14 Jan 2016

Racism claims in sale of NZ-owned farm

11:45 am on 14 January 2016

A call for political intervention in the New Plymouth council's planned sale of a giant dairy farm in Australia to a Chinese company is drawing complaints of racist undertones.

The Van Diemen's Land Company (VDL) and owns 25 Tasmanian dairy properties.

The company is owned by New Plymouth District Council and run by Taranaki Investment Management Limited (TMIL).

Chinese businessman Lu Xianfeng's company, Moon Lake Investments, has made a $A280 million binding offer to the New Plymouth District Council to buy VDL.

Entrepreneur Jan Cameron - whose former ownership of the Kathmandu retail chain made her Australia's fourth richest woman - plans to underwrite a rival Australian bid.

Ms Cameron is relying on Federal crossbenchers, including independent MP Andrew Wilkie, and senators Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie and John Madigan, to lobby Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison to veto the sale to Moon Lake.

Tasmanian MP Rene Hidding said he was worried racism was underpinning the planned counter-bid.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie rejected the claim.

He said the issue was not keeping VDL out of Chinese hands, but about putting it in Australian hands.

VDL has been foreign owned since it was established on a royal land grant 190 years ago.

The sale is still subject to approval from Canberra's Foreign Investment Review Board whose decision is expected this month.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs