INDEPENDENT NEWS

Birch Not Fit To Be Revenue Minister - Peters

Published: Mon 23 Aug 1999 04:50 PM
Birch Either: - Doesn’t Understand The Law - Or - Has Contempt For The Law. Either Way – Not Fit To Be Minister Of Revenue.
New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters, today said that Revenue Minister Sir William Birch either does not understand the law or he has contempt for the law. Either way Mr Birch is not fit to be Minister of Revenue.
“The findings of the Winebox decision are immense, and show that this country has been subjected to the worst kind of tax evasion. Mr Birch’s comments on the judgement are straight politicking – an attack on those who fought for the truth and an unethical defence of those who have done wrong. In doing so the Minister is failing in his duty to uphold the integrity of our laws.
“Mr Birch had to admit on morning radio that $140 million in tax re-assessments resulted from the Winebox Inquiry so why is he disingenuously talking about $12 million costs when if he had done his job from day one the return to the taxpayers would have been in the hundreds of millions and the cost negligible.
“Mr Birch says that tax loop holes have since been closed. My questions is, when Mr Birch, and what laws? Mr Birch’s statements are blatantly false. These Privy Council, Court of Appeal and High Court decisions state clearly that there never were any loop holes. Moreover, those involved, all of whom were qualified lawyers and accountants, either didn’t know what they were doing, (although they clearly understood the monetary advantage in what they were doing), or they simply broke the law by deliberately withholding information from IRD.
“Even Commissioner Davison got that part right (see pgs 1:9:16, 1:9:19 of his Report - attached). Sadly, for reasons he will have to explain he got the law wrong despite the excellent submissions of counsel assisting him and every legal precedent he should have read including Brannigan v Davison, a Privy Council decision in his favour.
“The Prime Minister and Mr Birch say they are going to the Solicitor General for advice. Don’t they realise that in 1996 the Solicitor General appeared at the Privy Council acting for Davison in the Brannigan Case. The Solicitor General there argued successfully that Magnum was: one single transaction that Cook Islands Law did not override New Zealand Law
“A Privy Council decision supported by the 5 Member Court of Appeal and the 2 Member High Court. In short, 12 jurists have sought to tell the Prime Minister and Revenue Minister the law and these unqualified politicians want to ignore it.
“To say that the Winebox transactions are somehow part of some forgivable past is convenient, self serving, venal and itself an attempt to aid and abet crime. Treasury’s own studies have found that scams like the Magnum deal cost this country millions of dollars a year. Such scams continue to this day and the ramifications are huge for our revenue.
“Money lost in this way has had to be picked up by law abiding taxpayers.
“There is not another Western Democracy where such corporate and political behaviour would be tolerated. Why is it being tolerated in our country that claims to have a system of law and a constitutional government?
“No wonder New Zealanders think that politics in this country are at an all time low,” said Mr Peters.
ENDS

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