New Zealand’s dairy industry risks falling into the hands of overseas investors if the Key Government continues to loosen overseas investment rules, said Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman today.
News reports suggest that Hong Kong-based Natural Dairy NZ Holdings intends to buy the Crafar family farms among other large scale investments in New Zealand's dairy sector. Natural Dairy NZ Holdings was until recently trading as the China Jin Hui Mining Corporation. It is unclear at this stage what, if any, relationship there is between Natural Dairy NZ Holdings and the Chinese Government.
“The Key Government needs to rethink its strategy of loosening our already pathetically weak overseas investment regime and Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson needs to front up and explain just what is happening with the Crafar Farms,” said Dr Norman.
“New Zealand has a problem already with its current account deficit, primarily driven by large scale foreign ownership of the NZ economy and our huge private sector overseas debt,” said Dr Norman.
“If large sectors of our export industry are allowed to be owned by large trans-national corporations or overseas governments, then our current account deficit will get worse as the profits from these companies are sent back to their overseas owners.
“At present trans-national food giants and governments such as the Chinese have been buying up large tracts of productive land in Africa. These governments have been driven by a concern with food security which is leading them to buy land and send the food back home.
“This has often led to disaster for the local population,” said Dr Norman.
“We need to tighten our foreign ownership rules but the Key Government seems intent on loosening them even further than Labour did.”