Greece Is The Word

Things finally got so bad that the people of Greece did the unthinkable. They voted in a far left government. “Far left” defined these days as any government that is prepared to increase minimum wages, retain state assets, recognize unions, have a social security system, and reduce unemployment. Nothing that would have caused the blink of an eyelid 40 years ago in many countries, New Zealand included. Continue reading

A Hundred Billionaires Say “Lend Me Your Ears”

Not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade, but the picture of our Prime Minister and leaders of most of the other nations of the world “speed dating in first class” with corporate leaders and sundry other ultra rich and famous at DAVOS, is not a pretty one. A hundred billionaires bending the ears of the most influential politicians of the day has got to be bad news for the rest of us. Continue reading

Put the Kettle On

The centre right won again. What’s new? The centre right have won every election since 2004 no matter what party is in power – give or take a bit of tinkering here and there. The post election analysis overheard from a couple of petrol station attendants the morning after probably makes the most sense of any put forward so far. “It doesn’t make any difference. They all say one thing and do another when they get in anyway.”

Barring outrageous gaffes, the New Zealand voter always gives a party three terms. Next election will likely see a change of faces in power. Whether that will translate to a change of direction for the country is entirely another matter. Continue reading

The Small Party Problem

The Conservatives and Internet Mana are out, but there are still too many small parties. We’ve come up with a novel new solution to the problem: why not institute a six-seat threshold for electorates? Any party that wins fewer than six electorates shouldn’t be represented in Parliament. If an electorate vote is won by a candidate from a party that doesn’t reach the threshold, the seat in question should be awarded to the nearest runnerup from a major party instead. Brilliant!

Oh, wait, no, that’s a terrible idea.

But it’s exactly the same principle as the threshold for the party vote. Continue reading

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

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 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

The TPP – It May be Free But It’s Not Fair

Would anyone vote for giant US  tobacco corporation Philip Morris to run our country?  Or chemical and agricultural biotech company Monsanto?  Highly unlikely.  We know that any big  corporate is going to put increasing its profits far above the needs of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

But the TPP agreement, as it stands, could effectively put giant overseas corporations in charge of us all through the investor state dispute settlement clause. Continue reading

Open Letter to Rt Hon Tim Groser Minister of Trade

Dear Minister,
The Alliance Party urges the government not to sign New Zealand up to the Trans-Pacific Agreement. We are convinced this agreement is a major threat to democracy and the sovereignty of all countries involved. It will allow large multinational companies to run roughshod over elected governments and operate contrary to the wishes of the people of the country. We see evidence that this has already begun in New Zealand in the threats of legal action by the big tobacco companies to prevent plain packaging for cigarettes. Continue reading