The sale of the Crafar farms must pose an awful dilemma for Winston Peters.
The leading bid for the 8000 hectares of farmland is $210 million from Shanghai Pengxin, a Chinese company.
Winston has spent most of the last 20 years railing against the Chinese. He has railed against Chinese immigration to New Zealand, he has railed against Chinese investment in New Zealand and despite being the foreign minister, railed against the 2008 free trade agreement with China (despite its having increased our exports to China by $3 billion and reducing our current account and trade deficits).
So clearly Winston would be against Pengxin being given approval to buy the farmland, despite offering the most money.
But look at who else is lined up to buy them. Sir Michael Fay leads a group which is offering $170 million for the farms - $40 million less than Pengxin. If Pengxin is turned down, then Fay will pick the farms up for $40 million less than the market price.
Now if there is one person that Winston Peters hates and rails against even more than the Chinese, it is surely Fay. Peters alleged all sorts of wrongdoings by Fay and Richwhite in the late 80s and early 90s, and this led to the Winebox inquiry.
Peters must dread the thought of Sir Michael picking the farms up cheaply, and selling them off again for a $40 million profit - just as he did with SOE sales in the 80s and early 90s. Even worse, Fay could break up the collection of farms into individual lots and sell them one at a time to foreign interests, as the smaller the size of the sale, the less likely it is to be declined.
So we should know in the next few days who gets to buy the Crafar farms - Shanghai Pengxin or Sir Michael Fay. I suspect that either way, the NZ First leader will not be very happy with the outcome.
What do you think? Should the farms go to the highest bidder or should they go to Sir Michael Fay?
David Farrar is a centre-right blogger affiliated to the National Party. His disclosure statement is here.
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