In the Fairfax Press today, this story: ‘Food shop protest “racist”’.
From what I can make out from this story, New Plymouth District Councillor Sherril George (her address, telephone number and email are here) has been urging people to boycott a Waitara food outlet run by some folks of Cambodian ethnicity.
This business, Town & Country Foods, says it has employed New Zealanders to get it up and running, some neighbouring businesses say it has brought extra custom to the street (though the Hot Bread Shop has seen its sales dip 50 per cent), yet Councillor George claims that it does not support ‘the local community’.
Most Taranaki residents support the business, which is heartening. One person in the article says Councillor George has a personal vendetta and it’s to do with the extra competition her own food business faces.
My concern is this quote which she provided to John Anthony:
This is nothing to do with my shop. This is to do with the health of our town and the economy. I’m trying to make other small communities aware of what happens when these people move in. There are 14 food stores here in Waitara and one comes in here and kills it for everyone else.
Now, I’m sure she knows that the owner is a gentleman called Hoyt Khuon, so what’s with that third sentence?
Who are ‘these people’?
Would the Councillor care to elaborate? She is, after all, getting called out and being labelled a racist by one person in the article, and I’m sure she’d like to deny that charge.
From what I read in the article, Mr Khuon employed locals to set up his business and is employing locals to work in the business. I only know the story second-hand, but how is this ‘bleeding the town dry’ when it’s a local business, owned locally, and paying taxes locally? It’s not as though the proﬁts are all being siphoned offshore.
If that’s her problem, there are plenty of other businesses she needs to stand outside. Will she monitor the fruit juice aisles at New World and demand that no one buys Just Juice because it is Japanese-owned? Will she stop deliveries of Wattie’s products to Waitara because of its ownership by H. J. Heinz of Pennsylvania? Will she stop giving quotes to the Fairfax Press because it is Australian-owned? There are bigger businesses she needs to take on if she is truly concerned about the health of her ‘town and the economy’.
For years, I’ve been voting with my dollar on how I spend, so the argument about supporting New Zealand businesses resonates with me—and Town & Country appears to be a legitimate New Zealand-registered, tax-paying business.
Unless she provides the Taranaki and, now, the New Zealand public with how Mr Khuon’s business is a front for international ﬁnancial trafﬁc, her arguments appear deeply unconvincing—and only lend weight to the charge of racism that one resident has levelled at her.