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Te Ururoa Flavell Speech: Companies Amendment Bill

Companies Amendment Bill;

Dumping and Countervailing Duties Amendment Bill;

Financial Reporting Amendment Bill;

Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Amendment Bill; and

Insurance Companies Deposits Amendment Bill

Third Reading

Wednesday 15 November 2006; 7.50pm

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

It has never been a better time to be reforming business.

Over this last weekend, while the rain sheeted down, and the wind buffeted tents, 2000 people flooded Otaki racecourse to attend the second Te Arahanga o Nga Iwi National Maori Business Expo.

The crowds were treated to some 97 Maori businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs from throughout Aotearoa, specialising in education, performance art, creative design, fashion, tourism, and other ventures.

Last month, New Zealand’s national indigenous broadcaster, Maori Television, recorded its highest ever ratings with a monthly cumulative audience of more than 580,000 unique viewers tuning into the channel.

It’s a sign of the spectacular business success, the growth of the Maori broadcasting industry, and it also indicates the willing readiness of many New Zealanders to look into the Maori world.

While in my own electorate, we celebrate the success of cultural tourism through Te Puia – which builds on the success of the New Zealand Institute of Maori Arts and Crafts and the Whakarewarewa geothermal park.

Next year, we celebrate forty years since the first intake to the carving school, Te Wananga Whakairo, entered the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in 1967.

It is initiatives such as these, which demonstrate the strength of the contribution Māori are making to the economic, social and cultural fabric of Aotearoa, through Maori business.

Indeed, tangata whenua have an asset base of $9.4 billion with approximately $3.1 billion of this in agriculture, fishing and forestry and $2.4 billion in general business and property assets.

The remaining $4 billion is evenly distributed across all business areas such as mining, manufacturing, wholesale/retail trade, transport, tourism, education, health and cultural services.

Maori Business is Smart Business for Aotearoa.

The Maori Party therefore is delighted to welcome the removal of unnecessary compliance costs and the range of legislative proposals being introduced through the five Bills being read today.

This package of legislation, formerly considered as part of the Business Law Reform bill, is another step in the incremental improvements to ensure consistency with business law and between different legislative requirements.

We support the small but priority improvements that are being applied to business law statutes so that the operation of business can be clear, efficient and effective.

We welcome the changes, such as the workability of the provisions in the 1993 Financial Reporting Act which seem to move toward easier, smoother and lower cost operations.

Changes such as:

Allowing the Registrar time to notify companies that they will have to file their obligations in the passage of the Act;

Strengthening the accountability of the Accounting Standards Review Board in exercising the powers of exemption;

Enabling companies to take advantage of the reduction in compliance costs a year earlier.

These changes will be of significant value for the Māori Economy.

And for those members who are unfamiliar with the wealth of opportunity established in the Maori economy, I have consulted the NZIER report, Te Ohanga Whanaketanga Māori, which said, and I quote:

“The Māori economy can be defined as the assets owned and income earned by Māori – including collectively-owned trusts and incorporations, Māori-owned businesses (e.g. tourism, broadcasting, and the self-employed), service providers (especially in health and education), and the housing owned by Māori.

The wages and salaries earned by Māori workers are also part of this definition.”

In a context where newspaper headlines scream that Maori are facing extinction; it is great to come to this House and celebrate the success of Maori Business.

Yesterday the Minister of Maori Affairs was unable to answer the question as to why the numbers of Māori living in severe hardship have increased 243 percent under his ministry.

And today, the Minister of Education was unable to answer my questions around the fact that Maori students are nearly three times as likely as non-Maori to leave school with little or no formal attainment.

Well tomorrow, I hope those Ministers will find some answers in the entrepreneurship, the visionary enterprise, and the unprecedented achievements reported in the Maori economy.

Every Member of Parliament should appreciate the fact that the Māori economy contributes some $240B in taxes and $650M in exports.

Every Member of Parliament should familiarise themselves with the latest Maori business output figures which reveal that growth between now and 2014 will be highest in transport, utilities, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, cultural and recreational services, and health and education services.

And in the spirit of celebrating our productivity, I want the House to note the significance of the award made today, by the Public Service Association in recognising Honorary Life Membership to Te Arawa Kaumatua Kiwhare Mihaka.

Kiwhare has been a union member in the Council of Trade Unions since 1957 – that’s nearly fifty years of dedicated commitment to Maori, and to the lives of New Zealand workers.

At 4.45pm this afternoon Kiwhare was being presented with his life membership badge at the PSA Congress, and so I think it is only appropriate that we, in this House, recognise the enormous service he has given to this nation.

Finally, when we are thinking of decades of successful contribution to the Maori economy, I want briefly to refer to the Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Amendment Bill.

Some 44 years ago, in 1962, Bill Proctor established a Credit Union for the benefit of Maori living in Pukekohe, becoming the first Maori credit union to become a registered member of the New Zealand Credit Union League.

The Nga Hau e Wha Credit Union was focused on enhancing the wellbeing of Maori within the Pukekohe community. Membership quickly grew to 100, and by March 1964 the Credit Union had savings of £656 in hands; with £781 lent out among 27 people. Within two years, 407 of the loans had been repaid.

The growth of Credit Unions was dramatic and exciting – and for many Maori communities, the opportunity to gain credit through such a means, was unique.

So we welcome the new administrative changes for Credit Unions to now decide their own common bond – their field of membership; and the opportunity for amalgamations and for charities and incorporated societies to become members.

We embrace these new proposals in the way in which Credit Unions will be empowered with appropriate flexibility, as an example in determining their own minimum deposit levels – and being able to undertake such changes as offering new services to their members without requiring ministerial approval.

These are all steps in the right direction, in recognising the autonomy, the independent self-determining journey of the Credit Unions.

Mr Speaker, when one is faced with the range and diversity of proposals as in this Bill –

the Companies Amendment;

Dumping and Countervailing Duties;

Financial Reporting;

Friendly Societies and Credit Unions; and

Insurance Companies Deposits

it is always difficult to confine the debate to specific issues of relevance.

The Maori Party is, however, reassured that the changes are based on suggestions from business law practitioners, enforcement agencies and business community.

And in the spirit of always respecting the authority of the actual communities involved; and in recognition also, of the tremendous achievements of Maori in business, we are delighted to support this suite of five business related Bills at the final reading.


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