In the News 8th April 2016

Panama, Helen Clark, Vanuatu and Lydia Ko

PM John Key states, "I like Panama hats but I don't think they look good on me."

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has been placed in a awkward position with the leak of documents by Mossack Fonesca, a law firm based in the Central American country of Panama.

New Zealand is identified as a country that is friendly to and encouraging of foreign owned trusts. Laws surrounding these trusts are transparent and follow international legal guidelines, but operate on a 'don't ask, don't tell' philosophy.

For example, a British citizen can deposit any sum of money into a New Zealand bank account after setting up a trust in the country. This can be money that has or has not already been taxed where it was earned in Britain. New Zealand is under no obligation to notify Britain of the existence of this trust and bank account unless it is specifically asked for information from British official agencies.

John Key stated as early as 2005 that he envisioned New Zealand as the perfect off-shore banking location. Shipping from the country's remote location makes the development of manufacturing industries economically impractical. Because they don't rely on shipping, service based industries, including IT and banking, offer an opportunity to compete in the global market.

It is estimated that New Zealand earns in excess of $24 million in accountancy fees from foreign trusts. Questions are being asked if that addition to the NZ economy is enough to counteract the negative publicity of being labelled a tax haven.

Questions to ponder:

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Helen Clark Considered for the Role as United Nations Secretary General

Former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark is a serious contender for the top position in the United Nations. This would be the first time a New Zealander and a woman was appointed to the job.

Since losing her bid for a fourth term as PM of New Zealand to John Key in 2008, Helen Clark has worked as the Administrator of the UN Development Programme. She is charged with overseeing millions of dollars in funding to connect developing nations with the expertise needed to advance economically, culturally and environmentally.

The current head of the UN is Ban Ki-moon from South Korea. Other contenders for the job are listed on the UN website,

New Zealand politicians from all parties have rallied around Clark's nomination. If chosen, her appointment will doubtless raise the profile of New Zealand internationally.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What is the United Nations?
  • Who benefits from its existence?
  • What are its strengths and weaknesses?
  • What changes could be made to make it more effective?

Do Bad Things Come in Threes?

A third earthquake this week in Vanuatu has left locals with mixed feelings. The US Geological Service reported the earthquake was located 109km west of Sola, in Torba province, at a depth of 33km. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the quake posed no tsunami threat. Thursday afternoon's quake came less than 24 hours after the second quake measuring 6.9 magnitude struck slightly to the west in Santo at a depth of 10km. This week's first earthquake also measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale and was located in the same area on Sunday. Vanuatu sits on an area known as the Ring of Fire, and a series of earthquakes can mean that energy is being released regularly enough from the earth's crust to prevent larger, more destructive events. In this instance, three might just be their lucky number.

Questions to Ponder:

Where the Heck?

Locate: Panama, New Zealand, New York, South Korea, Vanuatu, the US state of Georgia

In the News

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