Whiff of scandal won’t hurt Key
people and organisations ready to give pithy opinions to counter the city council quotes.
If you want a ‘‘voice of the people’’, here’s a good rule of thumb: the frequent letter-writers ain’t it. Neither are the frequent submitters, the Residents’ Association members, the people with the financial security to have time to do all this and lobby councillors during work hours.
Try asking someone on the street, waiting at the train station, or volunteering for the creche or rugby club. Anyone, in fact, other than those who already dominate airtime. would be $300 less.
But few council costs are linked to the number of residents. Most costs are either fixed, variable per property, relate to business, or other non-population factors.
I can’t think of many council activities for which our costs would rise substantially if we had an extra 0.5 people in each household.
It is hard to see us building any more libraries, pools, museums or parks as a result.
No more stormwater costs, perhaps a bit more on water use and wastewater treatment, but again those costs are largely fixed. should not cost much more than $350.
The cost of $60,000 to buy and $50,000 to maintain for the year would represent approximately 314 trips in the Porirua area, which I’m sure is far more than would be required.
The council should support the local companies, which will probably have mums, dads and granddads working for them. If we are going down this road, why are we using a Lower Hutt-based company?
When they want buses, schools often want two or three. Will the council next look at buying a fleet?
I ama former serviceman who has gone to both services at Titahi Bay RSA for many years.
Nobody from the council and the MP’s office has bothered to attend or message us.
Perhaps Nick has given up on us already.
The localMP lives just yards away, so it is very disappointing. Maybe next year we will ask for John Key.
Luckily for the Government, not many voters lie awake at night worrying about the degree of transparency that should be necessary when foreign trusts register in New Zealand.
Such matters are, of course, of deep concern to tax lawyers and their wealthy clients.
Even so, the political reality is that most New Zealanders don’t spend much time pondering whether they should park their mountain of spare cash in a tax haven in the Cayman Islands, or in one closer to home.
On past performance, the Key government will probably suffer little or no political fallout.
This time the subject is esoteric, and the relevant events occurred at a deniable distance from the Beehive. In essence, it seems Prime Minister John Key’s personal lawyer, Ken Whitney, led a lobbying effort against IRD plans to conduct a review of what details the New Zealand authorities should require when foreign trusts are registered here, and what access conditions should be placed on the information.
The IRD had concerns about whether this country might be used as a tax haven, and what reputational risk this could pose for New Zealand.
Yet in the wake of the lobbying effort, the plans for such a review suddenly disappeared from IRD’s work schedule.
Make of that what you will, one Radio New Zealand media report concluded.
If nothing else, this episode cast fresh doubt on the adequacy of the review of foreign trust rules being conducted by the Government’s chosen tax expert, John Shewan.
From the outset, Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens have called for a wider review headed by a more clearly independent figure, such as a retired judge. Instead, the Government has chosen to continue to rely entirely on Shewan.
By sheer coincidence, the reliability of the country’s checks on foreign investment took a further hammering last week.
For years, the Overseas Investment Office has come under fire for serving, allegedly, as a mere rubber stamp for foreigners buying up New Zealand land and resources.
Last week it emerged that two Argentinian brothers, Rafael and Federico Grozovsky, were granted approval in 2014 to buy some prime New Zealand rural real estate – Onetai Station in north Taranaki – despite having previously been found criminally liable of environmental pollution in Argentina.
Reportedly, the brothers’ tanning factory had carelessly and/or intentionally discharged poisonous chemicals into Argentina’s Lujan river.
Under New Zealand law, the Overseas Investment Office is supposed to ascertain whether foreign buyers are of ‘‘good character’’ and whether their application raises any environmental concerns.
It is not known whether the Grozovskys volunteered details of their criminal record, or whether the Investment Office bothered to investigate them before approving the sale.
It hasn’t helped perceptions of the approval process that the Grozovskys were represented by the now-notorious Mossack Fonseca law firm, based in Panama.
Under fire, the Investment Office has said it would be reviewing its approval of the Onetai Station purchase.
In the past, the Key government has emerged politically unscathed from previous brushes with impropriety and incompetence.
It would seem a risky gambit though, to bank on the public’s indifference, and on its low expectations of politicians.