Winebox Speech From Ron Mark MP
Speech by Ron Mark, MP
Cashmere Club, 88 Hunter Terrace, Christchurch
EMBARGOED UNTIL 2PM FRIDAY 20 AUGUST 1999
It is a very significant day, not only because we have among us the Leader of New Zealand First, the Right Honourable Winston Peters, but also because the High court in Auckland will soon release its findings into what is commonly referred to as the Wine-box case.
This case is at the heart of what New Zealand First stands for - fairness, equality, one law for all, and accountability.
New Zealand is fortunate to have a leader as determined as Winston Peters, who has never buckled or shrunk from the responsibility to be accountable to the people who elected him.
Despite the venom from the political establishment and the resources of big business Winston has doggedly pushed for the interests of ordinary New Zealanders and their families.
Winston's dedication has been demonstrated not only in words, but also in the personal and financial sacrifices he has been prepared to make in order to see the Wine-box case through to a successful conclusion.
Success in this context, means that those who have twisted the law to profit, should be brought before the highest court in the land if necessary, to face the consequences, and to have any unlawful gains extracted from them.
I would be remiss too, not to thank the thousands of decent New Zealanders who have demonstrated their abhorrence of big businesses not paying their due share of taxation, thereby leaving the rest of us; the little people, to carry the load.
Thank you to you all for your contributions to the fight for justice, by helping us pay the huge debts this fight has created.
I know that Winston is moved by the generosity shown by his supporters, many of whom have a struggle themselves, just to make ends meet.
The personal financial sacrifices made by Winston in continuing on against the well financed opposition of big business, is far greater than most of us will ever know or understand.
Not only has the cost for him been measured in financial terms, but also personally both with regard to family, friends and political life.
Throughout the saga which has become known as the Wine-box affair, Winston Peters has been pilloried and ridiculed from all sides of the political spectrum.
As you will be aware, many of Winston's political opponents frequently take every opportunity to attack him.
With respect to the Winebox affair, their level of hostility knows no bounds.
Some of these political characters, have reached a new low in double standards though.
Talk about dribbling out of both sides of their mouths! At once!
Not content with taking every opportunity to turn on Winston and castigate him for continuing on with the case, rather than just letting the big business tycoons carry on with their shonky tax avoidance schemes, they are also prepared to seize a political advantage if they can..
For example, some of those who have been the most strident in condemning him for staying on the case of big business taxation rip-offs, have also praised him for his efforts.
Michael Cullen for example supported the Wine-box inquiry.
Mr Cullen was also critical of Sir Ronald Davison being selected to head a tax inquiry. He even suggested that with the former Chief Justice heading it, it was being set up to fail.
The only area of difference was that he wanted the inquiry to be conducted "in house" by a Parliamentary Select Committee.
Michael Cullen, now the deputy leader of the Labour party, even went so far as to state, "…that legal opinion made it quite clear that in at least one case contained within those documents [the Wine-box] we were dealing not with avoidance, as has been claimed, but as the Member for Tauranga [Winston Peters] has persistently claimed, with evasion, and in fact with fraud"
I wonder what made him change his mind because when the Davison report came out, Michael Cullen was among the first to ridicule Winston Peters for having accused the pillars of New Zealand's business community of wrongdoing.
Interestingly though, and at the same time as he attacked Winston Peters for having the audacity to pursue big business, Mr Cullen also said " Labour has no truck with the clever avoidance schemes entered into by some New Zealand corporates over the period under investigation"
Now is that having a dollar each way, or what?
Another politician who has been condemning Winston's efforts over the Wine-box case was Rodney Hide.
Yes that's right Rodney Hide the very same politician who has become known for his single-issue pursuit of the IRD and their unfair treatment of taxpayers.
Did you know that this very same Rodney Hide, demanded in Parliament that Jim Bolger apologise to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue for the "hell" he had been put through during the Wine-box investigation?
Yet here is a man who has staked his future in politics, which incidentally I don't think will last too much longer, on making life as difficult as possible for the Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
Talk about duplicitous activity! For goodness sake Rodney slide down one side of the fence or other and stay there.!
Yet another politician quick to condemn Winston and defend the right of big business to avoid paying their fair share of taxation was Jim Sutton. Yes, the Honourable Jim Sutton a Minister in the last Labour Government and standing for an electorate just down the road from here.
Mr Sutton was very vocal about the rights of big business to feel elated when the Davison report was released.
I wonder how Mr Sutton will feel when Winston is vindicated and the tax avoidance we all know occurred, is finally sheeted home to those very same characters Mr Sutton defended.
I have no doubt he will slink away to one of his farms and hide in shame.
Another tired old politician to crow about Davison finding, was the National Member, John Banks.
The same John Banks incidentally who every morning, whilst hosting his radio programme tells us that he is the champion of the peoples' Government and is opposed to the little battler from struggle street being stomped upon by big business.
What a joke John. Keep flying your helicopter and riding your Harley Davison motor bike, Winston Peters will carry the real fight to the big businesses on your behalf!
And what of that other self-proclaimed champion of the underdog Richard Prebble. What was his contribution?
Nothing. In Richard's mind, big business can do no wrong and the solution to our country's ills are to hand everything over to his big business buddies and they will take care of things for us.
Well the hell they will Richard!
I could go on at quite some length about the antics of some of our nation's politicians but I will spare you the pain of that.
However one further individual does deserve a mention.
Again in a neighbouring electorate, not far from here, sits a very worried woman.
Yes folks Jenny is showing signs of serious nervousness and she is I understand, currently scraping together a CV.
What did Jenny do to assist the Wine-box inquiry? Nothing -just plain Nothing! And why?
Because it suited her purpose to have Winston on the ropes for the plan she was hatching did not include a place for Winston Peters or the New Zealand First Caucus members.
Jenny wanted the field cleared for herself and her brat pack to seize the leadership and she saw the Wine-box as a means to an end.
It suited her long term plans not to lessen the tensions within the coalition Government so rather than hosing them down with water, she worked behind the scenes ensuring that plenty of petrol was poured on the flames.
In closing I want to again applaud Winston's efforts and thank him on behalf of all New Zealanders for standing up for what is right and not being intimidated by a most formidable and well funded team of the country's QC's and best legal brains.
The brief retained by Winston to do the legal work for him, Mr Brian Henry, and his team have done a magnificent job and they too are to be congratulated.
It is not an easy thing to stand out from the crowd at times and to do so against a backdrop of strong opposition from so many quarters takes a special kind of dedication and belief in what is the right thing to do.
Winston Peters has done that, not for himself, but for all of New Zealand.
Winston on behalf of this meeting, thank you-a thousand thank yous!