OPINION

The xenophobes are out in New Zealand First. They are calling the sale of Tip Top to Froneri an "alarming trend". They're calling it that because Froneri is foreign.

So who should have bought Tip Top? What would New Zealand First do about the sale if they could? Which I suppose they can, given they're actually in government. In fact, some say they are the Government.

But that's the trouble with being a headline seeker, isn't it? In Opposition you can say what you like, because no one really holds you to account. But in government it's a whole different ball game.

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New Zealand First said they would slash immigration to a net 10,000 gain per year. That hasn't happened. New Zealand First has a policy of major sports being on free-to-air television. That hasn't happened. And New Zealand First, to be fair to them, have always been up in arms about foreigners buying stuff. But what actually to do about it?

And here's the ultimate irony in the Tip Top sale: it's been owned locally and internationally for years, and it really hasn't made a jot of difference to our ability to buy a Trumpet. And to be honest, no one really knows, nor cares, who owns what.

Also, who did Froneri buy Tip Top from this time around? Fonterra. It's locally owned, and that should have made Winston Peters beam with pride.

Except the reason it's getting sold is because Fonterra has been a mess. It didn't, and couldn't, run the place as well as it should have been run, and so is divesting itself of the responsibility to reduce debt.

So what would Peters rather have? A poorly run company, locally owned? Or a well run company, internationally owned?

Further, I know for a fact there was local interest in Tip Top. Should they have been favoured over any international approach? And what if the local price wasn't as good as Froneri's? Which it clearly wasn't.

We have had this scrap before over farm land. Remember the Crafar farms? A large number of farms for sale, but worth what? There was no local interest, so does that mean they're worth nothing? And we had international interest, which eventually handed over millions.

In a country the size of New Zealand, when it comes to assets the size of the Crafar farms or a Tip Top, you can't limit the buyers' market to a handful of the same old local players, who may or may not be interested. We are an international trading nation with free trade agreements as the cornerstone of our existence and success.

Therefore the world is welcome, or at least should be. There is no alarming trend here. It is business. Less xenophobia, more economic realism.

It was bad enough when New Zealand First barked this crap from Opposition. It's now dangerous given they're actually running the place.