Friday February 23, 2018   Last updated 12:03PM

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Loan sharking or legalised theft

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Loan sharking or legalised theft
By John Tamihere

I want to address two matters of significance to our community, because whilst they may seem separate, there is a connection.

The first are low-life loan sharks. They are the ones who charge people anywhere from 30%-60% interest. They market and target those in great stress and or difficulty, purposely knowing that there’s some possibility repayments might be difficult or indeed not met.

We know that every Christmas there are huge expectations and advertising drivers placed into the minds of children, and therefore on their parents to ‘keep up with the Jones’.

Five weeks later, those same families must fork out for new school uniforms, shoes and stationary. Whilst education at state schools is supposedly free, everyone reading this column knows that’s not true.

So once again loan sharks will strike and be very successful because they are tailoring loans of $500 as Back to School loans. The repayments are calibrated over 16 weeks and with a $100m Application Fee, it works out that when you borrow that $500, you end up paying $1000. That’s legalised theft in my book.

What we as a community and these families have to do is lift our ability to budget. We must set those budgets with the knowledge that large costs, like Christmas and the school year, will come.

Even then we know some families will not be able to meet those commitments and that is where the Ministry of Social Development and social organisations like Te Whānau o Waipareira, Salvation Army and others must be supportive.

Come to us first, rather than the loan sharks.

I turn now to the latest report on the wealth gap in New Zealand where the richest 1% own 30% of the country’s total wealth. The poorest 30% of Kiwis had barely 1% of all wealth created in the last year.

Under no circumstances do I want to bag the endeavours of the rich but I want to make this one point. You can trace every rich person in that top 1%’s success back to government largesse.

The only honest beneficiaries’ in New Zealand are those that line up at WINZ and are treated as second class citizen. Every rich person in this country has achieved significant dollars routed and laundered through billions of dollars’ expense by the New Zealand taxpayer per year.

New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart, who added another $3.1 billion to his fortune in 2017, achieved his first million under the privatisation programmes of the David Lange government. Merchant bankers Michael Fay and David Richwhite made hundreds of millions under the same regime and programmes. Fletchers, Fulton Hogan and all large scale companies receive hundreds of millions of taxpayers funded contracts a year

I’m not knocking these organisations or people but telling them they are no better - or no worse - than someone whose down on their luck requiring an unemployment or sickness benefit from the state. We are all funded out of the one pool but some dress it up like they are not.


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