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Sharples: Business Law Reform Bill

Business Law Reform Bill Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party Thursday 26 October 2006; 4.45pm

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party is delighted to take a call tonight on the Business Law Reform Bill.

We support the intent of this Bill to amend business law statutes so that the operation of business can be clear, efficient and effective.

Tangata whenua collectively owned assets and businesses produce $1.9 billion per year.

While the revenue from taxes and exports will be significant, the key highlight for the Maori Party, is the impact this success can have in uplifting the economic and social under-performance of tangata whenua if the accumulated wealth is for the collective whanau good.

The Maori Party is a business-friendly party that does, however, consider there is a need to strike a balance between maximising profits on the one hand, and maintaining the integrity of our natural environment on the other.

We believe economic gain must be achieved by balancing economic advancement with social progress, cultural uniqueness and environmental enhancement.

And the way in which we do this, is to provide incentives for whanau, hapu, iwi and other community based groups to develop and implement collective business development strategies that increase economic participation, and encourage local and regional self-reliance (including local and regional partnerships).

So how will the Business Law Reform Bill achieve these worthy goals?

We believe that most of the changes in the Bill are based on suggestions from business law practitioners, enforcement agencies and the business community.

The Bill should improve existing business law by making small, high priority changes to reduce some of the costs of complying with legislation. And that has to be a good thing.

Mr Speaker, the Maori Party comes to this Bill, absolutely inspired by the hard-working and devoted commitment of our people out there, doing the hard yards, making their business work, and most of all providing that tautoko; that support that is so necessary to keep a good business afloat.

We think about Te Awe Wellington Maori Business network - the oldest Maori business network operating in Aotearoa - and that's only a decade.

Te Awe was set up to promote, assist and to encourage Maori in business through networking hui, where Maori business owners meet and share their business challenges and successes.

Then there's the Federation of Maori Authorities - New Zealand's largest business network. The main focus of FOMA is to support Maori across all the different levels from whanau shareholders to land related development in the primary industries, to major diversified enterprises. Or Poutama Maori Business Trust which earlier this year was the Joint Winner 2006 in the Vero Excellence in Business Support Awards for the most significant contribution by a Not-for-Profit organisation. Poutama has played a key role in developing Maori micro and small businesses over the past eighteen years.

And what I'm absolutely excited about is the growth in rangatahi networks. My colleague, Te Ururoa Flavell, has talked about the rangatahi business hui sponsored by Lion Nathan and Te Arawa at Ihenga for secondary schools in the Rotorua region.

And Hone Harawira, has talked about the Rangatahi Business Competition run by Te Ranga Ngaku, the Maori Management Student Network at Waikato Management School.

As my mokopuna would say, it's Mean Maori Mean.

So this Bill is about making things better for a whole lot of Maori and what can be better than that?

We're particularly pleased with the changes that have been made to the Financial Reporting Act 1993: * the removal of unnecessary or excessive preparation, audit and filing requirements; * the decision to increase the size threshold to be a "small company" (to have the simplest form of reporting); and * the moves to standardise financial reporting with international standards for ease of reading and understanding, i.e exemptions for international companies doing business in New Zealand.

These are developments which are going to assist economic independence and to enhance financial efficiencies in the world of business, and we support that.

All these strategies seem to move toward easier, smoother and lower cost operations; demonstrating manaakitanga in each.

We're also very supportive of the amendment to widen the qualifications for admission to membership of a credit union, thus covering employment by a group of employers as qualifying for a 'common bond'.

Friendly Societies and Credit Unions grew out of the expression of local rangatiratanga and it is only right that there is adequate accountability to members on kaitiakitanga.

I make the point of applying our kaupapa, our tikanga, our philosophies, to Maori business, to small business, as indeed it applies to every business.

At the Hui Taumata last year, Professor Whatarangi Winiata anticipated a future in 2025 which was based in kaupapa.

He shared a vision where Maori economic leaders will accept economic opportunities to be an active contributor to the long-term survival of Maori through the expression of kaupapa Maori, and the pursuit of tikanga Maori for genuine progress.

Perhaps this is the biggest point of difference over the twenty years, the theme that kaupapa and tikanga are the basis of Maori business.

In the tikanga Maori model, the expression of the kaupapa is to be maximised, while ensuring that the financial constraint is met. The profit is thus a collective profit, the objective to grow the people, with an emphasis on mutual respect and harmonious relationships.

Investment is prioritised as social, as human and as cultural capital.

And so we look to the Business Law Reform Bill to see how well it can assist Aotearoa in meeting what others may call the triple bottom line.

And finally, on this point, I just want to refer to an absolutely shocking release I read from KPMG just over a week ago.

The latest 2006 KPMG fraud survey revealed that 53% of New Zealand organisations had experienced at least one fraud with an average loss of $479,000.

63 respondents reported single frauds with a value greater than $200,000; and there were eight cases where the value exceeded four million dollars. In 42% of major frauds, none of the money nor goods stolen was recovered.

In 2006, the average detection time was 362 days.

In the current environment where we seem to read and talk about the crime on the streets, the escalating burglaries and thefts; I am surprised that this release stating such major cases of fraud went by with hardly a whimper.

Respondents in the survey reported 546 cases of identity fraud with a total value of $2.8 million. The typical fraudster was a male aged 38 years, acting alone, mis-appropriating funds to an average value of $220,000.

And interestingly - no mention of ethnicity in the whole release.

I guess we all can wonder why that is?

So in light of this latest information, the fact that Directors who have been banned in Australia will now, as a result of this Bill, be banned from New Zealand is welcomed.

The Maori Party will support this Bill at its second reading. We support the incentives to reduce compliance costs, particularly for small businesses, without risking their stability and potential for success.

We believe that these moves will stand to enhance opportunities for Maori business people, it will help to ensure that their business activities enrich the life of our whanau, and ultimately we believe a success Maori business can only add value to the activities of our marae and our wider communities.


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