Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Is being a tax haven worth it?

97 Responses

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  • John Farrell, in reply to simon g,

    The cynics say it's so he doesn't have to evade more questions.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to John Farrell,

    Sure, but that's the #nzqt crowd, who pay attention to what happens in the House. The wider public don't, otherwise they would be appalled at their PM's behaviour. But they never see him.

    However, they do see/hear headlines, like "Key chucked out", featuring on all bulletins tonight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1328 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to nzlemming,

    This government, from the day they got in, have insisted on oral briefings from officials. They never wanted a paper trail.

    I guess that complicates things but it'd still seem like quite a risk for a Minister to claim they hadn't been told something, unless they were certain.

    If I were a public servant who had any contact with political branches of the government, I think I'd perceive a big incentive to keep clear notes and aide-memoires in the organisation's EDRMS about everything that's been communicated, even if it was vocally. Otherwise you risk becoming the scapegoat despite doing your job properly.

    I suppose the Minister can always fall back on the "oops I don't recall that" line, but not recalling stuff you were told also doesn't look that great. That happens a lot. The alternative is to start accusing government agencies of lying about stuff, which usually doesn't look great for any number of other reasons.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to simon g,

    John Key kicked out of Parliament by David Carter.

    Here's the parliamentary coverage -- Key ejected around 5:45 -- not much to see in the leadup apart from Key being his usual odious self.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to izogi,

    If I were a public servant who had any contact with political branches of the government, I think I'd perceive a big incentive to keep clear notes and aide-memoires in the organisation's EDRMS about everything that's been communicated, even if it was vocally. Otherwise you risk becoming the scapegoat despite doing your job properly.

    "You may very well think that. Of course, I couldn't possibly comment" ;-)

    Actually, this was my exact advice to certain of my friends who were reporting to Ministers regularly. Just because they don't want to see paper doesn't mean there shouldn't be paper. I hope they took the advice...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Alfie,

    Honkey J

    Key being his usual odious self.

    I hear Bill English has leapt to Key's defence saying it was a case of Key not seeing Speaker Carter standing up, and one has to assume another case of passing deafness - nothing at all about Key acting like a rabid bully in heat while wilfully ignoring basic facts and human decency.
    Nothing unusual there then...
    sigh.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Matt Nippert has an article in the Herald this morning about 'NZ's links to equator scandal'. It includes the following paragraph -

    'Offshore companies and trusts are routinely used for entirely legal purposes, and Mossack Fonseca maintains that it has always complied with international protocols. A reference to a person or entity in connection with the Panama Papers is not therefore in any way indicative of any wrongdoing or impropriety.'

    Seems very legalistic. Have the gag orders begun?

    Since Sep 2012 • 171 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Seems very legalistic. Have the gag orders begun?

    No, just cuts off avenues for legal threats.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Amanda Wreckonwith,

    Seems very legalistic. Have the gag orders begun?

    The ICIJ database has the same warning.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/79871399/key-thrown-out-of-parliament-over-panama-papers-row

    "No, look it's a statement of fact actually that Greenpeace are in the database - they are a beneficiary, as you can see, of the exodus trust.
    "And I think what it goes to prove actually is that a lot of New Zealanders are having their name dragged across the TV set every night, who are unwittingly implicated simply by going about and doing their things.
    "They have no knowledge of what's happening at all."
    That was the "real danger" of the database.
    "[Greenpeace] are in the database, I'm not making it up. I mean, you go into the database, you type in Greenpeace and they come up.
    "And that's not the only issue, I mean last night we saw a situation where Deborah Pead's name was right across the TV set and she's done absolutely nothing wrong.
    "I mean that's essentially my message to New Zealanders; there's some serious issues for us to consider out of the Panama Papers, the Government takes the issue seriously," he said.
    It was a "tragic sullying" of the names of some people.

    Key does have a special talent for avoiding the obvious - while he thinks it's a crying shame that Deborah Pead is mentioned while doing nothing wrong, he thinks it is fine to implicate Greenpeace even though their name has been used by others as part of scam - ie absolutely no involvement innocent or otherwise - if I understand it correctly.
    Gamesmanship is not governance.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Gamesmanship is not governance.

    Nicely put Ian.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 825 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Well, it's quite possible that the PR business might require money to be shuffled where it can't be seen, although a BVI company with an office in Cyprus seems a bit excessive - an envelope full of twenties or free food for a month would be simpler.

    You cannot hope
    to bribe or twist,
    thank God! the
    Kiwi journalist.
    But, seeing what
    the man will do
    unbribed, there's
    no occasion to

    And, really, I wouldn't put multinational chugging corporations like Greenpeace et al above doing similar stuff to keep their affairs from scrutiny - such as how much they pay their teams of glorified beggars to annoy people on the street.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    how much they pay their teams of glorified beggars to annoy people on the street.

    It was the 'living wage' when my daughter did it - 2 summers ago, I think :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    And, really, I wouldn’t put multinational chugging corporations like Greenpeace et al above doing similar stuff ...

    Although they haven't.

    I don't understand why you would want to try and lend support to the PM's talking point.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Keytruda

    Really expensive, involves suave lobbying on its behalf, benefits a small number of people - yep, fits.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    So I have a question about this. While NZ is clearly operating as a tax haven and that is damaging our reputation worldwide, that can be fixed relatively easily by all accounts. But just what is New Zealand's involvement in the much larger tax havens existing in our Island neighbours?

    We are, quite proudly, a major supporter of the various south pacific island nations. We help them with aid and welcome their people into our nation, especially if they want to pick fruit or play rugby. We provide them with educational support, training their senior civil servants and lawyers and engineers and politicians in our universities. And we have very strong trade links with all of them.

    So if they, as the panama papers show, are acting as tax havens, just how large is the involvement of New Zealand lawyers, law firms etc? Can we really stand back and say gosh look at how naughty they've been but none of that is our fault or responsibility?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Toby Manhire competently sums up Key’s “petulant-sneer” attitude when confronted with questions on the Panama Papers in parliament this week. He has a great quote from Winston Peters who said Key appeared "like a boy who’s had a widdle behind the couch and he’s denying it to mum”.

    Exactly. Key has been acting guiltier by the day as the revelations unfold, suggesting that he may personally have something to hide. After all, you don’t employ a specialist offshore tax lawyer (or non-lawyer) when you don’t have offshore “interests. Do you? Manhire concludes.

    The most damaging part of the Panama Papers storm for the Prime Minister is starting to become his own response to it.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    reputation

    Jeeves: It’s an odd one sir. They managed to quite successfully see their way past the abductions and incarcerations, the death penalty, forced abortions, unenforced labour legislation and the horrendous environmental and human rights records when negotiating their FTA with China. Their waterways are, erm, murky. They are unable to deal with a housing crisis or accommodate their beneficiaries. They export live sheep dead to our friends the Saudis and yet their opposition party does still seem unduly concerned about ‘a bit of reputation’.

    Wooster: ‘a bit of reputation’?

    Jeeves: It would seem that’s the chief consideration sir. Their opposition leader’s argument against the trusts was that these trusts are causing them “further international embarrassment.” It appears that he is voicing these concerns largely on behalf of the exporters.

    Wooster: The exporters?

    Jeeves: Well not all the exporters sir, the…their primary exporters. The exporting rabble know full well that their livelihood largely hinges on them being able to offer a marketable commodity at a competitive price.

    Wooster: Sorry you quite lost me there Jeeves. And these primary exporters?

    Jeeves: Largely the wealthy sir…

    Wooster: Trust funders?

    Jeeves: Like yourself sir, wealthy people who deal exclusively with other wealthy people. And the opposition party appear to believe that this leeway for foreign trusts might put a gentleman such as sir’s good self off purchasing their commodities…

    Wooster: Do we have a New Zealand based trust Jeeves?

    Jeeves: Why of course sir.

    Wooster: Are we in possession of their commodities?

    Jeeze: Certainly, sir’s cellar contains many samples of their finest.

    Wooster: And this opposition party is concerned that their Government’s protection of our God given right to own a trust in this colony may dissuade us from engaging in business with them at the expense of acquiring more wealth to consolidate in our trusts?

    Jeeves: Well yes sir.

    Wooster: But that’s absurd Jeeves. Inconveniencing the moneyed elite by preventing us from holding a trust, and doing so primarily on behalf of other elite to protect a muddied reputation in the name of money?

    Jeeves: Well yes sir, though I do believe that the thrust of the argument may be that ordinary people pay taxes and don’t have trusts, let alone foreign trusts. There does appear to be a consensus among their local commentators that Westminster might prevent Sainsbury’s from purchasing New Zealand lamb unless the New Zealand Government steps in to prevent you from exploiting their trust system and evading our tax system, sir.

    Wooster: But I am a Lord Jeeves! This is the honest toil of a Westminster man, for what benefit would we do such a thing?

    Jeeves: Yes, very good Sir, the proposed limitations do seem geared to appeal primarily to those most unusually ethical nations on the outskirts of the globe. As you quite rightly observe, their approach seems to centre around the damage the trust legislation may do to one’s reputation, at least a perception of one.

    Wooster: Ah yes, perception, it tends to require a certain keenness. Why don’t these appeasers simply label this practice/ system what-have-you as what it is: anti egalitarian, and run with that in a concerted effort to generate a genuine groundswell of support among the underpaid voters in their electorates?

    Jeeves: Cup of tea sir?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to mark taslov,

    <enthusiastic applause> well-written, my good sir, very well written

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to mark taslov,

    Mr Wodehouse would undoubtedly approve. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    Spin Bin has a good summary of the bullshit that has been served up to us since the Panama Papers story broke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

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