OIO fob-off-Selling out NZ. Is John Key just thick?

The OIO fob off? Selling out NZ? Is John Key just thick?

There’s no doubt that this National government’s ignoring of the issues posed by an increasing flow of multimillionaires from what is now acknowledged to be a predatory and aggressive Communist country, is disadvantaging New Zealanders. Allowing them to outbid our people to own our land, houses and businesses can be argued to be possibly treasonous, given that in a democracy, the first duty of the State is to protect its citizens.

This is not a question of xenophobia. Over the decades, Chinese New Zealanders have long made this country their home, assimilated well, and contributed to its prosperity. Some are themselves now extremely concerned at what seems the almost incredible blindness of this National government to what is happening.

As Spectator columnist and classicist Peter Jones points out, the Roman statesman, Cicero, took the view that the country’s security and common interests are best served by laws whose first aim is to safeguard its citizens.

Who would dispute this? It isn’t happening here.

All across this country, concern has been expressed at New Zealanders becoming second-class citizens as a result of both government policy – e.g. via the obvious inadequacy of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) – and this National government’s fob-off of the crisis in Auckland’s housing market. Again and again we are told that this is simply a matter of not enough houses, and that more and more land needs to be freed up.

But this is not the whole answer, and dodges an equally important issue – apart from that of both central and local government’s incompetence in allowing this crisis to come about. What is being constantly ignored is the fact that the aim of building 30,000 new homes and apartments a year is grossly inadequate – if 70,000 new immigrants are now annually admitted. Moreover, if far wealthier immigrants from Communist China, now facing possibly its largest exodus in history, are able to outbid New Zealanders to confine them to the now also severely unaffordable renting market, then a great injustice is being done to the people of this country…who should be the government’s first priority.

This is an issue not only equally as important as the housing shortage, but even more so, given that we need to look at why this government is selling out New Zealanders.

John Key’s refusal to acknowledge that Auckland even has a housing crisis is extraordinary. First, because it suggests an apparent inability to face facts…He is denying what is demonstrably true. The question then: – would he peddle a blatant lie, if he knew this was the case? Surely not? Then is he being misled, deceived? Is no one telling him the truth? After all, the suspicion is growing (particularly in that the “Minister of Everything”, Steven Joyce, was more or less boasting recently of the hand he had in a pre-budget speech John Key delivered) – are these speeches simply supplied to the Prime Minister to deliver?

Is the real problem just that Key isn’t very bright? There has been no boasting about any academic record at school. He became a multi-millionaire by opting for a move into the money world. Currency trading requires a certain affinity with money-making, and arguably a gambling instinct. However, it does not necessarily equate to his being well-informed, well-read, well-grounded and well-educated – with the background knowledge of history, philosophy, and great literature which helps to produce a well-rounded, statesmanlike individual.

In fact, Key’s use of language is clumsy, ill-informed, even gauche. He can be cringemaking – as in his recent dodging the question of the name of the Islamic state leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews had the same problem, but adroitly dodged being cornered. Key, with his usual offhand deflection of questions he doesn’t like, is quoted as saying; “Ah look, I’ll get it wrong if I actually name his name. It’s al Jabiri something, but yeah, whatever.”

Yeah, whatever…”?

Why is National’s leader apparently unable to publicly acknowledge what’s happening in Auckland. Should we be necessarily discounting the possibility that he really is rather thick, ie. intellectually lightweight? For example, he thinks John Campbell’s nightly look at important current affairs should be “more entertaining”. Really- along the lines of Key’s named favourite TV programmes, which include Johnny English, and My Big Fat Gypsy wedding?

 The man who likes to dance on stage at “ gay” festivals, being smoodged by drag queens when he regularly attends the Big Day Out, which many conservative NZers, and even some homosexual and lesbians, deplore as crass and exhibitionistic. The man whose mouth appears to run away with him, or doesn’t seem to realise describing some women as “hot” is basically offensive to many women uses the sort of vocabulary one doesn’t expect from a Prime Minister.

We do know that Key has a disconcerting record of memory blackouts – or vagueness about what he knows and doesn’t know – or what he was told, or wasn’t told. Oh yes – and when…Some regard him as being less than rigorous with the truth of issues. However, as long as he feels “relaxed” and “comfortable” – as he regularly claims, then it appears we are meant to settle for what many regard as evasiveness.

So when Key claims there’s no housing shortage in Auckland, what are we meant to think?

Most desperate home-hunters aren’t going to be forgiving with regard to his nonsensical claims – not when the housing market is near crisis point – when the New Zealand Herald accurately reports that “first-home buyers are being hit by explosive price rises, bank lending restrictions and fierce competition amid a severe shortage of available properties…and that “the previous generation’s quarter-acre, three-bedroom dream is fast becoming unattainable for today’s house hunters”.

New Zealanders are not in the mood for being fobbed off any further. The question has to be faced fairly and squarely. Why are we being done over in our own country? Is it just a matter of more land being needed for housing; of reforming the RMA; of government culpability and its sheer incompetence with regard to making sure that affordable housing remained within the reach of New Zealanders at large?

Or has something totally new entered the equation during this last decade in particular which gravely disadvantages New Zealanders? The answer is yes, of course. And yes, too, to the fact that John Key’s government has apparently no intention of facing up to this other important issue. There is all-round silence from his National Party colleagues, who apparently couldn’t care less about the almost impossibly difficult, in many cases even sad or tragic outcomes for decent hard-working New Zealanders now losing their dream of ever owning a home.

And is this helped by the stampede of real estate agents going over to China to persuade Chinese buyers to buy our houses – even advertising in Mandarin and Cantonese? They themselves will of course hugely profit. But how much thought have they given to the fact that they are working against the interests of those most disadvantaged New Zealanders – those unable to afford a first home? Family people and others who have saved for years now know that they have no hope of achieving what was taken for granted a decade or so ago. Is this really the New Zealand we all want?

And is what the real estate agents doing actually fair to fellow New Zealanders (not just those selling expensive property at a considerable profit)? Does it even matter? Or is it now just dog eat dog – and every man for himself? If so, what has happened to this country?

It’s not just in Auckland, although the latest official figures show the average Auckland house price soared to $775,555 by January 31. Trade Me also reported very recently a 26.5% jump in prices for properties of one and two bedrooms over the past year.

Is it simply a matter of no concern to John Key and his silent colleagues that, attending a recent luxury property expo in Shanghai, realtor Bayleys Canterbury reportedly found buyers for $5.4m worth of homes in three days – and that they hope for even more sales at a similar event in Beijing in April? Bayleys’ general manager Pete Whalan described the buyers as “mega rich”. The five Shanghai deals included a block of six Pegasus townhouses sold for $2.7m to an investor, a West Melton lifestyle block bought for $1.2m by intending immigrants, and sales of houses in Christchurch’s north-western suburbs for more than $750,000.

There is a very valid point of view that any government which keeps ignoring one of the very important reasons for New Zealanders being priced out of their own homes, their own farms and land is in effect showing it doesn’t want to know. If so, this is basically a disgraceful state of affairs, and the blame for it can be laid to the feet of a government which, for all its pretence, is basically working against the interests of its own people.

With good reason, there has been a great deal of criticism in recent years about the fact that the Overseas Investment office (OIO) basically rubberstamps any application for ownership of our assets. The OIO representative whom I recently contacted for a clearer picture of what exactly is happening, and why, helpfully forwarded clarification with regard to the requirements for consent. What apparently seems to be regarded as efficiently stringent is mind-bogglingly inadequate – even farcically so.

What is apparently accepted as an important factor acting as a control on the oncoming flood of applications is that -“Applying for consent is a relatively costly process, meaning that applicants will want to be fairly sure of success proceeding with applications for consent.” Does anyone really believe that this is an adequate safeguard, given that those applying are described as not just wealthy, but mega-wealthy? These include the so-called princes of the Chinese Communist Party hierarchy, many now reading the writing on the wall for themselves and their families in China.

A similar guide to applications to acquire sensitive land stipulates that “there is likely a benefit to New Zealand. “ Likely”… only likely?!

The ways in which such a benefit can be dreamt up, drummed up, flossied up – but never eventuate – undoubtedly exist. The OIO apparently does no follow-up in subsequent years – and in fact seems to have no power to do anything about the results of undertakings which never eventuate. Moreover, throughout New Zealand there are instances of land which was once able to be accessed by the public but is closed off by foreign buyers, no longer accessible. So much for New Zealanders’ interests being safeguarded.

In reply to my specific question to the OIO whether there is a limit to the amount of New Zealand farmland that can be sold off e.g. 50%, 70% etc. the reply was basically no – there is no limit. The answer provided meaningless padding, such as -“It is a privilege for overseas persons to acquire sensitive New Zealand assets. Therefore, overseas persons who want to purchase ·New Zealand assets are required to a) meet the criteria for consent set out in the act, and b) may have conditions of consent imposed on them if consent is granted. “

And again; “However, if an overseas investor wants to acquire farmland that is more than 10 times the size of an average of average farm of that type”, the OIO “is directed that certain economic factors set out in the Act and Overseas Investment Regulations are of high relative importance”.

New Zealanders who are now accustomed to the flood of verbiage emitted by bureaucrats will know this for what it is – basically meaningless – and centring on the word “relative”. Money is already greasing the wheels when individuals with over $10 million to supposedly invest are more or less automatically allowed into this country (preferably, but apparently not necessarily, if they have no criminal record…recalling the controversy which has already accompanied some who were granted entry with just that).

China was the country’s biggest and fastest growing source of migrants last year. Shouldn’t we be concerned about this, given that New Zealand has no limits on foreign property ownership, except that sensitive land sales or deals worth more than $100m need official approval. Moreover, although China has relaxed its rules so the Chinese themselves can buy more global real estate, it bans the sale of its own land to foreigners…as do other countries from which immigrants are coming.

Then why is our government falling over itself to load the dice against our own people? Why do we have no real controls set in place so that New Zealanders do not become second-class citizens in our own country? Some argue it is already now well and truly happening.

The fact that the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (Steven Joyce’s portfolio) has very recent stated that “it could not identify any welfare issues or find evidence of breaches of minimum employment standard law – in reply to Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard writing to it last August, is extraordinary. The issue is a highly serious one. Mallard asked for an investigation into whether Chinese workers dealing with asbestos were being paid far less than the minimum wage – even as little as three dollars an hour, and whether they were living in cramped conditions and did not have enough to eat.

The investigation has cleared the employer at the Hutt Railway workshops – although requested wage records were not released – on the grounds that because the Chinese employers of these labourers did not have a New Zealand presence, “the Labour Inspectorate was not able to require them to provide time and wage records. The Ministry had no idea how much the workers were paid.

Is this what we expect to see happening in this country – overseas employers -beyond the reach of our own law because they do not have “a New Zealand presence” whatever that means? Then why are they being allowed to operate in this country? If this isn’t a thumbing of the nose at our legal system and our sovereignty- let alone, if it is true, a straight-out abuse of the poor and the vulnerable, what is it?

This is now an enormously important issue, given the increased resentment of the worldwide disparity between the super-wealthy, cushioned by an all-too comfortable understanding across national barriers – and the equally dubious, barrier-penetrating golden handshakes given to and by these internationalists. Their fraternity and allegiances are now regarded as giving them a commonality they do not share with those fellow countrymen, who provide useful goods and services. Regarding now as having obtained their wealth basically by the manipulation of money –they are, en masse, a new phenomenon looking for safe havens to retreat or escape to.

Although their exodus is world-wide, enough of them are targeting New Zealand, overwhelmingly so from Communist China (and this includes those regarded as having obtained their wealth from the hierarchy and connections with the corrupt Chinese Party). And our Key-led government is only too willing to have them here.

Do we have a very real problem here, in that our multi-millionaire Prime Minister may tend to identify more with these equally super wealthy internationalists – rather than with his own countrymen?

From long-time sympathetic China-watcher, David Shambaugh, writing on The Coming Chinese Crack-up comes the warning. “First, China’s economic élites have one foot out the door, and they are ready to flee en masse if the system really begins to crumble. In 2014, Shanghai’s Hurun Research Institute, which studies China’s wealthy, found that 64% of the “high net worth individuals” whom it polled—393 millionaires and billionaires—were either emigrating or planning to do so. Rich Chinese are sending their children to study abroad in record numbers (in itself, an indictment of the quality of the Chinese higher-education system).

The best regional magazine of Pacific Affairs, the Australian News Weekly reports that “Mainland China has now overtaken the United Kingdom to become the largest source of immigrants in Australia since 2011…Widely-held concern that foreign purchases of houses, particularly from people born in China, are pushing up the price of housing in Australia, has prompted a federal parliamentary inquiry into foreign investment in residential real estate. There is no doubt that popular concern is driven by perceptions that Chinese buyers dominate the top end of the local property market. These perceptions have been fuelled by instances of Chinese buying multiple properties at recently-held auctions.”

The basic unfairness of New Zealanders being displaced in our own country, hopelessly outbid when faced with immensely rich Chinese house-buyers snapping up houses as fast as they come onto the market, to rent them back to New Zealanders, the renting costs alone pushed higher and higher by desperate competition from those needing somebody to live, has become a national scandal.

We are told that New Zealand has a rockstar economy, a quite simply unbelievable claim, given the noose tightening around so many of the essential services we use. Cash-strapped hospitals with insufficient nursing staff to cope, and unrealistic targets to meet; the police budget constantly being cut, so that 30 more police stations have closed, and the police stations have reduced their opening hours as police struggle to cope with yet another budget freeze. With resources stretched, responses to 111 calls are reportedly lengthening, falling below targets, and communications centres are struggling.

Everywhere over the country come the reports of businesses folding up, and shops closing down – as in Nelson, for example, where some commercial premises, even in the central shopping area, have had For Let signs up for many months – even some years, in some cases, with, one by one, other shops now closing down. In a shock to the local community, the region’s largest private logging company, Waimea Contract Carriers, with 80 trucks and employing 120 people, is now in voluntary administration.

Little by little, our industries are closing down. NZ Post plans to further layoff more than 2000 employees.

And the forecast budget surplus which John Key used as a campaign promise?

Did anyone really believe him?

 © Amy Brooke, Convener – the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand

Only the James Cameron buy-up? Is this still our country?

It’s not just the James Cameron buy-up…. Is this still our country?

 The contrast between two types of immigrants hit me recently – in relation to what is happening to us as a people.

In much of Europe, so-called ordinary citizens have no hope at all of ever owning their own homes, let alone a little bit of land. So one can empathise with the very real pleasure two Swiss immigrants, Theres and Hannes Krummenacher, are now feeling. Their beaming faces in the local paper, as they held up the wild mushrooms (those with great flavour and texture) which they are now growing and selling commercially, tell of hands-on hard work, and success.

In their home country of Switzerland, foraging for wild mushrooms in autumn is traditional. As it was one of the things they most missed, they set up growing their own, planting a small forest with specific trees selected, because different fungi grow on the roots of different trees. It’s a great story, and their deserved pride in what they have achieved reflects in their faces.

There’s a highly relevant lesson for New Zealanders here, in the fact that they tell how in Switzerland “it was a dream and a privilege to own a house, let alone some land. Most people live in apartments, so being able to buy 50 hectares and work toward a living from that land is a dream come true.”

When, not long ago, I was admiring the beautiful Swiss countryside, an expat friend living in Zürich pointed out that the farmland passes down from generation to generation within the families. The Swiss people themselves are happy to subsidise farmers to ensure the survival of small farms, and the well-being of the small herds of cows – regarded as a considerable asset – from the point of view of respecting the tradition of Switzerland, and assisting with the attraction the countryside has for tourists.

The notion of today allowing a wholesale wave of immigrants, such as the multi -millionaires to whom we are giving virtual carte blanche to enter New Zealand – and to buy up our farmlands and assets – would be considered unthinkable in Switzerland. In this small mountainous country at the crossroads of centuries of immigration from other countries pressing its borders, most people can only dream of owning their own house… As Hanne pointed out, most people have to rent apartments for themselves and their families for life. It is the same in Germany and elsewhere in continental Europe, where people are resigned to never being able to own their own house.

Aren’t we being pushed in the same direction? Our government, which is supposed to look after the interests of New Zealanders and is spectacularly failing to do so, has, through the OIO (Overseas Investment Office), set virtually no barriers at all to any multi-millionaire (without a criminal record – and some have still slipped through) entering this country and buying up whatever he or she pleases. Apparently they simply need to hire a skilled PR person to ensure that their application falls within the feel-good guidelines, promising this or that – although there is little evidence of the OIO ever following up on these undertakings.

We know, for example, that very wealthy Americans have, as individuals, been able to cherry-pick our scenic assets, with a single individual alone having hoovered up more than one iconic South Island high-country sheep station, plus a gathering of farms as well, and several houses. And what do New Zealanders feel about the film director James Cameron being able, since 2012, to buy at least 13 parcels of land worth tens of millions of dollars and totalling more than 15,000 hectares – according to a recent report in the Dominion Post?

Among his purchases – more recently a 129-year-old building in a heritage precinct which he has had converted into an organic food store – are included a Carterton walnut orchard, South Wairarapa’s Lake Pounui and a hemp plantation. Although his blockbuster film Avatar has reportedly strong themes of resistance to private ownership, like other multimillionaires, James Cameron is able to outbid most New Zealanders any day for their own land – having entered the country under the Immigration NZ’s Investment Plus category which offers prior entry to the super-rich…those investing more than $10 million.

But the question how much this prioritising of the enormously wealthy from overseas can very much disadvantage New Zealanders is conveniently ignored by our government. Moreover, the criteria for New Zealand residency, requiring those like Cameron to spend only 88 days in the country over two years, is extraordinarily generous. Some would regard it as merely equivalent to a long holiday, annually.

Many reasonable New Zealanders, seeing their own children saddled with student loans ; unable to afford their own home any reasonable time in the future; worrying about being able to afford to have a family – or about mothers with a baby or young children being forced out into the workforce far too soon, are asking what is happening to this country. And although Prime Minister John Key, apparently living in some fantasy land of his own, is actually denying there is a housing shortage in Auckland, the situation has become for many almost intolerable.

Factor in the growing exodus from Communist China, and super-wealthy Chinese in a far better position than New Zealanders themselves to outbid them for any available housing stock. Many now desperate New Zealanders, being consistently outbid at auctions by the Chinese super-wealthy (now targeted from overseas by NZ real estate agents) know that things are very wrong. Moreover, not only are these millionaire newcomers now buying themselves separatist settlements, but Chinese investors are forcing New Zealanders out of the buying market, by successfully bidding not for ownership of one, but of multiple properties…Some reportedly owning dozens of houses – and renting them to New Zealanders.

Neither John Key nor his Finance Minister Bill English wants to know about this. But we need to seriously take on board the fact that as with the Germans and Swiss, for example, who end up renting apartments – rather than owning a house – we’re heading in exactly the same direction.

Many New Zealanders who cannot afford houses are now in this position because of the culpable failure of this government to act to protect its own people – and because it is refusing to acknowledge the magnitude of this problem. We should be asking why this is the case.

Releasing more land for housing is not going to be nearly enough. The new waves of immigration which are now damaging the socio-economic fabric of this country are not only pricing our people out of owning our houses, but our farmland, our scenic and economic assets, our businesses – with the profits going overseas – not to New Zealanders themselves.

We have become more than a ripe plum ready for the picking. We have become like a tree whose roots in the land are being progressively severed.

Given that the Key government has no discernible intent to protect the interests of New Zealanders themselves… we are without any real limits to the sell-out of New Zealand.

And this will remain the case, until New Zealanders start demanding action from all our politicians, including, primarily, John Key’s government.                                                           

*

 © Amy Brooke – Convener – The 100Days – Claiming Back New Zealand. http://www.100days.co.nz

From Northland? Thumbs down to “the virtuoso of slick”.

 

The message from Northland – thumbs down to “the virtuoso of slick”.

The Northland rout must have been a shock to the National Party government, which has been acting as if it has the right to virtually rule New Zealanders. And many will have watched with amusement, well flavoured with schadenfreude, the recent sudden encounter with reality John Key himself underwent. Described by the Dominion Post as “the virtuoso of slick”, Key’s initial, arrogant dismissing of Winston Peter’s chances as “absolutely zero” and his later stating with what many would viewed as political sour grapes, let alone discourtesy, that he wouldn’t pick up the phone if his candidate lost, was accompanied by National Party threats and bribery.

Suddenly everything changed. Surprise, surprise: It was going to be a close thing after all. So bridges were going to be widened, ultra-fast broadband access prioritised. The limousines with ministerial presences – were, with a lamentable lack of judgment – sent to impress the proletariat. And with a possibly even greater lack of judgment, Key himself – damned if he did and damned if he didn’t – bestowed himself on a less than grateful electorate…very possibly the kiss of death to National’s chances.

We can contrast’s Key’s boorish behaviour with Winston’s Peters’ basic kindness in the post- election exchange with Mark Osborne, an apparently thoroughly decent man. When Osborne called him “very generously” to concede, Winston in turn told him not to take the loss to heart, that “he was in the most impossible position of trying to make up decades of neglect and it wasn’t his fault – and he wanted his wife and family to know that”.

Moreover, (as a former politician confides) Osborne, “as a newbie, would be listened to even less than the tea lady. One thing that has become abundantly clear is that the current National government is totalitarian-minded in its decision-making process. A few chosen ones at the top, notably Key, English and Joyce, apparently make all the policy…The rest are primarily ballast to provide numbers in the house. Outside Parliament, they are essentially {marketing paraphernalia} for the government.

As columnist Jane Bowron describes it, Key’s “swaggering boast” at the beginning of the by-election (that Peters was on a hiding to nothing) contrasted markedly with his about-face, and “only made an overlooked electorate more determined to back a man who was born and bred in Northland, knew them in their bones and had bones in their land”.

The significance of National losing the “safe” seat it held for more than 50 years has been recognised by most New Zealanders – as much as this government downplays it. But then the gurus of the mass media, long out of touch with the respect with which Winston is held by heartland New Zealand, apparently predicted (as on Q + A, with their usual misplaced sangfroid) that National would win the seat.

Describing Winston as “mythologized as the hero of heartland”, Bowron shares the lack of awareness of most media mouths who have seemingly been programmed to ignore or disparage Peters’ achievements while in government. There is also an airily dismissing of the fact that of all New Zealand’s politicians, Peters is widely regarded as apparently the only one with a sufficient knowledge of history, and a sense of the significance of what is happening in the Pacific…for example, of the threat to New Zealanders by an undoubtedly predatory Communist Chinese government – and of the loss, little by little, but accelerating – of our land, our companies, the threat to our strategic assets – and the buying up of our housing market – with its grave implications. The ridiculous media baying of xenophobia, as a fob-off, does not impress New Zealanders at large.

Like other media who tend to echo the current opinions of the mass media commentariat, Tracy Watkins was also quite wrong in recently stating that it was only six months ago that “National was carried back into power by that huge wave of political support “ in the November elections. There was no huge wave of political support. National actually lost one seat. And it apparently can’t be repeated enough that the party is estimated to have gained approximately 36% of the total votes – compared to those who voted for other parties – and that, factoring in the number of registered voters who didn’t vote, National gained only 33% of the votes of the country…less than those who voted for other parties.

John Key’s similar claim to the effect that it was a landslide victory could be charitably described as overly imaginative. The reason why National squeaked home (and anything less than 50% of the country’s votes is not a mandate to claim majority support, as is Key’s practice) is that the vote of the opposing parties amounted to a dog’s breakfast, more or less – a right mess of unprecedentedly different factions.

Make no mistake: a government which thumbs its nose at the expressed will of the people – as John Key’s government did from the beginning – is not regarded as democratically representing majority New Zealanders. What are increasingly now viewed as National Party patsies all fell into line from the very beginning, when Key took it upon himself to forbid conservative parents to decide when it would be legitimate and helpful for a disruptive child to receive a well-deserved smack. The pattern became established of John Key knows best. And when National’s leader pushed through the utterly unnecessary and costly Emissions Trading Scheme – and the disturbingly undemocratic Marine and Coastal Area legislation – (in the face of considerable concern from within his own party) then it became plain that the country no longer operates as a democracy.

As many commentators are now pointing out, it is now a virtual dictatorship – or at least governed by an oligarchy – in which political power and control rests in the hands of a very few people. In this case, those ensconced in the inner sanctum of the National Party hierarchy have to date been able to be relied upon to be the fall guys, or can-carriers, for their leader.

The shift towards governing with presidential type power, however, began even before the National Party’s more recent governing terms. Former Prime Minister Helen Clark exercised exactly the same sort of control over Labour Party politicians, to such an extent that MPs such as Phil Goff dodged its consequences with regard to the anti-smacking prohibition which has seen a marked increase in the number of disobedient, disrespectful, disruptive and assertive children, who know their “rights” – and of frustrated and fearful parents. The forcing through of this legislation has not assisted with the real issue of child abuse in the country – (which has nothing to do with an occasional much-needed smack) and has helped those who determinedly avert their eyes from that sector of the community where most family violence occurs.

It has also added to the list of prohibitions which increasingly has New Zealanders concerned that in speaking out – essential for the healthy functioning of any genuine democracy – they are going to be vilified by determinedly abusive, politicized factions with manipulative cries of racism, xenophobia, homophobia. Yet very few would argue that driving dissent underground, and inhibiting thoughtful assessment of the directions of the day, is a plus for us as a people. And many feel concern about what is regarded as a general social, even moral deterioration in this country, viewed as once more stable, crime-free and unified.

So, too, with one issue about which Winston Peter apparently has a far more statesmanlike appreciation than Key himself – and our other parliamentary representatives. This is the question of exactly what is Communist China’s interest in intruding into the Pacific. If the usual feel-good, think-bad advocates of a mindless “diversity” could be persuaded to actually engage their minds on this issue, even they might come to a conclusion, no matter how reluctantly, that it is more than time that we had a politician who represents New Zealanders’ interests – rather than those wealthy enough to buy their way into our country – and then buy New Zealanders out of owning it.

On the China front we hear no protest at all – ever – from our government about the continuing and increasing pattern of repression, cruelty, even torture and imprisonment of those Chinese brave enough to confront the CCP – Chinese’s ruling and corrupt Communist hierarchy. John Key voices no public concern, reportedly because he does not want to create an awkward situation when functions are held at Wellington’s Chinese embassy.

National’s leaders are seemingly quite happy about the fact that the country is operating in a moral vacuum, with regard to foreign policy. The National Party seems to have come to the conclusion that the country is going to ignore what it does not even bother to deny – that the GCSB has been scandalously misusing its powers to spy on those competing with Trade Minister Tim Groser in his quest for a lucrative overseas position. The fact that he did not win it does rather raise the question about whether there was, in turn, any productive spying (from those backing overseas candidates) into Groser’s own political career, which may not have been to his own advantage – an irony which will not be lost on those concerned about the rampant intrusion of the State into what should be fellow democracies.

Nor is New Zealand, with its see-no-evil approach, joining other countries voicing their concern about the Islamic targeting and murder of Christian groups and individuals overseas. There is not a squeak from our government about the appalling crimes being committed against women – their total subjugation in the Muslim world; their stoning to death for any perceived or invented transgression; their sexual mutilation to be forced to conform to Muslim practices.

We are exhibiting no concern that the US’s apparently rogue president has now manoeuvred a more than dubious deal with Iran – without even the minimum quid pro quo of insisting Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist. This, when the fact that Iran has been close to facing economic collapse, means the potential to achieve a far better result has been squandered. It has been left to the Arab nations themselves to express their concern about what they see as a weak American president whose problem in fact may not be weakness at all – but a dubious personal agenda, and a determination to get his own way….cost what it may.

In short, New Zealand is failing to publicly protest on a number of issues where not to do so can be argued as morally derelict – as is the case with China’s repression and even torture of dissidents – increasingly so, even – and, in the case of  Raif Badawi – shockingly and inhumanely sentenced to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for risking his life and freedom for questioning disturbing aspects of life in Saudi Arabia – including the domination and oppressive role of religion.

NZers are on the whole very decent people, and most would prefer to see this country’s politicians publicly raise concern over issues such as these. What have they got to lose? It would be hard to see the media dissent – e.g. about the arrest and persecution of fellow reporters overseas.

It is rather late, too, for an American expert on China itself to be having a rethink. A recent article by David Shambaugh confesses to his now having second thoughts about what he has argued for years – that China is reforming to become “a responsible stakeholder”. Heaven protect us from those experts who belatedly come to the realisation of what commonsense has long brought home to the people of a country – and in this case it is that Communist China cannot be trusted…and never could. That the Chinese practice of keeping friends close, but enemies even closer has served it well – that, faced with the lack of understanding, the ignorance, the self-serving thinking, or even the simple stupidity of our politicians. Shambaugh is now expressing concern that China isn’t joining the rest of the world, but turning into a predator.

There is no question of “turning into”- as his epiphany suggests. China’s Communist politburo has long regarded the West as its enemy. But will his belated acknowledgement that President Xi Jinping is a despot cause our own government to dampen down its excessive enthusiasm for deals between our two countries? After all, if our National Party government shows no interest in admitting that “Xi’s regime has stopped almost every experiment with better governance”, and that China’s multimillionaires are fleeing the country, then it is answerable to New Zealanders for its lack of oversight in allowing the buying up of so much of this country by Communist Chinese investors. The Americans, for example, are critical of Britain’s agreement to join a bank set up by China to fund Asian developments, as “they see this correctly as a means to protect Chinese power without the tiresome scruples of existing institutions” – and have persuaded Japan, Australia and South Korea to stay out.

What New Zealanders basically want to know is what is happening in this part of the world. The realisation has belatedly come that financial capitalism has now superseded Adam Smith’s concept of the free exchange of goods and services operating in a moral environment.

Financial capitalism basically involves corporations and individuals making money out of making money – basically what John Key did as a currency trader. It produces no basic goods or services. It appears to operate very much in the kind of moral vacuum which profits, for example by on-selling debts which others cannot pay, and in contriving extraordinarily complicated financial arrangements almost beyond comprehension by the public at large – but hugely profiting those who deal in the manipulation of money. However, it brought about the 2008 collapse, which had the Queen herself asking why the economists had not seen this coming.

We can repeat her question, charging it to our politicians. Why have they not foreseen the inevitable consequences of a policy of lending to institutions, individuals or countries – as China is doing in the Pacific with its multi-million-dollar loans to small Pacific countries which have no hope of repaying them? What is China’s agenda in so doing?

Our government is also apparently not keen to look squarely at the problem of far wealthier overseas investors in foreign owned companies making bigger profits as the economy grows, and helping to push up the current account deficit, reportedly from $175 million to $2.6 billion for the December quarter. Imports grew faster than exports, and Finance Minister Bill English appears, as ever, to obligingly act as his master’s voice, deflecting criticism of the fact that the deficit is expected to worsen this year with overseas companies earning more from their investments in this country than New Zealanders are earning from the overseas investments.

Most New Zealanders have no problem appreciating what this government avoids acknowledging, that selling off our assets to foreign-owned companies which pay virtually no tax in this country, but take their profits offshore, reduces the amount of taxation available in this country to pay for essential goods and services. No need to guess who will make up the shortfall. It certainly won’t be very wealthy New Zealanders, able, as John Key has acknowledged, to structure their financial affairs to minimise their payable tax.

What has been very much brought home to New Zealanders is that this National-led government does not represent the interests of the country at large. The Northland by-election has shown the rest of the country the way. But what we still have to take on board is the fact that the routine exchanging of one political party for another – simply to eventually throw each out in turn as the excesses and arrogance become too great for the country to stomach – is not enough. And it certainly does not ensure that New Zealanders have any genuine say in the decision-making that is imposed on us.

What we urgently need is a reconfiguration of our political system… so that it is New Zealanders themselves – as in the case of Switzerland, the most successful and democratic country in the world – who have the final say on all parliamentary legislation – and on all issues affecting the well-being of the country.

We need the initiative of the 100Days – Claiming back New Zealand movement – and we need the information about its very real potential as an apolitical, grass-roots movement to be passed right around this country.

And we need heartland New Zealanders on board to help – and to pass this on.

Will you? See www.100days.co.nz to come aboard and support us to claim back our country!

Amy Brooke – Convener –The 100 days – Claiming Back New Zealand