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Barnett's "foolish" statement laughable
20 Oct 2018
Chris Leitch

The statement from Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett that "being afraid of where the money comes from [for the Penlink project] to my mind is foolish” is laughable if only it wasn’t so tragic.

Mr Barnett is advocating that Penlink users pay an additional $700 million in tax (because that is what a toll actually is) over and above the actual cost of building the highway.

According to his figures revenue from the toll expected to be levied amounts to an average of $125,000 per day. Over the 25 year life of the BOOT (Build, Own, Operate & Transfer) that amounts to $1.1 billion for a project costing $400 million to build.

Finance for the Chinese consortium offering to build and operate the project will be provided through one of the six Chinese Development Banks by the Central Bank of China.

Why is Mr Barnett proposing to use the Chinese Central Bank to fund the project when New Zealand’s central bank could just as easily provide that finance?

It could do so with minimal interest, saving commuters around $500 million dollars – profit the Chinese financiers will ship off overseas, adding to our overseas debt.

Mr Barnett is one of a number of business and political leaders who, through either ignorance, naivety or stupidity, are being seduced by China’s ready supply of money into believing there is mutual benefit in its involvement in New  Zealand’s economy.

The list includes many former National and Labour Party high flyers.

Ruth Richardson and Chris Tremain are directors of Bank of China in New Zealand; Don Brash chairs the Industrial Bank of China in New  Zealand; and former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley chairs the New  Zealand subsidiary of the China Construction Bank.

Sir Bob Harvey fronts the One Belt One Road Promotional Council, and Sir Bob Parker chairs the Hauxin Group, a partnership for the Christchurch rebuild, and is CEO of Huadu International NZ.

Is it their business expertise or their ability to open doors that has made them attractive?

Let’s be clear, overseas investors are interested in only one thing – profit.

Mr Barnett’s last word on Penlink was “In our opinion, it could/should start tomorrow.” Yes it could – financed by our own bank – the Reserve Bank.


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