Let’s Talk About Taxpayer Funded Elections

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week that she is open to having a debate on taxpayer funding for political parties. And that she personally would “like a scenario where political parties did not have to fundraise.”

We say, “bring it on.” Our current election funding system is an affront to democracy. It allows wealthy individuals, businesses, and interest groups to put undue pressure on existing political parties by way of large donations. And as we have seen in the past two elections, only the very wealthy are in a position to form new political parties and seriously contest the election. Continue reading

‘Trade for All’ by Jen Olsen

I am a Co-convener of the Alliance party and I was an organiser for TPP Action Dunedin. I have made a number of submissions detailing the views of many New Zealanders and the potential impacts on the health and well-being of our land and people from the type of multinational investor led trade treaty that we have seen with the CPTPP, RCEP, and PACER plus.

I believe we need to recognise that this old style of trade agreement has led us down the dead end road of unsustainable economic activity which takes place only to increase investment returns. We need to think differently about trade, view it through the lens of our knowledge about climate change and consider the well-being of our trading partners. Trade should be a vehicle to increase human well-being, it should be fair and it should encourage only sustainable activity. We know that inequality is a major contributor to social unrest in the world today and that resources are not fairly distributed. Fair trade does not take advantage of less powerful trading partners, exploit workers, or deplete natural resources. It allows the free flow of knowledge and encourages co-operative activity. Continue reading

Raining on Apple’s Parade

Great excitement in the financial world – on Friday 3rd of August, Apple became the world’s first trillion dollar company. A mind-blowing amount of money that is more that the economic output of New Zealand and a host of other countries.

We can’t deny that Apple has developed great products. This article was written on a Macbook. But the company has also avoided paying taxes as much as possible. Apple had $811 million in sales in NZ in 2017, yet managed to whittle its profit down to $29.7 million (ODT 4 Aug). That would mean cost of sales was a whopping 96% of income – or some very creative accounting. For over a decade, Apple reputedly paid very little in taxes anywhere. Continue reading

Stop Saying “There’s Not Enough Money”

“There’s not enough money” is a refrain the social services, education, and health sectors have heard for far too long to justify chronic underfunding. It’s simply not true.

Our politicians say they can’t afford to give essential services the funding they need to provide the necessities of life for the people of New Zealand. What they are really doing is choosing to direct funds elsewhere. Continue reading

A Living Wage Might Be Our Best Shot At Saving The Planet

Our planet is awash with stuff. Stuff produced using energy provided by fossil fuels, in the main. Stuff that is made out of petroleum-based products. Stuff that uses up valuable and finite resources, such as fresh water and minerals. Stuff that requires pesticides and other harmful chemicals to grow and to process. Slowly but surely, all this stuff is stuffing up the planet. Continue reading

No Ownership Of Ideas

New ideas don’t come out of thin air. They build on information that is already in the public domain, provided by past generations of innovative thinkers and on public education systems that teach people the skills they need to extend existing thinking.

If ever there was a time when new ideas were needed, it is now. The biggest problem facing the planet is climate change. And it is unique, in that if everyone doesn’t adopt measures to combat global warming, no one will be safe. What we do as individuals, or individual countries, is useless unless everyone elsewhere follows suit. This has major implications. Continue reading

The T words: Trade, Tariffs, Trump

The mainstream media in New Zealand presents the argument that New Zealand and the other countries involved in TPP negotiations over tariff-free trade/the best ways to increase corporate profits, represent the progressive way of the future. US President Donald Trump, in deciding to reintroduce tariffs, is going backwards.

Tariffs are an affront to neoliberalism and as such cannot be condoned by mainstream economists. All the more reason, even though it is Donald Trump who has raised the issue, we should go there. We should have the conversation we should have had in 1984 when our politicians decided, unilaterally, that tariff-free trade was the answer to the universe. Or at the least the question of why New Zealand couldn’t sell mutton to countries that already had their own sheep? Continue reading

What Does Oppose Really Mean?

As expected, our government has signed the CPTPP in Chile, despite its misgivings about the remaining ISDS clause. Both David Parker and Jacinda Ardern are on record as saying they are not completely happy with the ISDS provisions that remain in the CPTPP. David Parker has said that New Zealand will “oppose including ISDS in any future trade agreements involving New Zealand.” Prime Minister Ardern has intimated the same.

Labour and New Zealand First have given mixed messages on the CPTPP (TPP in its former life). They were opposed before the election. They support it now, albeit with some misgivings. So it would be good to clarify exactly what the government means when it says it will “oppose” including ISDS clauses in future trade agreements. Continue reading

“Start As You Mean To Go On”

Our new Prime Minister, a soon-to-be new mum, has challenged our mindset about what a PM can and cannot do – in a good way. And Prime Minister Ardern has made all the right noises about wanting changes in other areas too. She wants to reduce poverty and inequality and prevent climate change. She wants her government to make a difference. We want her government to make a difference.

The government says it wants to rethink the way we do trade in the future. We want the government to rethink the way we do trade too. But we want the government to rethink the way we do trade now. Continue reading