Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

www.mccully.co.nz - 8 August 2008

www.mccully.co.nz -8 August 2008

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully

MP for East Coast Bays

Taxpayers’ Aid Dollars Support Terrorism

Revelations this week that NZAid has provided $121,500 of taxpayers’ tsunami relief cash for the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) raise serious questions about both the aid and security policies of the Clark Government. The TRO has for some time been widely regarded as a funding front for the Tamil Tigers, outlawed as a terrorist entity in most like-minded jurisdictions, but not in New Zealand. The TRO, too, has increasingly been targeted by authorities, and its operations suspended in several countries. So why is New Zealand so far out of step?

Regular readers will be familiar with the regular outbursts of incredulity in this publication at the failure of the New Zealand Government to designate the Tamil Tigers a terrorist entity under the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2002. In that respect this country is out of step with Australia, Canada, the USA and the EU. But that does not make the Tamil Tigers special. New Zealand has yet to designate a single terrorist entity under UN resolution 1373, as provided for in the Suppression of Terrorism Act, while Australia has designated 88 terrorist entities, and Canada over 50 under UN1373.

That the Tamil Tigers are fully fledged terrorists is beyond dispute. Around 70,000 have lost their lives in the civil war in Sri Lanka, in which the Tigers have played a significant role. But the New Zealand Government, alone amongst nations we would normally call our friends and partners, has utterly failed to use the post-September 11 toolkit of counter-terrorism legislation passed to make such groups subject to special scrutiny from counter-terrorism authorities. As a result, the Tamil Tigers, unable to directly raise funds or operate effectively in Australia, Canada, the US, or the EU, can operate with impunity in this country.

The Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation

NZAid paid over a cheque for $121,500 in tsunami relief funding to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) back in 2005. But even then NZAid should have been on notice that the TRO was regarded as a fund-raising front for the Tamil Tigers terrorist activities.

In 2005, the British Charities Commission removed the TRO’s charitable status because it had “not been able to account satisfactorily for the application of funds.” On 1 October 2006, the Swiss Police arrested the TRO Secretary at the French border carrying 18 million Euros in cash, destined for the Tamil Tigers.

On 15 November 2007, the US Treasury officially designated the TRO as a front for the Tamil Tigers, including fund-raising, the purchase of munitions, equipment, communications devices and other technology. The US Treasury froze the TRO’s assets and prohibited US citizens from conducting business with them.

So while like-minded nations have formally declared the Tamil Tigers to be terrorists, and have systematically been shutting down the activities of the TRO as their funding arm, the New Zealand Government allows the Tamil Tigers to operate in this country, and far from shutting down their TRO funders, has actually given them taxpayers’ cash.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says there is no problem. NZAid officials made sure the money was going to genuine aid purposes. But these would be the same NZAid officials that the Auditor-General has, in two recent reports, potted for failing to have proper systems to account for taxpayers’ aid money. All of which suggests that New Zealanders should be very much less than reassured both as to the purposes that $121,500 of their aid money has been put to, and as to the level of scrutiny applied to global terrorists operating in our midst.

Growth v Debt Battle Lines Drawn

The past few weeks have seen the drawing of one of the critical battle lines for the 2008 election. And one of the most important policy debates affecting our economic future. John Key has indicated that a future National government will be comfortable about using a modest amount of additional debt to assist in addressing the infrastructure deficit he has highlighted as a major roadblock to this country’s future growth.

Mr Key has correctly identified the fact that in 2008 New Zealand does not have a debt problem, but rather a serious growth problem. One that is serious enough to convince 80,000 Kiwis to head permanently overseas in the past year.

Back in 1990, when the Bolger Government assumed office, gross government debt was a massive 60% of GDP. Determined action by that government saw that debt level reduced to 35% in 1999, when it lost office. And on the back of the outstanding international economic conditions of the past nine years, that number has been further reduced to 18% of GDP last year. All well and good.

But back in 1994, when the government debt to GDP ratio was still at 56%, Helen Clark was arguing that the then government was placing “undue emphasis on debt repayment at the expense of our failing services and infrastructure.” Now that the figure is hovering around 20%, in the middle of a recession, Clark is arguing that any increase to debt to address the infrastructure deficit and unblock our economic arteries would be irresponsible. All of which is plainly complete and unmitigated nonsense.

Update on EPMU Case

For all of the reasons outlined in last week’s edition of this publication, proceedings have now been filed in the High Court to review the decision of the Electoral Commission to register the Labour Party affiliate, (and one of their largest donors), as a third party under the Electoral Finance Act. Registration will entitle them to spend $120,000 attacking the National Party, which, due to the constraints of the EFA, will not be able to respond.

The High Court case looks solid. The EPMU is claiming not to be “involved in the administration of the affairs” of the Labour Party, within the meaning of the EFA. If the High Court upholds the registration, there will be immediate applications from several organisations that are not “involved in the administration of the affairs” of the National Party. Current favourites from mccully.co readers are the Citizens Opposed to the Political Activities of the EPMU, and the Not The Spencer Trust. So, either way, the High Court decision will produce an interesting outcome. Watch this space for further developments.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Another Leader Exiting: Statement From Peter Dunne

I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter...

“I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ōhāriu can elect a new electorate MP. More>>

 

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Campaign Launch

One of the key motifs of Ardern’s speech was her repeated use of the phrase – “Now, what?” Cleverly, that looks like being Labour’s response to National’s ‘steady as it goes’ warning against not putting the economic ‘gains’ at risk. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: Social Welfare, Explained

Speaking as someone who has seen better times and nowadays mostly operates by being really annoying and humiliating to deal with, I have some fellow feeling with the current system, so I’ll take this chance to set a few things straight.. More>>

ALSO:

Deregistered: Independent Board Decision On Family First

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable... More>>

ALSO:

Transport Policies: Nats' New $10.5bn Roads Of National Significance

National is committing to the next generation of Roads of National Significance, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>

ALSO:

Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election