Farmers in New Zealand have always been keen to 'socialise their losses and privatise their profits' - especially back in the days of minimum price subsidies. The latest farmer scheme to extract huge amounts of money from the state is in Tenure Review, whereby farmers essentially swap with the government low-value land for high-value land. The Government throws some money to the farmer as well, and gets to turn the low-value land into conservation land. Ann Brower, a political scientist, has recently exposed this 'obscure but huge transfer of wealth and resources' in the NZ Herald, after spending 'a year digging into the politics and economics' of it all. READ MORE BELOW
Brower says that 'the farmers not only receive land representing millions in development potential, but pocket an average of $186,000 in cash'. So far the tenure review process has completed 20% of the deals, and has cost $15.6m. According to Brower the economists that have determined the values to be paid, and are incidentally employed by the farmers to do so (!), have used the wrong numbers in their calculations, which has meant that the real cost should have been only $110,000.
Why is the Government facilitating such a huge transfer of wealth and resources? Well the Government in it's belief in contracting everything out, has employed private contractors to act on its behalf to make the sale with farmers, and their are under no apparent instruction to get the state a good deal, but just make as many deals as possible - at any price. According to Brower, both Labour and National view tenure review 'is outside politics'.
Therefore property developing farmers are getting a windfall. Some of the best land has been handed over to farmers - including 'the shores of Lakes Wanaka, Pukaki, Tekapo, Hawea, and Wakatpu'. It all suddenly makes Labour's intervention against possible Maori ownership of the foreshore seem rather racist or at least opportunist.