Chinese steel row wake-up call
support for the CBD re-development. Earlier, residents were advised more than 300 submissions had been received in support of rate payers and tenants funding it. Let’s put this in perspective.
After deducting submissions in support from councillors, the Chamber of Commerce, related parties, those with a financial interest, plus out of towners, it’s probably half that number.. Even 300 is a drop in the ocean, compared to the number of residents in Porirua.
Of course, the council didn’t ask the right question - do you want nearly 50 per cent of the projected increase in rates in the next decade, to be used to fund the CBD redevelopment?
In real terms, by 2026, about half your rates will have been used to purchase derelict CBD buildings, flood-prone land, building sites, construct new buildings, security, repairs and maintenance and more.
The only way to keep existing residents and businesses in Porirua, and attract new businesses and residents, is for council to focus on infrastructure and keeping rate increases below inflation.
Leave CBD re-development to the private sector, for their risk and reward. If the private sector aren’t interested, surely that should ring alarmbells for councillors and residents. AndrewWellum (abridged) Camborne
600 HOMES NOT GREAT
It was reported on the front page of the July 19 issue that the development of up to 600 new homes at the old Kenepuru Hospital site ‘‘will be great for Porirua’’. By what measure will it be great, I wonder, and according to whose set of values?
The development may well be great for the incomes of the landowners and for Carrus, all going well. It should be great, too, for the people who can afford to live in the new dwellings. But it’s not so great for the First Five Early Childhood Centre, whose plight happened to be recorded on the same page, or for all the others being evicted to make way for the project.
It won’t be so great, either, when the occupants of 600 new houses add to the frustrations increasingly experienced by motorists on State Highway 1 and commuters who can’t find parking spaces at the railway station. Nelson Bruce Pauatahanui
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Letters must be no more than 250 words long and the editor reserves the right to edit to style, space and for sense. Decades ago, Robert Muldoon claimed that, ‘‘Our foreign policy is trade’’ although – quaintly - we still call our diplomatic hub the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as if these are two different things.
Of late, MFAT has rather prided itself on sustaining a workable diplomatic balance between our fastest growing export market (China) and our closest defence partner (Australia). Moreover, New Zealand has also carved out a niche position in the Pacific between the US and China – without, hopefully, being entirely beholden to either.
Along the way though, New Zealand has also managed to convince itself it is Beijing’s Best Friend in the West. Weren’t we rewarded with the first free trade deal that China signed with a Western country? It had helped that we had virtually no tariff barriers to prevent China from unloading its stuff on our economy. (No wonder they liked the cut of our jib.) However, China stomped our gossamer illusion of friendship right into the dust last week. Reportedly, if we object to their surplus steel being sold here cheaply, they’ll attack our kiwifruit and dairy exports. It has been quite a wakeup call.
Our courtship of the Chinese had gone beyond trade and immigration policy. In Beijing last year, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee claimed that China poised no foreseeable threat to the Asia-Pacific region. Brownlee also called China a ‘‘strategic partner’’ and lavishly praised our Five Year Engagement Plan with the People’s Liberation Army. ‘‘We do not see our defence relationships with the United States and China as mutually exclusive, ‘‘ Brownlee added. Evidently, the Key government regards the Chinese as military allies, as well as partners in trade. The recent Australian Defence White Paper views China very differently.
True, one can query whether China’s actions amount to ‘‘dumping’’ – or are merely a reflection of the competitive advantage China enjoys, thanks to its cheap labour costs and lower environmental standards. ‘‘Dumping’’ is said to occur only when things are sold at below the cost of production.
Thanks to massive state subsidies, China’s steel mills can afford to do so.
The Americans have objected. Recently the US doubled their tariffs on Chinese steel and condemned China’s refusal to cooperate with anti-dumping investigations. Not a promising outlook, should New Zealand try to investigate what China is up to. In the meantime, we’re using dubious quality Chinese steel
‘‘Our courtship of the Chinese had gone beyond trade and immigration policy.’’
within our transport infrastructure, and the Christchurch rebuild.
So far, Prime Minister John Key has downplayed the likelihood of a Chinese response – even declining to confirm, on confidentiality grounds, whether a dumping complaint against China has been laid here. By contrast, the US and EU governments talk freely about steel dumping, and the responses open to them. They also don’t seem to feel the need for more evidence, before acting.
Ultimately, China may show similar disdain for aWTOruling on steel dumping as it has to the International Court of Justice ruling on territorial rights in the South China Sea. So, we can probably afford to skip the niceties. As Henry Kissinger used to say, countries don’t have permanent friends or enemies, only interests. Perhaps we need to defend them more actively.