Opinion by Roger Childs

Most important — Govern alone!

Firstly and most importantly they should govern alone. Electors have given them this mandate and that’s what most Labour voters will expect to happen. Sharing power with the Greens will only lead to trouble and the need for unnecessary compromises. In the last government New Zealand First stopped Labour pursuing particular policies like tax reform and light rail in Auckland. The Greens ministers outside cabinet such as James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage often made decisions which were beyond their authority. 

Labour has the chance to follow their party policies for three years without the need to compromise — the chance may never come again. 

Wages and welfare

Move towards making the minimum wage the “living wage”. Many readers will have elderly relatives and friends in retirement villages and rest homes. Most of the carers there, who do a great job which can be unpleasant and messy, are earning very little. They deserve more, as do others who are among the lowly paid.

Increase superannuation for the elderly and consider means-testing it to exclude the wealthy – they don’t need it. Raise other benefits, but encourage under 65 beneficiaries to work. 

Housing and infrastructure

Make replacing the Resource Management Act an urgent priority. Bring in new laws to make building less bureaucratic and time consuming, but ensure that standards are maintained. The Weatherside and leaky homes scandals showed up the dangers of lax regulation and inspection. Kiwibuild was a conspicuous failure for the last government so leave most of the house building to private enterprise. Encourage the companies who can build low cost pre-fabricated, modular homes – the government could possibly get involved in this.  

Press on with the building of expressways, especially the four lane highway from Otaki to north of Levin. Expand the electrification of railways, especially north of Waikanae. Get the light rail network from Auckland city to the airport started, and in Wellington from the railway station to Courtenay Place, going past Te Papa. 

The railway network needs a lot of work.

Closing the income gap and reducing poverty

In New Zealand, the average single worker faced a net average tax rate of 18.8% in 2019, compared with the OECD average of 25.9%.

The income gap can only be closed by raising incomes and increasing taxes at the top level. New Zealand tax rates are low by world standards, but there are always howls of protest if tax increases are suggested. The government should implement the recommendations on the Michael Cullen task force.

There should be a capital gains tax like Australia, the UK, USA, and most European countries. Some rates are as high at 40%+. Most tax payers are taxed on all they earn, so why shouldn’t the wealthy be taxed on their “unearned increment”? It is important to remember that, if for example the first $15,000 of income was tax-free, the wealthy would get that too.

Governments need taxes to pay for roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, pensions and benefits etc… A bigger tax take would allow for example free dental care for adults. This would be one way of reducing the disparities in living standards.

Equality and democracy for all ethnicities

Currently in New Zealand part-Maori enjoy privileged status. There are seven special seats in parliament for people with some Maori blood – about 17%, a situation which is undemocratic, These people also have a tribunal which other ethnicities cannot access, which can bring historical grievances against the government, Both the special seats and the Waitangi Tribunal should be abolished, to establish equality.

Other recommendations

  • Stop poisoning the land with 1080.
  • Reduce the number of Health Boards to increase management efficiency.
  • Bring in free dental care.
  • Work with Federated Farmers to establish workable guidelines for reducing nitrate use and improving the quality of waterways.
  • Promote more efficient use of the land – for example reduce dairying in low rainfall areas.
  • Add value to our resources where possible, such as forest products, before exporting.
  • Reduce the dependence on trade with China.
  • Increase the budget for research and development.
  • Verify the existence of pre-Polynesian settlement by resuming official archaeological digs in the Waipoua Forest and Poukawa Valley – we should not hide our history.
  • Base compulsory New Zealand history in schools on the facts that were observed by Maori and non-Maori observers and travellers at the time, and the writings of impartial historians such as James Cowan.
  • ·Open the borders to wealthy Chinese tourists from Taiwan and agricultural workers from the Pacific Islands.

All this shouldn’t be too difficult!

Opinion by Geoffrey Churchman

My views are the same as Roger’s on most (but not all) of the things he mentions. Top priority must be given to addressing the infrastucture crisis that has developed over the last two decades because of neglect from both Labour and National Governments. Public infrastructure includes schools and hospitals as well as roads, railways, dams, power generation, ports and airports.

Before the campaign the National Party came up with a list of much of what is needed — hopefully, Labour won’t reject it just for that reason.

On the other side of the equation, the worth of several government departments is questionable, including the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Human Rights Commission and most of what MBIE does.  Taking the pruning knife to Public Sector bureaucracy is anathema for most Labourites, however.

All salaries paid to senior public servants over $100,000 should be frozen for at least five years.

The issue that most worries many people, however, is the threatened attacks on civil liberties, freedom of speech in particular. Leave civil liberties alone!