Nash covers many bases in city address

Police Minister Stuart Nash. Photo: AP
Stuart Nash.
Labour MP Stuart Nash wears four ministerial hats: small business, police, fisheries and revenue.

So it is understandable his presentation to a small group of Otago business people in Dunedin yesterday was wide-ranging, from organised crime and tax on multinationals to the importance of digital literacy for small business.

The thread, if you could find one, was about control - just at different levels of the legal spectrum.

Starting off at the illegal end of the sprectrum, he said methamphetamine use was one of the biggest problems in New Zealand.

"It's a $500million industry. There can be no argument it causes tremendous harm to the community and it's largely controlled by organised crime groups," he said.

The sale of illicit drugs, like other commercial enterprise, was run with market expansion in mind, he said.

"Gangs are organised. In my area, in towns like Wairoa, if you sell enough meth you get a free Harley Davidson, so that has been a major focus for the police right across the country."

In the headlights also were multinational companies.

"We want to make sure multinationals that don't have a permanent presence in New Zealand pay their fair share of tax."

Legislation had been passed to collect GST on remote services, Mr Nash said. The proposed digital services tax would apply to companies such as Facebook and Google.

"These companies shouldn't have tax breaks which weren't applicable to local businesses, particularly at retail level which was already struggling with the growth of online.

At the same time, all businesses needed to accept the transition to digital, both from the context of running a successful business to streamlining tax, he said.

"We are the last generation of business owners who can operate successfully without being digitally literate."

The IRD had already enacted changes aimed at making it easier to deal with the tax man, including automatic tax refunds in the majority of cases, he said.

"Our focus isn't to put people under. We'd rather work with those businesses and individuals to come up with a solution, letting them get on with running their business rather than worrying about compliance."


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