Chi­nese steel row wake-up call

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS - GOR­DON CAMP­BELL TALK­ING POL­I­TICS

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

WE WEL­COME LET­TERS

To send a let­ter to the

email us at ed­i­tor@kmananews.co.nz or post it to Ground floor, 14 Hartham Place North, Porirua 5022 or PO Box 50012 Porirua 5240

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.

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