Who else would they vote for?

07/03/2012

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.

As Cactus Kate asks, if farmers aren’t going to vote for National, who would they support?

. . .  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.


Labour’s stance on pastoral leases will force more into freeholding

17/02/2011

If there was a single group which had more reason than most to be delighted when Labour was defeated in 2008 it was pastoral leaseholders.

Families who had loved and looked after the South Island high country for generations had their livelihoods and their property rights threatened when the then-government tried to rewrite the rules on their rents.

It was expensive not only in financially but emotionally too.

When pastoral leases were set up,  legislation established that rents were based on land exclusive of improvements. That meant the land was the Crown’s but all improvements – including soil fertility, pasture, fences and buildings were the property of the leaseholder.

Then Labour decided to add the amenity values to the equation. Land which happened to be close to a lake, river or have a good view was suddenly deemed to be worth more and the rent was based on that even though that figure was often many times higher than the property’s earning capacity.

To make it worse the main reason amenity values were so high was they were based on the ridiculous prices, well above market norms, that Labour had paid to buy high country properties like St James Station.

A test case taken by Minaret Station to the Otago District Land Value Tribunal backed farmers  ruled against the inclusion of  amenity values in rent reviews.

By then National was in power and came up with a much more equitable formula for pastoral rents which was accepted by farmers and Labour, or at least that’s what their agricultural spokesman Damien O’Connor said back in August last year.

It’s not what he’s saying now Crown Pastoral land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill is in the House for its first reading.

But at least he’s saying it without the vitriol which punctuated the speech of his colleague David Parker, who as the then-Minister was responsible for much of the mess which resulted in the test case.

The rural grapevine reckons the seeds which drove Labour’s determination on this issue were planted when Helen Clark’s request to land a helicopter on a high country property to shorten a tramp was declined by the landowner. I don’t know if that is true. But if it is Parker often tramped with her and even if he wasn’t with her on that occasion he’d no doubt have been told the story.

If it’s not true I have no idea what is behind his apparent dislike of farmers.

We were part of a small group of pastoral lessees who met him when he was Minister. He didn’t appear to understand our concerns and made it quite clear he wasn’t prepared to make any concessions.

But I never thought I’d hear an MP say, as he did in Tuesday’s speech:

. . .   what comes around goes around and I will never put up with an argument now from the lessees coming to me and saying ‘please respect my property rights under this lease’ because what comes around goes around and this is a licence for a future government to go in and fix these things up and to change the terms of this lease. . .

That is a threat lessees should take seriously because it means when Labour regains power they will mess with rents again.

The message lessees should take is to do all they can to freehold their property through the tenure review process before that happens.

Spot the irony – Labour’s stance on pastoral leases and the anti-farmer sentiment of its former minister, are going to force lessees into freeholding. It’s the only way they can be sure their property rights are secure.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


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