Richard Moore: Growing China's competitiveness

By Straight Talk - by Richard Moore

3 comments


It is hard to say which is worse - shortsightedness, or stupidity - but together they are a dangerous blend.

Throw in fiscal desperation and lack of political cojones and we have a situation in New Zealand that will irrevocably destroy one of this nation's only truly competitive industries.

No matter how Prime Minister John Key dresses it up, the sale of the Crafar Farms to Chinese interests is bad business.

Yes Shanghai Pengxin Group paid more money for the properties than local buyers would have and there are, allegedly, tight controls on how they run it.

So, in the short term, things possibly appear acceptable.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Looking longer term, however, there are warning bells and flashing lights that this current Government is ignoring.

New Zealand's dairy exports to China are worth about a $1 billion a year and are quickly rising.

China's wealthy middle class wants milk powders, butter and bulk cheese, as well as ice cream and artisan cheeses.

They want so much they have helped make dairy products New Zealand's biggest export earner.

By selling prime farmland to Chinese interests this Government is allowing a potential rival to not only set up here, but gain expertise and hands-on knowledge of a key industry.

Shanghai Pengxin is unlikely to export much dairy from New Zealand, but that is not the danger.

They will instead set up massive dairy operations in China that will in time not only kill off New Zealand dairy exports there, but eventually swamp other Kiwi markets with cheaper products.

Since the 1970s China has been building its dairy herd. In 1949, there were only 100,000 head, by 1991 this number had jumped to almost three million.

Take dairy cattle herds as an example. The average herd size in New Zealand is about 375 beasts. Since 2000 China has been establishing large farms with herds of up to 10,000 animals.

This country cannot possibly compete with the sheer size of what China will be able to produce.

At the moment expertise is keeping New Zealand at the forefront, but once the Chinese have the knowhow - probably from hiring mercenary local experts - then that advantage will quickly dissipate.

Then it is only a matter of time.

***

Family First does a lot of good as a lobby group fighting to improve the well-being and safety of children in this country.

But there are times when I just want to say to them - "pull your heads in". When we have so much brutality committed against kids, why oh why would they waste their time moaning about naturists on Papamoa Beach?

And it isn't all of Papamoa Beach, it is a teeny tiny spot well away from vehicle access so that to get there you need a compass and good hiking boots.

National boss of Family First, Bob McCoskrie, says the council should outlaw public nudity on the coastline to protect innocent eyes from seeing wrinkly bits.

And he was joined by a resident of Sunbrae Grove who said the nudists were "dirty exhibitionists" who should be arrested.

Look guys, this is sort of a democracy where people are allowed a bit of freedom to carry out legal activities. If you don't want to see naked flesh - don't go to that part of the beach during the event.

There are many people I would like to see banned from beaches.

Those sad men with comb-overs, for example. When they go swimming their side part floats away from their scalps and is a danger to sea life.

And big blubber-gutses in speedos. Keep out of sight guys. You are offensive.

Joining the list are dog owners who don't take plastic bags to the beach as their darling little poo-producer dumps on the sands.

Or parents who allow their children to shake sand from their towels right over the neighbours' sun-screened body or into their carefully prepared lunches.

Now I have no wish to see people without clothes on the beach - unless it's healthy nubiles playing volleyball - and so I'm not going to that stretch of sands. Pretty easy stuff, really.

My goodness, if only McCoskrie and his mob knew that I'm nude while typing this. Tee hee.

richard@richardmoore.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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