Rodney on the Panama Papers…again

Rodney Hide uses his HoS column to deride the left for leaping on the Panama Papers bandwagon.

The Panama Papers big reveal proved better in prospect than reality.

We had the promise of New Zealand as a tax haven, squillionaires hiding their ill-gotten gains, Prime Minister John Key shown to be dodgy, and the rich getting richer through wholesale tax avoidance.

The expectation was political carnage.

Labour Leader Andrew Little looked strong: he promised to ban foreign trusts, overturning law from Roman times.

Sure, it was Nicky Hager who has history of getting to 7 by adding 2 plus 2. But this appeared different. Hager was working with a team of top Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand journalists .

Maybe, just maybe, they had something.

And then the Big Reveal. The names making the headlines were Alan Hubbard, as a shareholder of some or other company; a Tauranga-based Elvis impersonator, who had his address listed for a Mr Basil Al Jarah registering a company in the British Virgin Islands, and Greenpeace, but it seems Greenpeace was on another leaked database, and that it wasn’t really them.

There was one rich lister and political donor named but his donation was to the Greens, not National.

Oh, and it was explained, just because someone is named doesn’t mean they have done anything wrong or improper.

Turns out fewer than 200 New Zealand trusts have links to Mossack Fonseca, all of which are properly disclosed and subject to information sharing requests from other countries and Inland Revenue.

Confused? Yup. Don’t care? Yup.

It took seven journalists destroying their reputations, the seven intellectual pygmies if you will, led by a cockwomble in Nicky Hager, to find out there was nothing in the Panama Papers. That didn’t stop Andrew Little going all in on them, declaring that people named in the papers were grubby and that he would ban all foreign trusts. The left-wing have been left looking more embarrassed than the Moment of truth back-fire.

TVNZ put out a press release saying its collaboration with RNZ and Hager “exposes more New Zealand links to secret offshore trusts that are operating in this country to avoid paying tax”. It didn’t.

TVNZ declared: “Our joint investigation raises serious questions about New Zealand’s trust laws, and the ease with which they are manipulated”. They aren’t.

It continued that New Zealand is a tax haven and a country “embarrassed and tarnished” by the contents of Mossack Fonseca’s secret files.

We aren’t.

RNZ wrote of when “the Shewan really hits the fan” – a play on the name of tax specialist John Shewan, former chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who the Prime Minister has asked to review the rules covering New Zealand-based overseas trusts.

The politest thing to be said is TVNZ and RNZ extrapolated well beyond their data set. It seems lots of documents – and lots of collaboration – don’t add up to lots of stories.

The Panama Papers fizzled before they flickered.

I think some OIA requests are in order. To TVNZ and RadioNZ on how much they paid ICIJ for access to the Panama Papers and how much they paid Nicky Hager.

The seven intellectual pygmies can now all be safely ignored as fools of the highest order….and political operatives under the protective wing of Nicky Hager.

 

– Herald on Sunday


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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.

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