Russel Norman

Double win for Greens in economics this week

by Russel Norman

National has finally relented to years of Green Party pressure to put the Government’s banking contract to competitive tender.

This banking contract – the largest, most lucrative banking contract in the country – has been held by Australian-owned Westpac Bank since 1989 and has never been retendered since then.

In 2010, we disclosed this cosy relationship Westpac has cultivated with the Government (along with their simultaneously generous corporate hospitality, treating senior ministers to box seats at the Rugby 7s, dinner at the White House restaurant, and tickets to rock concerts).

Finally, this major contract can be tendered to get better value for money for taxpayers and creates the opportunity for a New Zealand-owned bank to secure some of the Government’s own banking work.

The second big win for us this week is National’s closure of the loophole that was allowing New Zealand registered companies to be used to commit fraud overseas.

We have been pushing for the Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill to be passed since 2011. (National has known about the problem since February 2010.)

The ease of setting up companies in New Zealand has been allowing criminals to set up ‘shell’ companies here from overseas facilitating fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering.

These practical changes to the process will now mean that every New Zealand registered company must have a resident director and ensure that directors document their identity better.

National are still to move, however, on making New Zealand’s foreign trust regime more transparent – a regime used for major tax evasion.