Less than a month has passed since Transparency International rated New Zealand first equal in its global Corruption Perceptions Index, yet our national news has since been featuring stories about questionable donations involving two of our major political parties.
Leading journalists are chipping away at stories concerning the National Party and the New Zealand First Foundation. Most recently we've learned that Serious Fraud Office charges against four people relate to two $100,000 donations paid into National Party coffers after being split into amounts just small enough to escape the requirement for donors to be disclosed in party records.
As for the murky affairs of the fundraising NZ First Foundation, we have learned that one of its two trustees has been a paid lobbyist for a property development company that, together with associated business entities, donated $55,000 to the foundation in four amounts.
As with the National Party case now before the courts, all four amounts fell below the public disclosure threshold.
The Electoral Commission has said it believes the NZ First Foundation donations should have been treated as NZ First party donations. That's also being investigated by the SFO.
Transparency's NZ chair, Suzanne Snively, said we should celebrate our world-leading ranking because it benefits New Zealanders as a whole by endorsing our values of integrity and fairness, especially in international trade.
Let's hope the SFO and our impartial justice system help ensure we retain the world's appreciation of those values and that local electorate fundraisers and donors follow the rules.
Greens our best hope
As the country turns its attention to health and education for the election, the article "Wait time for cancer-vetting costing lives — Māori Party" (on allowing a lower age bracket for Māori and Pacific groups) is timely.
However, it takes a bit of cognitive dissonance to blame solely "this Government". The Māori Party propped up not one, not two, but three National-led governments. The National/Act/Māori Party coalition allowed health spending to fall from a 6.28 per cent increase of real per capita expenditure under the previous Labour coalition to a decrease of 1.25 per cent (according to Victoria's NZ Institute of Economic Research).
Government income to help fund health care in the form of income tax saw a windfall of 15 per cent for top earners ... one of the lowest top brackets in the OECD. Those who could afford to pay the most made out like bandits while their coalitions stuck it to the poor and middle class with an increase on the flat tax, GST. While wait time for cancer-vetting was not even an issue, they sold state housing by the truckload and let child poverty skyrocket.
Although an improvement over National, the Labour-led coalition could do more in health and all sectors from state housing to education. Only an increased presence of the Green Party can kick-start the fight against rising inequality in health, education, and wages. Indeed, their policies are not just the only real hope against catastrophic climate change, but they are economically more Labour than Labour. While NZ First has its foot on the brakes, the Greens have been trying to accelerate.
As Green co-leader Marama Davidson recently said, "Climate change, environmental degradation and social inequality are deliberately perpetuated to benefit a few at the expense of the many, and at the cost of our planet ... when schools and training places and healthcare providers and justice systems honour who people are and provide what people need when they need it — then communities and families are healthier, safer and stronger for everyone.'"
Hawkesby and Concert FM
Satire: "The employment ... of sarcasm, irony, ridicule etc in denouncing, exposing or deriding vice, folly, abuses, or evils of any kind.
The "vice, folly, abuses or evils" of a speedy preservation of Concert FM?
This member of the "cardigan elite" is baffled at the choice of target, and at the language used.
Joe Bennett got it right (Dominion, February 12). Kate Hawkesby (Chronicle, February 14) could learn a thing or two from him. And now I can skip her articles.
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