Home' Greymouth Star : November 3rd 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, November 3, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1493 - Christopher Columbus discovers
Caribbean island of Dominica.
1824 - The first trial by jury is
held in Australia.
1926 - Death of Annie Oakley,
noted US markswoman who
starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West
1954 - Death of French artist
1955 - Iran joins Iraq-Turkey pact.
1964 - Lyndon B Johnson wins the US
presidency by a landslide.
1968 - Storms, landslides and floods take
more than 100 lives and cause heavy damage in
1973 - UN Emergency Force reports success
in easing tension between Egyptian and Israeli
troops at positions west of Suez Canal.
1975 - The Q ueen opens an under water
pipeline to bring the first of Britain’s North Sea
1989 - Bombs explode outside Beirut homes
of three Christian legislators shortly after
General Michel Aoun threatens to dissolve
parliament if it ratifies peace treaty.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Karl Baedecker, German
guide book compiler-publisher
(1801-1859); Vincenzo Bellini,
Italian opera composer (1801-
1835); Charles Bronson, US
actor (1921-2003); Monica
Vitti, Italian actress (1931-);
Michael D ukakis, 1988 US
presidential candidate (1933- ); Ken Berry, US
actor-dancer (1933-); Roy Emerson, Australian
tennis star (1936-); Lulu, British singer-actress
(1948-); Anna Wintour, English-born American
magazine editor (1949-); Roseanne Barr, US
comedienne-actress (1952-); Kate Capshaw, US
actress (1953-); Dennis Miller, US comedian
(1953-); Adam Ant, British pop singer (1954-)
“On the plus side, death is one of the few
things that can be done just as easily lying down”
— Woody Allen, American actor-producer
“A man, going on a journey, summoned his
slaves and entrusted his property to them; to
one he gave five talents, to another two, to
another one, to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.” — Matthew 25:14-15
Squadron of the SAS
did not land on a
West Coast beach on
Friday night. Though local army sources did
not confirm or deny this today, it is held as
almost certain that the crack ranger squadron
was dropped at South Beach by army vehicles
Beginning the “ Te Rauparaha” exercise, the
SAS squadron was expected to land between
Greymouth and Hokitika and then make its
way across the West Coast without being seen
or captured. The rangers evaded capture by a
hair’s-breadth on Saturday and were sighted
three times over the weekend.
The rangers are now believed to be in the
Lake Haupiri area where they will exercise
until the major part of the exercise begins
involving 600 troops of the British and New
Zealand forces. This will involve the fighting of
a “Viet Cong” type of war.
The Minister of Broadcasting, Mr Scott
is expected to outline his plans, if any, for
improved West Coast radio ser vices in the
House of Representatives on Thursday.
Mr P Blanchfiled, Westland MP, and the
member for Buller, Mr WE Rowling will
make a joint request to Mr Scott about the
ser vices. The request follows petitions which
have circulated in Westland and Buller seeking
either the return of former 3YZ programmes
or an extension of commercial station 3ZA’s
Mr Blanchfield has stated that names for the
Westland petition were still coming in and it
looked as if there would be between 3000 and
4000 of them. Mr Rowling expected between
2000 and 3000 names, he added.
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
Greymouth Evening Star Co Limited
3 Werita Street, PO Box 3, Greymouth
03 769 7900 (office)
769 7913 (editorial)
768 6205 (fax)
03 769 7913
03 755 8422
o John Russell, where are you
hiding the Maserati?
Russell, 80, a tall man who
walks with the aid of a stick,
laughs heartily. “Unfortunately
we don’t have any of them.”
In courtrooms and on business pages
he is known as J G or John G Russell,
scourge of the taxman.
It has spent decades and millions of
dollars trying to bring him to book and is
now seeking to bankrupt him on a tax bill
of $442 million.
The IRD versus Russell began in
1978 and has raged all the way to the
Privy Council. At its peak, 40 staff were
dedicated to shutting down his tax
schemes known as “the Russell Template”.
The department has tried five approaches
— or “tracks” — in the Russell “tax wars”.
In 2001 the Privy Council ruled that the
template was “blatant tax avoidance”.
The IRD is now working its way along
Track E — seeking to personally bankrupt
Russell for unpaid tax.
The figure has ballooned with interest
and penalties from $74m in little more
than a decade. Offers by Russell, including
paying $1000 a week until his death — an
amount the department said wouldn’t
even keep pace with the interest — have
been rejected. Russell is seeking a judicial
review of the IRD’s decision to decline his
“They could have had $420,000 by now,”
says Russell. Bankruptcy could see him
and Melva, his wife of 60 years, see out
their days in a retirement home courtesy
of the taxpayer.
“It ’s so ridiculous, I could burst out
Bankrupting him may be one thing,
finding assessable assets quite another.
Russell was once a high-flyer, the
managing director of the biggest merchant
bank in the country, Securitibank, with
staff that included Sir Michael Fay, David
Richwhite and Rod Petricevic (the latter
is serving a jail sentence for fraud), but he
has never lived the high life.
Before Securitibank collapsed in 1976,
having got caught in a credit squeeze and
a declining property market, Russell was
sought out by media for comment on
issues from property to the Kiwi dollar.
Creditors were eventually paid the $31m
owed plus interest but Russell believed
his reputation was so tainted he was
unemployable and so set up business from
his home as a liquidator and receiver.
“ While you are successful you are a
financial genius, if you are unsuccessful
you are a crook ... that ’s basically the way
you are looked at in New Zealand.”
Russell says it is in his nature to
challenge authority. Veteran business
journalist Bob Dey suggested that resolve
was hardened by Russell’s experience with
“He took his bitterness against the
establishment into a business where the
primary task seemed to be to outwit
creditors of small companies which sought
his help, and to infuriate bureaucrats.”
The template — which used partnerships
to offset the profit made by one company
against the tax losses of another — soon
drew him into a battle with the IRD
that Russell says has consumed half his
time and millions in costs. His only other
interest is the organ which he’s played in
the country’s biggest churches and still
plays most Sundays in the Kawakawa Bay
“Basically, the difference between the
IRD and me is they say ‘we don’t want you
to use those tax losses’ and I say ‘why not?’
If I’m the receiver of a company that owes
money, those tax losses are an asset of the
company (and) I am obliged to recover
some money for the debenture holder.”
But isn’t the debenture-holder
sometimes him? “Mostly it ’s me!”
Some who have butted against him have
described him as “trenchant ” or worse.
He understands he can be annoying. He
will write to the IRD, enclose a copy of
the relevant statute, and say “actually the
statute does not say what you said it said”.
“Oh, they hate that.”
At the height of his activities Russell
had 58 staff, while the IRD, which feared
other tax agents might copy the template
if they saw Russell “getting away with it ”,
had nearly as many.
He sees the bid to bankrupt him as
payback. “It is a true vendetta in that they
are gunning for me personally and they
are just going to do whatever they can to
get rid of me.”
Good luck finding assets. The car
in the drive is an unsexy secondhand
Suzuki Aero, the house is ramshackle
and due a lick of paint. Both are owned
by a trust. Yellowing paper files line the
carport, more inhabit boxes on the floor,
documents fill his rumpty office out back.
For the interview we sit at the dining
table, a bowl of plastic fruit between us
while his five children, some of his 14
grandchildren and a beloved cat look on
from framed photos on a sideboard.
No champagne, no chandeliers, just an
old exercise bike in the front room and
Melva busy in the dated kitchen preparing
his hot lunch.
“ Yes I enjoy the fight,” says Russell.
He refers to old adversaries by their first
names and says one once tried to hire him
— a s ort of takes-one -to-catch-one pitch.
“I could never be a poacher who turns
Tax minimisation sits at the legitimate
end of the spectrum, tax evasion at the
criminal end with avoidance in between
— the difficult grey territory that courts
and even judges on the same panel can
If a tax scheme is held to be avoidance
— as Russell’s have — tax applies.
Russell has had many judicial scoldings
— “ blatant tax avoidance and contrary
to our taxation laws” ( Judge Paul Barber,
1994); “verging on fraud” (Privy Council,
1992); “negligent and reckless” ( Justice
Gault, 1989) — and some victories that
include a ruling that the tax department
was biased against him.
That came after an internal IRD
strategy report urged the IRD to get
personal. Russell could be dealt “a mortal
blow ”, the department must “take the
fight to him ... increase investigations of
him ... maintain any pressure ... be more
aggressive in court ... hit him personally
The taxman claims that between 1985
and 2000 Russell declared income of
$298,700 when he should have declared
$15.76m. Russell claims he declared what
he earned — less than $20,000 a year
because that ’s all he needs. The only item
on his bucket list is an electric car. On
second thoughts, he says, that seems a bit
“I don’t think he’s motivated by money
at all,” Canterbury University tax law
lecturer Alistair Hodson, who did his
masters degree thesis on Russell’s tax war,
told the Herald.
“Perhaps it ’s just the engagement, the
game. The interaction has kept him going,
his mind is so sharp.
“He has the ability to look at the law
and say ‘oh, there could be a gap there’. ”
Russell has made a contribution to tax
law but is no hero, Hodson says. “He is
commonly seen as a tax avoider.”
Russell says he’s not worth anything
personally. He would raise the $1000 a
week he’s offered the IRD by causing
companies he controls — “about 400” —
to pay him that much more.
“Put it this way, the bricks and mortar
and land — there are certain assets of that
type that are owned by companies that
are not mine but that I am receiver or
liquidator of. ”
A few years ago it was said that trusts
he was associated with owned three
properties with a combined valuation of
less than $2m.
One of those had “gone”, Russell
commented when the Herald raised it.
The family home is owned by the
Kawakawa Trust, of which his children are
beneficiaries. It may be sold as Russell and
Melva contemplate moving to retirement
accommodation but that doesn’t mean
“It will be a fight to the death. I’ve said
to (the IRD), ‘you guys have got to win in
the end but I’m going to have a lot of fun
in the middle section here because I’m not
going yet ’.”
When trust assets are eventually
sold, the money will be spent by the
beneficiaries and tax will apply, says
Death and taxes eh? “There’s nothing
more certain,” smiles Russell.
“ Well, maybe taxes not so much!”
Truth about poison
In response to Mr Caygill’s letter entitled
‘Anti-1080 extremism’ (Greymouth Star,
October 29). First, if he had read my
letter properly he would have noticed my
‘ imagined terrorist scenario’ mentioned
mass poisoning and a potential threat to
human health, not ‘mass death,’ as he puts
He calls for some basic science, I can
only assume that he would like some truth
with that and possibly some dictionary
definitions of a few choice words that
I commonly use when describing
organisations such as DOC, Tb Free NZ,
Vector Control and our most honest West
Coast Regional Council. Maybe then he
and others sharing his view would see that
my reasoning is not really that extremist
after all, merely the truth. Dictionary
meaning, terrorist: A person or persons who
use fear, terror or violence, against others
to achieve a result. Dictionary meaning,
propaganda: Deceptive or distorted
information put out or published by an
organisation or government to promote
a policy idea or cause. Chemical and
biological warfare need no explanation.
I have been protesting the use of this
cruel and deadly toxin for many years, the
propaganda, lies, cover-ups, and omissions
that I have heard or read would surely fill
a Rolleston warehouse. In all my time
protesting I have never found it necessary
to lie, or to distort scientific data, and now
here is your truth/science undistorted from
C T Eason (scientist, Landcare Research).
‘1080 is not safe, I have never, and will
never say that. ‘1080 is classified as a ‘super
poison’ By the US, EPA: ‘ There is no
Fact: plants produce fluoroacetic
acid, but manufactured 1080 is sodium
monofloroacetate. Mr Eason clearly stated
in 2002 ‘anyone comparing 1080 with the
naturally occurring substance is stupid’.
Fact: The FBI and US Air Force both
list 1080 as one of the top 10 possible
“chemicals of mass destruction” regarding
threats to waterways, due to the fact it is
colourless, tasteless, and odourless — an
ideal terrorist biological weapon.
Fact: 1080 is a reproductive toxin (to
males) when consumed in regular non-
Fact: 1080 is a mutagenic toxin when
consumed by pregnant females in regular
Fact: 1080 is highly toxic to all avian life
When 1080 residues are found in meat
and dairy exports by the importers, it will
instantly and totally destroy New Zealand’s
export economy. The Tb myth was exposed
years ago so now they have come up with a
new excuse, the ‘Battle for Our Birds’. But
thanks to their latest efforts blanketing the
Coast in poison, the war is nearly over.
The birds have lost, one can only wonder
what their next pathetic excuse will be to
continue their reign of terror.
Clean, green? Yeah,
The first aerial drop of 1080 poison was
September 19-20, 1959. This was carried
out by the NZ Forest Ser vice, Hokitika,
when 6000 acres in the vicinity of the
headwaters of the Hokitika River were
impregnated with over 13 tons of 1080
poison dropped from two aircraft. The
drop took place in the area 20 miles from
Hokitika and 387, 80-pound drums of the
pellet-form poison were dropped.
A spokesman for the Forest Ser vice
said at the time he doubted very much
if it would have any effect on deer that
happened to eat it and certainly would not
affect any cattle that may be in the area.
The Forest Service then became DOC.
They continue the poison and propaganda,
along with ‘twig and tweet ’ and the AHB,
or Ospri they call themselves now.
Clean, green NZ? Yeah, right! After 55
years of poisoning, our land is green (1080)
but most definitely not clean.
1080 ‘toxic waste’
I have been led to believe that by
international law it is illegal to dump toxic
waste, yet we who live in New Zealand still
believe that we are living in a clean, green
Here is a fact: 1080 poison is a toxic by-
product produced in another country, where
it is illegal to use in any form.
Yet, here our local government, the West
Coast Regional Council, Animal Health
Board, Vector and Tb Free are spreading
this toxic waste all around our country and
have been doing so since the 1950s. They
also have a lot of people believing that 1080
is harmless, which is a falsehood. Why do
they keep using our backyard as a toxic
They say they are targeting specific species
of animal, which is wrong because the
so-called target species are predatory so will
not eat the baits that smell like cinnamon.
They are predators, they eat meat not
So, unless they are using our bush as a
toxic waste dump to kill off all the native
bird species and all the predatory species by
way of by-kill, this latest dumping of toxic
waste has been a useless waste of time and
the taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money.
They are buying into a toxic waste
industry, which I believe in the near future
may be taken to the international courts
for terrorist acts, and continuing the use of
toxic waste as a pesticide against the will
of the constituents they ignored even after
public protests, being exposed in the local
papers and on television news.
They deny that 1080 is harmful to
So I ask again, when will it stop?
New minister, same
The new Minister of Conser vation
Maggie Barrie has been quoted as follows:
“From garden show days ... as well as to
this day, I try not to spray anything. I have
been known to use the odd herbicide when
I had a bigger garden ... but I figured early
on in the piece I didn’t really want to grow
the things that needed spraying every 10
Bravo! But how will she square such
admirable sentiments with her inevitable
involvement in DOC’s love affair with that
deadly eco-poison, 1080?
Will she have the courage of her
convictions and call for an end to the
lunatic agenda of bombarding vast areas of
New Zealand with 1080?
Will she ask why the huge evidence
against this policy continues to be
ignored? Will she question the report of
the Parliamentary Commissioner for the
Environment which, in effect, stated that
because 1080 is not working we must use
Or will she slip into the humbug-and-
hypocrisy line of so many good people who
have entered Parliament with high ideals
but who quickly discarded them in the
inglorious scramble for political promotion?
I hope not.
A cruel blow
For many years I have believed in the
harmful effects of 1080 to humans and the
environment. So many products we have
been assured are safe only to find out the
dire results later.
With Agent Orange, Lindane, DDT,
Thalidomide, just to name a few, causing
heart-breaking birth defects and loss of life.
How can the poisonous 1080 not be
Then, the community in Auckland after
being sprayed for the fruit fly moth with a
toxic chemical, were found to suffer from ill
health very soon after.
Learning of the $1.9 million investment
by the West Coast Regional Council in a
1080 poison plant has been a cruel blow,
especially having recently paid double rates
for the year.
Battling the taxman
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
John Russell’s files at his Kawakawa Bay home reflect his 36-year battle with the Inland Revenue Department.
The taxman has invested millions and decades trying to shut down schemes of its 80-year-old nemesis, writes the
New Zealand Herald’s senior writer PHIL TAYLOR.
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