Climate Subsidies Worth $225,000 For Each Tiwai Point Job

Another reason for closing the Tiwai Point smelter, which is what CAFCA has been calling for ever since our foundation 35 years ago.


The Government has announced a new Investment Protocol for Australian investors in NZ, under CER. One of the new provisions is a vastly increased threshold of $477m – up from the present $100m. Anything below this sum will not require any kind of special approval, making a total joke of what is left of the “oversight” regime for foreign investment.

Australia is the biggest country of origin of foreign investors, so it is inevitable that the Government intends this new threshold for Australian investors to become the new benchmark for all others, as part of its further “liberalisation” of the 2005 Overseas Investment Act (which is in danger of being liberalised to death).

That is exactly what happened in 1999, when a CER Investment Protocol saw the threshold increased from $10m to $50m for Australians, and then become the benchmark for all others (Labour increased it again to the present $100m).

So, an increase from $10m to nearly $500m in just ten years represents an increase of the threshold of nearly 5,000%.

CAFCA has done some research to show just what that means in real terms. Below are some examples (all in the hundreds of million of dollars and in vital sectors of the economy) collected from the 2008 records of the Overseas Investment Office, of deals that would no longer require any kind of foreign investment “oversight” scrutiny under this new threshold.

This represents not so much leaving the key under the doormat but taking the door off the hinges and hanging a sign saying “Come on in and help yourselves”.

Murray Horton


Examples of OIO decisions that would no longer require approval under the $477 million threshold.

Elderly Care

Macquarie Bank’s Retirement Care (NZ) acquired Qualcare in February 2008 for $267 million. Qualcare is “one of the largest aged care operators in New Zealand, with 976 rest home and hospital beds, and 462 independent living villas and apartments. Ironbridge has invested A$36 million of equity for 60% of the business.”

Lend Lease Corporation (“one of the leading international property groups listed on the Australian Securities Exchange”) took over Babcock and Brown’s aged care operation, Primelife in December 2008. It manages Primecare retirement facilities in Aotearoa, which have over 1,300 residents.


Origin Energy bought Swift Energy’s assets for $110m in June 2008, including the Tariki, Ahuroa, Waihapa and Ngaere (TAWN) gas fields; the Waihapa production station; the Rimu, Kauri and Manutahi fields; the Rimu production station; and separate oil and gas pipelines from Waihapa production station to New Plymouth. Other assets which Origin acquired from Swift included 50% of two offshore exploration permits PEP 38495 and PEP 381201 south of the Kupe and Rimu — Kauri fields.


Private equity funds managed by CVC Asia Pacific bought 65% of the Stella tourism group for $133m in February 2008 from the failing MFS (Octaviar) group. The Stella Group was an amalgamation of travel operations amassed by the MFS group including for example the Gullivers Travel Group, New Zealand’s largest travel agent.


In March 2008, Ernslaw One owned by the Tiong family of Malaysia acquired Winstone Pulp International for $117m. This included 3,896 hectares of freehold at Waimarino Forest, the Karioi pulp mill, 10,059 hectares of leasehold at Waimarino Forest and the Tangiwai sawmill.


In December 2008, an application by Cheung Kong Infrastructure of Hong Kong to take over New Zealand Steel Mining Limited for $250,000,000 was declined. The mining company controls a leasehold interest in 1392 hectares at Taharoa Road, and 1.2 hectares of freehold land at Tahuri Street and Te Waitere Road, Kawhia, South Auckland. New Zealand Steel Mining Limited operates a titanomagnetite (ironsand) mine.


The Australian-owned banks have been congratulating themselves on what a good recession they’ve been having and how it was all down to their prudence in not getting involved in any exotic financial transactions. Quite right, there’s nothing exotic about good

old fashioned tax dodging, even if it was done via deliberately complicated structured financial transactions. So that’s how they rode out the recession, by not paying nuisance costs such as taxes. Not an option for the rest of us mugs, though.

So far the courts have ruled that two of the Aussie banks (BNZ and Westpac) avoided taxes totaling more than $1.5 billion. The IRD’s cases pending against the ANZ and National Bank, if successful, could push that well over $2 billion. This is theft from the NZ taxpayer on a truly monumental scale, particularly at a time when the Government is cutting back public spending. This huge shortfall in tax could be used for health and education.

NZ taxpayers are the guarantors of the deposits of these banks. Yet we get no say in their running, let alone ownership. Massive tax dodging can be added to the list of recidivist corporate crimes committed by these robber banks who make bank robbers look like rank amateurs. How come we never hear from the Sensible Sentencing Trust about locking up these criminals and throwing away the keys? Where are the judges who sermonise about beneficiaries stealing from the taxpayer?

The taxpayer needs to be directly represented on the boards of each one of these Aussie banks that we’re underwriting with our money. And, if that doesn’t do the trick, nationalise them.

And why is the Government still using Westpac as its bank? As Bill English would say, “it’s not a good look”. Too right, Bill, and you’d know all about that. How about only using a bank that actually pays its taxes, just like everybody else has to?


Monday March 8, 2010 has been set as the opening day for the Wellington District Court jury trial of the Waihopai Domebusters – Sam Land, Adrian Leason and Peter Murnane, the Ploughshares activists who deflated one of the domes at the Waihopai spybase in April 2008.

The trial has been set down for a week (and may last several days longer).

Anti-Bases Campaign urges all our members and supporters, and everyone who believes that the Waihopai spybase should be closed, to come to Wellington to show active solidarity with the Domebusters. It was a Ploughshares action, not an ABC one and we were as surprised by it as the rest of the country, but it was an action that we fully endorse, the perfect example of non-violent direct action.

At this stage we haven’t worked out the details of what we are going to do in Wellington, but we want to get the word out now, and we will release details as they come to hand. Activities will, hopefully, include:

Being spectators at the actual trial, being there in court to support the three of them
Holding a picket outside the Wellington District Court for at least part of the trial
Holding a protest action at the nearby HQ of the NZ Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the top secret agency which runs Waihopai
Holding a public meeting in central Wellington one night of the trial to discuss Waihopai and related issues

These are just some of the ideas that we already have. There are others – we would like to have our excellent Waihopai spybase display in Wellington during the trial, if a venue can be arranged. And there are other worthy targets for pickets, such as the US Embassy.

We need help from Wellingtonians. ABC is a Christchurch group and it is difficult to organise a range of activities like this from long distance. There are a number of things that can best be done by locals. So, if you’re a Wellingtonian who can give us a hand, please reply to this e-mail.

And we urge people from all around the country to join us in Wellington from Monday March 8 to show active solidarity with the Domebusters. What these brave guys did had not only national, but international, significance. This trial could, quite literally, be a once in a lifetime event.

You will have to arrange and finance your own travel and accommodation. Bring appropriate placards and banners. The trial is, of course, on weekdays and during work hours. And it’s worth noting that court hearings can be subject to delays at short notice. But we are proceeding on the basis that the trial has been set to start on Monday March 8.