Woolworths Ltd. Chairman Slams New Zealand’s Ease with Slipping into Anti-Australian Rhetoric

kiwis hate

Google search also reflects New Zealand’s sentiments

This article may be of interest to you if you’re thinking about emigrating to New Zealand and hoping to be accepted in the country.  If this article demonstrates how New Zealanders regard their closest neighbours (supposed ANZAC spirit included), what chance do migrants and trading partners from further afield stand?

E2NZ.org has always been of the opinion that New Zealand’s campaign to boycott Countdown (a subsidiary of Woolworths Ltd.) owed more to rabble rousing xenophobia than any ‘noble’ idea of protecting Kiwi jobs.

Now the chairman of the Sydney based Woolworth’s chain, Ralph Waters, has castigated New Zealanders for accusing his company of boycotting NZ products, and for alleging that Countdown had demanded unfair retrospective payments from its suppliers.

He told the Herald on Sunday:

“I am concerned about the unnecessary and unworthy impact of this on Countdown and our 3000 New Zealand employees, and I am very disturbed about how quickly it slips into anti-Australian rhetoric. It comes too often in New Zealand … it is unhealthy.

“Three to four months after my wife arrived in New Zealand, she said she couldn’t watch the news at night because it was just so full of belting up Australia. And it comes in waves.”

On the subject of Woolworth’s alleged dumping of Kiwi products from its shelves he said:

Woolworths Australia had bought $310.5 million worth of New Zealand products in the past 12 months, and was in negotiations with a local company for a big new supply contract.

“So that’s a black ban on New Zealand suppliers? We are a $300m customer to New Zealand and are being treated like this.”

Expensive New Zealand

why is new zealand so

According to Google NZ has a reputation for more than just rugby

The company had also been a driving force in helping to bring down food prices. Ralph Waters told The Herald on Sunday:

“New Zealand consumers, and the economy generally, would not have benefited from the deflation in grocery prices over the last several years without us having very robust buying conversations with our suppliers – and especially when the prices for many of these products that New Zealand consumers are paying is more than people elsewhere round the world pay for the same products. You can put that on the record.”

Grocery Code of Conduct
In December 2013 Woolworth’s chief executive Grant O’Brien teamed up with Westfarmers (Coles) to persuade rival offshore supermarket chains to sign up to their “landmark grocery code of conduct with suppliers.”

The code will increase the degree of oversight by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and is intended partly to allay fears of dominance by Coles and Woolworths:

”It’s now time for Aldi, Costco and IGA to join the conversation,” he told shareholders at Woolworths’ annual meeting.

”In terms of the wider competition debate, all stakeholders would be well minded to keep what’s best for customers at the forefront of their minds.”

Aldi, Costco and Metcash have so far shown no inclination to join Woolworths and Coles in signing the code of conduct, which was finalised last week after 14 months of negotiations with the Australian Food and Grocery Council…”

[He said] the code established a clear set of principles around trading relationships between retailers and suppliers, and would provide greater certainty and clarity without adding complexity or cost…” source.

It is not known if a similar code was suggested for New Zealand. Though it is entirely possible that the current backlash against Countdown/Woolworths ltd. in New Zealand was instigated by New Zealand supermarkets fearful that it could established in their country.

What better defence could they have but to attack first, putting Woolworths’ on the back foot against a tide of anti-Australian foment. Anyone want to place a bet on who’s been lobbying Shane Jones to make false accusations under the cover of parliamentary privilege?

Related articles

New Zealand’s Xenophobia Problem – Forbes.com

Kiwi Xenophobia One To Watch Says Think Tank

Not-so-nice New Zealand – The xenophobic reaction to an Algerian asylum seeker is imperilling Kiwis’ reputation for tolerance. Guardian.com

From E2nz.org

You may also like: article tagged Anti-Australian sentiment and Anti-American sentiment.

16 thoughts on “Woolworths Ltd. Chairman Slams New Zealand’s Ease with Slipping into Anti-Australian Rhetoric

    • I think that indiscriminately admitting refugees and giving them handouts is a policy disaster. It is certainly not something about which any country should boast. Australia has about 500,000 Kiwi refugees that the statistics fail to count!

      In New Zealand, 57% of people that arrive as refugees are on a benefit compared to 12% of the general working age population. The rates are similar in North America and Europe. Last year, the handout population of refugees and their offspring rioted in Stockholm despite the Swedes rolling the red carpet for the refugees. Unlike Kiwis, the Swedes are welcoming, yet the handout mobs never seem to have enough.

      The Kiwis have the same flaws that I have seen with the Aussies, but they seem to lack the virtues that the Australians have. I heard that back in 2001 when the Howard government ceased giving handouts to the Kiwi refugees in Australia, planeloads of Kiwis returned home to New Zealand to collect their benefits in New Zealand after losing their Australian-taxpayer provided handouts.

      One thing that always astounds me is how every time John Key meets the Australian Prime Minister, the Kiwi media brings up the issue of what John Key is going to do to help the Kiwis in Australia collect benefits. This illustrates the economic disparity between the two countries better than just about anything else does. It is similar to the Mexican President trying to negotiate better deal for the Mexicans in the US.

      BTW, check out the calibre of immigrants that New Zealand sends to Australia along with the justifications for the poor scores http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10860452. The professor seems to excuse the performance of Kiwis by saying Australians taking his class are equally dumb. Perhaps this is so, but it is also an indictment on the professor.

      Incidentally, I took the practice test and I scored 95 despite never living in Australia. I missed the question about the colours of the Aboriginal flag. Most of the questions are common sense.

      • My comment was in reference to those Kiwis who assume a position of moral superiority to Australians, not on the refugee policy itself. Occasionally a New Zealander will acknowledge the obvious fact that Australia is on the edge of SE Asia and NZ is on the edge of nowhere, but not very often.

        I agree with your comments on the trans Tasman migration agreement, it’s a completely hare-brained idea as we have effectively lost control of immigration. I’ve already commented on my scepticism in regard to the so-called ‘special ANZAC relationship’, Kiwis made the decision 100 years ago stay out of the Australian Federation, they can’t have it both ways.

        “…the Swedes are welcoming,” So far—the rise of Right Wing parties in Sweden and across Europe indicates that not all Europeans support mass immigration.

        • Thanks for clarifying. I always found the immensity of Australian states rather interesting. Texans always boasted about the immense size of their state, yet Queensland or Western Australia is much larger. I agree most Kiwis probably cannot grasp federalism or anything outside barbecue, beer drinking, and rugby.

          Here in Switzerland, a referendum recently took place on mass immigration in which voters narrowly passed a referendum asking the government to renegotiate its immigration treaty with the EU. In 2002, the EU and Switzerland entered into a bilateral agreement in which Switzerland could export to the EU as if it were an EU member in return for giving preferential treatment to EU citizens in terms of immigration. It is similar to the AU/NZ arrangement except that EU-17 citizens have about twelve months to find a job, after which they must go back.

          Switzerland had a net migration of 80,000 last year, which is staggering for a small and relatively populated country. About 21% of the population consists of resident foreigners. Switzerland needs immigrants to do jobs the Swiss will not do along with doing many highly specialised jobs for the huge multinationals. For example, the Swiss company Novartis is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical and 45% of its employees are foreigners. A small country like Switzerland simply does not have enough research talent and it must import some of it.

          Many of the people who supported restricting immigration such as my Swiss wife are not anti immigration. They just want a system like before where an employer had to prove that the need existed to hire a foreigner instead of just offering low wages that a Swiss would not take but a foreigner would happily take. This might sound hard to believe in a country where cashiers at grocery stores in Zurich earn about CHF 52,000 per year or about AU $65,000.

          Under the previous system, if the foreigner lost his job etc, he had to go back. Today, foreigners in Switzerland can collect benefits and 80% of the people in prisons are foreigners.

          Europe needs to adopt a system similar to Australia, New Zealand, Canada where it is tied to labour demands and what people can contribute instead of just importing people from former colonies. My beef with New Zealand immigration is that it misrepresents the country and attracts the wrong sort of people. New Zealand would be more likely to find the right fit of people amongst English soccer hooligans or drunks at an NFL game in the US.

          BTW, the Kiwis were talking about coming up with a scheme to attract rich migrants. Currently, a migrant does not have to pay tax on overseas income for the first four years he is in New Zealand. I availed myself of that when I was there. However, the Kiwis will find a way to stuff it.

          The Swiss allow rich foreigners to live here. They pay a lump sum fee, which amounts to much less than they would pay in tax in their home countries. This gives Switzerland extra tax revenue, it gives the rich foreigner a way to pay tax on a few percent of income as opposed to much higher amounts in their countries. The one caveat is that the person is not allowed to work in Switzerland. Many of these rich foreigners keep the Swiss luxury goods stores and restaurants open. The Kiwis are too parasitic and they would kill the golden gooses. Plus, why would a rich foreigner live in New Zealand when he can live in Switzerland and pay much less tax and be around culture instead of the bogans of New Zealand. Some Swiss are unhappy because a rich foreigner under the lump sum taxation pays less tax than a rich Swiss, but I think people here are pragmatic enough to realise that these rich foreigners bring a lot of money and tax revenue, so it is a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.

          • Interesting discussion, and I hope, not OT.

            My formal education is in business and economic history so I can’t help taking an ‘academic’ interest in NZ’s economic prospects which currently don’t seem very promising. I can remember discussing the subject with Kiwis in Australia when the UK joined Europe and severed the “special trading relationship” ties with NZ, many were pessimistic in regard to the country’s future. Unlike New Zealanders the Swiss and Singaporeans have the advantage of geography with huge adjacent markets and they obviously have the institutions to maximise their opportunities. Australia is probably the southern limit for a significant Asian ‘rich foreigner’ market, it’s unlikely that NZ has much to offer apart from the occasional opportunistic investment.

            I don’t like Switzerland’s chances of re-negotiating the migration agreement with the EU leviathan as free internal migration is one of the organisation’s most cherished policies (and also a neo-liberal fantasy in my opinion). BTW I don’t have any objection to migration, some years ago I was a prospective migrant myself.

            One fact I’ve learned from reading economic history is that forecasts are, very often, completely wrong–100 years ago Argentina was predicted to leave Australia far behind in economic and political development. When I returned to Business school in the 90s Japan was forecast to be the world’s top economy by the 21st century, China wasn’t on the horizon. Of course the Kiwis might discover that their country is the Saudi Arabia of the SW Pacific.

          • You are 100% right RussellW.

            My Kiwi father-in-law was gloating that the Kiwi Dollar was approaching parity with the Australian Dollar. He and many Kiwi “economic experts” seem to think that the rising currency is a sign of New Zealand’s economic resilience and soon to be superiority to Australia.

            In reality, the higher Kiwi Dollar is attributable to higher interest rates relative to the rest of the developed world and the resultant carry trade and search for yield. In addition, a great deal of offshore money from international reinsurers has been pouring into New Zealand to pay for the Christchurch earthquake also helping to drive up the currency.

            New Zealand is doubling down on its failed economic model whereby it restricts property available for development to cause property prices to rise to the shortage and then New Zealand collectively borrows the money from offshore investors due to insufficient domestic savings. At some point, this is going to blow up massively. New Zealand is one foot and mouth scare away from a major recession. A friend of mine with connections in China says that the Chinese are becoming concerned about their overreliance on New Zealand dairy and quality problems, which is why they are looking to source dairy products from other countries.

            I think Australia is similarly doubling down on the property racket with disastrous effects down the line. Australian property prices are insane relative to wages, although not as insanely expensive as New Zealand when one factors the inferior quality and smaller houses in New Zealand.

            Australia is much better than New Zealand, but one concern I have is Australia’s overreliance on exporting raw materials and the little brainpower in Australia along with the limited innovation and low productivity. The 2000s treated Australia well, but this was because of the spillover effects of the boom in China and not so much because Australia innovated or suddenly became more productive. If anything, the China boom concealed some of the structural problems in Australia.

            An Austrian friend of mine who owns a business in Australia remarked that Australia could be a global manufacturing superpower with its vast resources and favourable climate if the settlers had been 22 million Germans, Austrians, Swiss, and Northern Italians. Instead, the politicians seem to think that Australia grows rich by selling houses to each other and riding China’s coattails.

            The same friend who is based in South Africa visited New Zealand in the early 1990s to see if it was a good place to settle and start a business. He visited the largest woodwork manufacturing facility in New Zealand. This facility was smaller than his friend’s woodwork factory showroom in South Africa. This example illustrates that New Zealand’s economy is the size of a flea.

          • It’s not a case of “little brainpower” in Australia compared with other OECD countries but rather inferior management (and the natural resources “curse”) I’m including our current political elite, not just capitalists. The Swiss, Germans and Northern Italians are exceptional industrial performers by international standards.

            In the 1960s the book “The Lucky Country” was published, the author Donald Horne’s thesis was that Australia was run by second rate people and living on its luck and had, so far, been spared the consequences of incompetent management. Characteristically most Australians, who haven’t read the book, misinterpret the meaning of the title to suggest that the nation is somehow “blessed”.

            I agree that sooner or later, Australia’s luck will run out and the country’s people will, like the Greeks, Irish, Portuguese have no choice but to face the prospect of restructuring, hopefully that will result in a critical and pragmatic reappraisal of our economy. What most concerns me is that Australia could follow the NZ scenario of a long slow decline.

            The US, to a considerable extent is also living on its luck, and Chinese bond holders’ money.

          • The issues facing Australia confront most developed countries, especially the USA which is the world’s largest deadbeat living beyond its means. The day of reckoning where the US Dollar ceases to be the world’s reserve currency will hit the USA the hardest, especially with its mass underclass.

            In addition, globalisation is making it harder for many working people in developed countries because it is possible to outsource their jobs to places where labour is cheaper, environment standards non-existent, etc. In the post World War II world, the relative scarcity of labour combined with the activities of unions and the improvement in technology really did help the ordinary person in the First World.

            Certain small countries like Norway, Switzerland, and Singapore can specialise in the “knowledge economy” and maintain high living standards. However, places like the USA, UK, France, Germany, etc will really struggle. Aside from Germany, the other four countries have very lacklustre education systems. The population everywhere has too much of an entitlement mentality and government dependence is rife. Circumstances will impose the changes that politicians and their electorates have resisted for so long.

            I certainly do not see New Zealand and its functionally retarded population an bogan “leaders” capitalising on the “knowledge economy”. The small percentage of the population employed in agriculture are the ones keeping the country afloat and too many of the profits from farming are ending up in hands of the banks because most New Zealand farmers borrowed heavily to buy and/or expand farms.

            I do not see Australia suffering as much as New Zealand, but I think the bad management is a product of poor culture and work ethic that takes more than changes in public policy to remedy. My Swiss friend living on the Gold Coast remarks how much more expensive Australia is than Switzerland especially when factoring quality.

            For example, workers at fast food restaurants near train stations here have little flags on their t-shirt showing they can speak English, German, and French whereas in Australia the literacy level in English is quite low. It does not take a million people to run a Burger King, unlike Australia where the lack of organisation and oversupply of people standing around is obvious. It is the same with construction. The Europeans build houses/apartment buildings like clockwork and you see very little standing idle. In Australia/New Zealand, the construction projects take forever and the quality is very poor.

            One thing that will strongly affect places like the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand is the overreliance on cars and petrol. Living in Switzerland where we do not have a car, I begin to realise how much time and energy a society wastes to accommodate the automobile. Imagine all the infrastructure one has to build in terms of road, pipes, etc to allow people to live in their quarter acre sections with houses built cheaply but made to look initially. Similarly, it is staggering to think how much energy and resources one uses to move a car so someone can drive a half hour to work.

            I am not saying the world will run out of oil or end etc, but the reality is that we have extracted much of the cheap oil. Admittedly, technology and innovation improvements can help us obtain better fuel millage etc or extract more oil, but a society that devotes increasing amount of time and resources towards extracting fuel will be able to devote less to other pursuits. I just think the societies built on a foundation of cheap energy and disposable stuff that one can just throw out and replace are going to struggle more than places where people are less conditioned to waste.

            I know this is a bit off topic, but it is certainly worth discussing.

          • Thanks, Admin you’ve been very tolerant of our discussion, so, some final comments.

            “I do not see Australia suffering as much as New Zealand, but I think the bad management is a product of poor culture and work ethic” Yes, and the underlying causes of the malaise are easy to explain.

            Australia has been lucky so far, I’m concerned that the only way Australians will get the message, is the hard way, like the Spanish,Greeks, Irish and others when the real estate bubble bursts. The social and political consequences of depression are incalculable. Most of those efficient Europeans really had no alternative but to rely on the export of manufactures, Australia, for generation after generation used the surplus from efficient primary exports to run a “sheltered workshop” for manufacturers which was toxic to the development of an innovative industrial culture. Our present conservative government has refused to prop up inefficient manufacturers, which is some progress, however, given its laissez-fare ideology, I’m not confident anything will be achieved in encouraging efficient export industries.

            I’d agree that the prospects for Australia are far more promising than NZ’s, however Argentina is an important lesson in institutional failure, the country has managed to squander its advantages for a century–however, as an Australian I choose to be optimistic.

            I wouldn’t write NZ or Australia off just yet, 50 years ago few, if any observers, would have been optimistic about South Korea’s future prospects or indeed Singapore’s.When I was a child Japan exported mainly cheap manufactures and had a reputation for poor quality products, within two generations the country was exporting very high quality consumer goods and was a formidable international competitor.

  1. From a post on the Boycott Countdown page:

    Boycott Countdown: “Yes they are boycotting NZ products. But feel free to support them you are just making NZ poorer but that’s your choice.”

    Me: “A boycott? Strong term don’t you think. Normally there would be a good reason to boycott a product – political, biological concerns etc. etc. Are you still continuing to propose that there is in fact something more sinister going on here, such as trans-Tasman jealousy?”

    Boycott Countdown: “nah just typical Aussie stupidity and arrogance.”

    Either he’s being sarcastic or this is in fact an anti-Australian hate page?

    • More like an anti-Australian/hate page. Wonder what his beef is with Australia – wouldn’t give him residency because of his age perhaps?

      Last we heard farmers in Australia were battling against drought and additional hardships caused by protecting water resources in the Murray Darling Basin. Supermarkets are doing their bit to support farmers and keep them operational by buying Australian. How one eyed, and incredibly arrogant of New Zealand to see that as some kind of snub against Kiwis. Just reveals how small minded and parochial it can be: good example of why people shouldn’t emigrate there. Too much hate for such a small country.

      • “How one eyed,and incredibly arrogant of New Zealand to see that as some kind of anti-Kiwi snub.”

        Yes, indeed, NZ is not even on the horizon, there are far more serious domestic problems for Australians.

  2. Admin,

    The anti-Australian sentiment in NZ is completely unexpected from an Australian’s point of view, what concerns me is the number of so-called ‘opinion leaders’ who join in the Oz bashing. What have we ever done to NZ? In the long term Kiwis will be the losers.

    • You’re probably right Russel. This is not a good look for New Zealand, scratch the surface and there is so much hate and resentment underneath.

      Things always get a bit mad during an election year, but this time round it is positively insane.

      • Admin,

        A few days ago I was involved in a discussion on “The Conversation” site in regard to the treatment of NZ citizens in Australia and, as usual, someone invoked the “Anzac Spirit”, I referred them to E2NZ, as it’s indicative of what many Kiwis really think about Australia.

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