Chinese 'not biggest' land buyers
Activist Murray Horton has spent more than four decades protesting the effects of foreign ownership in New Zealand, but he remains optimistic about the future of the country.
The co-ordinator of the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) spoke to an audience of about 40 people in Timaru on Tuesday night.
"Politics has become increasingly personalised, so it's our job to focus on things other than whether an MP wears a $2000 jacket. Our job is to keep the bastards honest."
Horton said the organisation's focus was not on immigration, but on the impact of trans-national corporations.
"There is a lot of media attention on Chinese ownership of New Zealand companies and land, but the biggest foreign owners (of New Zealand interests) are far and away Australian and European," he said.
His latest talk deals with issues such as the recent controversies over the partial privitisation of the country's state-owned electricity companies, the lack of oversight of the Government Communications Security Bureau, and the increase in "corporate welfare".
"Our organisation isn't affiliated to any political party, but I would be happy in describing ourselves as left-wing. A party like New Zealand First is more reactionary," he said.
The organisation will soon host its annual "Roger Awards" - named after former finance minister and ACT Party founder Roger Douglas - for the worst-performing trans-national corporation.
This year's nominees include ANZ, Chorus, IAG Insurance, Imperial Tobacco, Rio Tinto, Sky City Casino and Talent2. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Nelson.
"We have a 'people's choice' section: So far, Talent2, which is responsible for the Novapay payroll system, is streets ahead. It's a classic example of a foreign corporation causing utter strife for New Zealanders," Horton said.
"If we must have foreign corporations operating in New Zealand, then there needs to be many more hoops for them to jump through before being allowed into the country and once in, much, much tougher rules and controls to govern their operations here."
Horton became involved with CAFCA in 1974 and has been its organiser since 1991. Although he said the "creeping corporatisation" of the public service and erosion of workers' rights upset him, he remained optimistic.
"New Zealand still has a strong sense of community spirit, as we discovered in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. Even the prime minister says he doesn't want us to be tenants in our own country. From the country becoming nuclear-free to smoke-free legislation, history has shown as long as there's a will, there's a way."
- The Timaru Herald