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Changing Labour: significant issues

Written By: - Date published: 8:38 am, November 18th, 2012 - 3 comments
Categories: benefits, crime, democratic participation, housing, labour, Left, sustainability, tax - Tags:

There were exciting reports from the Labour Party conference yesterday.  They indicated a significant shift towards a more democratic party. While the media are frothing over their scenario of an epic leadership battle, they fail to focus on the important issues: ones that require a new direction from the Left.

You are wrong Mr McCarten.  As seen on this site, many criticisms of Shearer were (and are) over policy issues and political positioning.  One of the main things Shearer has been criticised for his “fiddler on the roof” smearing of “undeserving” beneficiaries.

Reports this morning on comparative research into white collar and beneficiary fraud points the way forward for the left.  The results of a pilot study conducted by Dr Lisa Marriott, show that courts are softer on white collar criminals.

White-collar criminals evading the taxman are far less likely to go to jail than blue-collar fraudsters, new research shows.

The unequal treatment of rich and poor will now be further investigated by a Marsden Fund grant recipient, who said tax cheats were costing the country billions more than welfare cons but rarely see the inside of a cell.

More research is needed to show the way forward to stopping those that are really damaging our economy: the so-called “white collar” fraudsters – actually, I would characterise them as the fraudsters that are wealthier, more middleclass, and with more status and power.   A large part of the problem is in the different attitudes that favour the wealth-seekers.  This is compounded by the complexity of tax law.

Marriott said the reasons for the differences in sentencing were not obvious.

“The sentences are intended to reflect society’s views. And it seems we take a dimmer view of people on welfare – even the language is more punitive,” she said.

Marriott found that attitudes towards tax evasion were indulgent, even occasionally admiring, while beneficiaries were considered “scroungers or cheats”.

Auckland Action Against Poverty spokeswoman Sarah Thompson said that perception needed to change. “We have a cult of prejudice against beneficiaries. This research shows not only is that belief unfounded, but it’s wrong. Tax evaders are ripping off the country to a much greater extent than beneficiaries are.”

Auckland law professor Bill Hodge said the legal discrepancies could have evolved because of the complexities in tax law compared to the “black and white” welfare law.

So, now with a more democratic Labour Party, could the leadership please stop following the government’s bennie bashing line, and focus on those doing the real damage to our economy and society?

Today the conference focus is likely to be on Shearer’s housing policy.  I am still looking for a new direction with this.  it certainly shouldn’t be hard to provide a better plan than Key’s hastily produced and lame attempt at affordable housing.  One housing group has proclaimed that the government’s plan is “laughable”.

A housing advocacy group says the Government’s strategy to develop more affordable homes in Auckland is laughable.

The Government-supported development at Hobsonville Point will include 600 cheaper homes – but the Housing Lobby says that will not address the real need in Auckland….

Housing Lobby spokesperson Sue Henry says building a few cheaper homes completely misses those most in need and the Hobsonville development needs to reinstate its commitment to the state rental sector.

Left wing policies on affordable housing should include a substantial increase in state housing, as well as affordable private rentals.  The focus should be away from speculative house buying, should not encourage urban sprawl, and should focus on liveable communities in a sustainable environment.

With more concerted attention to the policies, issues and a new left direction, maybe the MSM (including Matt McCarten) will get the message?

3 comments on “Changing Labour: significant issues”

  1. Marcus50 1

    So Karol what is your point. Do you want heavier sentences for tax fraud or lighter sentences for beneficiary fraud?

    If it is true that the Courts are being more lenient on white collar criminals no one seemed to tell Justice Kos when he sentenced the two Lower Hutt accountants to 8 years each for tax fraud. But putting that aside fraud is fraud in whatever guise and should be appropriately punished and the punishment should be equitable. So if white collar criminals are getting off lighter it is something to be looked at and addressed to ensure there is equity and fairness in the judicial system. Lets hope that you are not suggesting lighter punishment for beneficiary fraud than is currently being handed out.

  2. Bill 2

    I’m guessing McCarten is a bit worried that in the event the Labour Party repudiates the neo-liberal framework, Mana will bleed votes back to Labour. And so in the time honoured tradition of looking after yourself and your own ambitions – belying the fact of not actually giving a fuck about the greater good – it would be better from McCartens perspective if Labour continued with it’s soft shoe shuffle nonsense.

    As for the law landing harder on the poor. Hasn’t that always been the way?

    There was a comment on a post about this a few weeks back that reckoned in cases where a component of a claim was fraudulent, that the entire claim was deemed fraudulent, thereby exaggerating the sum totals associated with benefit fraud. Don’t know if that’s accurate. But I just can’t see how the ‘average’ benefit fraud in $ amounts, pans out at the levels indicated otherwise.

  3. prism 3

    “Fiddler on the roof” – clever.

    Also good to hear that some (women only?) MPs are already thinking about best practice for the Labour Party and criticising Shearer’s inability to bring himself to taking the Hackett jump by not saying that his Labour government would repeal Nat Standards. Wishy washy still, uncommitted to good policy and good people, as Labour voters generally are! I think it is a narrow view of the man’s leadership presentation that will widen to reveal him as unable to actually lead. It seems that his skills are more in the line of an MP defending his Party once elected, but not a pragmatic visionary which is needed as Prime Minister heading a great and capable party.

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