Ethnicity 'not a factor' in Crafar farm opposition

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 14:26 19/03/2012

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New Zealanders are still deeply opposed to the sale of the Crafar dairy farms to foreigners despite hearing months of debate from both sides of the argument, a new survey shows.

A survey by pollsters UMR shows 70 per cent of Kiwis opposed the sale of the nearly 8000 hectare farming estate to overseas investors - regardless of nationality.

Commissioned by the Crafar Farms Purchase Group, led by Sir Michael Fay, the poll of 750 people was carried out before the Labour Party revealed its revamped overseas investment policy on March 11.

The group, comprising North Island farmers and iwi, wants to buy the Crafar farms and divide them between themselves, but its $171.5 million bid has been rejected as too cheap by receivers KordaMentha, whose preferred bidder is Chinese company Shangahi Pengxin, understood to be offering $210 million.

Group spokesman Alan McDonald said almost 90 per cent of those polled were aware of the Crafar farms sale and 70 per cent did not want a sale to foreigners.

"That number was virtually unchanged when those polled were asked if they opposed selling the farms to a Chinese company," McDonald said.

The response is similar to that in October, when the group commissioned UMR to do a poll.

Pengxin was given the Government green light in January to buy the 16 farms on the recommendation  of the Overseas Investment Office, but a judicial review challenge by the Fay group lead to a High Court order last month for the office and Government ministers to review aspects of their decision, effectively turning the consent on its head.

The office and the Government has yet to report their new decisions. 

THE QUESTIONS:

Respondents were asked:

"Are you aware of the proposal to sell 16 agricultural properties, the Crafar farms, in the central North Island to an overseas company?

Yes: 87 per cent
No: 12 per cent
Unsure: 1 per cent

"The Chinese company Shanghai Pengxin wants to buy the Crafar farms; do you support or oppose selling the farms to this Chinese company?"

Support: 21 per cent
Oppose:71 per cent
Unsure: 8 per cent

"Do you agree, or disagree, with this statement: 'I don't care what the nationality of the company is,
I don't want the farms to be sold to a foreign buyer'."

Agree:  70 per cent
Disagree:  26 per cent
Unsure: 4 per cent

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- Waikato Times

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