Westland Milk Products’ sale to Chinese interests is an ironic end to the co-op, which last August was named New Zealand’s 2018 Cooperative Business of the Year.
However, now that Peters’ party is in government it is forced to curb its ‘look-at-us’ xenophobia.
As political commentator Richard Harman says on his website politik.co.nz, “NZ First looks powerless to stop the takeover by Chinese dairy company Yili of the troubled Westland Co-op Dairy Company. They will have to stand back and let the independent Overseas Investment Office decide whether to approve the purchase [of Westland by Yili].”
When Shanghai Maling bought 50% of Silver Fern Farms in 2016 Peters kicked up merry hell, frothing at the mouth about foreign ownership, inciting the usual chorus of anti-Chinese sentiment from certain quarters.
Harman notes Peters’ response to the Westland deal is more... muted: “Peters said Westland shareholders were entitled to sell their assets to ‘who they might’.”