Tell Us Something We Don’t Know.
The fact that Treasury Secretary John Whitehead supports yet more liberalisation of the 2005 Overseas Investment Act is hardly surprising. The only surprising thing is the length of time it is taking the Government’s backroom experts to come up with the expected liberalisation recommendations. It’s been more than a year now since Bill English announced that the Act was being reviewed, once more. This is an Act that is in danger of being liberalised to death.
New Zealand already has one of the most liberal foreign investment laws in the world. If the door is already left permanently unlocked, with a sign saying “Come On In and Help Yourselves”, this proposed law change will simply remove the door (and probably offer it for sale as well).
The Government and the unelected ideologues in the bureaucracy are pushing the barrow of turning over even more of the country to transnational corporations than is already the case – current examples being: the drive for a Free Trade Agreement with the US; talk of privatisation of public assets; opening the conservation estate to mining; the assaults on democracy in both Auckland and Canterbury (the latter to more easily enable corporate takeover of water resources); transferring the tax burden from business to the poor, etc, etc. Already New Zealanders, including Cabinet Minister David Carter, are expressing unease about the proposed Chinese buy up of dozens of dairy farms. That will be only the beginning if the Act is liberalised even further.
Whitehead said there was plenty to be gained from “open flows of people, open flows of ideas, open flows of investment”. The irony is that the Treasury ideologues and their ilk are as closed to any “open flows of ideas” as are their fellow fundamentalist fanatics in the Taliban. As for “open flows of investment” – that is exactly what got the global economy into the enormous mess that it is still trying to dig its way out of. There are definitely open flows of profits - into the pockets of the transnationals or, in the case of the financial sector which caused the whole recession, into the pockets of the individuals at the top of the pyramid scheme scam.
The Government’s intention to further liberalise this Act is further evidence of its desperate cargo cult mentality. The original cargo cultists in the Pacific were so impressed with the “cargo” that came from the sky during WW2 that after the Americans had long gone, they built “airstrips” in the bush and patiently waited for the “cargo” to come back and solve all their problems. That’s what the Government is doing with this proposed law liberalisation – building the airstrip and telling us that the cargo will come back out of the sky and solve all our problems.
It shows no recognition of the fact that dependence on open slather foreign “investment” (“takeover” being the correct word), free trade agreements and globalisation, by both National and Labour governments, has done nothing except turn NZ into a branch office economy, a country which has been recolonised by transnationals. English, Whitehead, et al think that even more of the same, only “better”, is the answer. Very similar to a drug addict who suffers withdrawal symptoms and insists that the best solution is to give him more drugs so that he can do it all over again.
There are none so blind as those that will not see.