Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Turei lashes out at John Key

Green Party's Metiria Turei. Photo / Supplied
Green Party's Metiria Turei. Photo / Supplied

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei today 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 New Zealanders and businesses.

In her keynote address to the Greens' policy conference in Palmerston North Ms Turei contrasted the "astounding" degree of Corporate 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 this 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 having changed labour laws to suit Hollywood studio Warner Brothers 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 currently negotiating a deal with Sky City under which the casino company will spend about $350 million on a new 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 licenses because we know gambling causes harm to the community.

"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.

"The point here is that New Zealand law should not be for sale. One of the fundamental parts of democracy is that law is made by the people for the benefit of the people, not because someone with a big fat cheque waves it as those with the power to make law."

- NZ Herald

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