A Little elephant in the room – Part 2

So it’s been established that Andrew Little, leader of the Labour Party doesn’t like people who evade paying tax. So why does he employ one as his Chief of Staff?

That’s a pretty fair question, don’t you think? It’s probably one that David Cunliffe should have considered before he hired Matt McCarten in 2014 and set up the infamous War Room. And it’s certainly something Andrew Little should have considered before he went full retard on John Key over the last two weeks, and before he made a factually incorrect attack on John Shewan.

Matt McCarten and Unite Union’s tax issues first became a public issue in 2010. Rebecca Steven reported this in Stuff on 2 December 2010:

One of New Zealand’s largest unions, Unite, owes IRD over $130,000 including over $36,000 in tax meant to be paid on behalf of its employees.

The union’s accounts, which can be publicly viewed through a Government website, shows Unite’s liabilities exceeded its assets by over $170,000 for the year ended March 2009.

A further $57,630 is owed to the Government tax collector for GST.

Unite head Matt McCarten admitted to BusinessDay this afternoon that the union owed money to IRD and said the union was “keen” to pay.

He said it was “not that much in the great scheme of things”.

PAYE stands for pay-as-you-earn. This money is collected from employees by employers and then paid to the IRD.

Right-wing blogger David Farrar said on his Kiwiblog this was a very bad look for a trade union as it meant Unite had been collecting the tax but not paying it.   

“Over $36,000” might have been “not that much in the great scheme of things” to McCarten, but I am sure it would have come as a very nasty surprise to the staff of Unite Union, who could rightly have expected their boss to pay the money he had deducted from their wages to IRD.

The next day, Stevenson reported that the CTU had issued McCarten a “please explain”:

The Council of Trade Unions wants an explanation from Unite on why it failed to pay the IRD more than $36,000 in PAYE on behalf of its employees.

Further on in that story however, we get an insight into the mind of a union member:

Unite head Matt McCarten confirmed yesterday that the union owed money to the IRD but said he had made choices to pay for union campaigns rather than clear the debt. “I don’t shy away from these decisions, I make the calls.”

He said Unite paid $8000 in PAYE each month to the IRD but kept incurring late payment penalties. He claimed not to know exactly how much it owed the IRD.

He agreed it was not a good look for a workers’ union to fail to pay its employees’ tax.

This is the real nub of this issue as far as Andrew Little is concerned.

Why does Andrew Little continue to make allegations about the Government being soft on tax evaders when he employs someone who, as the next instalment will show, has wilfully failed to meet his employer obligations?



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.