Barry Soper: Can you influence decisions by throwing a bit of cash around?

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Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Doug Sherring
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Doug Sherring

It's the business of politics with business being the operative word.

It's the approach to politics that's come since John Key slipped comfortably into the Italian leather, high-backed executive chair on the ninth floor of the Beehive.

The most classic example of it was his 'pokies for convention centre' deal in Auckland - where building is now well advanced.

Another example is his casual approach to a deal that was done recently in Queenstown. In this example, a Singaporean mother and son were going through the Overseas Investment Office process of buying more than nineteen hectares of sensitive land in neighbouring Arrowtown, where they plan to build a holiday house.

They coughed up a hundred grand to the Wakatipu High School to fund computers and laptops and hey presto, their application was approved.

That's cool, Key says, as they're contributing to the community they're investing in. But really it is more like currying favour with the Investment Office to ensure their approval's granted.

It does raise questions about whether you can influence decisions by throwing a bit of cash around.

But we're told all that's going to change with substantial increases in application fees, probably early next month, which currently range between $10,000-$20,000. Key tells us it'll increase staff at the OIO by around 25 per cent and ensure promises that are made by would-be investors will be kept.

That'll come as some relief to the likes of Labour's Stuart Nash, who's been banging on about a Malaysian forestry company that was given the go-ahead 20 years ago to buy 33 thousand hectares of land near Gisborne on the promise it'd be building a forestry processing facility - and they're still waiting!

READ MORE: Donation to fund school's digital devices clears way for sale of sensitive land

So while the rich seem to have little trouble getting into the country, it's the poor that are of more concern to Labour's Andrew Little who was out in Otara yesterday.

Publicity had been given to seventeen people living in a house there that overflowed into a tent. The media were told to turn up at an address in front of a house that fitted the description.

The occupants came out and told them to move on, claiming their house was being renovated, which was why the tent had been erected.

A confused Andrew Little was lost for words, saying there was a house he was invited to which just happened to be at the same address the media was given, then he was uninvited because the occupants didn't want attention drawn to them.

Oops!

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- NZME.

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