Do New Zealanders want a decent standard of living for all, or do we want to be like Greece?

Perhaps that's too abstract. Even the mantra, "growing gap between rich and poor", so beloved by smug bourgeois on National Radio between four and five each weekday afternoon, has become overused to the point of meaninglessness.

But sweethearts, if the growing poverty classes are to be given incomes, and warm, dry, decent homes, and if (sigh) the rest of us are to be forced to pay for it, then the money has to come from somewhere.

Do we, as a nation, understand that we can't just keep on going down the borrow-and-hope path? I don't think so.


Do we realise borrow-and-hope street leads to a monumental debt for our grandchildren?

The answer to that, from today's NCEA-educated youth, seems to be to stick your iPhone earplugs back in your ears, your sunglasses on your head, suck on your water bottle and shrug, "awesome/whatever".

Right now, the politics of choice seem to be those which would take us back to what David Lange famously called the Polish shipyard.

Take Labour leader David Shearer's new Member's Bill, which would make it harder for foreigners to buy rural land. Only the most wide-eyed ingenue would claim this had absolutely nothing to do with the sale of the so-called Crafar farms to the Chinese-based Shanghai Pengxin. It begs the question: why didn't Labour introduce this when rural land was being sold to Germans, British and Americans?

Perhaps because Labour was in government?

It is difficult to escape the fact this backlash is anti-Asian sentiment by New Zealanders. It's not as if foreign owners can dig up the land and ship it offshore.

Labour wants foreign owners to prove they'll bring substantial benefits to New Zealand that would not otherwise occur if the land was sold to New Zealanders. This raises the bar considerably - how can you prove that in advance?

More seriously for New Zealanders, it potentially lowers the value of all our land. We're not just talking dairy farms here, think of all the vineyards on the market. Few in New Zealand have the millions to buy them, let alone spend on them annually to keep them running (and it's eye-watering). Why shouldn't these Kiwi vendors get the best possible prices for their property?


Why should a bunch of politicians, swayed by the emotional rhetoric of the electorate, dictate what we should accept for our property after we've sweated blood improving its value?

I don't tell every Labour MP who they can or can't sell their houses or farms to - it's none of my business.

We need foreign investment in this country and at present there are only 41 overseas investors asking to buy land, hardly a takeover.

But the same Chicken Littles want to have a referendum over the 49 per cent share float in four energy companies - Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis, and Solid Energy. I might have missed something, but I thought we just had one in November. Despite Labour and the Greens campaigning against the "sale of state assets", as they called it, National won the Treasury benches.

No matter. We now see protesters carrying placards declaring, nonsensically, "no asset sales". I take it these people have never sold their houses, still drive the first car they bought, shun Trade Me as sinful, and have containers full of stuff stored in parks around the city.

If these people are so emotionally attached to four energy companies, then go buy shares in them. At the moment they're not even returning 3 per cent. The Government - taxpayers - will pay more than that to borrow if we don't sell part of them. I bet if you quizzed Kiwis, most wouldn't know which energy companies are SOEs and which are privately owned anyway, so personally I'd privatise the lot, especially on those figures. Ironically, the SOEs have been selling off their own assets for years, including under the recent Labour Government.


But nothing changes. We want to be wealthy, but not if it means sacrificing anything. As Selwyn Toogood used to say, what'll it be New Zealanders, the money or the bag? We'd always take the bag.