A member of Young Labour, TheSocialDemocrat, has suggested this manifesto as a starting point for defining the debate in the post neo-liberal era. There’s much that’s very, very good in it and it draws on the policy platforms of all the opposition parties while adding many unique ideas.
TS readers might like to suggest changes or additions to the list or ways that a coalition of support could be built for the best bits of this manifesto. TRP.
It is apparent that, in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, the neo-liberal orthodoxy has been called into question. This resurgence in intellectual and ideological debate from the Left is something that has been sorely missing since the Thatcher/Reagan Revolution of the 1980’s.
Economists, politicians, academics and others have been producing novels, papers, essays and more on where the Left must succeed. With the rise of far-right xenophobia in America and Europe, it is vital that the mainstream Left in New Zealand deliver an alternative vision to neo-liberalism.
As a Young Labour activist, I believe that we, as part New Zealand’s future, must lead the way in this debate (in conjunction with other young activists of the Left, of course). A broad coalition of diverse ideologies, including social democrats, Greens, social liberals, progressive Christians, trade unionists, NZ First supporters, community Independents and more must be built in order to realise this long-term goal.
This is why I have written this mini-manifesto. It contains some starting points as a way of moving New Zealand, the country we all love and wish to save, into a post neo-liberal future.
- Make KiwiSaver compulsory, with an employee contribution rate of 8%, and a government and employer contribution rate of 4%.
- Move towards a Flexi-Super system. Instead of having a fixed retirement of 65, move towards a system in which people can retire younger (minimum age of 60) and receive less KiwiSaver, or retire later (maximum age of 70) and receive more.
- Upgrade our monetary policy, to ensure that the Reserve Bank places a strong commitment towards full employment, wages and growth, as opposed to purely inflation.
- Review the current State-Owned Enterprises model, to see whether it is appropriate, and whether a co-operative model could be just as efficient.
- Move towards free and fair trade deals with Japan, Canada and the European Union.
- Cap CEO bonuses at 40% of their pay.
- Create state-owned competitors in power and phone/net networks.
- Nationalise the water industry.
- Bring back a Research and Development Tax Credit.
- Develop a green economy, with appropriate transition policies to help workers entering the process.
- All business are encouraged to sign up to the ‘socially responsible business’ model, recognising their obligation to their employees, the environment, the community, consumers and shareholders.
- Regulate speculation, and ensure a low interest rate policy that grows jobs and the economy.
- Begin the process of breaking Fonterra up into smaller companies; ending its monopoly over the dairy industry.
- Restricting abusive lending practices, aggressive credit-marketing and unfair interest rates.
- Increase the school entry age to 6.
- Increase the pay of teachers to the same pay as a doctor, however attaining a teaching degree will become more difficult, as only those with high grades will be allowed to work as teachers. A prospective teacher will have to pass a personality test, as well as other tests deeming whether or not they are fit to be a teacher.
- Review the NCEA system to deem whether it is appropriate, including whether to eliminate most mandatory testing.
- Revamp the school curriculum so that, at the end of NCEA Level 1, students will be given the option of carrying on with their schooling, with the intention of heading to university, or moving to attend one of our new ‘vocational schools’. All students who choose to leave school must attend a vocational school for at least one year. After this, they can enter the workforce.
- Place a strong emphasis on removing inequality within the school system.
- Abolish National Standards.
- Abolish Charter Schools, with the buildings being used for our new ‘vocational schools’.
- Eliminate funding for wealthy private schools.
- Abolish university fees for three years, with any further study having a fee of merely $500.
- Build polyclinics in smaller towns, where small operations can be performed, ensuring residents do not have to travel to larger cities to receive said operations.
- Begin implementing a Disability Insurance Scheme, similar to the one used in Australia.
- Replace the GST with a Progressive Consumption Tax.
- Increase the top rate of income tax to 40%.<
- Implement a Capital Gains Tax, to be taxed at the same rate as wages.
- Implement a tax on wealth, reaching as high as 2%, and push to make this tax global.
- Cut the small business tax rate to 14%.
- Inquire as to whether corporate tax should eventually be replaced by a Land Value Tax.
- Crack down on personal and corporate tax avoidance, combating tax shelters and money laundering.
- Reform the welfare system into a Basic Income scheme, in which all households earning less than $50,000 a year will receive a $500 weekly payment.
- Leave the universal pension scheme intact.
- Split Working for Families into two systems, one being the Best Start package, and the other being a Working Income Tax Credit, which will top up the pay of low-income workers. Introduce a Best Start package, providing $60 a week to low-income families to address our appalling child poverty rate.
- Ensure those who cannot find a job will be put to work in the ‘third sector’; working for charities or performing community work.
- Increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks.
- Introduce a fully-funded, universal childcare plan, available for children from ages 4-6.
- Appoint a ‘Poverty Elimination Commissioner’, to advise the government on ways to reduce poverty and to oversee the poverty level and actions taken in NZ.
- Create facilities in which all beggars/homeless citizens will be placed into, until they are able to move into a state house.
- Introduce a free breakfast & lunch program in all schools.
- Eliminate all subsidies to fossil-fuel companies.
- Start up a Green Living Fund, offering consumers a $4,000 rebate to begin living eco-friendly lives, including fitting houses with solar panels.
- Start up a Green Car Fund, offering consumers a $2,000 rebate for all pre-2000 models.
Revamp the Emissions Trading Scheme to ensure that it does a better job of combating emissions, as opposed to its current weakened state.
- Ensure all future infrastructure is built using eco-friendly materials.
- Place a moratorium on all fracking projects until enough research has been done to ensure that it is safe.
- Implement a ban on plastic shopping bags.
- Ban factory farming.
LAW & ORDER:
- Legalise marijuana, MDMA and other non-addictive drugs, to be followed by strict regulation and taxation at the same rate as alcohol and tobacco. Following on from this, create a New Zealand Drugs Board, so that citizens can only buy regulated drugs from the government, rather than the private sector, which will increase government revenue.
- Decriminalise all other drugs, with the exception of crack cocaine and heroin, with a policy of users being sent to rehabilitation clinics, rather than prison. Properly fund walk-in clinics for drug addicts.
- Prison reform, in order to place a much greater (almost universal) emphasis on rehabilitation.
- Increase police officer numbers.
- Repeal the GCSB Amendment Act.
- Begin moves towards a New Zealand republic, complete with a flag change, to reflect our status as an independent nation (with a more democratic process than the last referendum!).
- Amend the Bill of Rights to add the right to education, healthcare, housing, clothing, food, and an income in some form.
- Lower the voting age to 17, and introduce legislation to automatically register people to vote once they turn 17.
- Fully fund the Auckland City Rail Link.
- Invest in rural roads, to ensure a higher quality.
- Develop a major rail link, that will be completely powered by renewable energy and will link most of NZ’s major cities to each other by rail. Passengers will be able to travel at high speeds and in comfort. The trains used will be similar to the TGV in France.
- Retrofit all current public transport systems to ensure that they are powered by renewable energy.
- Build 1,000 new social houses every year, which will be energy-efficient.
- Start work on the KiwiBuild program, which will build thousands of low-cost, high-quality houses to be sold at affordable to prices to Kiwi residents. All homes built under the project will be energy-efficient.
- Ban non-resident foreigners from buying Kiwi homes
JOBS & INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
- Increase the minimum wage to a living wage of $19.50, provided it is at the equilibrium wage.
- Create a ‘Youth Job Guarantee’, that would ensure that all under-25s have access to a good job, paid internship or training position within four months of leaving school.
- Require worker representation on company boards, to develop more democratic and transparent workplaces.
- Boost eco-friendly infrastructure development that can withstand extreme weather, creating jobs in the process.
- Increase funding for skills and jobs training, as a method for reducing inequality and creating jobs.
- Create ‘Industry Sector Councils’, which will bring together industries, unions and the government with the goal of maintaining a strong industrial sector.