Sunday, April 22, 2012

Of Matt McCarten and the moral high ground

Matt McCarten tries to sieze the moral high ground this morning in his Herald on Sunday column; he opines:

One of the things our political and business elites pride themselves on is that ours is a country that ranks consistently in the top three as the least corrupt in the world.
That New Zealanders take such a rating as the norm is a credit to the generations who preceded us and built the sort of societal ethics we enjoy today.
The most recent respected Forbes survey, which ranks countries on how uncorrupt and friendly to business they are, has New Zealand at second. Only Canada is ahead of us. The World Bank gives us third place after Singapore and Hong Kong. Previously, we were first.
If being capitalist darlings wasn't enough to puff our suit jackets out at, every reputable international survey ranks us high in the top 10 for just about every statistic possible. We are considered a model society that the rest of the world looks up to.
That's why it's not a surprise that a TV3 poll on Thursday showed 72 per cent of us don't approve of the shonky deal John Key cooked up with the SkyCity casino.

We guess that Matt McCarten is the ideal person to be talking about shonky deals. The systematic tax evasion by Unite Union and McCarten's own company Unite Social Services Limited (placed in liquidation at the request of the Inland Revenue Department) has been well chronicled, and the detail need not be repeated today. 

So whilst Matt McCarten can try and occupy the moral high ground, his credibility is shot, and his argument is diminished accordingly. At some point in time, surely someone in the editorial area of the Herald on Sunday will realise that.

Despite the protestations of the likes of McCarten, the Labour Party and the Greens, we believe that the government is on the cusp of negotiating a fantastic deal with Sky City. Yes; it will involve a 3% increase in the number of pokie machines nationwide (but all located at the Auckland casino), but the sinking lid policy that successive governments have run will see the overall number of pokies continue to fall over time. 

It's worth remembering that in 2003, there were more than 25,000 pokies in New Zealand; in December last year that number had progressively fallen to just over 18,000. There's been a 10% fall since the John Key-led government took office in 2008. That's hardly suggestive of National going all-out to increase gambling opportunities.

And a final question; aren't unions supposed to ENCOURAGE new employment initiatives. After all, in these days of record low union membership, you'd think that the labour movement would welcome the chance to recruit a lareger membership base.


toad said...

I think it is unfair to accuse McCarten's company of "tax evasion".

Tax evasion is deliberately misrepresenting your financial affairs to avoid tax liability.

In the case of McCarten's company, my understanding is that he has always acknowledged its tax liability, but the company (in part due to McCarten's illness) simply didn't perform well enough to have enough money to pay the tax owed, hence it was put into liquidation.

That's not tax evasion - it is simply a failed business, just as thousands of businesses fail every year.

Grant M. McKenna said...

No. Tax evasion is the deliberate failure to pay tax due, and that is what the company did.
The liability is one every accountant knows; a good summary of questions arising is at

And it isn't the role of trade unions to encourage new employment initiatives. Their role is to ensure the well-being of their members; this may well be at the price of increased unemployment in the general community.

Tinman said...

Money taken (withheld) from employees for income tax is not part of the business's finances and should never be included as such, at all times being kept separate from operating funds.

Toad is lying through his teeth as always.

I do however agree with it that accusing McCarten's outfit of tax evasion is incorrect, the correct term is theft

Keeping Stock said...

@ Toad; nice try, but IRD actually noted that Unite Social Services, of which McCarten was sole director had made no provision for its tax liabilities; something that they regard as an aggravating factor.

And interestingly, Unite Union's tax problems occurred over an eighteen-moth period, which just happened to be either side of the 2008 election campaign; coincidence, or a deliberate attempt by Unite to increase its political influence using money deducted from staff members and payable to IRD?

If I as an employer withheld PAYE, Kiwisaver and Student Loans that I had deducted, I would expect condemnation from relevant unions. For McCarten as a leading light in the union movement to be exposed as a bad employer in an indictment.

Anonymous said...

I think the moral high ground is wrongly taken by christians each and every day.
Pot meet Kettle.

Keeping Stock said...

Come on Anon; you can do better than that; it wasn't even an insult! But do feel free to comment on the topic too now...

Anonymous said...

There's more than one anonymous. Several, I suspect.
On topic:
"That's why it's not a surprise that a TV3 poll on Thursday showed 72 per cent of us don't approve of the shonky deal John Key cooked up with the SkyCity casino."
Yes. Most New Zealanders don't approve of Key's deal with Sky City.
Let me put it another way - Most New Zealanders don't approve of Key's deal with Sky City.
There is no other way to put it.
Do feel free to comment on that, Keeping Stock.

David said...

Anonymous.. bzzzzt.... epic fail. If you were paying attention rather than letting the red mist and irrational KDS cloud your vision, you would be aware that,as yet,there is no deal. Try and keep up,there's a good chap. (assume you are a chap as chapesses tend to pay attention better)

Anonymous said...

David - that you believe 'there is no deal', exposes you as an empty-headed Tory lick-spittle.
No deal!
Yeah, right.