Maurice Williamson, the Minister of Land Information, is obviously having none of this PC nonsense being spouted by his boss. In relation to farms being sold to foreigners, John Key has said more than once that he is not happy about it and doesn’t want to see New Zealanders become tenants in our own country. Williamson, on the other hand, simply brands opponents of such sales as racists. He’d probably like to accuse them of xenophobia too but he probably can’t spell it (and he might think that it means an irrational dislike of warrior princesses).
Williamson is guilty of the oldest, laziest and most misleading slur in the decades-long debate on this issue, namely when you can’t think of any other argument to bolster your case, call your opponents names. We’ve said it before many times but one more time won’t hurt – the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) is not racist. He is referring to the intense opposition to Chinese transnational corporation Natural Dairy bidding to buy the dairy farms of the hapless Allan Crafar. CAFCA is most definitely opposed to that, but it’s got nothing to do with the potential buyers being Chinese. Our position would be the same regardless of the country of origin of any buyer (yes, even white ones).
If CAFCA and others oppose US transnationals buying up NZ (as we do) or the turkeys voting for Christmas in the shape of a free trade agreement with the US (we most definitely oppose that) we get called anti-American. In relation to our opposing Shania Twain buying South Island high country stations (which we did and do), what would Williamson say about us? That we hate Canadians? Country and Western singers? Women? Or all three? For decades the State spied on CAFCA because we were suspected of being Communists. And we have the SIS files to prove it. So, following his own fuzzy logic, does Williamson conclude that we are opposed to Chinese investors because we’re anti-Communist? We would have thought that would put us in the National Party’s good books. It’s always good fun to call each other names (nah, nah, nah Maurice, you’re a Tory) but it doesn’t advance the argument very far.
We have a one word reply to Williamson. Bullshit. CAFCA opposes foreign control of this country, not because we are racist but because it is patently not in the national interest, it is simply recolonisation by corporations, one which means that we do become tenants in our own country (Key hit the nail on the head with that phrase), decisions are made elsewhere about our future, the profits go overseas, and there is negligible contribution in terms of jobs and expertise. It is part of the problem, not part of the solution. We need it like a hole in the head.
And it’s important to stress that farm sales are only one part of a much bigger picture, an important one and a high profile one, but by no means the whole picture. Nearly every sector of the NZ economy is dominated by transnational corporations who have achieved a much greater degree of penetration and control here than in most other First World countries. This is due to the blind adherence to the ideology of foreign investment and free trade being the One True Path by our politicians of both major parties. Exhibit A – Maurice Williamson.
Williamson is the Minister who has the final decision on whether Natural Dairy is allowed to buy the Crafar farms (and, if he chooses to exercise his powers, he actually has the final say on all rural land sales to foreigners). He is part of a Government that is taking an inordinately long time to make public its review of the Overseas Investment Act (it was scheduled for mid 2009). Williamson’s speech is further proof of the obvious division of opinion on this subject at the highest levels of the Government. Is he calling the Prime Minister a racist?
If the Key faction is genuine in its concern that New Zealanders don’t end up as tenants in our own country, then the perfect place to start would be with an Act that actually adhered to those principles. We now all know where the Minister of Land Information stands on this issue (and it’s no great surprise). CAFCA’s challenge to Key is to translate his fine words into effective actions, and on all aspects of the subject, not just farm sales. Go on John, surprise us.