Vote for Change –a new direction, new priorities, new responses, and new solutions.
5 (of many) reasons why I think we need to change the government.
- Perseverance with the TPPA.
Over seven years, 12 countries around the Pacific rim have been negotiating an economic agreement which changes the rules for investment and trade; In effect making globalisation easier and giving corporates free reign. The specific concerns by New Zealanders’ range from a loss in sovereignty (including breaches to existing Treaty of Waitangi rights); loss in ability to make decisions for the greater public good – through sanctions and the threat of being sued by companies who are impacted. An example of this…We are currently targeting New Zealand to be “smoke free” by 2025 – signing the TPPA will have a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing targets as someone like the British American tobacco company could sue us for bringing in legislation or regulations that impacts on their ability to trade here. Another thing I personally abhor about the agreement is the impact it will have on small local businesses – creating more competition from bigger and overseas businesses– and in fact, the TPPA would make it easier for businesses to “go between borders” – bypassing tax payments and employing a cheaper workforce in some of the Asian countries in the agreement. We would lose the ability to control overseas investors buying businesses / land and homes – we’ll have more on that later. We’ll see a hike in the price of medicines – and with an aging population this could be cataclysmic for our health sector and people. The list of negatives far outweigh the positives – which have been focussed on making it easier for exporters (namely dairy and forestry) to trade in other countries, by way of reduced tariffs. Despite widespread public opposition by way of protests, petitions and a legal case National has continued to flog a dead horse (for want of a better term). The scariest thing about the lack of future thinking by National is that once it is signed it cannot be undone; so we need to hope and have our fingers crossed that we can change the government before National can change our future – for the worse. At this stage, despite President Trump pulling America out of the equation John Key still went to APEC and is still trying to keep the agreement alive.
- NZ is for NZers.
We appreciate the contribution migrants and refugees make to our country. We are happy that National has agreed to open our doors to an extra 250 refugees a year – but we absolutely don’t like corporates and overseas investors buying our land and taking profits generated from business here, overseas. One of the examples off the top of my head is profits from our banking system as ASB and ANZ are Australian owned. If I refer back to “the spinoff” running ticker I mentioned a few weeks ago, in less than a month $329,000 in net profit has gone to Australia, with $18,000 staying here. That’s net profit – We’re giving Australians our money when there are kiwi owned options – like Kiwibank or Credit Union who would keep the money in NZ. Furthermore, our resources are being sold off effectively for peanuts. Forestry is our biggest earner after dairy and meat – yet we sell ourselves short by selling raw logs for peanuts. This seems irresponsible and considering the National party are the business party – I find it bizarre that they haven’t learnt the marketing basics of upselling, added value and diversity. While we definitely need those logs to build our own homes – if we are going to sell our forests we need to be making a heck of a lot more money out of doing so by value adding.
- Lack of response to the housing crisis
The only people who don’t think there is a housing crisis are those who are fortunate enough to have the security of their own home. For everybody else, and in increasing numbers there is undeniably a crisis – which has stemmed from a lack of, and too slow of a reaction to increasing demand. The bad management has seen more families homeless, in temporary accommodation and other’s taking on extortionate mortgages in an overinflated market. Land-bankers, investors, a slack tax policy (capital gains and overseas investment), and a love-affair with building impracticably large homes instead of sustainable ones has seen our supply slow to catch up. In fact there are many benefits to building tiny houses and building apartments upwards – the structure of our families have changed so it’s often a one-parent famly. The cost of building materials has gone through the roof – largely in part to sending so much of our (A grade) wood overseas. The cost of owning a home is out of reach for many – and the millennials are becoming increasing disillusioned. It’s not the whole “home ownership” that is at the core of the problem – not everyone wants to own their own home and the responsibilities that come with that… but they do want stability. Young families in particular benefit from being able to stay in the same home, attend the same school or work especially when the children are young. This benefits the children educationally – and socially with continuity of peers and helps with a sense of community.
A big part of this in my view is a need for a taxation policy shake up. National is less likely to implement this because their voters won’t want this. It’s going to mean increasing taxation to high income earners – with rising inequality there is definitely room for this. We need to change business taxation rules – there are far too many people skirting taxes by using New Zealand as a “tax haven” due to loose trust laws; we need a capital gains tax to limit the appeal for investors; we need a Overseas investment tax to limit that happening. The list goes on.
- A lack of leadership to address climate change
For a country that is supposed to be clean and green, we’ve certainly been slow to respond to climate change with a slow and non-existent plan to address our carbon emissions, and to protect, restore and find sustainable solutions to our environmental challenges and primary industry demands. There is little doubt that National’s obsession with the exportation of our forestry and dairy industries is behind the reluctance to act. This is another example of where corporates and short term financial gain gets in the way of common sense for our future generations. At the moment the UN climate change conference is on at Marrakesh – this is the next step after we signed the Paris climate change agreement last year. Unfortunately despite signing it there are no signs that we are even beginning to address our part of the bargain. We are aiming for carbon emissions to be 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. But get this – instead of working towards reducing our emissions – our focus is currently on buying carbon credits. Basically – we’re going to pimp ourselves out to get credits which cancel out the negative impact we have on the environment. This is not good enough and is a token effort which will put us in a precarious position economically and environmentally by the end of this decade. The Green party has a great policy on this – which covers making sure agriculture pays it’s fair share, we focus on clean and renewable energy, focus on low carbon transport, end deep sea drilling/fracking and oil exploration. National has their blinkers on.
- Cuts to public spending.
Our current government has reduced, frozen, or cut spending on many public and not for profit sector organisations. Public spending as a proportion of GDP has decreased or stagnated during National’s term –Off the top of my head – this includes $1.7 billion cut over 5 years to the District Health Boards, cuts to Policing, a funding freeze for Radio NZ, loss of a contract with a government organisation jeopardising the future of Lifeline, cuts to the Department of Conservation – the list goes on. The lack of funding also ignores increased demand for all of the services, with our growing population. Funnily enough – despite this cuts, and a “better than forecast” surplus, there is a carrot being dangled for tax cuts – just in time for the election next year – a superficial attempt to appeal to the working class public. The $10 a week tax back might sound good – but with a reduction in resources for the health sector as an example – it’s only going to end in chaos down the track. I personally thought it was irresponsible and some ways patronising that they claim “they’ve got this” with regards to the Kaikoura earthquake, when there are many many examples of a slow response in Christchurch to getting back on their feet. New Zealander’s want someone who will back the public services we want backed – not allow them to end up in crisis like we’re seeing with a increasingly strained health system. The reduction in public spending also highlights a need to have a conversation about our tax system – we may need to spend more especially on health and superannuation costs to cope with our aging population. This will be unpopular for many – but if we collect taxes from those currently dodging payments we’d probably make up for it.
Now I understand that people may think the things that I have mentioned would remain the same even if National loses its majority. But its not the case. The beauty of being in opposition (like the Labour and Greens) is that they have their finger on the pulse, and will respond to what the public have been telling them. They have focussed on what the public is telling them and would be able to bring those concerns to parliament to respond at long last to the issues New Zealanders’ actually care about. More and more people are viewing National as being good for a few at the top at the expense of everyone else. This sort of elitism and prioritisation of business over people cannot continue. Despite knowing this, I think that lots of people have reservations about electing Labour or the Greens in. In fact, if the election was held today we’d see National re-elected… According to the latest Colmar Brunton poll Labour is still trailing on less than 30% and the Greens and NZ first at about 10% with National way ahead at 47%. I have no idea why except that people are self serving. A friend the other day said something to me like; “when I’m deciding who to vote for I first think about myself, and then if I’m not going to be significantly impacted either way I vote according to the greater good”. A party who focuses on people or the environment is for the greater good.