Jo Moir has uncovered another $30 million we’re paying for Winston’s dowry:
New Zealand First’s loyalty to the racing industry has galloped beyond tax breaks for good-looking race horses to include several all-weather race tracks for the industry.
Racing Minister Winston Peters secured a tax change in the Budget this year to allow new investors to claim deductions for the cost of horses based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.
It’s now been revealed $30 million of contingency funding in the Provincial Growth Fund has been earmarked for the coalition government pet projects and the racing industry is set to benefit. . .
National’s economic development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said his party supports the racing industry but the lines are blurred when a project gets the green light simply because a coalition partner likes the sound of it.
“They should be able to make their case clear, and open and rigourous, and if it stacks up, it stacks up.
“The problem that we’ve got here is that the whole system is opaque and murky so it’s hard to disentangle the arguments, and in that area they’re not even making an argument, they’re just saying we’re going to do it,” Mr Goldsmith said.
Mr Goldsmith described the provincial growth fund criteria as being “as loose and as billowing as the deep blue sea”.
“Well what we’ve seen is that it’s an all-purpose political slush fund and you can fit anything into it,” he said. . .
The Taxpayers’ Union says this horse barrel politics sets a new low:
. . .“This sets a new low for coalition back room deals, clearly designed to benefit an industry with known links to NZ First, with the tab picked up by hard working taxpayers – most of whom don’t own race horses,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union.
“I think we could call it the worst of ‘horse-barrel politics’. The barrel is so large even race tracks fit into it.”
“And why are we finding this out only now? Why isn’t Winston’s Dowry open to the public? Was this part of the coalition agreement’s missing five pages? It’s almost as if the Government doesn’t want the public to be able to judge how much it cost to get Mr Peters’ support.”
A friend who has a share in a race horse got a letter before the election asking him to contribute to a donation that had been made to NZ First because, as the advertisement placed by the Hogan’s said, :
To all those eligible to vote – breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys, administrators, punters and the many businesses that are financially supported by the industry – this is an enormous opportunity to support New Zealand First’s initiative to have 100 per cent what we’ve been asking for.
Post-election horse trading is one of the expensive downsides of MMP.
Pre-election policies and promises to the public come a very distant second to the demands a party holding the balance of power can make during coalition negotiations.
There’s no chance that negotiations will be public but coalition agreements could and should be.
If we’re paying the price of government we have a right to know the cost and to have some light shone on the links between party funders and government policy.