INDEPENDENT NEWS

Clark's Crony Capitalism Doesn't Stop With Ross

Published: Thu 7 Nov 2002 11:13 AM
Clark's Crony Capitalism Doesn't Stop With Ross
Helen Clark's secret sweetheart deals with big business mates don't end with the Armstrong sacking, ACT New Zealand Economic Development Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.
"Labour is planning to spend $1.2 million dollars of taxpayer money on more crony-phoney capitalism," Miss Coddington said.
"The Growth and Innovation Advisory Board - otherwise known as Gabfest - was formed in May 2001, has met only twice, and is advising this Government on how to return New Zealand to four-plus percent growth. The latest hui on Friday 11 October, was run by Stephen Tindall and Rick Christie. Seventy `leaders' - I have the list - met behind closed doors in Parliament, presumably because they couldn't all fit into Vinnies Restaurant.
"New Zealanders probably think that it is the accountable people at Treasury who advise governments on economic growth. But in reply to written questions about funding Gabfest, Hon Pete Hodgson said the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board would offer advice on issues around `infrastructure, research and development, global connectedness, capital markets, and skills and talent'.
"Treasury is being sidelined for Clark's mates in the private sector and the unions.
"Questions need to be answered about members of the Gabfest Board and the secret meetings this Government has held with selected invitees from `large business':
· Why is Brian Easton, a self-proclaimed `independent economist and writer' and columnist for the Listener on this Gabfest board? Rodney Hide this week exposed writer Rod Oram of being in the Government's pocket - how many other so-called `independent' writers are in fact paid cheerleaders for this collectivist Government?
· Why is Gabfest supported by a secretariat hosted by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology? Since when has this Ministry been the expert on economic growth?
· What programmes are in place to measure the effectiveness of the Board? I asked Minister Hodgson this question. The answer - when I'd translated it from mandarin - was none.
"At least with Treasury we get to see their advice. The process is open, transparent and accountable - as it should be in a democracy," Miss Coddington said.

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