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Hone Harawira: Taxation Bill Speech

Taxation (international taxation, life insurance and remedial matters) Bill

Hone Harawira; Maori Party Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau

First Reading: Wednesday 6 August 2008

The current situation of making companies earning up to $200,000 have to file PAYE twice a month, sounds like a plan to keep bureaucrats in work, and bury business enthusiasm, beneath piles of pointless paperwork.

So this bill to change things so that companies making up to $250,000 a month will only have to file once a month, is going to come as a nice surprise for many small businesses, likeTe Röpü Pakihi in Horowhenua,Te Kupeka Umaka Maori Ki Araiteuru down south,Manaaki Solutions up in the Bay of Islands, and hundreds of small Maori businesses all over the country.

It’ll also be well received by Maori Business networks likeTe Awe Wellington Maori Business Network, here in Poneke,Te Waka Umanga o Whangarei up north, and even the new network launched up in Gisborne today to “inspire, motivate and connect Maori business people throughout Tairawhiti”.

Madam Speaker, it’s important to note that theGlobal Entrepreneurship Monitor reckons that 73% of Maori see starting a business as a good career choice, while only 60% of the rest of the population think so, and that Maori have higher expectations of job creation, than non-Maori as well – characteristics that Maori seem to have big doses of: positive thinking, risk-taking, pursuing an idea; and big aspirations.
All of which ties in with a recent report of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, titledTe Wa o te Ao Hurihuri ki te Ohanga Whanaketanga Maori, which called Maori entrepreneurs“irrationally exuberant” probably because while Maori rate very highly in business optimism, we also crash and burn more often than non-Maori.
And despite our best intentions (and notwithstanding our irrational exuberance), Maori business survival rates are so much lower, so they’ll really appreciate the chance to only have to go through all the PAYE rigmarole once a month, saving time, saving money, and focussing on the business.

Another key area in the bill is the updating of the petroleum mining tax rules to encourage greater investment in oil and gas exploration, but also to safeguard our taxing rights over our own petroleum resources.
A look back into our history tells us that right up to 1937, Maori had legal title to petroleum here in Aotearoa, and that as a result of the loss of that title, a number of Taranaki iwi, took a case to the Tribunal for recognition of their rights, and settlement of their petroleum claims.
The Waitangi Tribunal ruled that Maori had a Treaty interest created by loss of legal title to petroleum, and that whenever that Treaty interest came up, Maori would have a right to remedy, and the Crown would have an obligation to provide compensation.
And yet, government refused to pay up, making it very, very frustrating for Taranaki iwi to have to watch everybody else, clicking the ticket and maximising the bucks from the Taranaki oil and gas fields, while the iwi got nothing.
And while we recognise how this bill introduces changes to ensure that New Zealand gets its fair share of the benefits from the petroleum mining industry, we call on the government to also recognise how those benefits derive directly from resources stolen from tangata whenua, and to consider how full and proper ongoing compensation might be made to iwi in the future.

The key focus of the Bill though is changing the rules for taxing the offshore income of Kiwi businesses, to promote growth, and to enable them to compete more effectively in foreign markets.
And that all sounds good, but business growth also brings its own set of problems, including a culture that values growth at all cost, quantity over quality, and profit before people.
That’s why the Maori Party thinks the time is right for a national dialogue about theGenuine Progress Index – reforming the tax system, and regulating growth to achieve a sustainable economy, and to ensure that growth leads to real, and measurable prosperity, taking into account the impact of business activity on people’s wellbeing, people’s health, their jobs, their lifestyles, energy use, resource use, and their attitudes to the environment.
Like making big polluters pay up first, rather than giving them a big holiday, while the ordinary folk have to cough up for that pollution in more ways than one.

Oh yeah – one final thing – we hear reports that the changes to how we tax overseas income may lead to a $50m loss of tax revenue. Well, our calculations suggest that it might be a lot more than that, so we’re looking to select committee for a more thorough analysis of what that loss might actually be.


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