CAFCA press statements

Key's double talk on land sales disturbing

John Key is reported (Press, 18/3/14) as telling iwi leader Sir Mark Solomon and the public different things concerning NZ land sales to China. Solomon was told the Government is encouraging China to lease rather than buy New Zealand land, whilst publicly Key denies there is any change to "the rules around foreign investments". This double talk suggests Key will convey open sesame to China during a visit that commences today, and another position to the New Zealand public who are increasingly concerned about the sale of New Zealand property to China and other foreign interests. (18 March 2014)

Blackmail and Corporate Welfare: Government Plays Monkey To Rio Tinto’s Organ Grinder

CAFCA says you could have knocked us down with a feather. So, Rio Tinto is not going to close down its Bluff smelter as it threatened to do a few months ago (and has threatened to do every time it feels that its charmed existence in New Zealand is going to become less cushy). Instead, it has condescended to keep it open - but only guaranteed that until January 2017.

And, having rejected the Government’s offer of a taxpayer subsidy a few months ago (because that offer wasn’t for a long enough period), it has now condescended to accept a “one off incentive payment” of $30m of taxpayers’ money. (8 August 2013)

Let the 'too big to fail' smelter fail

“Too big to fail” was the mantra of the robber banks and other transnational financial sharks during the Global Financial Crisis, which remains ongoing. This left the victims to pay for the costs of the crime, while the corporate criminals walked away scotfree and kept their loot. In this country, Rio Tinto’s Bluff smelter was decades ahead of the fashion. Every time that Rio Tinto feels that its charmed existence in New Zealand is going to become less cushy, it threatens to pull the plug, close the smelter and walk away. This time it is trying it on as a tactic to try to pressure Meridian over its power price contract, on which the ink is barely dry and which only took effect in January. Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) calls Rio Tinto’s bluff (pun intended). Stop crying wolf, stop using your New Zealand workers as disposable pawns in your cynical game, stop holding Southland and the country to ransom. Go ahead and close the smelter and bugger off.(5 April 2013)

Lest We Forget: Warner Brothers Won 2010 Roger Award For "Hobbit" Affair

Amidst all the hype and hysteria of today’s world premiere of “The Hobbit”, let’s refresh our memories about its ugly beginnings a couple of years ago. Warner Brothers won the 2010 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand despite being a first time nominee (in racing terms, it was “the bolter” of the field). The Judges’ Statement said: ''The ‘Hobbit’ affair was an extraordinary example of transnational capital interfering in local politics, and overtly influencing the actions of the NZ Government (which richly deserves its Accomplice Award). It was an overt display of bullying that humiliated every New Zealander, and deliberately set out to do that… such interference in New Zealand politics sets a precedent for all future negotiations between the New Zealand government and transnational corporations”. It won because of its interference in NZ politics and governance and treatment of employees and contractors. (28 November 2012)

Rio Tinto, Tell the Truth

The World Price For Aluminium Is Already Included In Your New Power Contract With Meridian. Every time that Rio Tinto, the gargantuan mining and processing transnational which owns 80% of the Bluff smelter, feels that its charmed existence in New Zealand is going to become less cushy, it threatens to pull the plug, close the smelter and walk away. (30 October 2012)

Who owns the South Island Power Grid?

Good Question. Don’t Assume It Is Transpower. The Government’s proposed partial privatisation of Mighty River Power, Meridian and Genesis Energy has focused attention on the ownership of our State-owned electricity generation companies. The majority of New Zealanders oppose the likelihood of such vital national infrastructure going into foreign ownership. But what about the State-owned company which “owns” the South Island power grid? Does Transpower actually own that? (17 October 2012)

Rio Tinto, Stop Crying Wolf. Just Close The Bluff Smelter & Bugger Off

Here we go again. Every time that Rio Tinto, the gargantuan mining and processing transnational which owns 80% of the Bluff smelter, feels that its charmed existence in New Zealand is going to become less cushy, it threatens to pull the plug, close the smelter and walk away. Last time it did so (in 2008) was because of the Labour Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme. This time it is trying it on as a tactic to try to pressure Meridian over its power price contract, which has already been negotiated and is due to take effect in January. Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) calls Rio Tinto’s bluff (pun intended) Stop crying wolf, stop using your New Zealand workers as disposable pawns in your cynical game, stop holding Southland and the country to ransom. Go ahead and close the smelter and bugger off. See if we care, the country will be much better off without you. (7 September 2012)

Overseas Investment Office Says Rupert Murdoch Is Of Good Character - Because He Told Them So!

In May the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) wrote to the Overseas Investment Office: “In light of the recent finding by a British Parliament Select Committee that Rupert Murdoch is 'not fit' to lead a major international company, and in light of the fact that Murdoch’s News Ltd owns 43.65% of the shares of Sky Network Television Ltd, when is the OIO going to review, in terms of the Overseas Investment Act and accompanying Regulations, whether all of those in control of Sky are of good character and, if not, require Sky either to divest or Rupert Murdoch to relinquish any control of News Ltd?”.

This week we received the OIO’s considered decision. Basically it boils down to saying that the OIO is not bothered about a British Parliament cross-party Select Committee finding that Murdoch is not fit to lead a major international company. The most extraordinary reason given for the OIO being satisfied with the “good character” of Murdoch and the other individuals exercising control over News Corporation is that he and they told the OIO that they are of good character, in the form of statutory declarations to that effect. In other words, the OIO takes his and their word for it, with no independent checking required. What a bloody joke! (16 August 2012)

Time To Put The Boot Into Insurance Companies

CAFCA congratulates Gerry Brownlee for “losing patience” with the insurance companies who are restricting Christchurch's earthquake recovery to a snail's pace. We are pleased that he has finally been forced to admit that these companies, most of whom are transnational corporations, are part of the problem and not part of the solution. But Brownlee than said that he didn't intend to do anything about it, sticking to his mantra of leaving it to the market. Sorry, Gerry, that's not good enough. It's time you put the boot into the insurance companies, who have shamelessly charged hundreds of thousands of Cantabrians premiums for generations and are now finding every excuse in the book, plus making up some new ones, to delay paying out or not paying out at all. (27 July 2012)

A letter to the Listener

The editorial (5/5/12; “Bring us your jobs: Without foreign investment New Zealand would be a poorer country”) contained so many myths that it is difficult to choose which one to demolish first. Let's start with the facts of just how many jobs are provided by transnational corporations. (11 May 2012)

What Is Being Done About The Four Crafar Farms Bought By Natural Dairy Without OIO Consent?

The entirely predictable reaffirmation by the Government of its approval for Shanghai Pengxin to buy the Crafar Farms only involves 16 of them. But the fact that has disappeared from the political and media spotlight is that there were 20 Crafar Farms for sale. So what has happened to the other four? You never hear the Government mentioning them. It's is too politically embarrassing. (30 April 2012)

It's time for truth about how much NZ land is foreign-owned

The endlessly fascinating Crafar Farms soap opera focuses attention once again on the political hot potato of foreign ownership of New Zealand land. The Prime Minister, recognising the political toxicity of the subject, even among National voters, has tried to soothe public outrage by saying that less than 1% of New Zealand farmland is foreign-owned. The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) knew this was nonsense. If this figure was ever correct, it was a long time ago. (20 April 2012)

Windflow and General Dynamics: the old proverbial hits the turbine

The announcement that Christchurch wind turbine manufacturer Windflow Technology has signed a ten year licensing agreement with General Dynamics' subsidiary SATCOM is eyebrow-raising in itself. General Dynamics is a gigantic US transnational corporation and a major manufacturer of weapons, military vehicles and military communications systems. General Dynamics has a subsidiary that makes nuclear submarines (which remain banned from NZ under our nuclear free law). Having signed up with such an unsavoury partner, Windflow would have been highly advised to simply hold its nose and stay silent. But, no, its Chief Executive, Geoff Henderson, felt obliged to defend the deal with some truly outlandish justifications. (13 March 2012)

Roger Award finalist transgresses on a global scale

The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) declares its solidarity with the Canadian members of the United Steelworkers Union who are currently visiting New Zealand (Invercargill today; Wellington tomorrow) to gain support for their struggle against contracting out by their employer, Rio Tinto Alcan . Their struggle bears an uncanny resemblance to that being waged by the Maritime Union against Ports of Auckland Ltd contracting out their jobs. And Rio Tinto Alcan has used the same tactic – namely, the indefinite lockout –as Affco has against its meat workers in the North Island. (9 March 2012)

Roger Award finalists just keep on digging themselves a deeper hole

Old habits die hard. In the news today are two of the finalists for the 2011 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand who seem intent on getting themselves nominated again for the 2012 Roger Award. These transnational corporate recidivists are Sajo Oyang Corporation and the Oceania Group. (2 March 2012)

Crafar court decision a welcome outbreak of sanity

Justice Miller's decision to order a review of the decision to approve the sale of the Crafar Farms to the appropriately named Milk NZ, owned by Shanghai Pengxin of China, is a welcome outbreak of sanity in this whole sorry saga. Not to mention a two fingered judicial poke in the eyes of the Government and its Overseas Investment Office rubberstampers. (15 February 2012)

Increase the tax on profiteering Aussie banks

News that the Big Five Australian-owned banks made a combined NZ profit of $3 billion in 2011 means only one thing – they're making too much money out of us. They must be laughing all the way to the bank. Hang on, they are the bank. (11 February 2012)

Crafar Farms sale approval surprising only in that it took so long to rubberstamp

The announcement today of Ministerial and Overseas Investment Office approval of the sale of the bankrupt Crafar Farms to Chinese buyers is no surprise to the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA). The only surprise is that it took them so long to rubber stamp it. This was all supposed to be a done deal back in 2010 when it was supposed to be sold to the first lot of would be Chinese buyers. That all turned to custard because of an even greater of lack of good character than usual of the company's principals, who are now facing serious criminal charges in Hong Kong (but nothing in New Zealand, which tells you a lot about the diligence of NZ's “regulatory” authorities). (27 January 2012)

No Corporate Welfare for Coca Cola and other Transnational Bludgers

Speaking at the opening of Coca Cola Amatil's Christchurch bottling plant, group managing director Terry Davis called on the Government to consider “incentives” for food and beverage manufacturers. Why? This is a very slippery slope. Why should the New Zealand taxpayer subsidise a gigantic transnational corporation such as Coca Cola, one for whom the $15m cost of the bottling plant would be what its American executives would refer to as “chump change”? Would they like breakfast in bed while they're at it? And this is not even to raise the subject of whether Coca-Cola itself is a product worthy of any taxpayers' dollars. (19 January 2012)

Time For Government To Get Back Into Insurance Business

The Government announced this week that it has no plans to help Ansvar Insurance customers left in the lurch by their insurer's December 31st exit from the New Zealand insurance market. That means that those unable to get new house insurance before their existing policies expire (January, in some cases) will be uninsured in further quakes and ineligible for Earthquake Commission support. And the insurance companies are not offering any new insurance coverage in Canterbury until further notice. So, this is an appalling situation for these people to be left in, through no fault of their own. (13 January 2012)

Selling State Assets To "Mum & Dad". It's A Con Trick Because They Already Own Them

The announcement that Mighty River Power will be the first State asset to be put on the market simply confirms the wrongheadedness of this policy, for which the Government does not have a mandate, despite its claims to the contrary (every single poll on the subject has shown a majority of people are opposed to flogging off the four State-owned power generators, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand). (23 December 2011)

No selloff of Christchurch's publicly owned assets!

The revelation that all of Christchurch 's publicly-owned trading assets could be in danger of being sold due to a “legal loophole” in the law establishing the new State authority to run the city whilst it is rebuilt after the earthquakes should set alarm bells ringing loudly. If that comes to pass, it would be the single biggest instance of earthquake-related looting yet seen. American writer Naomi Klein coined the phrase “disaster capitalism” in the wake of the Bush Administration's criminally negligent response to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans , where Big Business and its political mouthpieces used the situation as an excuse for an orgy of corporatisation and privatisation. If such disaster capitalism is inflicted on Christchurch , that will be the “third big one” to slam into the city. And it will be the one with the most long term destructive effects. (2 May 2011)

Transnationals' Profits Down, so Money Actually Stays in New Zealand

The news just keeps getting better. Not only did the Overseas Investment Office and the Government refuse the application by Natural Dairy to buy the Crafar Farms but taxpayers got another Christmas present this week with the announcement that the quarterly current account is in surplus for only the third time since 1987 (after decades of an increasingly dire current account deficit). Why? Partly because the profits of transnational corporations fell by $551 million and therefore less money is being sucked out of the country in the form of repatriated profits. (24 December 2010)

Refusal of Natural Dairy bid for Crafar Farms Sets Precedent for Overseas Investment Office

The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) congratulates both the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) and the Government for having refused the application of Natural Dairy to buy the Crafar Farms. The grounds for refusing have not been spelled out by either the OIO or Ministers, but the OIO Decision says that it is not satisfied that the applicants meet all the requirements of sections 16 and 18 of the 2005 Overseas Investment Act. Those sections include the requirement that the persons owning and/or controlling the foreign applicant be of good character. There have certainly been plenty of characters in Natural Dairy's bid, on both sides of the proposed sale – indeed, scriptwriters for B movies would struggle to invent characters like them – but the lack of good character has been obvious from the outset. So the decision to refuse permission was an absolute no brainer, any other outcome would have been a travesty, and would have caused major public uproar and further exacerbated the political split within the highest ranks of the Government and its supporters on the issue of the sale of farms to foreigners. (23 December 2010)

Hillary Clinton Comes Bearing A Poisoned Chalice For NZ

As if 2,000 earthquakes haven't been enough punishment for Christchurch , now we're going to have Hillary Clinton visiting us (and Wellington ) this week.

A major focus for her NZ visit  will be the negotiations which are well underway for the US and a number of other countries to join an expanded Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (currently comprising NZ, Chile, Brunei, and Singapore, and known as the P4 Agreement), with 2011 as the target to seal the deal. This will be used as the backdoor means to secure a US/NZ Free Trade Agreement. (2 November 2010)

Why didn't Labour do something about foreign investment when it was in power?

The Campaign Against Foreign Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) congratulates Labour for seeing the light and announcing  a policy that recognises the glaringly obvious fact that unrestricted foreign “investment” (meaning takeover or economic recolonisation) is a disaster and for starting to take some painfully modest steps towards rectifying that  (should it be returned to office). CAFCA would never be so cynical as to suggest that this is a classic ploy by an Opposition party sensing a vote winner and desperately trying to curry favour with public opinion, which is way ahead of the politicians on this issue. (17 October 2010)

Public opposition to land sales forces Government backdown on overseas investment act liberalisation

When Bill English announced yet another review of the Overseas Investment Act, in early 2009, he said that its recommendations would be made public by the middle of last year. It has taken until the end of September 2010 for that to actually happen, a full 15 months late. When he announced that review, National was all set for another gung ho liberalisation of the Act to make New Zealand even more “attractive to foreign investors”. But this latest review has, contrary to a regular drip feed of information from “inside sources”, recommended precisely no change to the Act. It has introduced two new measures to the Act’s accompanying Overseas Investment Regulations and they both apply exclusively to investments in sensitive land. (27 September 2010)

If all else fails, call them racists

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). (3 September 2010)

CAFCA says save the farms - and the rest

The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) congratulates the newly formed Save The Farms group, which has called for an immediate moratorium on farm sales to foreigners “so we can have a national debate”. This group, headed by wealthy members of the upper middle class, has attracted considerable media attention and obviously has serious money behind it to finance its campaign. This shows just how far that opposition to the relentless selloff of New Zealand rural land to foreigners (both corporate and individual) has penetrated through all sectors of NZ society, now including those whom would be usually be counted on to support such a policy, indeed to personally profit from it. (30 August 2010)

Blatant Political Advocacy and None Too Subtle Implied Threat from OIO

Since when did the preservation of NZ's “international business image” and its “image overseas” become part of the job description (or mission statement) of the Overseas Investment Office? (15 June 2010)

Treasury Chief urges liberalisation of Overseas Investment Act

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. (31 May 2010)

Don't be fooled into thinking that Infratil is a “New Zealand” company

The sale of Shell NZ's downstream assets to a joint venture of NZ Superannuation and Infratil has been hailed as returning this chunk of vital infrastructure to New Zealand ownership. It would be a good story if only it were true.

Infratil is actually a foreign-owned company, i.e. it has more than 25% foreign ownership, which is the definition in the Overseas Investment Act. The Overseas Investment Office, for its own purposes, defines Infratil (and several other companies) as being “foreign-owned but New Zealand-controlled” and therefore exempt from the inconvenient fact of being a foreign-owned company. (30 March 2010)

Chinese buy up of dairy farms

The most unbelievably naïve reaction to the news that a mysterious Chinese company is hoping to buy up to $1.5 billion worth of dairy farms came from Federated Farmers, which said that this is an “unintended consequence” of the NZ/China Free Trade Agreement. Pull the other one. There’s nothing unintended about this consequence, this is how “free” trade agreements are supposed to work. They all come with embedded investment agreements which protect the rights of investors from the countries which are party to the Agreement, and those foreign investors’ rights are backed up by the force of legal sanction. For example, the NZ/China FTA includes a provision that NZ cannot make or amend laws (without China’s permission) that “discriminate” against Chinese investors. So this is the outcome of what our brilliant politicians (both Labour and National) have signed us up to. (25 March 2010)

Trans-Pacific Partnership: NZ jumping onto a sinking ship

Talks started in Melbourne today for the US, Australia, Peru and Vietnam to join an expanded Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP, currently comprising NZ, Chile, Brunei, and Singapore, known as the P4 Agreement), with November 2011, when the US hosts APEC, as the target to seal the deal. This will be used as the backdoor means to secure a US/NZ Free Trade Agreement. Already the Americans have said that they see this as more than a mere free trade deal but as a vehicle for broader Asia/Pacific economic integration, which has enormous political implications. Alarm bells should be loudly sounding. (15 March 2010)

Just what are the benefits to NZ of allowing Shania Twain to buy high country stations?

Helen Clark is currently back in the country to bask in the glow of the warm fuzzies. So it’s very timely to look critically at the continued purchase of South Island high country stations by companies linked to Canadian singer, Shania Twain, who was the poster girl of the Clark government’s policy on major land sales to foreigners. The 2005 purchase of the 25,000 ha Mototapu and Mt Soho stations by companies linked to Ms Twain and her then husband were hailed by politicians and the media as signalling a new “smart, win win” approach to the controversial subject of foreigners buying up great chunks of prime NZ land. (19 February 2010)

Catching up with Australia: Murray Horton

Don Brash's 2025 Taskforce made a range of recommendations about how our economy could catch up with Australia. Its ideas, which included slashing Government spending met with widespread condemnation. Murray Horton, Secretary/Organiser for the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) is one of a range of New Zealanders approached by to share their thoughts on how we can shorten the gap. (15 January 2010)

IRD Delivers Best Possible Xmas Present To Long Suffering Kiwi Taxpayers

There really is a Santa Claus. And he has been revealed to be the most unlikely of people, namely the Commissioner of Inland Revenue. Just in time for Christmas IRD has persuaded the Big Four Australian-owned banks – ANZ, ASB, BNZ, and Westpac – to recognise the futility of attempting to dodge payment of the astonishing $2.2 billion of taxes that, between them, they avoided via deliberately complicated structured financial transactions. (24 December 2009)

US Free Trade Agreement: Learn From Sad Experience Of US’ “Chief Ally”

New Zealanders who kid themselves that “we” stand to gain from a Free Trade Agreement with the US would be wise to reflect on the rueful words of Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s Ambassador to the US in the runup to the US/UK invasion of Iraq. Speaking to the current public Inquiry into Britain’s part in that invasion and war: “Meyer expressed frustration that Britain was unable to gain much diplomatic leverage from its position as the US’ chief ally. Britain failed to persuade the US to liberalise trans-Atlantic air travel and, almost on the day when British commandoes joined the fighting in Afghanistan, the US imposed tariffs on imports of specialised British steel” (Press, 28/11/09). If this is the way that the US treats its “chief ally” when it comes to protecting its own trade and economic interests, how do you think little old NZ will get on? (4 December 2009)

US Free Trade Agreement a Poisoned Chalice for NZ

A US/NZ Free Trade Agreement would be catastrophic for any remaining economic sovereignty that New Zealand has. (16 November 2009)

Overseas Investment Office ignored CAFCA's warning about Cedenco's US owner

The Overseas Investment Office can't say that it wasn't warned about the problems in the US arising from the bribery allegations against SK Foods. (10 November 2009)

Earlier comment on the 2009-10 Review of the Overseas Investment Act


Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa,
P. O. Box 2258