Report – By Gia Garrick
Only one out of five New Zealanders work for foreign companies and, as foreign ownership increases, the number of jobs decreases for locals, says campaigner Murray Horton.
Horton, national organiser of the Christchurch-based Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA), told a public seminar at AUT University on Friday the government planned to “ram through” the controversial draft Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) this year with a huge impact on the New Zealand economy.
He described the provision of jobs by foreign companies in New Zealand as a myth.
He said the agreement would be of significant benefit to the United States and much less to the New Zealand taxpayer.
Horton said that since deregulation in the 1980s, trans-national corporations had had near free rein in New Zealand – to the detriment of the taxpayer.
“A foreign company, as legally defined in 1993 by the Overseas Investment Act, is one that has more than 24.9 percent ownership,” said Horton.
He told the audience at the Pacific Media Centre-organised seminar they would be surprised how many politicians were not aware of this figure.
He believes Prime Minister John Key is aware, but remains adamant in telling New Zealanders that keeping 51 percent of state assets means maintaining ownership.
Horton demonstrated with official statistics how foreign ownership had increased under a National-led government.
According to statement by Stonefish Communications on behalf of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and New Zealand Climate and Health Council, 270 healthcare professionals have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister warning of a threat to New Zealanders’ health under the TPPA.
Associate professor Papaarangi Reid, head of the Te Kupenga Hauora Māori unit at the University of Auckland, said the government’s negotiations over the TPPA undermined New Zealanders.
“Under the TPPA, passing laws to ban or control harmful substances that limit the profits of foreign investors means New Zealand taxpayers risk being sued for millions,” she said.
Gia Garrick is a final year Bachelor of Communication Studies student journalist at AUT University.