tenant will be a Government state-owned enterprise, Landcorp." - John Key, 2 February 2012

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As this blogger predicted and wrote five days ago, National has caved to the  Wide Boys from Beijing who rode in to town on 15 April,

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China's no4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff
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The loss of the Crafar farms – and other farms sold to foreign investors – is not just about loss of direct ownership. It is about losing the profits that all those farms will generate, to overseas investors.

The flight of profits to offshore investors began in the late 1980s when Doulas, Prebble, Bassett, et al hocked of our former state owned enterprises. As with farms, we didn’t just lose ownership – we lost the income streams they generated. (Which worsened our balance of payments deficit and in turn made borrowing from overseas much more expensive.)

National did precisely the same thing on 27 October 2010, when Warner Bros sent their ‘boys’ in to ‘persuade’ John Key to ‘see things their way’.  Two months later,  it was revealed that Warner Brothers had threatened our government that  ‘The Hobbit’ movies  would be taken offshore if  changes to New Zealand’s employment laws were not made according to their demands.

This time, it was our Chinese cuzzies visiting  New Zealand – this time threatening our trade with their country, “if we don’t see things their way”.

National capitulated on both occassions, yielding to threats made first by a corporation, and then by a foreign power.

In the case of Sky City and the proposed Auckland Convention Centre, the tactics are more akin to bribery; building a convention centre in return for changing the gambling laws so the casino can install up to 500 more gaming machines (pokies). Problem gambling is expected to rise commensurately.

If the reader is starting to pick up a common theme here, you’re not alone.

New Zealand has a government willing to prostitute the country; our assets; our laws – in return for financial gain. This is perhaps the shabbiest, most degrading government we have ever elected. If New Zealanders are not angry and repulsed  by what we’ve all be witnessing – then we’ve all lost our collective senses.

The question I ask every New Zealander is; who will be next to come to Wellington; knock on John Key’s door; and announce, “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse!”

What will be sold next?

What laws will we have to change to satisfy some corporatation or foreign power?

Is this what it feels like to be a Latin American “banana republic”?

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2014

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An incoming centre-left government  must address these issues of sovereignty. We cannot allow every foreign Tom, Dick, and Harriet to take ownership of our most precious resources and to dictate what laws we must amend to satisfy their profit-line.

This must stop.

An incoming government must, immediatly,

  • ban the sale of all land to non-New Zealanders
  • non-farming land may be leased to overseas businesses,  but not sold
  • farmland must not be sold nor leased to non-New Zealanders
  • conduct a stocktake of land ownership at the next Census
  • land already in foreign ownership may not be on-sold to anyone except New Zealanders
  • introduce a capital gains tax
  • introduce a Financial Transactions tax  in conjunction with Australia and our APEC partners
  • introduce a sinking-lid policy on gaming machines with a view to banning them altogether by 2017
  • implement job-creation programmes (eg; free vocational training for able-bodied unemployed; building 10,000 new state-houses, etc)
  • introducing a land/wealth-tax to capture those 1% who pay little tax, because they can hide their wealth by structuring their affairs to escape paying their fair share
  • reinstate Kiwisaver’s previous provisions (scrapped by National) and make it compulsory

Part of the problem we face as a nation and economy is that New Zealanders have always been poor savers. Instead we prefer to borrow billions from offshore lenders and invest it in non-productive assets such as rental housing and investment farms. This speculative investment does not create wealth – we simply  shuffle money around like some mad reality-game of “Monopoly”,

” There has been a big reduction in household debt,  from 154 per cent of gross domestic product, and one of the highest levels in the world three years ago, to 144 per cent now. ” – Source

In the process of this reckless self-indulgence (promoted by certain irresponsible right wingers who delude themselves that is “wealth creation”), we are heavily in debt,

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- Treasury

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Further to that, it makes us reliant on overseas capital.

In fact, it makes us totally  vulnerable to those  who hold the capital. We are at the mercies of those who hold the money-bags.

And they know it.

What makes matters even worse (yes, it gets worse) is that a National, once elected, exacerbates the problem with it’s blind adherence to free-market policies. National believes that only the free market can create jobs – with a little ‘nudge’, occassionally, by amending laws; reducing taxes; and implementing de facto subsidies. And anything else business wants.

In expecting only business to create jobs, National ties its own hands and becomes reliant on the markets for employment solutions. Unfortunately, those solutions are not always forthcoming.

Which means that National has to look at other, dubious, unconventional means to promote job creation. Such as the Sky City-Convention centre deal which might deliver more jobs – but will almost certainly create more problem gambling.

Who pays for more problem gambling? Answer; look in the mirror, Mr/Ms Taxpayer.

The sale of the Crafar farms; the dirty deals with Sky City and Warner Bros; our vulnerability to pressure from overseas investors are all symptoms of an economic malaise which the likes of Bernard Hickey, Gareth Morgan, Rod Oram,  and others have constantly warned us about.

Like the person who ignores the several “Warning” letters from debt-collctors – that is only postponing the Day of Reckoning.  New Zealanders are ignoring our own Day of Reckoning – and yet the warning signs of our gradual loss of economic sovereignty is fairly plain to see.

Whether we do something about it; abandon the lunacy of neo-liberalism;  implement planned policies that encourage saving; promote job creation; etc – then everything we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks, months, and years will be only a prelude to more unpleasant things to come.

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2050

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A young student at Levin University is scrolling through the results of his on-line search for ‘farms-history-new zealand-colonisation’ and finds the information he is looking for. He turns to his study-mate, and says,

Hey, it’s true what my grand dad told me. Farms used to be owned by New Zealand families back in his day!”

His study mate looks up from his ‘ii-Pad’ and peers at his friend’s pad,

Yeah? I wonder how they could afford it? No one can afford to buy land  unless you’re really rich or a big Corpora-State.”

Dunno“, replies the first student, “It looks like land prices weren’t that expensive , and then they started to rise when Earth’s population reached 6 billion.”

Wow! They really owned farmland? They’re so lucky. I wish we could buy our own farm!”

Well, at least we get to work on them. Once I finish my Degree in McDonalds Beefculture, I’m applying for a job at the ’14th Manawatu Herd-Complex’. Are you still going for the Shanghai Agricorp in King Country?”

Nah. I’m thinking I might change and apply for the Nestle Agriplex in Otago or Southland. They don’t pay as well, but they teach you German as part of the contract. The Shanghai Agricorp want me to learn Cantonese at my own cost.”

His study mate dims the screen on his ii-Pad and asks his friend,

Are you studying this weekend or doing some workpractice at McD’s?”

Nah. I’m going to see my family. It’s my ninth birthday, and we’ve hired a blanketspace at my favourite park...”

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That was a bit of fiction. So far.

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* * *

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References

Rich list shows rich getting richer

NZ dollar soars on speculation of Chinese investment

Numbers reveal National disgrace

Bryan Gould: Free-market ideology wrong

Debt being paid off, but savings not growing

Bernard Hickey:  the High Court ruling against the Crafar Farms sale may be just the intervention NZ Inc needs to confont its addiction to foreign debt and asset sales

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= fs =

Time to bend over again, fellow Kiwis…

15 April 2012 1 comment

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Fancy a good time, handsome? *winks*

First, it began with the Wide Boys flying in from Hollywood, to read Dear Leader the proverbial Riot Act,

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Source
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John Key was firm in stating; there’d be no extra deals made with Warner Bros; no extra incentives, tax breaks, sweet-heart deals; nothing.

$34 million later, Warner Bros left town.

It was a very generous deal,” Mr Key said.

So much for “no extra deals”.

(Funny thing though. I’m no expert, but isn’t it supposed to be the other way round, if we’re going to prostitute ourselves? Aren’t they suppose to pay us?!)

The trouble with prostituting ourselves to Big Boy corporations overseas is that, eventually, we get others knocking on our doors,

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China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff  - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

China's No4 flies in as clock ticks on Crafar farm selloff - Dominion Post - 14 April 2012

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Interestingly, this article cannot be found on the Fairfax website, Stuff.Co.NZ. Almost as it… someone didn’t want our Chinese cuzzies from seeing it online?!

But yet again, we’re seeing a bunch of Wide Boys ride into town. No doubt they have a “message” for Dear Leader (our Dear Leader – not the North Korean bloke) and no doubt he’ll pay careful attention to their “suggestions”; take notes; and smile benignly at them.

After which, this blogger expects the Crafar Farm sale to go though unimpeded to the  Shanghai Pengxin company.

And after that, expect our gambling legislation to be amended by National, to allow an extra 500 pokie machines at Sky City casino. In return for the “pay off”, a convention centre.

If anyone has ever wondered what it’s like to have your own government turn our own country into one, giant, corporate brothel, where we sell ourselves to Hollywood moguls, foreign governments, casino operators, et al – then wonder no more.

Funny thing, though…

When prostitution (or more technically, solicitation) was legalised in 2002, I never though our Prime Minister would become the Pimp Minister and sell us to the highest overseas (or local) bidder.

I think “business” is going to be brisk.

I need to buy more lube.

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Additional

NZ Herald:  China wants NZ to ease the way for investment

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= fs =

User Pays: the eventual conclusion

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Superman, for hire? Not quite right, is it…

Of course, we rightly view such a scene with aversion.  Some things, we just don’t expect to see with a  price levied.

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Our British cuzzies recently discovered this on Monday, when it was discovered that the governing UK Conservative Party’s top fundraiser Peter Cruddas, had been selling access to senior British government MPs and Ministers. The full story is worth reprinting,

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In a sting operation, ‘The Sunday Times’  secretly videotaped fundraiser Peter Cruddas  discussing donations. The film showed him telling undercover reporters: “200 grand ($317,000), 250 is premier league … it’ll be awesome for your business.”

If donors met Cameron, Cruddas claimed in the recording, “within that room, everything is confidential and you will be able to ask him practically any question that you want.”

‘We will listen to you’
He suggested they could even influence party policy, saying: “If you are unhappy about something, we will listen to you and we will put it into the policy committee at (the prime minister’s official residence).”

Cameron responded by saying Cruddas’ actions had been “completely unacceptable.” Cruddas, a millionaire, resigned within hours of the report.

Cruddas made the remarks to two journalists he thought were international financiers and who were accompanied by a lobbyist.

“Because we depend on donors so much we have to be careful” to show “you cannot buy access,” he said according to The Sunday Times. But, he told the undercover reporters, if you donate “you could well be at a private house having a private dinner with George Osborne, David Cameron, William Hague, the chairman around the table.”

Osborne, the cabinet minister in charge of economic and financial matters, and Foreign Minister William Hague are both members of Cameron’s center-right Conservative Party, which leads the governing coalition alongside the Liberal Democrats.

Embarrassing
The funding issue is embarrassing for Cameron, who promised before coming to power in May 2010 to curb corporate lobbying, saying it was the “next big scandal waiting to happen.”

Following the report, Cameron admitted he had used his official home at 10 Downing Street to host dinners for Conservative donors.

The scandal threatened to undo Cameron’s efforts to shake off his party’s image of being too close to the interests of business and the rich as Britain undergoes an austerity program to cut its budget deficit.

“This is not the way that we raise money in the Conservative party, it should not have happened,” said Cameron. “I will make sure that there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can’t happen again.”

While there were also tax cuts for lower earners, the government’s recent budget went down badly with many Britons, giving the impression the government was looking after the wealthy and cared little for those suffering rising unemployment and falling incomes as the economy struggles to recover from recession.

Previous attempts to reform the political funding system have foundered on the Conservatives’ reluctance to cap donations from wealthy individuals and the opposition Labour Party’s desire to avoid limits on contributions from unions.

Msnbc.com’s F. Brinley Bruton and Reuters contributed to this report.

Acknowledgement for source: MSNBC World News

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By the next day, Britain’s Prime Minister and Leader of the UK Conservative Party, David Cameron, admitted what ‘The Sunday Times’  had uncovered,

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Full Story

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The article further states,

Of a dozen couples or individuals who dined with Cameron, including eight who were at a post-election celebration in July 2010, six were financiers, including three hedge fund managers, and two were property magnates. Two run manufacturing firms.

The Chequers list included the names of party treasurers as well as the millionaire property developer David Rowland and Lebanese businessman Fares Fares...

As other parties offer supporters and donors access to meetings and debates with leaders and senior officials, the Conservatives have a system for encouraging political and financial support. Their Web site offers a hierarchy of “Donors Clubs” where minimum levels of donation give increasing degrees of contact with party officials and representatives.

For the 50,000-pound ($80,000) annual membership of the “premier supporter group” – The Leader’s Group – “members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, … lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches”. “

Cameron was at pains to reassure British voters that,

“We are more transparent than any government and any prime minister have ever been. We behaved properly.

“What Cruddas was doing was totally unacceptable.”

We have a saying here in New Zealand for that kind of statement,

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Of  course, such things don’t happen here in New Zealand. Our own National Government does not do “favours” for cash donations to the Party…

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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Full Story

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From the Electoral Commission webpage,  “Returns of party donations exceeding $30,000“,

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Source

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From the Electoral Commission webpage,  “Returns of party donations exceeding $20,000“,
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Source

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Those are the facts, as presented from various sources.

I invite you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions, regarding the individuals; companies; their donations  and their links  to National.

(Note: The Electoral Commission webpage on returns of party donations includes donations to Labour, ACT, The Greens, and NZ First.)

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Al Capone lives again?

16 March 2012 2 comments

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"Hey, mack. Ya gots somethin' I want."

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There’s a old cliche in gangster movies that goes something like this,

Hey, Luigi, I gots an offer ya cain’t refuse!”

[cue machine guns being locked & loaded]

Ya dirty rat-

[rata-tata-tata-tata...]

It seems that our Chinese cuzzies have been watching a few too many gangster movies,

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Source

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Mr Cheng Li, the “political counsellor” at the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, has threatened warned ‘suggested’ that Chinese investment in NZ may be at risk if the Shanghai Pengxin deal to buy the 16 Crafar farms is not permitted to proceed.

Someone should tell Mr Li that,

  1. We are not a canton of China nor an occupied state like Tibet,
  2. New Zealanders don’t take kindly to being “leaned on”. We didn’t like it in 1984 and ’85  when  our American cuzzies   tried to pressure the Lange Government to abandon our nuclear-free policy – and we certainly don’t like it when someone  “heavys” us to make a deal we don’t want.
  3. This does not enamour New Zealanders to welcome overseas investment in our country.

It’s interesting that the OIO (Overseas Investment Office) stated that Shanghai Pengxin is a good corporate citizen. That may  certainly be, and the owners of that company are probably  Honourable Men.

The same, unfortunately cannot be said of the Chinese Government. “Monstering” us to sell, is simply  not a good look.

Go back to spying on Tibetan activists and Falun Gong members, Mr Li.

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