We were in Paraguay a few days before last election and the campaign came up in discussion with a local.
She listened to some of the policy pledges we described and said, “And you try to tell me there’s no corruption in New Zealand?”
In the past two weeks there have been two examples which would support her query.
Changes include the axing of the 90-day trial period for businesses with 20 or more employees and:
Employers will once again have a duty to conclude collective bargaining unless there is a “good reason” not to.
Prospective employees will be provided with information about unions in the workplace, and employers will have to pay union delegates for time spent reasonably representing other workers.
Collective agreements will be required to include pay rates or ranges for various levels of staff.
Unions will be able to access workplaces without gaining prior consent from an employer, but will still need to come at reasonable times and not unduly interrupt business continuity.
New employees will again be required to be employed under terms consistent with any collective agreement for the first 30 days of their tenure.
This will increase the cost and risk of employing staff which will threaten jobs, and businesses.
Unions make large donations of money and people-power to Labour and this is their reward for which workers and employers will pay the cost.
Then there’s the all-weather racing track.
Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the government’s intention to build the $10m track after several races throughout the country had to be abandoned due to weather.
The track could be in Waikato to boost the region and be closer to some of the breeders, with Mr Peters saying Waikato would be “a good option”. . .
At least two of the race cancellations this summer were in Otago. An all-weather track in the Waikato will be of no use for these courses.
Mr Peters is also promising tax relief for owners who are breeding horses for racing. He says the current legislation, which he delivered last time he was Racing Minister, isn’t working like it should.
Act leader David Seymour points out:
Winston Peters’ promise of tax relief for the racing industry risks creating the perception of US-style corruption”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Mr Peters and NZ First have taken large donations from the racing industry in the past.
“For example, in 2008, the Dominion Post reported that a number of donations totalling at least $150,000 had been made to NZ First from accounts linked to the Vela family.
“This policy risks looking like a quid pro quo for the industry. . .
. . .If tax breaks can make one industry stronger, then they can make any industry stronger.
Government picking winners is a recipe for corruption and injustice. We cannot expect New Zealanders who have not a skerrick of interest in the racing industry to disproportionately pay taxes to advance it.
Tax breaks are not subsidies if they are applied universally. Reduce tax period.
You are a guardian of public money Winston. Not a private investor. . .
There’s no danger of policy which addresses specific problems, treats everyone equally or on the basis of need, and/or helps the whole country being regarded as payback to donors.
But a direct link between donations and the legislation or taxpayer funded projects which reward donors as there is with the unions and Labour’s workplace law changes and past donations to New Zealand First and the assistance to the racing industry, at the very least gives grounds for the perception of corruption.
New Zealand has been at or near the top of global ranking for lack of corruption for years.
That means we’re better than most, and sometimes all, other countries.
It doesn’t mean there’s no corruption at all and it’s links between donations and policies like these which justify our Paraguayan friend’s query.