Flushing Out the Non Voters

Voter turnout is predicted to be even lower this election than the previous two general elections. Understandable. When the election is portrayed as a Mr New Zealand contest, who cares who wins?

But a general election is not a popularity contest. Political parties should have to do more than thrust their leaders in front of a camera. There are important issues at stake. Continue reading

Here’s to a New Zealand Where Everyone is Able to Afford Shoes and a Raincoat for Their Kids

No disrespect to KidsCan, but the handing over of the 100,000th raincoat to a school child as they did on July 4th is not a cause for celebration. It is a tragedy. It should have been a national day of mourning.

It means that 100,000 children live in households where there is not enough money to buy such basic items as shoes and raincoats. Continue reading

Three Cheers for Tax and Spend!

Our Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce cries “tax and spend” like it’s a bad thing. But that makes no sense. What other option does a government have?

Tax is virtually the only source of income for our government and is used to pay for the things we all benefit from; the justice system, transport, education, health, social security, science and innovation, trade development, even Mr Joyce’s own salary and that of the departments he is responsible for. Personal taxes provide the largest portion of this income. Continue reading

Secrets, Lies, and Trade in Services Agreements

We thought the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement was bad. And then there was TISA. TISA is a world wide Trade in Service Agreement being negotiated in secret.

Even though New Zealand is one of the countries that has been part of negotiations, the first most people will have heard of TISA was via the Wikileaks release last week.

TISA once finalized will cover 68 per cent of world services. It seeks to expand access to foreign markets for private multi national service industries and ensure they receive national and most-favoured nation treatment. The aim is to open up services world wide by doing away with barriers such as: Continue reading

The App Economy; Can We Make it Work for Everyone?

The fastest growing companies are the ones in the tech/ecommerce industry. It has been described as the ‘app economy’. The app economy gives us great innovations – but it fuels economic inequality.

Ecommerce industries employ fewer people and they often eliminate existing jobs e.g self service checkouts at the supermarkets. But those at the forefront of these industries are rewarded with million or even billion dollar incomes. Thus concentrating wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Continue reading

The Threshold for Democracy

Labour is right. It is an affront to democracy that some parties receive many more list votes than another party that has won an electorate seat, and yet get no MPs.

However, at the moment, winning – or being allowed to win – an electorate seat and taking advantage of the lower threshold for list votes is virtually the only way for minor or fledgling political parties to establish a presence in government. Requiring every party to cross the same party vote threshold even if it is lowered to 4%, as proposed in the Electoral Amendment Bill, will make it very difficult for minor parties to attract votes. Continue reading

John Key is Right, but Politics is a Rich Man’s Sport

John Key is right. It should not be possible to buy a political party in New Zealand. But let’s be honest, politics has become a rich man’s sport.

For many years corporate interests and wealthy individuals have thrown money at political parties they think are biddable. The bar has been raised. Mere bucket-loads of cash are not enough, truckloads are now required to fund effective election campaigns. The difference is that they have done it quietly. Much digging is required to discover who gave what to whom. Dotcom is at least upfront about what he is doing and who he is doing it with. Continue reading