Peters claims quake workers weren't paid

TIM FULTON
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2014

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Earthquake Services owner Bryan Staples told his staff not to file GST returns or pay PAYE tax, says New Zealand First MP Winston Peters.

Peters told Parliament yesterday that staff also did earthquake inspections without being qualified and were paid for technical reports that were either not supplied or were "useless".

Staples was not the person people thought him to be, Peters said.

"Mr Staples is the man of course, who has been painting himself as the modern Robin Hood. Well, he's halfway there - he's taken from ordinary people but he's not giving to the poor."

Peters said Earthquake Services employed several subcontractors to repair damaged properties.

"We understand that he [Staples] and his companies had no intention of paying numerous subcontractors."

It also appeared Staples instructed his staff not to pay GST, he said.

Peters accused Staples of using disputes as a reason to delay payments while "never intending to actually defend any claim, or any part of it".

He questioned how Staples had been able to import migrant Filipino workers under contract. "How did he get these people via [Immigration NZ] and MBIE [Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment]?

"How did he influence those two departments to allow these immigrant workers in?"

Staples left his Filipino workers in "dire straits" by failing to pay them and instructed his workers not to file GST returns or pay PAYE, Peters said.

It appeared Staples had no intention to treat these workers lawfully, he said, and it raised the issue of why IRD and MBIE didn't do "due diligence to avoid such breaches of employment law".

Staples said he had "absolutely nothing to hide".

"I wish Peters had called me first. I could have set him straight."

Staples said he was handicapped in what he could say because some of the matters were the subject of a defamation case set down for hearing in mid-August.

But he named several former business partners and a debt collection company who had been pursuing him for "$200,000".

A spokesman for minister Gerry Brownlee said Peters' allegations were "very similar to a number of other allegations" made to the police, the Serious Fraud Office and IRD in May.

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