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Tamihere Speech The way forward for urban Maori

Tamihere Speech The way forward for urban Maori; Budget 2003

John Tamihere Speech to Plimmerton Rotary, Plimmerton Boating Club, 7pm, embargoed till delivery

You probably heard Finance Minister Michael Cullen say that this year's budget was going to be boring - expect the expected has been Dr Cullen's catchphrase. I wouldn't want to bore you, but there are some things in the budget that are actually quite exciting that I would like to tell you about.

First up, wearing my hat as Associate Minister for Commerce and Small Business, I want to share with you some very interesting things we are doing on the tax front.

Yes, we have a $4 billion surplus, and no, we aren't spending that money on tax cuts. You'll hear the usual hue and cry from ACT and their friends on the other side of the House that we should deliver tax cuts, but there are some very good reasons why we have not.

Given the sluggish state of the world economy, uncertainities affecting both the global and New Zealand environments, SARS, terrorism, slowing of growth from the highs of the last year, it is crucial that we continue to take a prudent approach to fiscal management. This means we are in a strong position to ride out any downturn.

So what are we doing for taxpayers if we aren't giving them tax cuts? I am very pleased that the Budget included some tax measures that will make life a lot easier for small and medium businesses. I'm sure there will be some among you tonight involved in running small to medium sized businesses, and will know what a headache and huge cost and obstacle to business tax compliance can be. You're not the only ones feeling this way - Inland Revenue's own surveying of small businesses, tax agents and industry groups has found that the IRD had the highest impact on businesses through compliance costs.

So we propose to do something about that, and the ideas we plan to put forward for public discussion include: - Aligning provisional tax and GST payment dates and more frequent payment of provisional tax. Both provisional tax and GST would be paid on the 28th of the month. Provisional tax would be aligned with GST due dates - every two months for monthly and two-monthly GST payers, and every six month for six-monthly GST filers. - A 6.7 per cent tax credit incentive to make voluntary payments of provisional tax in the first year of business. This reduces the financial pressure of multiple years' tax becoming due at the same time in a business's second year of trading. - Basing provisional tax liability on a percentage of GST sales. This option would give better match tax payments to businesses' cash flows. - Subsidising the cost of employersusing a payroll firm for their first five employee. - Simplifying the FBT multi-rate calculation, reducing high compliance costs. - Providing greater certainty around employment and residency status - and therefore certainty of tax treatment in respect of such issues.

Inland Revenue also has a range of administrative initiatives, and expansion of electronic access to its services, which will also ease the compliance burden on small business. These measures are all straightforward, commonsense things we can do which will make the day to day compliance issues much easier, and much less expensive, for small and medium businesses. The cost to the government is expected to be about $30 million a year, but the savings to businesses in having fewer, and less time-consuming, dealings with the IRD, having a less complex and more flexible tax system will repay that investment. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time filling out forms, or on the phone to the IRD, businesses can get on with doing business.

Elsewhere in the Budget, in my Youth Affairs portfolio, I am pleased to see a number of measures to help our young people, and particularly young Maori.

Budget initiatives like the extra $225,000 to make sure the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy is effective; $2.6 million over four years to help families affected by suicide; $400,000 over four years to allow Youthline to run its crisis lines seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and $2.55 million over four years to run community projects addressing youth drug and alcohol problems will ensure our young people are safer.

Of course as Associate Maori Affairs Minister I am also focused on what the Budget delivers for Maori.

It really good to see that the $167 million being spent nationwide to provide an extra 774 teachers will enable a teacher-student ratio in kura kaupapa and Maori immersion classes of 1:20, and an extra 155 teachers teaching in te reo Maori. And the $56 million Budget package aimed at making sure all 15-19-year-olds are in education, training or work will be a particular benefit to Maori school leavers _ a disproportionate number of whom leave school without formal qualifications.

That's what the Government is doing for Maori, but what are Maori doing to help themselves? I'd like to tell you about an exciting and historical development in the representation of Maori - the establishment of the National Urban Maori Authority.

According to the last census, more than 70 per cent of Maori live in the main cities and secondary urban centres, while just 16 per cent live in rural centres and rural areas.

Of the 152,000 Maori living in the greater Auckland area, 31,000 are defined as "non-tribal Maori", which means those of Maori descent who did not know their iwi affiliations. Nationwide, 112,000 Maori - more than 18 per cent - are defined as non-tribal.

But from those who simply do not know their tribal background, there are many more who are aware of their tribal affiliations, but their connections with that iwi background have become tenuous in terms of day-to-day reality.

The best estimates are that 70 per cent of Maori no longer live in their main iwi rohe, or traditional area. I know my whanau, hapu and iwi, yet I do not live in the social, cultural, economic or political daily reality of them.

For example, if a Maori whose iwi affiliations are based in Auckland happens to be living in Invercargill, he is likely to find it difficult to get assistance from local iwi, with whom he has no tribal connection, yet would also be likely to experience difficulty in getting assistance from his Auckland-based iwi, because that iwi would probably be using its resources to assist people living in its home area.

The reality is that Maori society has changed from the traditional, iwi-based model, and evidence of that can be seen in the success of pan-tribal initiatives in recent years. Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa are leading examples of programmes that have arisen across tribal boundaries. And I would suggest there is as much reality of "whanau" and sense of belonging in a city-based kapa haka group or touch team as there is between many urban Maori and iwi.

Urban Maori authorities like the Waipareira Trust are the new representatives of urban Maori. They are based where Maori live, they work with Maori in a range of areas such as education, welfare and employment training; they know and can communicate the issues and reality experienced by Maori living in our cities today.

The recent establishment of the National Urban Maori Authority, which unites urban Maori authorities from around the country as a national body representing urban Maori was a historically significant event. It means the national voice of urban Maori will be a voice that accurately reflects their views, their people and their experiences.

They are multi-tribal, and by definition, therefore multicultural. They are progressive and forward-looking. They are proud of their Maoritangi, but will not be separatist because of it.

The presence of this national urban voice will start to become acutely relevant when it comes to the allocation and administration of resources to Maori - for example the Fisheries Settlement Assets allocation model that is currently before this Government. Watch this space.

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