Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Key aiding big business but ignoring people: Greens

Green co-leader Metiria Turei. Photo / Getty Images
Green co-leader Metiria Turei. Photo / Getty Images

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei yesterday lashed out at Prime Minister John Key and his Government for selling out employment, gambling and ACC law to big corporations at the expense of ordinary people and businesses.

In her keynote address to the Greens' policy conference in Palmerston North, Ms Turei contrasted the "astounding" degree of welfare and largesse extended by Mr Key's Government "with their penny-pinching towards those who need genuine support".

"You can be sure of a Government hand-out if you are a movie studio, a profitable casino or an irrigation company," she said.

"But if you are a sole parent on the DPB trying to get a degree but needing just a little bit of help to cover childcare, like Tania Wysocki who went public with her case [last] week, then don't expect anything."

Ms Turei said plans to open up the ACC to private competition, allow private prisons, allow privately run charter schools to access state funding, and the "carving off" of Work and Income job services to private companies were examples of the Government's approach.

"In all of these areas there is no evidence that these changes will benefit the public but it is very clear that they will benefit the bottom lines of corporations."

Ms Turei said that having changed labour laws to suit Hollywood studio Warner Bros when the production of Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit films in this country was threatened, the Government was now "selling our gambling law to a casino".

The Government is negotiating a deal with SkyCity under which the company will spend $350 million on a national convention centre in Auckland in return for changes to gambling legislation to allow more gaming machines and tables.

"We have regulations around gambling and constraints on casino licences because we know gambling causes harm to the community," Ms Turei said.

"But when a casino offers the Government money to change that law then the Government is abrogating the social contract it has with the community, if it's prepared to sell gambling law to those that have the most money.

"There has been no clearer example of the Government selling the legislature to corporate entities.

"There is no chance that the benefit from jobs created by a convention centre will exceed the damage caused by increasing access to gambling at the casino."

Last week it emerged that as part of its plan to open up ACC to private sector competition, which is being pursued under the terms of its agreement with Act, Mr Key's Government was considering pushing up the state-owned insurer's charges to employers.

"It is bizarre that National and Act are conspiring to increase costs for small and medium-sized New Zealand businesses to enable Australian corporations to compete with ACC," said Ms Turei.

"That is a way of making New Zealanders again pay for the profits and the benefits of large corporations who aren't even based in New Zealand." Laws should be made to benefit the people.

- NZ Herald

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