The Podium

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First issue…

With a change of government appearing to be a foregone conclusion, there will be many challenges facing a centre-left coalition that will have to be addressed.

Setting aside for a moment who will lead the new coalition or what Parties may or may not comprise it – what six issues do you think should take priority for a new government?

Feel free to list what you believe to be the top six priorities of a new centre-left coalition. You can list them in order of importance (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) or alphabetically or random bullet-points.

As submissions accumulate, I will send a link to this page to various MPs, from various centre-left Parties, for their attention.

Notes:

1. This isn’t intended as a full-on debating page (yet). One post per person, please, unless you have a follow up point to make, in which case I can condense two posts into one.

So please just list YOUR six policy priorities give as much (or as little) explanation as you feel necessary.  Don’t critique others posts.

2. You may give your Party affiliation (if you have one) if you like. (But no Party political speeches, please. I’m interested in what you think a new government should be doing.)

3. National/ACT or other sundry right wingers – I’ll be brutally frank (!) here. I’m not interested in hearing from you. Your Parties are already in government, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them  directly to Dear Leader. I’m sure he’d just love to hear from you.

Thank you for participating!

- Frank Macskasy

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  1. 13 November 2012 at 9:29 am | #1

    My six priorities for an incoming government…

    1. Child Poverty

    Whatever the cause of child poverty, the State has a role to play in ensuring that the children of this country are well looked after; have access to good food and medical care; and have the very best chances in education. They are our future and only foolish, short-sighted, and mean-spirited people would turn their backs on children in need.

    My number one priority would be to have good, nutritious meals in all schools (not just low decile, which can end up stigmatising those schools and creating middle-class resentment). We need a Minister of
    Children to undertake these measures, and that person should be the Prime Minister; no other role being more important to the well-being of a nation, despite what head-in-the-sand conservatives might say.

    2. Housing.

    Instead of building more and more roads, we need more and more houses. Possibly up to 20,000 new homes for low and low-middle income earners and people on fixed incomes. Building more homes would not just increase our house stock and alleviate a dire housing shortage, but would create thousands of extra jobs.All those thousands of extra jobs would ‘trickle down’ into the rest of the economy. (If neo-liberals can use the ‘trickle down’ idea…)

    A society with inadequate housing is creating a ‘ticking time bomb’ of social unrest, disease, alienation, and adds to problems such as child poverty.

    An incoming government must implement a more proactive housing policy if it is to address deeper inequities in our society.

    3. Apprenticeship & Training

    Increase apprenticeships,and turn the unemployment benefit into a training allowance. The State should pay for training and ongoing education and where young people have already paid fees, they can be turned into a tax-credit if they are working in New Zealand.

    The first priority should be traning and educating unemployed young people – not making their lives more difficult with barriers, fees, and pointless government policies and regulations. It seems inexplicable that we pay young people to do nothing and we should instead be removing every barrier to them taking up training. This is especially vital when our country is so short of skilled tradespeople and professionals.

    Conservatives who oppose this as some form of “socialism” should ask themselves why they think it preferable to keep young people on the dole, rather than pay to train them and get them of the dole.

    4.Implement a fairer taxation system, including Capital Gains Tax , Land Tax, and Financial Transactions Tax.

    Currently there is much wealth in NZ which escapes taxation with the result that we are borrowing from overseas to pay for our state services. It is also unfair that those on lower to middle incomes pay tax
    whilst those who are wealthier are able to manage their affairs to avoid their fair share.

    Without a Capital Gains Tax – which is advocated by nearly every sector group, commentator, economist, etc – property speculation is an untaxed commercial activity and distorts our economy. We are currently borrowing billions from overseas lenders to play “pass the parcel” with property; inflate prices; and pay ourselves tax-free gains – all funded by foreign capital. Which means that as a nation we are becoming more and more indebted to foreign lenders. Only someone who is shortsighted and selfish could possibly ignore such a growing problem.

    On top of a growing, unsustainable, private foreign debt, we are also pricing land out of reach of our children. This is intergenerational theft and the result will be new generations unable to afford housing and farms in our own country, and forcing them to join the migration to Australia.

    This is madness on a grand scale.

    5. Review all legislation such as the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Search & Surveillance Act and repeal all laws that impinge on citizens’s privacy, and gives undue power to various arms of the State such as our spy agencies, police, etc.

    There appears no real need for laws that encourage and support excessive State power, especially when other laws are more than adequate to deal with criminal activity.

    6. Re-build a non-commercial public television.

    New Zealand is one of the few OECD nations without a public television service. Australia has at least three public broadcasting TV networks (ABC, SBS, and NITV).

    With a non-commercial public broadcaster, programming in NZ is restricted to only commercial programmes of a populist nature. There is no current broadcaster tasked with providing more thoughtful programming that might be risky in terms of ratings, but could still offer good content. Former network TVNZ7′s “Backbences” is a good example of this.

    Therefore, an incoming government must rebuild a public, non-commercial TV broadcaster. Two options would be;

    6A. Turn TV1 into a non-commercial public service, funded by advertising from TV2.

    6B. Build an entirely new public broadcasting, funded by a levy on SKYTV.

    Whichever option is chosen, the most important aspect to this is not the creation of a public Broadcaster – but instead entrenching it’s existance and funding so that future governments cannot undermine and interfere with their viability and funding. A series of laws and contracts should be used to lock-in public broadcasting.

    A solution might be that a Trust Board is set up to govern public broadcasting/radio in New Zealand. Half the Trust Board could be made up of representatives from the industry and the other half elected by
    the community during a general election.

    Funding would be made the responsibility of the Remuneration Authority, which also determines salaries for members of Parliament. Increases for funding for public radio and TV would be linked to increases for MPs salaries.

    - Frank Macskasy

  2. Rachel Miller
    13 November 2012 at 10:56 am | #2

    Priorities…

    * A more long term economically viable strategy to raise the coffers…one that will create jobs, as opposed to short term stop gap measures such as selling our assets

    * Raising the living standards of the most vulnerable and instead of all this threats of benefit cutting which only harm the kids, provide a more proactive stance. Instead of work seminars which are a joke spend the money on work skills courses, parenting courses, job hunting skills and drug/alcohol rehabilitation and counselling etc to enable those at the bottom end of the spectrum to help themselves and lift themselves up. Econonic budgeting and nutritional courses would be a great bonus too. Not every beneficiary will require all of these but the availabiliy needs to be there. And of course these courses will not work for everyone but at least its a proactive approach

    * Longer jail time for child abusers and other heinous crimes

    * Kyoto protocol…lets get back to where we should be

    * Schools esp in Chch…listen to the people are superschools necessary? Instead of a one size fits all forget about the extra work and find out what will work best long term for students and schools

    * Tax breaks and gst…sort that out so the poor are not hit hardest. Look at ways to lower the cost of neccesary grocery items and perhaps look at supporting more community self sustaining gardens throughout the country.

    (Random order of priority)

  3. 13 November 2012 at 10:59 am | #3

    A Royal Commission of Enquiry into the treatment, support, rehabilitation and justice services available to abused children, women and men.

    A serious deduction in the amount of money being spent on the most extravagant salaries in government, health and justice.

    A chance for ‘real’ people to ask ‘real’ questions in the House of all our politicians.

  4. 13 November 2012 at 1:26 pm | #4

    These six steps form an idea aimed at shaping our physical, mental, and emotional environments for the evolution of humanity into our first civilisation (one where the wealth of knowledge and technology is used for the advancement of humanity in a post-scarcity economy). New Zealand is (and New Zealanders are) known for world moral, intellectual, and technological firsts, such as giving women the vote, splitting the atom, or developing the jet boat, why not begin creating the society of the future (today)?

    1) Take control of our $$$ supply back from private corporations – AKA eliminate poverty
    Reduce interest on public and private loans to 1-2%. With NZ in control of the creation of our debt/credit all the profit from interest (from the whole banking/finance sector in NZ) will be pumped back into social development programmes (such as funding a UNIVERSAL PARENTING WAGE). Reducing interest on loans, in combination with lowering compliance costs for businesses, will enable small NZ businesses to afford a NATIONAL WAGE INCREASE. A wage increase, coupled with lower interest on loans, puts more $$$ in the pockets of NZers. There will be national education campaign on how large (especially multinational) corporations, by their very nature, function as conduits for the flow of locally generated wealth to the hands of the few. This will be coupled with encouragement for New Zealanders to invest their $$$ in local businesses (both through spending habits and cash investments) as a way of creating a more self sufficient and sustainable economy (and as a stepping stone toward a post scarcity economy – see point 6). While this initial step will go a long way to eliminating poverty, the remaining five steps will really round out a societal change in which the elimination of poverty is a reality.

    2) End all New Zealand involvement in war.
    Bring home all troops/personal/equipment/everything, if people feel necessary then maintain a home guard for defence (although the idea is ludicrous as the only people who would take the time to invade us would do so without problem) – put the money to better use, and if a home guard is desired then use them for national duties, such as emergency response.

    3) Develop a participatory democracy process making better use of technology.
    This would logically involve decentralising the decision making process, reshaping the government into more of a regulatory role (essentially observing society and posing questions and offering advice where necessary) with the actual decision making being left to a collaboration between the people involved in their particular fields of expertise. National decisions would be sorted by referendum; with a focus on the quality of information, explaining as many facets of an issue as is possible, being presented to the population. Technology will used as much as possible for this process (such as developing applications for smart phones), making mass voting easier (thus able to be more frequent if needed), although other options (such as paper voting) will be available if wanted/needed.

    4) Redefine our education system so that schools become hubs for research, where students are encouraged to work together and follow what interests them in their path of discovery.
    For example; teachers will become guides who are there to offer support, directed learning, and most importantly questions as individuals require. The physical environment will be shaped so that there is easy access to learning all the basics in life; such as growing and preparing own food, carpentry, sewing (textiles), metallurgy, technology (hardware and software creation and understanding), creativity (art), philosophy, and recreation. The development of language and mathematics, moving toward an understanding of the scientific method and philosophy (with attention on morals, meditation, self awareness, and defining purpose), will form the few compulsory classes an individual will take (though by age twelve these will usually come to an end). These classes are also the only place any formal testing will be taken, with the sole focus of such testing to be for the individuals benefit of identifying strengths and weaknesses. The height of our technology will be used for ease of access to all human knowledge; such as an internet type system containing, and continually being updated with real time information of, all human knowledge. With a universal parenting wage, parents will be free to participate with their children’s learning (or pursue their own interests if their child is developing independence). The mix of age groups working in the same space, and lack of social restrictions on parents involvement (such as work or stepping into a traditional classroom environment), enables optimum socialisation for all individuals. More advanced students offer things such as inspiration, guidance, and support for those less advanced in a particular skill or field of knowledge. While less advanced students offer things such as differing perspectives, opportunities for applied knowledge, and the connectedness which comes through helping others, for those more advanced in a particular skill or field.

    5) Use a participatory democracy process, such as used by Iceland to write their constitution, to do two things. 1) Produce a charter of rights. 2) Produce a purpose, a guiding idea, for the direction of our nation (both physically and psychologically), of our species (although we can only really speak for our nation, we can write it with our best intentions for humanity as a whole).
    Although we are all individuals, we are also a collective. We build on our commonality to grow connections and develop appreciation of uniqueness. The language of knowledge of natural systems, of logic and mathematics, is universal – it transcends all cultures, it binds the whole human race. We all have the right to sovereignty, to self determination. As a first, semi-symbolic, step toward our first civilisation each individual part of this collective we call New Zealand must have an opportunity for their voice to be heard in shaping real policy (not just voting on some pre-written policy by a small group of people). And defining a national/global purpose just makes sense as all human behaviour is done with a purpose, if we don’t know (don’t articulate) the purpose then how can we assess the value of our behaviour. If we want the purpose of humanity to be a population enslaved by the contrived ideologies and linguistic black magick of a small group, wallowing in dependency, fear, depression, addiction, and anxiety – then we need not bother defining a specific purpose because the implicit purpose we are already (generally as a collective) operating by is roughly the equivalent. But if we want a purpose which reflects the commonality between all humans, all life, then we will take the time to collectively develop a purpose we can all stand behind (and use as a basis for assessing the value of our collective decisions – in other words, we have developed some national standards for our social decision making, something which is currently lacking).

    6) Use the wealth of human knowledge and technology to increase the efficiency (and logic) of our processing and distribution methods and systems – in other words, create a post scarcity economy (such as described by the theory of a resource based economy).
    This is really a no-brainer for anyone who has looked into the state of our society, it is the only rational option our species has (if we are to continue our moral/spiritual/intellectual/consciousness/whatever you want to call it evolution). Although just a theory at this point in time, there is over 75 years worth of research into making this theory a working reality – all that is needed is an intelligent forward thinking country to embrace what the best of our knowledge and logic describes is possible. For a detailed vision of the creation of our first post-scarcity civilisation, a resource based economy, please see: http://www.mediafire.com/?pmx55rb6v2b1esj

  5. 13 November 2012 at 4:06 pm | #5

    1 – Full employment; the key to sorting a lot of the below. Loosely tied in is regional development; not only is it needed but Auckland is already too big, growth elsewhere needs to be encouraged.

    2 – More investment in Education and Health (including dental); because full employment won’t fully solve the access and participation inequity to health and education. Also Preventative health; this is a no brainer, properly run preventative health will make the country more productive whilst lowering health costs and increasing healthiness and participation.

    3 – Combat poverty, with an emphasis on children; while full employment will help considerable here we still have long-term poverty issues. Solving this will take more than just money, it needs an intelligent approach as well. Free school lunches, totally free kiddies health care, and genuinely free schooling would be good starts.

    4 – More state housing (ties into 3), and better urban planning. Also review current prescriptive building rules – while having decent standards to stop shoddy houses being built it’s ridiculous that I essentially can’t work on my own house to repair faults that I can’t afford someone else to repair. Likewise more subsidies for house owners to insulate and go solar/wind (slum landlords need to be encouraged in this respect, as the people living in their houses are some of the worst yet they can least afford electricity hungry houses).

    5 – Regressive-tax cuts (ie drop GST in favour of something more equitable like FTT), reverse PAYE tax cuts for the rich to more fair tax rates. Personally not so keen on CGT as it’s proposed, because my generation that was hit with user-pays in the 80/90s will be hit again as we sell our first homes etc; it does need to implemented in some form – perhaps if it were somehow more progressive.

    6 – Investigation into the price of food. Why do we pay more for the same food as overseas? Given we’re almost a low-wage nation and a food producing nation it is utterly fucked that items of food are cheaper in London.

    7 – Public transport; more financial and leadership support from central government into assisting locally run public transport to become fare-free (or at the very least become significantly cheaper than running a private car).

  6. Linda Miller
    13 November 2012 at 4:59 pm | #6

    Hey Frank, how about we think laterally about this… how about we *don’t* limit ourselves to a list. How about we take all those issues and replace them with one item;

    Electoral Direct Democracy

    If we had a true representative democracy, we wouldn’t need to make laundry lists – every four years. We wouldn’t live in a “Vote and Pray” Party Political System.

    I’m calling it; the idea that we vote a bunch of dickheads into office, and then spend the next four years FIGHTING THEM to get done what we want to get done are OVER.

    We want at least one policital party where the elected representative is pledged to do the will of the people of their electorate, as determined by the members of their party who reside in that electorate.

    That political party will have a Constitution which guarantees the right of the people to recall their elected representative if they vote contrary to the wishes of the members in the electorate, or the collective determinations of all electorates. The Branch of that party in every electorate will extend the core Constitution to meet their own needs locally. They will meet regularly in response to requests by their representative for democratic determinations on bills and policies before Parliament. The people will then vote in local session, and inform the representative how they should vote. The representative will then vote accordingly in Parliament, and work to make sure that the will of the People in their electorate is carried out.

    To ensure that elected representatives remain true to the people they represent, we hold a pre-signed, undated resignation letter from the candidate which can be dated and counter-signed in the event of impeachment of that representative. Their impeachment and resignation would then trigger a by-election in that electorate.

    This is what we need. True Representational Democracy, and an end to Party Political Rule. This will eventually become the way that all political parties in New Zealand work, not with party-political adversarial hijinks, but cooperative, sustainable local democracy, which includes all members of the electorate, to the extent that they care to participate in their own governance.

    If we can accomplish this, and I believe we can, it result in a peaceful, democratic Revolution in New Zealand politics as big in its way as the Icelandic Revolution. Therefore, I am calling this,

    “The New Zealand Revolution”.

    Some of us are sick of waiting, and doing nothing but sitting around, complaining and wringing our hands.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/the.new.zealand.revolution/

  7. Max Dillon Coyle
    13 November 2012 at 5:35 pm | #7

    Inequality.

    Financial Transaction Tax.

    Open & Transparent Government.

    Environment. Housing WOF.

    Transport (Public, pedestrians & cycling)

  8. K
    26 December 2012 at 10:13 pm | #8

    My 6 Policy Priorities

    1) Housing (this links tightly to child poverty, domestic violence, and overall stress levels to the second class citizens who don’t currently own their own home or who got into the crazed market too late). Debt jubilee aka Steve Keen style where the debt is paid off in part by the government, not to the bank but to the home owner. The money for the debt jubilee will be taken from the Accommodation Supplement which will be scrapped. For anyone who doesn’t own a home the money can be used to buy. This will instantly flatten the market if banks are restricted in the amount they can lend to buyers. Recognition that everyone has the right to quality housing regardless of income level, Wofs for landlords with heavy penalties for failing to comply.

    2) Change in approach to welfare:

    - Business development as a solution to unemployment, particularly targeted to those in the employment market (not those already in business). Encouraging people to look for opportunities to offer service, as opposed to desperately hoping someone else will find the opportunity and employ them, makes much more sense than constant harrassment.

    - Targeted individual support given to those with disabilities. Currently this is not happening for the most part even with PATHS. Supported employment funding is going to agencies, but the jobs are not being created so this is money wasted.

    - Funding for benefit rights advocates in some form. They are left to pick up where Work and Income fails.

    - Increased staff numbers

    - Fraud detection/cross checks increased specifically to find people who take advantage of the system who are not n receipt of a benefit. This includes secondhand dealers, counsellors, alternative treatment providers, associated persons who rent property to relatives.

    - personalised abatement rate printouts to clearly show what will be received from Work and Income or the IRD when income is obtained. Currently you have to contact a staff member to work it out for you at each individual income amount. This is both cumbersome and confusing in terms of forward planning. How can you set goals for the future when there is so much uncertainty around income? A graphed printout would be perfect. This would also help remove any doubt about when Working For Families kicks in.

    3) Priority funding for sex abuse victims, policy changes that had been recommended by the Law Commission but dismissed by Collins brought in asap. ACC is legislated to prevent accidents, so I would like to see them ACTUALLY make an effort to prevent sexual abuse. Victims of crimes are not liabilities, they are human resource assets that need protection and support to recover and reach their full potential.

    4) Recognition that food, land and clean water make us a rich nation. We have what THEY want. Let’s keep it that way by tightening up criteria for purchasing land and support out own. No TPPA. Protection of the environment of paramount importance. No new fracking, oil drilling or mining sites. Preservation of the right to water for all citizens under law, anyone involved in charging for water only allowed to charge cost price including bottled water (global trend is to commercialize water and there have been moves overseas to create virtual monopolies over water sources to exploit citizens for money).

    5) Ministers of portfolios expected to front to the media. All deals done behind closed doors and committing our citizens to agreements banned.

    6) Shift to gold standard/currency backed 100% with gold. Use of gold to pay for items by use of a gold based credit card/eftpos card.

  9. K
    26 December 2012 at 10:30 pm | #9

    Forgot to put in there that as part of the housing policy I would like to see “letting fees” made illegal. Renters are paying very dearly for basic housing and four times the weekly rent is a hell of a lot to pay just to be allowed to enter into a residential letting contract.

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