Free Education

Another cringe-worthy moment for New Zealanders this week. The Cook Islands Prime Minister’s nephew was arrested for not paying back his student loan when he visited New Zealand to attend a work based conference – on education. A loan that had ballooned, thanks to extortionate interest charges, from a mere $20,000 to over $100,000. Continue reading

Don’t Blame Pharmac

Keytruda is a new immune-oncology drug to treat advanced melanoma released recently by Merck Group at a cost of over $10,000 per month, per patient. Yet again we have a new cancer treatment that is prohibitively expensive released onto the market. Yet again we have clamouring for the government via Pharmac to shell out the extortionate amount of money required to procure the drug.

Of course the government should fund the drug, as it should fund any treatment proven to be effective in treating illness or disease. However the money will have to come out of an already stretched health budget or increased taxes. And it is totally unnecessary. The drug, like most new and effective treatments, is grossly overpriced in relation to the cost of production. Continue reading

$207 Million Per Day in Share Trading And No One’s Thinking About A Financial Transactions Tax. Seriously?

The NZX has reported that average trades increased in value in October by 56% to an eye-watering $207 million – per day.

That is $207 million worth of share transactions each day that no GST is paid on. For reasons that have never been made entirely clear, financial services, unlike other goods and services, are exempt from GST.

The government claims it is strapped for cash, especially when it comes to spending on essential services such as health, education, infrastructure, and social welfare. With the record-breaking turnover on the NZX, surely it is time to look at taxing financial transactions. Continue reading

You Have To Be Green To Be Red?

Environmental issues and social justice are intertwined. Global warming can only be averted by using the Earth’s resources in a fair and sustainable way.

Likewise, social justice can only occur if global warming is at least contained. Those most at risk from a planet with frequent extreme climate events, pollution, and scarcity of resources, are the same people at risk from unscrupulous employers who refuse to pay a living wage and provide safe working conditions. Continue reading

TPP – The Real Fight Begins Now

The government would have us think the TPP is a done deal, and we must make the best of it. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that has happened is that negotiations over the text of the deal have been concluded. So now we know, or will soon know, what we are up against.

The US must release the text of the deal within the next month. This means whether our government likes it or not, we will have access to the text as well. This is when the fight begins. Continue reading