Because he told them so!

Overseas Investment Office says Rupert Murdoch of good character

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 from Annelies McClure, OIO Manager. 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!

CAFCA has documented the OIO’s long history of going to extraordinary lengths to rubberstamp the “good character” of all sorts of dubious characters in control of overseas companies whom it approved.

OIO’s Rupert Murdoch decision is just the latest proof of its role as a ... doormat
And the latest example namely an article by my colleague James Ayers in the forthcoming August issue of Foreign Control Watchdog, which analyses in great detail the OIO’s truly heroic efforts to vouch for the good character of Kim Dotcom, based entirely on the OIO’s own file on the subject. In that case the OIO was overruled by one Cabinet Minister (the since retired Simon Power), who persuaded his colleague Maurice Williamson to reverse his previous approval of Dotcom’s application.

It was a hopeful sign that the OIO, backed by Ministers, turned down the original bid by Natural Dairy (fronted by May Wang) to buy the Crafar Farms, because it wasn’t satisfied as to the good character of the people involved. CAFCA is also very pleased that the OIO has, very belatedly, taken our advice and is taking court action to divest May Wang’s company UBNZ of the four Crafar Farms that it bought without OIO permission in 2010. But this is the only case we’ve ever seen where the OIO has actually declared prospective foreign investors to not be of good character and therefore ineligible to join the garage sale that passes for foreign investment policy in this country.

The OIO’s Rupert Murdoch decision is just the latest proof of its role as a doorman (actually a doormat would be more accurate) for the transnational corporations and overseas individuals inexorably buying up, and profiting from, New Zealand companies and land. What we need is a bouncer. And, more fundamentally, we need a foreign investment law with teeth, one that states that these people are guests in our home and are here on our terms, a law that needs to be backed up by politicians who put the national interest ahead of their starry eyed infatuation with “globalisation and the open economy

CAFCA Media Release 

The Privatisation Agenda

Keep Our Assets <>Public Meeting Christchurch 

Keep Our Assets-Christchurch is a recently formed coalition of political parties, unions and activist groups (the members are listed here), which is campaigning to keep publicly owned assets in public ownership, both at the national and Christchurch level. This public meeting is part of that campaign. The speakers will be:

  • Bill Rosenberg, from Wellington, the Economist and Policy Director for the NZ Council of Trade Unions (CTU). He will be speaking about privatisation and asset sales at the national level
  • Marty Braithwaite, the CTU’s Christchurch spokesperson on earthquake-related matters. He will be speaking about the threat to Christchurch’s publicly owned assets.
  • Sharna Butcher, who organised the July march and rally in Christchurch against asset sales. She will be speaking on behalf of Keep Our Assets-Christchurch.


The Government is brazenly stealing public assets and laughing
in our faces by urging “mum and dad” to buy back a little. 
A person who takes something that doesn’t belong to him is a thief; and a person who tries to sell you something that is not his to sell is a con man. Even more so if he is trying to sell you back a little bit of your own property which he has stolen from you. That really is adding insult to injury. The Government is brazenly stealing public assets, namely five State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) - all sugar coated as “the mixed ownership model”, because it is only stealing 49% of them - and laughing in our faces by urging “mum and dad” to buy back a little bit of this stolen property in the form of shares. Forget Nigerian scams; this is the much worse New Zealand scam.

No matter how much the Government tarts it up; the glaringly obvious fact is that “mum and dad” already own these five SOEs, and all other public assets, because that’s what public ownership is. You don’t need a Harvard MBA to work that out. We have paid for them by our taxes, why should we be expected to pay for them again by buying a few shares in them? That’s simple enough for even a Treasury official or a Cabinet Minister to understand – which is why they’re going to such lengths to disguise that fact. We will be dazzled by 24 carat bullshit to persuade us to “look over there while we pick your pocket”.

In the finest traditions of disaster capitalism the political and Big Business cheerleaders of privatisation are demanding that Christchurch’s Council-owned assets be flogged off to pay for the huge cost of quake recovery and, not coincidentally, to line their pockets. If they’re flogged off, the city will be left without the major income stream generated by these assets and ratepayers will be left to shoulder the disproportionate burden of greatly increased rates. Christchurch provides a very clear warning of the perils of privatisation. Some things are just too big and important to be left to “the market”, and disaster recovery must be a core function of the State. For all EQC’s shortcomings, the situation would be a damned sight more dire without it; imagine if we were entirely at the mercy of the insurance transnational corporations, who are playing hardball and holding the city, and the whole country, to ransom.

Our message is clear. Keep our assets, both those that belong to the people of New Zealand and those which belong to the people of Christchurch!

Strength Through Unity

It is time for the people of Christchurch to stand up and have their voices heard
 United we stand divided we fall. As people continue to suffer in our City & the Government turn their backs and say nothing is wrong.

Checkout the Organisers