What follows is a transcript of a speech given by John Key to a breakfast event to the New Zealand Initiative – a right-wing think-tank whose membership includes some of the country’s wealthiest tax avoiders.
Good morning. Thenks for coming. I’m John Key and I’m the Prime Minister.
I want to talk about New Zealand. New Zealand is a country. We have been a country since we were discovered hundreds of years ago by a Dutchman from Old Zeeland. Who would have believed that several hundred years later we would be sitting here eating these nice foods and wondering about out futures.
New Zealanders currently pay tax. Lots of tax. Too much tax. Unless you’re one of us, in which case you have options. Options to forego the taxation regime of the country you’re living in by “living” in another country or, as is often the case, setting up your “business” as a trust in another “country.” And by “business” I mean house, income and business.
Some people think this is a bad thing. Somehow it is immoral or wrong to minimise your tax by undertaking questionable transactions through a Panamanian law firm.
What a load of nonsense.
Panama is a fantastic country. Bronagh and I went there on holiday not long ago, signed a few papers, and came home pretty smartly. It’s a beautiful part of the world.
New Zealand is also a beautiful part of the world. Which leads me to ask this question: why can’t we be set ourselves as a sanctuary for people looking to diminish the imposition of taxation on their lives? Why can’t the wealthy who live in other countries email a random law firm somewhere in Central America to set up a trust in our beautiful country?
Well it turns out they can. Ever since the National Party came to power in 2008 we have worked tirelessly to create a situation where New Zealand welcomes millions and millions and millions of questionable dollars from thousands of people all around the world so that they are hidden from the customs and excise people in their own country.
These are great days if you’re rich like you or I. Take me, for example. I’ve got millions of dollars. Some of it is in New Zealand, some of it isn’t. Or is it? It might or might not be? Even as I talk about it, it’s important not to deliver too many clues. Clues lead to questions. Questions lead to investigations. Investigations lead to things being uncovered. Just look at David Cameron. He answered too many questions. Far too many questions.
Just look at how I’ve handled this week. I’ve welcomed New Zealand’s involvement in the world of finance. I’ve celebrated our openness and transparency when it comes to keeping secret trusts secret. Our secret trusts are the most transparent in the world.
So next time you’re thinking about hiding your money from the taxman, or laundering your cartel millions, then why not try little old New Zealand? The home of the transparent secret trust.