Peters would block sale of Wheturau station too; Labour targets Govt's 'weasel words' in OIO directive; Greens launch free travel card for students; Kelvin Davis vs Kim Dotcom

Peters would block sale of Wheturau station too; Labour targets Govt's 'weasel words' in OIO directive; Greens launch free travel card for students; Kelvin Davis vs Kim Dotcom

By Bernard Hickey

With 45 days until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news from in and around Wellington on Wednesday August 6, including Winston Peters pledging to block the sale of another big sheep and beef station to a foreign buyer and Russel Norman offering students their own version of the gold card for free off-peak travel on public transport (but not to Waiheke Island).

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters ramped up his attack on the Government over land sales to overseas buyers, highlighting the pending sale of the 1,037 ha Wheturau Station near Gisborne to an un-named foreign buyer. The farm has 10,000 stock units and was promoted as a dairy grazing property.

"The Government will use every excuse to avert accusations of their allowing the sell-out of New Zealand. The truth is that since National came to power over a million hectares, or a land area six times that of Stewart Island, has gone into foreign ownership," Peters said in a speech in Rangiora.

"On this issue, they are not to be believed," he said.

"We are not dealing with any Government or any party that is out to sell this country's interests down the drain."

Labour Finance Spokesman David Parker also followed up on the land sale issue in an interview on Campbell Live , in which he said his past approvals of land sales as Land Information Minister were a mistake and Labour would stop the sales in future.

He also highlighted a December 2010 directive from Bill English to the OIO saying it should consider large farms to be those 10 times the average size.

"This directive was issued at the same time National pretended it was tightening up the criteria for overseas sales of farmland. That was weasel wording. Those are massive farms and any New Zealander would agree," Parker said.

"No sale of rural farm land has been stopped under the new directive. Not a single farm. That’s because the criteria, including redefining the term ‘large’, was so loose as to be meaningless," he said.

A Green Gold card

Green Co-Leader Russel Norman launched the Green Party's own version of the Gold card, but targeted at students. It pledged free public transport for students and apprentices between 9 am and 3 pm, and after 6.30 pm on weekdays.

Travel would also be free on weekends and public holidays. Only students who can prove they live on Waiheke Island would get free trips on the ferry.

Norman costed the policy at NZ$20 million to NZ$30 million.

"For less than the cost of one kilometre of one of National's motorway projects, we can provide all tertiary students and apprentices with free off-peak public transport," Norman said.

Kelvin Davis vs Kim Dotcom (and the Labour Party?)

David Cunliffe said he "didn't hold a candle for Kim Dotcom " and a Labour Government would not include the Internet Mana Party.

He was commenting after Kelvin Davis wrote a facebook post criticising Internet Mana, seemingly in conflict with the Labour's so-called 'sledge pledge' not to be negative about possible partners in Government.

The episode highlights the tension within Labour about a possible working arrangement with Internet Mana and the sensitivity over any tacit signal to Labour voters in Te Tai Tokerau to ensure the election of Hone Harawira , and any coat-tail MPs.

Hone Harawira said he saw indications support for Internet Mana was headed for 5% and he expected a call from Cunliffe after the election if that was proven at the ballot box.

ACT candidate resigns

Meanwhile, the fallout from ACT Leader Jamie Whyte's speech equating Maori legal privilege with the French aristocracy continued.

ACT's Dunedin North Candidate and ACT board member Guy McCallum resigned as a candidate in protest over Whyte's speech.

"Jamie was in Dunedin for a small gathering of ACT supporters on the morning of 20 July, and he mentioned to me that he was in search of a ‘stunt … because you know, the polls.’ A week later ACT rolled out a controversial and obviously unprepared race relations policy," McCallum was quoted as saying in Critic.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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Obviously no NZ buyers want or can afford Lochinvar or Wheterau so who is going to buy them.If i was a seller iwould assume that my rights to sell were being breached somehow so i would expect the Govt of the day to step up and buy.

Lots of local buyers, but the overseas buyers can out bid them.

Being a seller i would be trying to get the highest price available,be it a local or foreign buyer.

Yes as a seller you want to get the highest price and if foriegners with cheap/free money can outbid all local buyers, then you would sell to them. This is completely understandable. This is you expressing your personal self interest.
Trouble is that the land is within a country, the land has value because it is within the nation called New Zealand. Property rights are defined and upheld. Rule of law applies, transport  and all other infrastructure are in place, roads to farms are often paved, there is electricity to the farm, in most cases etc etc etc. So what you are selling exists within another entity.
A political choice/policy as to whether it is in the nations interests to have our houses and land owned by foreigners may not always reach the same conclusion as to ownership as you would as an individual. This is not an outrageous statement, it is very straight forward.
When you own land you own certain rights to land. For example you may own a farm and the best return for you may come from storing nuclear waste. Do you think that your neighbours and the National as a whole may not have any influence on what you do with the land?

Not sure what point you are trying to making with your nuclear waste example Plan B.  Are you under the impression that New Zealand laws don't apply to New Zealand land owned by foreigners?  Are you suggesting that a foreign landowner would be allowed to store nuclear waste on New Zealand land while a New Zealander who owned the same land wouldn't have been?  

Aj do you know if Wheturau is currently in NZ ownership or foreign owners?

I don't know, there is so much foreign ownership on the coast now its hard to tell.


Cannot you see that 'foreign buyers', especially Chinese investors, are just used a baseball bat by all parties to bash against oppositions for their conveniences.
Is there a constructive view on foreign direct investment in NZ? 
Of course, the consensus view is that it's good for NZ.

instead of motherhood statements give some specific examples?

No its not a consensus view.

Funny thing is Shania Twain and her ex husband own stack of farm land in central Otago and no one raised any issue about it (Winston is included). I guess she's allowed purely for her look!

Media's response to foreign direct investment (or any sensitive issues) in NZ is very race based.

Would China retaliate in some way should the sale of these blocks not proceed?

"Oh, the irony," say the Maori seeing whitey fussing over 'foreigners' buying up the land.

good one.

Well I'm not "fussing over foreigners buying up the land".  I think private owners have every right to sell their land to whoever they want to sell their land to, and it's none of anybody else's business who buys it.  
To the extent that the rest of us have a legitimate interest in what the new owner does with the land, we have exactly the same amount of influence over what a foreign owner does with land in New Zealand, as we have over what a New Zealand owner does with land in New Zealand.

Well we can disagree here. There isnt a level playing field, so Im perfectly happy to make it so by banning overseas buyers.

I have always understood the term "level playing field" to refer to a situation where the same rules apply to all parties.  What you advocate is the complete opposite of that. 

FYI updated with ACT candidate resigning over Jamie Whyte's 'stunt'.

... are we still a " rockstar economy " ... or have we overdosed , and are lying in a pool of our own debts and milk ?

Typical rockstars love to take illegal substances.  May be we are still in some sorts of stimulation (or still under the influence)!

GMH, we have found faith, come on down..
white russians all round.

Lebowski is a type A go-getter , compared to the Gummster ...
... my car has five gears , four of them are reverse , and the other is " snooze " ...

opps about the kingswood reference, nothing use to snooze like the Tri-Matic.

Plenty of young nz folk wanting to go farming. As long as we keep selling land to foreigners, our youngsters will be serfs in their own land. It is beyond a joke if TV3 is right and 1/26th of our land is foreign owned.

.. doing them a favour , preventing them from loading up to the gunnels on debt , just before the overpriced farming and housing markets go belly up ...
Pick through the rubble in a year or five , when the foreigners are cashing out in disgust , offer them a few renimbi and a clock made in HongKong per hectare ...
.. you gotta sit back and be patient , just take your time !

and how much of your own wealth have you forgone to help these young nz folk, or is it only other people's wealth that you think should be reduced for that purpose?

If you mean me misdemeaner, I am currently trying to get my son and family into their own home. I am going to have to acquire a mortgage again for this. I seriously wonder at my sanity, however there are several grandchildren to secure a home for. My eye on doing less will be put off for 10 years, however how do these youngsters get security of their own home. They have persisted in renting but with more than the usual number of children, houses to rent are hard to come buy. Landlords dont want to know them. Thankfully they dont want to go farming. This farm here is way too small to share, and I wouldnt be much cop at anything else.

Perhaps if they brought back in the old rules one farm per farmer, they wouldnt have to load up on debt. In the meantime we  endlessly wait for the fiat system to fall over while our lives drift away.

What are people worried about selling a farm or two makes very little diference over the control of those farms and over the what the owner is allowed to do with his or her profit, land ownerhsip does not mean more voting rights to contol legislation

I was told alot of banks have financed dairy farms with 30% equity. Banks will be sweating if dairy price keeps dropping some predict it''s heading towards $5. Foreign investors might be lining up if we let them. But why should we let the chinese buy, they have jacked the price up and dropped us in it. I personally think it's time some of the banks are allowed to take some losses. Who is doing the risk assesment on a loan to a business that is selling the majority of it's product to one market. I talked to the head of a major nz meat company 12 months ago and he told me that he wasn't keen to send too much product to China, and spread it through traditional markets. He saw them as high risk.

Perhaps it is time for the RBNZ together with Govt to set a maximum that banks can recover on a failed mortgage. For farming for example set it at 50% and nil for secondary lending.

Lol I love that Basel. That would bring the lending down to reasonable levels. Quick smart.

A good couple of months ago in one of the papers was an article on a young fulla who had bought his firrst dairy farm. He had spent around 6 million. His budget was based on a $7.00 payout. And he felt he was secure budgeting at that level. The poor bugger had tried to buy at more reasonable prices, but had been out bid everytime, till he went way out there and paid over the odds. So was it the superfund and Myfarm out bidding him, the germans or swiss, the americans, or just other kiwis? I wonder how he is feeling right now. Pretty nervous and deflated I expect. At that time Rabobank were promoting how much a sure bet dairy was. I note they have been pretty quiet lately.