Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Accountability for SCF

Today's Question Time was preceded by a Ministerial statement on the South Canterbury Finance bailout, the debate on which saw some serious questions asked by David Cunliffe around the advice given by consultants, whether SCF was complying with the guarantee, and why the government extended the RDGS to SCF back in April. Cunliffe is calling for a public inquiry, and he's right. The government has just spent $1.6 billion of our money in circumstances that look increasingly dubious. There needs to be transparency and accountability for that.

Meanwhile, in the Herald today, Fran O'Sullivan goes into those dubious circumstances. SCF was apparently acting outside the requirements imposed by the guarantee scheme, and the government knew it. Despite this, the guarantee was extended, and people were paid out - including a large number of last minute speculators who bought in at a discount and so made windfall profits. Some people have apparently got very, very rich of this, and have effectively taken the government and the people of New Zealand for tens of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the government says they can't help the uninsured in Christchurch. The message is clear: the rich get a bailout and windfall profits. The poor get screwed. Its National in a nutshell, isn't it?

The government needs to be accountable for this. Its decision-making around SCF and the RDGS needs to be thoroughly investigated, both to ensure blame is allocated where it belongs, and to prevent these circumstances from happening again. We need a full public inquiry. And if the government refuses one, we can only conclude they have something to hide.