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Anderton's Job Machine Ducks Scrutiny

Anderton's Job Machine Ducks Parliamentary Scrutiny

Wednesday 14 Apr 2004 Rodney Hide Press Releases -- Economy (

ACT New Zealand Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide today labelled Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton a disgrace for trying to duck Parliamentary scrutiny for his Visitor Investor Programme.

"Taxpayers have a right to know just how Mr Anderton is spending their money - even if it is embarrassing for him," Mr Hide said.

"Last December, Mr Anderton admitted in reply to a Written Question that he had spent $296,144 paying for prospective investors to visit New Zealand (PQ 12339). When I asked who the investors were, what investments they had made, and what they had cost, he replied that the necessary information was being assembled (PQ 13277).

"When Parliament resumed in February this year, I asked when his answer would be forthcoming. Mr Anderton replied, the answer `has been delayed due to difficulties in accessing data in the financial systems involved, and the cross-checking of data' (PQ 426). He stated that I could expect an answer by 27 February.

"I still hadn't had a reply by the end of March. I asked again. This time Mr Anderton answered that a reply could be expected by 19 April and that, `The delay in response is due to it taking longer than expected to clarify the legal and commercial implications of releasing detailed information about visiting investors'.

"Written Questions are supposed to be answered in five working days. For a simple question it took New Zealand Trade and Enterprise two months to `assemble the data'. They then had trouble accessing the financial systems involved and spent a month `cross-checking the data'. They have then spent a month clarifying the `legal and commercial implications' of answering just how they have spent the money. And this is the Department that Mr Anderton has trying to help business.

"Mr Anderton's Visitor Investor Programme hit controversy when it was revealed that $20,000 had been spent hosting Brunswick New Technologies chief executive Dr George Buckley. Mr Anderton at the time said the $20,000 spent on Dr Buckley's trip was a good investment but Dr Buckley said that ACT's policy of less tax would be better. `In the long run, I'd be more inclined to be attracted by low corporation taxes than by grants', he said.

"Industry NZ boss Ross Campbell declared Dr Buckley's trip a `bit of a bugger's muddle'. That was a trip that Mr Anderton was keen to publicise and claim the credit for. It will be interesting to find out the details of the trips that Mr Anderton doesn't want us to know about," Mr Hide said.

Parliamentary Written Questions:

12339 (2003). Rodney Hide to the Minister for Economic Development (2 December 2003): Has Investment New Zealand ever paid taxpayers' money to fly in investors to New Zealand; if so, on what dates, for what purpose and what was the cost?

Hon Jim Anderton (Minister for Economic Development) replied: Investment NZ operates a Visiting Investor Programme. Under this, Investment NZ can assist with the expenses of prospective investors coming to New Zealand as part of its investment promotion activities. For the year ended 30 June 2003, the total cost of this programme was $NZ296,144 (GST inc). For the year to date since 01 July, the expenditure is $NZ11,181.83.

13277 (2003). Rodney Hide to the Minister for Economic Development (12 December 2003): Following his reply to question for written answer No 12339 (2003), who were the prospective investors who have been assisted with their expenses, what investments, if any, did they make, and what was the cost of the assistance provided to each of them?

Hon Jim Anderton (Minister for Economic Development) replied: The information requested is being assembled by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and will be made available to the member as soon as possible.

426 (2004). Rodney Hide to the Minister for Economic Development (10 February 2004): Further to question for written answer number 13277 (2003), when is a reply to be expected?

Hon Jim Anderton (Minister for Economic Development) replied: I have been advised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise that the answer to question for written answer no. 13277 (2003) has been delayed due to difficulties in accessing data in the financial systems involved, and the cross-checking of data. Those difficulties have now been resolved. You can expect a reply to the question for written answer no. 13277 by Friday 27 February 2004.

3808 (2004). Rodney Hide to the Minister for Economic Development (26 March 2004): Further to the replies to written questions Nos 00426 (2004) and 13277 (2003), when will the reply, promised to be provided by 27 February, be provided?

Hon Jim Anderton (Minister for Economic Development) replied: The reply will be provided by Monday 19 April 2004. The delay in response is due to it taking longer than expected to clarify the legal and commerical implications of releasing detailed information about visiting investors.

ENDS

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