Full independent inquiry needed to save New Zealand’s reputation

Revelations that John Key's personal lawyer and trust advisor led a lobbying campaign to shut down a review of New Zealand's foreign trust regime makes the case for a full scale independent inquiry a matter of urgency, Labour's Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“Nothing less than an independent inquiry led by a person of the stature of a Judge with the ability to call witnesses and subpoena evidence will restore confidence from taxpayers in the fairness of our system.

“It is quite clear that John Key's links to this industry are strong, despite his previous denials. His dismissive attitude towards the concerns of the majority of New Zealanders about our ‘tax haven’ status shows how out of touch he is on this issue.

“We have prided ourselves on being a country where you get a fair go if you do your fair share. More and more in John Key's New Zealand it seems the way to get ahead is to be in the elite few who get to do deals with Ministers. That is not the Kiwi way.

“For John Key to claim that his response to an approach of his personal lawyer was the same as any other person is as farcical as it is disturbing. This was not some random person off the street, it was a close confidante whom he ‘asked to get in contact’ with a Minister.

“His lawyer and trust advisor got privileged access to a Minister on behalf of an industry that officials had identified as a cause of concern. After their lobbying, the Minister directed officials to drop their proposed review. That kind of insider influence will offend the ethics of middle New Zealanders.

“The review that officials had wanted to conduct was the right thing to do. Now the need for an independent inquiry is even more urgent if we are to restore New Zealand's reputation as a country that values fairness and opposes corruption,” Grant Robertson says.