The Sunday Star Times was excited by the 100 emails Prime Minister John Key received from people opposed to the sale of the Crafar Farms to Shanghai Pengxin, calling it a heartland backlash.
One farmer said he had been a National supporter for 45 years but the agreement to sell the farms to Chinese interests ahead of New Zealanders was the “final nail in the coffin”.
Key received more than 100 emails or letters opposed to the sale, most within days of the announcement of the deal with Shanghai Pengxin.
“For many years I have voted for National and I believe in the philosophies. I am utterly disappointed at the decision to sell the farms to a foreign buyer … 2011 will be the last time I vote for National,” one said.
Another wrote: “We have always supported you, and National, but we aren’t with you on this. We have to let you know how strongly we feel about this.”
One wonders how much these people understand about the National Party’s philosophy and principles because there is nothing there that would restrict the freedom of people to sell their own land to the highest bidder nor is there anything that would support xenophobia.
Regardless of that, 100 emails isn’t many on a hot-button issue.
“Pretty much on any issue in New Zealand I’ll get 100 emails, and sometimes I get 10,000 emails if it’s a significant issue. So there’s a mixture of views, no doubt about that,” he told TV One’s Breakfast show.
Mr Key said the Crafar farms sale was not the main issue farmers raised with him.
“Certainly I’ve been around a lot of rural events – the Waimumu Field Days, the Golden Shears on Saturday night – and that’s not really the issue they’re coming up and talking about,” he said.
“Some farmers come up to me and say `Look, I own the farm, it’s my property right and I should be able to sell it to whoever I like.’ Others say they don’t want the farmland going overseas. There’s definitely a range of views but I don’t see it hurting National support.”
People who change allegiance on a single issue aren’t strong supporters to start with, and any farmers who think they’re not happy with National only need to look at yesterday’s debate on changes to pastoral lease rentals to see how much worse off they’d be with a Labour-led government:
The Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill will replace the land valuation basis for setting rents on pastoral leases (on mainly high country farms) with a system based on the income earning potential of the farm land.
Labour MP Raymond Huo said his party was opposing the bill because it was subsidising some high country farmers and did not reflect the real worth of the Crown owned land.
Agriculture Minister David Carter accused Labour of the politics of jealousy and envy and said their policies in Government had shown a “lack of care for the most fragile farming environment’’ in the country.
He said former prime minister Helen Clark had attempted to “drive’’ the farmers off the land and turn it into part of the conservation estate.
The Government now wanted to allow farmers to pay a rent based on the income they could take off the land while maintaining it for future generations. The Crown, he said, had proven to be a poor caretaker of the high country land.
The loss of tussock at the top of the Lindis Pass is a sad reminder of what happens when the Crown tries to replace the high country farmers who have looked after pastoral lease land for generations.
Another example of how poorly Labour understands farming was last year’s beat-up on how much tax they pay.
. . . Labour who will tax the sale on their farm at 15% who along with the Greens will make them pay for their pollution and treat them as the rich pricks they deserve to be treated as? NZ First…hehe…..
The small number of farmers who have their noses in a knot over the farm sales are shooting the wrong target.
I have nothing against the sale of the farms to foreigners but those who do should be directing the ire at the receivers who insisted on selling the farms as a job lot rather than individually. That would have opened up a far larger number of would-be buyers and made it much easier for locals to make realistic offers.