New Zealand

Australia debates same-sex marriage, but was NZ given a say?

This time Australia is being pressured to change the marriage law.  They’ll be told that New Zealand did it, so why shouldn’t they?  The media are making it sound like there was a public mandate for same-sex marriage in 2013, but that’s simply not true.  New Zealanders weren’t asked.  We weren’t given a referendum.  We were silenced. 

The one and only time we got a voice was in a TV3 news poll.  This was the response.  There were nearly 17,000 respondents with 78% against.  The media were shocked at the strength of public opinion against and there was a media blackout over our opinion.

NZ support for gay marriage 2013

NZ TV3 news poll from 2013, nearly 17,000 respondents, 78% against.

SHOCK – TV3 Campbell Live ‘Marriage-Equality bill’ poll

Here’s a cartoon from 2013 showing who had the say in NZ – politicians.

Marriage

At least Australians are being asked.  Why weren’t New Zealanders given the right to vote on this?

gettyimages-846674072

And before you label me a “hater” for pointing out the facts – I don’t hate homosexuals.  What I do hate is living in a society where people are shouted down and silenced, slurred for having a different opinion and not given a say in what their government does!  It’s called injustice.

These are the questions I hope Australians will ask themselves;  Who is driving this agenda?  Should government legislate morality?  What societal benefits are there in same-sex marriage?  Why are people who disagree being labelled “homophobes” and “bigots?”


Australians are voting on same-sex marriage — and it’s starting to get ugly


 

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Israel and the NZ earthquakes

kerry-and-keyIn November 2016 the US Secretary of State John Kerry sneaked into New Zealand to meet prime minister John Key and Trade minister Murray McCully.  We were surprised at the timing because it was election day in the US. 

I covered it in a shaken nation.

We now know what the meeting was for. It involved Israel … and the TWO State Solution.  They met on the 13th November to discuss “particularly matters currently before the United Nations Security Council, including the Syria crisis.”

And what was currently before the United Nations Security Council?  Israel.

The Two State Solution

Here’s what led to the meeting.  There have been seven decades of failed peace talks between the ‘Palestinians’ and Israel.  US Secretary of State John Kerry led the most recent attempt at brokering a final peace agreement.  Those talks broke down in 2014, and then NZ successfully bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

In 2015 the NZ government immediately started to pressure Israel to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, by using its position on the UN Security Council.  It led to Israel sending a blunt message to the NZ government not to try to restart the peace talks.

The day of the meeting on 13th November had barely ended, when at two minutes after midnight on the 14th November 2016 NZ was struck by the massive 7.8 earthquakes. This time there was damage in Wellington, and Kaikoura was devastated.

twoThe Number Two sign

The number two figured prominently in this earthquake.  Two huge earthquakes happened simultaneously, involving two different plates, at two minutes after midnight, that lasted two minutes, with two people dead, affecting two islands (the North and South Island), and to top if off the land underwent a two-metre shift south of Marlborough.
I have covered this more on my other blog: The trap in the ground, and the trumpet in the sky.

In the Meaning of Numbers in the Bible, the number two conveys the meaning of a union, division or the verification of facts by witnesses.

After the earthquake, NZ put forward a motion in the UN Security Council on the 23rd of December 2016.  (You’d think we’d have better things to worry about.)  It criticized Israel’s settlement in East Jerusalem, commonly referred to as the West Bank.  That meeting led to the Paris peace conference three weeks later on the 15th January 2017, a shameful Two State Solution hammered out in Paris without agreement from Israel.

“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”  Amos 3:3

This cartoon shows what I think of complicit little NZ’s actions.  I hope Israel and God will forgive this foolishness.

nz-and-un-security-council-25_nisbet

The sign of “Peace and Security”

peace-and-security

“At the heart of this whole debate is whether we will see a future in which two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security” the Zealand Herald reported on 12 January 2017.  Source: Opinion: Resolution 2334 – Preserving the two-state solution. 

Did you know the term “peace and security” was given as a sign before the Lord’s sudden return?  “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  1 Thessalonians 5


Links

Israel sends a blunt message to New Zealand: Don’t try to renew peace talks

Israeli ambassador to New Zealand recalled after UN security resolution

Has NZ been left with a financial T-Rex?

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has resigned.  I’m surprised at the timing – just after the Kaikoura earthquakes, and on the same day that Italy’s prime minister resigned.

It reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park where the kids got left with T-Rex.  But let’s hold that uneasy thought for the time being.

he-left-us

Key should have resigned like he promised when it was proven that the GCSB is carrying out mass surveillance of us New Zealanders.  But when the Snowden revelations did indeed show that in 2015, nothing happened.  At least he would have had some credibility if he’d kept his word.

But he hasn’t kept his word.

For instance, he wasn’t going to raise the GST tax.   John Key’s changing opinion on GST rise.

On gay marriage – before his government passed it into law in 2013, he previously said “he did not believe there was a big demand for gay marriage in NZ and that civil unions were enough.”

Has John Key left big shoes to fill?  No, those big shoes look more like flip flops.

John Key flip flops like a girl changes clothes

His comments were flip and his neo-liberal financial leadership was a flop.

flip-flops2

So what has John Key done in the three terms he’s been in?

He raised GST to 15%, turned NZ into a tax haven for the one percent, sold NZ land to overseas investors thereby pricing our children out of the domestic housing market, signed NZ up to the TPP, sold state houses – which forced vulnerable NZ families into living in cars, and under his watch New Zealand’s gross debt has soared to a whopping half trillion dollars.

That’s what we know he’s done.  So what’s happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about?

How about New Zealand’s exposure to derivatives? 

Former Canterbury University accountancy lecturer Dr Susan Newberry, now professor of accounting at Sydney University’s business school, still keeps a fascinated eye on the “New Zealand experiment”. And some of what she sees she finds a little alarming.

Does the average Kiwi know the country’s balance sheet now has a derivatives exposure of $180b, she asks? That is rather a lot of those “financial weapons of mass destruction”.

It means the NZ tax-payer is on the hook if it all goes wrong and there is the international equivalent of a bank-imposed mortgagee sale. (Think Greece, Iceland and Ireland.)

But hey, what could go wrong?  It’s like 2008 never happened!

John Key was directly involved in the development of derivatives – the financial contracts and credit default swaps that no-one understands, which led to the toxic sub-prime housing loans, which led to the Global Financial Crisis. The likes of Merrill Lynch and the Bankers Trust profited from foreign exchange trades and derivatives speculation at the expense of national economies.

In transforming NZ into a tax haven and creating the speculative housing bubble, he’s done the same thing to NZ that he did to Ireland, when as head of global foreign exchange for investment giant Merrill Lynch he shifted a considerable amount of his business to Ireland in the mid-1990s to take advantage of a 10% tax rate for foreign investors.

Fran O’Sullivan: Key chases luck o’ the Irish

That’s what you get when you elect a banker for Prime Minister.  He’s done really well for the one percent.

Meanwhile, have we in NZ been left with a financial T-Rex?

derivatives

Other links:
The great big list of John Key’s big fat lies

Another Very Short Collection of John Key’s Lies

Trading Places: Running NZ like an investment fund

Don’t let the door hit your arse on your way out Johnny

NZ government in denial over housing crisis

Auckland Housing Crisis cartoonNew Zealand has got a previously unheard of problem – homeless families are sleeping in cars, while nearly half of the houses in our largest city Auckland (49%) are being snapped up by foreign investors and then sitting there empty!  The Chinese were the biggest group.  Last year in June it was 41% of Auckland homes. 

John Key, our prime minister and former banker who worked at Merrill Lynch, glibly believed most of the investors in the property market would be locals.  It was clear the government either didn’t have a clue or didn’t care.  NZ doesn’t have a foreign buyers register or any rules around speculation on houses.

Last year a whistle-blower from the real estate industry said mainland Chinese money snapped up at least 80 per cent of residential sales in parts of Auckland in March but were nearer 90 per cent in May, 2015.  Of course the whistle blower lost his job.

Here’s the radio interview about it: Property insider: It’s bigger than you think
“Property speculation is rampant, and I believe on the strength of these numbers that offshore Chinese investors are a very significant part of what’s going on,” said Phil Twyford, the MP for Te Atatū.  When he was accused of being racist for pointing it out, he said “I’m speaking for young New Zealanders who want affordable home ownership. If we solve this problem, if we ban foreign buyers, that will make a big difference.”
Leaked data shows Chinese offshore buyers fuelling ‘rampant’ Auckland property speculation, Twyford says.

“What I’m saying is that there is a tsunami of Chinese investment headed towards international real estate markets, including New Zealand. These numbers are coming from Juwai.com, the preeminent Chinese website that markets real estate, including New Zealand real estate. There’s a whole industry marketing our houses to Chinese investors.”

There are more than 6,000 real estate agents in Auckland.
Here’s a quote from Juwai.com about their buyers,

“Property is investment of choice – a stable investment exemplifying wealth & status. Chinese buyers spent US$37 billion on international residential property in 2013. 70% pay cash for property purchases.”

It quoted there are 63 million upper-middle-class Chinese and 2.8 million high-net-worth Chinese.  Less than 1% of them can read English.

The Chinese have deeper pockets than New Zealanders.  Our children will be the tenants of Chinese landlords – if they’ll even rent to them.

And then we hear that while people sleep in cars as the city grapples with homelessness, more than 33,000 Auckland dwellings are officially classified empty.  They’re called ghost houses.” That’s the size of a NZ town.  Running on Empty: Auckland’s “ghost” house problem.

The Minister for Housing Nick Smith replied “Diddly Squat” when asked about the percentage of foreign property buyers.  In fobbing the journalist off, it appears our government favours money over people.

Diddly squat

Opinion: ‘Diddly squat’ – Govt incompetent on housing

This is an article from 2012: Bernard Hickey: Govt eyes blind to housing crisis


More links:

1949-state-house-in-taita

Homeless family: The realities of living in a van

Kids living in vans? I’m mad as hell

The sellout of NZ

Thanks to greed, poor planning and economic mis-management, we can kiss goodbye to dreams of home ownership and a quarter acre section for the kids to run around on.  We now have people living in cars – unheard of before the economic reforms of the 1990’s.

New Zealand now has the highest housing prices in the world, next to Qatar!

How did we get here? These are a number of causes; (1) Supply and demand, (2) Land restrictions under UN inspired initiatives like Agenda 21 and now C40, (3) Foreign banks creating NZ’s money, and (4) Economic mismanagement.

(1 and 2) The demand for land out-stripping supply. The Auckland City Council has been restricting the amount of land that can be built on. Our media haven’t reported on this – but in December the Auckland City Council signed up to the C40 Low Carbon City Group, a group of councils across the world that regard carbon as a pollutant.  Carbon is not a pollutant – but we won’t go into that here.  I’ve already addressed that in Carbon Con, another blog post.

The C40 dream is for “compact cities” where car use is restricted. Our councils were already restricting land for building on under Agenda21, but it will really ramp up now Auckland is one of the C40 cities. The plan is for high density housing where people walk, bike, or use public transport. How can that be good for families? Gone will be our own private backyards where children and pets can play in the summer, and log fires in the winter. Gone will be our cars and garages. Gone will be land ownership and privacy. Surveillance will be increased and energy use will be monitored by things like “smart meters”, another thing that has been imposed on us.

big_4_money(3) Foreign Bank lending causing housing inflation.  The other reason for inflated housing prices is bank lending. NZ’s banking sector is dominated by big Australian Banks – called “the big four.” New Zealand banks were sold to them in the 1990’s.  The big four are the ANZ, NAB, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank. These foreign-owned banks hold 90% of New Zealand’s mortgages.

They make money electronically out of thin air and then loan it to New Zealanders at interest. Our money system is still based on the printing of bank notes, and nothing has been done to stop them from creating electronic money in this fashion. The overseas banks do have to have reserves, but its not covered by depositors funds – it’s covered by the inflated price of the land from the bubble they’ve created.

The big banks make huge profits which are taken out of NZ. They win, property owners and speculators win, and our children and people on the lowest rung of the economic ladder lose.

I’ve just heard on the news that half of the house buyers in Auckland are speculators. There are no laws to stop speculation in the NZ property market. The speculators don’t even have to be NZ citizens. It’s morally wrong.

(4) Economic mis-management.  Finally, we don’t have enough builders. The National Party decided that ‘the free market’ would deliver all the industry training New Zealand needed,” effectively wiping out the old apprenticeship system in the 1990s. Wage subsidies for apprentices on block courses were abolished in 1991, leading to the huge trades skills-crisis facing New Zealand today.  Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0507/S00250.htm

What can we do? Here are my ideas.  Stop unelected overseas entities from stealing our wealth.

Put pressure on our local and national government to demand the councils get out of the C40 “low carbon cities” initiative. Our rate payers are not being looked after in this group, and rates have gone up and will continue to go up. Technocrats in the UN, carbon exchanges and overseas investors are the only winners here.

Ask for a change to the money system. Ask why we aren’t creating the money electronically and giving it to Housing NZ?

Join Positive Money NZ – they’re part of an international movement for money reform.  http://www.positivemoney.org.nz/

Demand that we reinstate building apprenticeships.

Stop speculators buying our homes. Make it so they can invest in forestry or commercial property – but make it illegal to speculate on our homes.

Demand our local and national governments use some common sense – something that has flown out the window with the neo-liberal reforms of our economy in the early 1990’s. Blind fools in our government have let “the market’ dictate business and economic activity here, without any rules around the banks or the investors – resulting in this mess. They’ve enriched themselves at the expense of our country and our children.

Don’t borrow from the big four Australian Banks.  Go to the Cooperative Bank, Kiwibank or the Taranaki Savings Bank – they are all NZ owned.

There’s also Liberty Trust, who provide Interest Free Lending from pooled money.

I’d love to hear what you think.


Further links: Bernard Hickey: Power of printing money

NZ in Panama paper leak 60,000 times

key-panama-lieHere’s a story of greed and hypocrisy.  This is what happens when a country elects a banker as prime minister. 

New Zealand is one of the highest taxed nations when it comes to income tax, and we also pay 15% GST on everything we buy.  Even children have to pay tax after the government cut children’s tax credits in 2012.

There’s no privacy protection for us when it comes to the government or IRD.

Also, under the US FACTA law (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), any NZ citizen unlucky enough to be born in the US will be reported on by the NZ government to the IRS if they try to open a bank account, or file a company return.

So that’s what happens to individuals.

But if foreign investors park their money here, no questions are asked and no tax is paid.

Our prime minister John Key got the law changed for this in 2011 when he wanted to turn NZ into a “financial hub” – like Ireland.  When he was head of Merrill Lynch’s derivatives and global foreign exchange business in London, he shifted a lot of the bank’s business to Dublin.

The result was Ireland’s financial crisis, where the clever use of tax-haven rules and a huge credit boom permitted real estate prices and construction to grow quickly before declining ever more rapidly.

Even though John Key was fully cognisant of Ireland’s collapsed banking system and financial hub collapse, he was cock-a-hoop about doing the same thing to New Zealand.

Glib, smooth and dismissive, in December 2010 Key rubbished objections to his plans and directly specified a 0% tax rate, telling the Minister of Economic Development Gerry Brownlee to deliver him a paper that had zero rating of funds.

In February 2011 Gerry Brownlee (Minister for Economic Development) delivered what he wanted, and in May 2011 the international financial “advisors” started drooling.

The law change in September 2011 to 0% tax  for foreign investors made NZ a tax haven.


When a 60 minutes report came out in 2012 about wealthy foreigners dodging tax, Peter Dunne (government lapdog minister) and John Key described it as “legitimate tax avoidance.”  Under the law John Key said that tax evasion is illegal, but tax avoidance is not.

But this is what the IRD department says to the NZ tax payer about tax avoidance:  What’s wrong with tax avoidance

Nothing got done about this issue.

Now in 2016 the birds are coming home to roost.  We have NZ trusts at the centre of Malta money scandal, and NZ is mentioned in the Panama paper leak 60,000 times.

What else are we going to find?

Prime Minister John Key’s register of interests has revealed he has a short-term deposit in a company specialising in New Zealand foreign trusts.  Source: Edwin Mitson, Business Desk, Yahoo! Finance.

He has refused to disclose his tax details.

When Key was asked if it was right that trustees did not have to tell the IRD who was behind the trust, what assets it had, its income, its beneficiaries, the residence of its settlor nor the nature of its assets, Key deflected reporters by saying they should “ask the IRD.”  Even though he was the one who demanded the tax shelter for foreign investors in 2011.

Iceland’s prime minister resigned last week after being the first major casualty of the Panama Papers leaks which revealed how the super-rich manage their money.

Will there be calls for John Key to resign if we find his hand in the cookie jar?  Unlikely.  He previously promised to resign if it was proven that the GCSB carries out mass surveillance of New Zealanders. When the Snowden revelations did indeed show that in 2015, nothing happened.


Links:

2010 Key itching for quick action on financial hub

2011 Key changed the law to extend NZ as a tax haven

New Zealand now an attractive tax location for offshore managed funds

2016 Panama papers: NZ trusts at the centre of Malta money scandal, Mossack Fonseca papers show

Panama papers: Mossack Fonseca ‘bragged about lax New Zealand tax rules’

Calls mount for tighter rules on foreign trusts as Key denies NZ a ‘tax haven’

Quote: “Whilst the PM has been shaking hands with devious financial operators around the world and promoting our tax system, and doing little to ensure its integrity, we are now known as one of the world’s ‘quiet tax havens’ as the leaked documents reveal.”

He said Key and his colleagues were doing nothing for NZ’s international reputation, with more than 12,000 trusts set up here that pay no tax on their overseas’ earnings.

Tax toll on NZ

The gratuitous U.S. government grab for non-U.S. assets, and that’s a FACTA

FACTA cartoonI believe our birth right in the West is to be free. The money we earn and our personal information should be our own.  The place where I’ve found that our government thinks otherwise is at the bank.

I first noticed the erosion of our rights in the early 1990’s, when the NZ government wanted to link our IRD (tax) number with our bank accounts.  It was optional, but if you didn’t give the bank your IRD number, any interest earned on your bank account would be taxed at 33%.  When I told the bank teller that they couldn’t have my IRD number the teller said “It’s coming you know.  You can’t fight it.”  I replied, “Well if everyone in the country has this attitude, you will be right!”

She was right.  Within a year, our government, wholeheartedly following it’s money master’s neo-liberal economic doctrine, sold that NZ owned Post Bank to a foreign bank.  The bank in the shopping centre soon disappeared, along with her job, and bank fees averaging $28 per month were introduced.  The government also upgraded our tax legislation – granting the IRD scary powers, exempting it from our privacy laws.

So that was back then.  Today the IRD can just reach into our private bank accounts and take our money if we don’t pay.  I discovered that last year on one of their forms.

FACTA

FACTA Bank cartoonAnyway, fast forward from the early 1990’s to late 2014, when I was at the bank filling out a deposit slip; and I overheard a man opening a bank account at a nearby desk being asked if he was an American citizen.  Then I heard the bank staff member explain they have to ask the question because of “FACTA”, a new law.

That got my attention.  I am married to a man who is an American, even though he left the US as a child. When I got back to the office I told him about this new banking law.  When we looked up FACTA, we were horrified.

The US government regards anyone who has been born in the states as a taxable resource.  Citizenship Based Taxation, FATCA, is designed to serve as a capital control; Human Capital.  The US, along with Eritrea, does Citizenship Based Taxation.  Eritrea was recently condemned by the UN (Resolution 2023) for doing it.

Take the case of London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson.  He was born in the USA but returned to England with his parents at the age of 5.  The U.S. government forced him to pay the capital gains tax on the sale of his Islington home.  He has never lived in America, but that means nothing to the IRS. They are hunting everyone everywhere.

I was thinking through the ramifications of FACTA for us;
What happens when we want to save for our retirement?
What happens if we want to open a new bank account?
What happens if we sold my house that I bought and freeholded before I met my husband?  Would the IRS be alerted if the money went into our joint bank account?
What happens to my information?  I am a non-US citizen, and my personal data would be sent to the US with no privacy protections.
It doesn’t matter that we already pay taxes in NZ.  The only way around all of this is for our accounts to be separated.

The form that US tax subjects have to fill out is a FBAR form.  If you get any information wrong on the form the IRS can substitute penalties for taxes. I’m sure you get the drift.

We decided that if asked about my husband’s citizenship we’ll answer truthfully that he is a NZ citizen and let his US passport rot in a drawer.

If the letter from the US government does come, my husband said he would renounce his US citizenship.  I told him he would be better to “relinquish” it, in case he ever wants to visit the US.

noo_zealandWe were appalled at the privacy invasion.  New Zealand has agreed to hand over our bank account details to a foreign country!  Our privacy laws are useless, they haven’t been overhauled in years, and IRD with its massive powers abrogates them.  This signifies the unacceptable encroachment of the government into the lives of every citizen – both here and in the US.

More about this here:

A New Zealand government didn’t want the political fallout which would come from breaching our privacy legislation, so they used IRD, being immorally above that privacy legislation, as a backdoor for US to spy on its own citizens.  If they did this once, why won’t a future government find it convenient to use the Teflon IRD on other issues that might be a bit embarrassing politically? Answer: there’s nothing stopping any government doing this. It’s the premise of this blog that IRD and its huge powers, is where the rubber meets the road to our total serfdom. All the Left protesting against GCSB, NSA and PRISM, what’s the difference, again, please?
http://lifebehindtheirondrape.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/fatca-nz-officials-report-crime-that.html


Just to add insult to injury – the cost of enforcing US tax laws should be borne by the USA and FATCA, but the cost has been passed on to our spineless NZ government.

FATCA_Uncle_SamThe US government treats its citizens like a bankrupt bully with a gambling addiction.  It’s got it’s children, and their children’s children into debt; and now it’s raiding their piggy banks.  This is what it looks like when the financial elite get control.  My advice is protect your wealth and your assets from them.


There are more links to articles about FACTA here:

http://www.businessinsider.com/some-americans-abroad-are-renouncing-their-citizenship-to-avoid-the-irs-2015-3

http://lifebehindtheirondrape.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/fatca-nz-officials-report-crime-that.html

http://www.interest.co.nz/news/55283/government-not-necessarily-position-influence-us-fatca-revenue-minister-peter-dunne-says

http://armstrongeconomics.com/2014/12/01/usa-is-it-time-to-turn-off-the-lights/
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/242396/new-bank-law-raises-privacy-fears
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20131002/news/news4.html
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21605907-americas-new-law-tax-compliance-heavy-handed-inequitable-and-hypocritical-fatcas-flaws/comments?page=3