An outside view on CGT

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, July 8th, 2011 - 78 comments
Categories: labour, national, tax - Tags: ,

We tend to get very wrapped up in our own world here in NZ. Same old voices running the same old lines round and round in circles until we’re all dizzy and just a little bit nauseous. Sometimes it’s good to hop off the merry-go-round and seek an outside perspective on the issues of the day.

Case in point the CGT (capital gains tax) debate. Yesterday’s Morning Report interview with Sydney Morning Herald economics correspondent Peter Martin (hat tip Gordon Campbell) is an excellent overview of the topic, and an eye opener of an international perspective. The audio is here, but I’ve transcribed some extracts.

On how odd we are for not having a CGT:

I thought NZ was something of a worldwide orphan … members of both sides of [Australian] politics use NZ as a sort of case study in strangeness because there’s a yawning gap in New Zealand’s tax system, which isn’t there in the UK’s tax system, isn’t there in the US tax system, isn’t there in the Australian tax system.

And yet the New Zealanders showed the way for us in the mid 80’s with their goods and services tax. And yet there’s always been this strange thing missing that New Zealand’s been unable to do, and I must say I thought it would never happen, it would be one of the continuing quaint things about our cousins across the ditch.

On how a CGT allows all income to be treated as income:

… the idea is that if you earn a buck, you’ve earned a buck, it doesn’t matter how you’ve earned it. So if you earn a buck from working hard, labour, you’re taxed on that at your marginal tax rate. If you earn a buck from selling shares at a profit, or buying anything else really and selling it at a profit, speculation I suppose you could call it, you’re taxed on that at your marginal tax rate.

So if your marginal tax rate is low, 15%, that’s what you’re taxed. If your marginal tax rate is 30%, that’s what you’re taxed. …

There is no [separate] capital gains tax in Australia, and there is no [separate] capital gains tax in a lot of other countries. Capital gains are regarded as income.

Far from the nightmare of complexity that the Nats are trying to scare us with, that sounds pretty simple doesn’t it! There’s plenty of other good stuff in that interview on how the lack of a CGT creates damaging distortions in our tax system, and how (despite all dire predictions) the CGT didn’t destroy the property market in Australia. But I want to finish with one final point, that is particularly important, as hysterical Nats try and talk down the amount that a CGT might raise:

Raising isn’t the point. This is misunderstood.

A capital gains tax could be very effective if it raised nothing. What the capital gains tax does ideally is stop people, for tax reasons, changing income into capital gain. So even if the amount that you forecast you would raise from the capital gains tax is low, that isn’t an argument against the capital gains tax. Because if it is low, it’s because what it is doing is encouraging people to make fewer “capital gains” (with quotation marks around them) and make greater income.

It’s more a case of just not having (sort of) a big gap in the tax system people can drive trucks through.

Far from the complexity, avoidance, and low yield that the Nats would have you believe, the picture of CGT that emerges from this interview is one of simplicity, fairness, and closing loopholes. No wonder the Nats hate it.

78 comments on “An outside view on CGT”

  1. Harris was very clear and succinct.  I hope that his comments are utilised again.

    I bet the Labour leadership is pleased that on day three of that launch that was not the CGT debate is still going strong.  The debate in the various papers is fascinating.  The Herald said yesterday that Goff’s CGT proposal showed courage, and when you can rely on Hooten and Farrar for support you know the Nats have a headache.

    The proposal clearly shows that Labour has a plan and National does not.  And the tax will allow the Government not to sell shares in the power companies to cover the Government’s expenses. 

    • queenstfarmer 1.1

      the tax will allow the Government not to sell shares in the power companies to cover the Government’s expenses

      Agreed with you up to this point. Based on the SWG numbers, the estimate is that a CGT on investment property would bring in around $700m a year, after 15 years. How is that going to cover the Govt’s current expenses, let alone the spending increases promised by Labour?

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Did you read this bit?

        Raising isn’t the point. This is misunderstood.

        A capital gains tax could be very effective if it raised nothing.

        If people are presently managing to structure their income as capital gains that income is not taxed. Throw in a CGT and that income becomes taxable even if the actual capital gains disappear. In other words, we may see a increase in tax take indirectly from the CGT as some present tax structures used to minimise tax are forgone.

        • queenstfarmer 1.1.1.1

          I agree. Hence, my questioning the assertion that the CGT would cover Govt expenses.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            The CGT itself may not but it’s total effect probably will.

          • Deadly_NZ 1.1.1.1.2

            At the end of the day who really cares?? Just as long as it evens out the playing field and stops the insane property investment, that stops ‘working’ kiwi’s buying their own houses. And if they cant pay it (CGT) Sell up, then pay the tax, and if you still don’t like it. I hear that Somalia is ripe for property investment sharks, you should go well with the Pirates they’ll make you feel right at home. for a price.

      • mickysavage 1.1.2

        the estimate is that a CGT on investment property would bring in around $700m a year, after 15 years. How is that going to cover the Govt’s current expenses, let alone the spending increases promised by Labour?
         
        Initially I agree it will not cover current expenses.  Putting everything else aside if the Government does not sell the power company shares there is a $6 billion hole in the country’s finances that will need to be replaced with borrowing.
         
        As time goes by this hole can be refilled by the larger than otherwise dividend stream that the Government will receive and also by CGT as payments start.
         
        The interest cost on the extra borrowing will be in the vicinity of $300 million a year which is less than the forecast dividend stream.

        EDIT: I also agree with Draco that the general tax take should increase and this will also help fill in the hole.

  2. Chris 2

    Yes it is a bolder plan by Labour, it will make sure they won’t win the election, but it’s a plan even if it’s in the wrong direction to win an election.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      In that case I hope Labour comes up with many more policies which “make sure they won’t win the election” 🙂

  3. aj 3

    A CGT is not going to stop people from striving for capital gains. It just means that the $100,000 windfall gain becomes $85,000, or the $1,000,000 gain becomes $850,000

    That’s no going to be end times for investors in any market that may be caught by a CGT. The arguments against it are just the normal ideological ones that come from those who view any form of taxation as theft.

    • felix 3.1

      “The arguments against it are just the normal ideological ones that come from those who view any form of taxation as theft.”

      This.

      • That’s nonsense. There are always valid arguments, ideological and others, for and against any tax.

        Virtually everyone accepts that tax is essential, so “view any form of taxation as theft” is a poor attempt at labelling abuse.

        • felix 3.1.1.1

          Not from you there aren’t.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.2

          Most people accept that taxes are necessary. The psychopaths leading National and Act think it’s theft.

        • Deadly_NZ 3.1.1.3

          Really I think that to have a work mate pay a lesser amount of tax just because he has an investment property is obscene. Bring on the CGT.

    • Frank Macskasy 3.2

      Indeed, Aj.

      I recall the same arguments against GST – and that tax hit low-income earners/beneficiaries/superannuitants even worse.

      Yet, here we are twentyfour years later – the world has not ended. (*Looks out window to confirm continuing existence of the universe*)

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        (*Looks out window to confirm continuing existence of the universe*)

        Testing…

        • Deadly_NZ 3.2.1.1

          Oh shoot the Yes button failed, press………..press……….press…………press…………
          ” We are sorry Universal testing failed”
          “self destruct armed. 15 minutes to detonation”
          “Please enter your 256k encryption code, to disarm”
          “Sorry you took too long”
          b
          y
          e

  4. Australia is the obvious place to look to for the pros and cons of a Capital Gains Tax. And there’s obviously good reasons why many countries use CGT in various forms – as in fact we already do in New Zealand.

    But there’s a lot more to it than one glowing review of one opinion.

    Far from the complexity, avoidance, and low yield…

    A quick squiz at Capital gains tax in Australia suggests it mightn’t be quite as simple as you’re making out.

    Avoidance is an issue with any form of taxation.

    Yield can be low, especially in the first decade of implementation, and can be quite variable, as shown here: Chart of the day, ruining it for everyone edition. It’s noticable how slow and low it can be, and the impact it can have on tax take during a recession.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Why don’t you read the post and listen to the piece before commenting mate, you know the bit where the guy says a CGT could raise no money and still be very effective. Loser.

      • Why don’t you read the post and what I quoted? You know, the bit where they guy says:

        Far from the complexity, avoidance, and low yield that the Nats would have you believe

  5. Longinius Howard 5

    That should be nauseated not nauseous

  6. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6

    “A capital gains tax could be very effective if it raised nothing.”

    Yet yesterday:

    “Danyl at DimPost nails it with characteristic economy – “National wants to finance the rebuilding of Christchurch via asset sales; Labour via a tax on property speculation”.”

    If CGT is going to raise no money, how is Labour going to fund its promises?

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Christchurch needs to be funded and rebuilt over the next 10 or more years, not in the next 2 years.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.1.1

        That’s brilliantly answered, then.

        If CGT is to be enacted to raise the money that National wants to raise by partial asset sales, but it is acknowledged that a CGT will raise no revenue, is there not a little problemette?

        • felix 6.1.1.1

          Try reading the post Ole. If CG is treated as income then the normal income tax applies.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.1.1.1.1

            Only it is not. In Australia, if you have held the asset for a year it is not taxed as other income. it is taxed at 50% of the rate of income.

            But that wasn’t my point in any event.

            I am inclined to favour the tax as a re-balancing exercise, something the post lauds (“Raising isn’t the point.”) That’s fine. But if it raises no extra money you can’t claim it as the counter-balance to partial asset sales.

            • felix 6.1.1.1.1.1

              If more CGs are classed as income then more income is taxed then more money is raised.

              • higherstandard

                What about the losses ?

                • Daveo

                  Aren’t losses already able to be written off against tax on other income?

                  • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                    Not if they are on capital account.

                    • Totally buggered

                      The last time the country was in panic mode over debt we sold our railways telecommunications forestry fishing banks an airline and and god knows what else and began the process of privatizing our power companies ,all of which made huge profits for the advertising industry law firms overseas profits to everywhere else and put alot of people out of work.We got in return Australian companies setting the platform for NZ business not that that was entirely detrimental but it did change us from being able to see the wood for the trees which is to say we didnt have a grip on the detail in this international carve up of the country.
                      Our core resources last time were agriculture fishing forestry and cheap power now it is importing other peoples money for housing and growing an urban economy cos its easier, bugger food its in the too hard basket yeah right .Farming is being forced to rape the water and ecology of the country because we failed to secure our fishing industry and stop the consumption of agricultural land for urban sprawl.
                      Why should we have to allow all the fishing nations in the world the right to our resource without being able to control the value of that resource all the way back to where they come from.Might over right.
                      So when the environment is fucked and the food supply is the price of Japan’s the only people who will be able to live here will be the ones who have made their money else where which is the road we are going down. We cant even manage 4 million people let alone think we could support 15million.
                      Capital gains tax might be a good start in bringing some sense to this country’s finance problems

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      Yep, still gormless and still a fool. Taking a sentence out of context is a good way to the lose meaning and thus the argument. And you hadn’t even begun yet.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.2.1

        Still a bastard, I see (handle hilarity never gets old).

        There I was thinking that a large point of the post was that a CGT is valuable for re-balancing, even if it raises no money.

        Man, am I stupid.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1.1

          Two things:
          1.) The CGT will probably raise some money itself. It’s actually highly unlikely to raise none although it’s possible to be low.
          2.) The existence of a CGT will likely cause a shift in present tax structures which will most likely cause an increase in the tax take.

          Both of these points you completely failed to address and yet they were both within the scope of the context of the first sentence you quoted.

          Man, am I stupid.

          Yes, you are.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6.2.1.1.1

            Yes. I did fail to address them, didn’t I? But then, I did not then fully appreciate that it fell to me (and apparently, to me alone) to present a point-by-point refutation of every aspect of the post. Nor did I then completely grasp that a failure to do so made me stupid.

            Luckily for you, I do not require such rigour from you, Bastard. If you feel like it, you might address the sole point I raised which was: how can you claim the CGT will make partial asset sales unnecessary while at the same time accepting that it will raise not much revenue?

            And if you choose not to (as you have twice so far) I doubt I will find it necessary to put it down to your lack of intellect (although I have to say, if you cannot find terms of abuse other than those I have already applied to myself I may have to conclude that you are a little derivative).

  7. higherstandard 7

    So when’s the actual policy details coming out ?

    The speculation about what’s in or out of the CGT is getting a bit boring.

  8. queenstfarmer 8

    Good commentary. One point though, remember that in NZ capital gains are regarded as income in a variety of circumstances (at the marginal tax rate), however the gaping hole in this is investment property.

  9. Lanthanide 9

    A (really boring) tax professor from Auckland University I think it was, some university anyway, was on the radio this morning saying that actually the guy yesterday oversimplified and distorted how Australia’s system really worked.

    He said that actually Australia has a ledger separate from your normal income tax at which capital gains are on and on taxed at (and losses are carried forward separate). He didn’t give a precise clarification on what this meant, but I think the gist of it is that if you’re earning $100k salary and your marginal tax rate is say 30%, if you make capital gains of $20k in the year they will go onto the separate CGT scale at $20k and you might pay 15% tax on them, and they are not added to your income tax (so you don’t effectively earn $120k in income and pay 30% marginal on the extra $20k).

    So, given that, I’d be a bit weary to rely on anything specific yesterday’s “economics correspondent” said.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      I’m not. What he said, that income should be taxed no matter how it’s “earned”, makes sense. On top of that, obviously the one Labour is putting forward won’t be the same as the Australian one and is, hopefully, even better after learning lessons from the Australian one.

      • hopefully, even better after learning lessons from the Australian one.

        Yes, hopefully, and that’s an advantage of following rather than leading with new tax systems.

        Labour probably still have a few years to fine tune their version.

    • Lanthanide, the Australian addressed this. He mentioned that the Howard government changed it from the marginal tax rate to the scheme you outlined (and effectively cut it to 15% or thereabouts).

      So – at least on that basis – you shouldn’t ignore his other points. 

  10. marsman 10

    Duncan Garner, Jackboot Joyce’s Mediaworks Poodle, lead a scaremongering bleat-along on the ‘ news’ last night. The sale of farms will be taxed, in headlines. A farmer’s representative was nearly apoplectic trying to give reasons why this would be unfair, he said ‘ a tax on the sale of assets is against the NZ psyche’. (!)

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Well it’s again a certain minority interest group’s psyche anyways.

    • queenstfarmer 10.2

      Provided that farms are going to be taxed then it’s hardly scaremongering. But the farmers need to calm down and not spout nonsense (“against the NZ psyche”).

      For a start, I’d suggest it’s in everyone’s interest that the days of do-nothing capital gains for even marginal farms are over (for a decent while, anyway).

      Secondly, any capital gain will be (I expect) offsettable against the massive capital expenditure that farms typically require (or at least, require to warrant a genuine capital gain).

    • dave brown 10.3

      NZ pychopathology more like. I think its this underworld of entrenched settler entitlement that making Labour bring in a Clayton’s CGT at 15%. If the CGT was a the marginal tax rate there might be a bit more booty, but a hell of a lot more fury among the petty bourgeoisie. If capital gains is to be treated as income it should be added to total household income and taxed at marginal rates?

      • Colonial Viper 10.3.1

        The issue is inflation eroding away over time the value of the capital gains from any held asset.

        If you buy $10K of property today and sell it next month for $14K that’s a $4K capital gain right?

        If you buy $10K of property and sell it in 10 years time for $14K you make nothing – adjusted for inflation. To take another bite out of that at the marginal tax rate means you lose value, in terms of inflation adjusted dollars.

        • Ian Boag 10.3.1.1

          Agreed – the inflation thing has to be considered. There’s the other factor that if the purchase of the asset involved debt (as they usually do) the % gain of your asset will be greater than the inflation rate. Gearing and all that.

          Treating half the gain (rather than all of it) as income is a simple and reasonably fair way of dealing with this. Possibly that’s part of why the Australians, Canadians and Americans do it this way.

          While we’re at it, one might note that no country collects tax on unrealised gains and everyone exempts the family home. Can’t see an NZ CGT (if it happens) being different.

          According to the Tax Working Group the Oz CGT collects about $20b/year. Given that we are about 20% of their size then it seems reasonable to think the figure in NZ for a similar tax would be about $4b give or take a bit.

      • Chris 10.3.2

        There has been a bit of a study on this and it was found that making capital gains at marginal tax rates actually reduces the revenue for the government:

        http://www.adamsmith.org/publications/economy/the-effect-of-capital-gains-tax-rises-on-revenues/

        Admittedly this is looking at the effect of tax increases and decreases as opposed to the introduction of the tax but still applies.

      • Colonial Viper 10.3.3

        yeah anytime I read right wing analyses it says that lowering tax rates to zero magically causes tax revenues to shoot up

        Look at how well it works in the USA

        • Chris 10.3.3.1

          What are you talking about?

          I don’t think it should be at zero I agree with a capital gains tax. I was just trying to say it shouldn’t be at the marginal tax rates. Instead of just posting that randomly without any backing, like you the way you have dismissed it, I decided to find some research which backed it up.

          In case you were wondering nowhere in the that study does it advocate removing a capital gains tax as a way to increase revenues.

  11. Frank Macskasy 11

    As I pointed out to Redlogix, in the thread “The housing market implications of capital gains tax”, I’ve owned rental properties as well (still do).

    I could never understand why, when I sold two of them, I could ‘earn’ a tax-free capital gain. The first time my accountant told me this, I thought he was incompetant and actually sought other advice. That advice confirmed my accountant.

    On top of that, I could claim for “depreciation” – even while my property values were going up. (Point of interest: I considered the tax policy of claiming for depreciation on a house that was APPRECIATING in value, to be obscene. I never claimed for it.)

    As an investor, I’ll put my money into property and rent out to a low-income family. I don’t expect to be given a “free ride” in the taxation system and not pay my fair share, should I sell a house and make a gain.

    That is why Labour’s plan for a CGT is timely – actually, way past timely! – and fair. No one else gets tax exemptions for mondey they make – why should property investors? Otherwise, quite simply, we are bludging off hard working kiwis who earn wages and businesspeople who take risks in their ventures.

    So, kudos to Phil Goff.

    And shame on John Key for attempting to perpetuate a social injustice and economic nonsense.

  12. Endymion 12

    “On how a CGT allows all income to be treated as income…

    If you earn a buck from selling shares at a profit, or buying anything else really and selling it at a profit, speculation I suppose you could call it, you’re taxed on that at your marginal tax rate.”

    If the IRD can establish that you earn your living ‘speculating’ on shares, FX, the horses or even pokey machines it already has the option of treating it as ‘earned income’ for taxation. That probably isn’t as well enforced as it could and should be, but all a CGT does is widen the net to bring in so-called ‘mum-and-dad shareholders’.

    Moreover a capital gains tax is, like GST, a tax on inflation.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      If the IRD can establish that you earn your living ‘speculating’ on shares, FX, the horses or even pokey machines it already has the option of treating it as ‘earned income’ for taxation.

      It’s probably not enforced well because the legislation is so fuzzy it makes it easy to dodge. A CGT fixes that.

      Moreover a capital gains tax is, like GST, a tax on inflation.

      Apparently it’s set at 15% and not the full tax rate so as to account for inflation.

  13. SHG 13

    A CGT didn’t kill the Australian property investment market because of the way the investment revenue is offset against the mortgage under the Aussie tax system.

    For example:

    I borrow money to buy a property.

    The repayments cost me $y/month.

    I put some tenants into the property and they pay me $z/month

    If z is less than y – if I’m making less in rent than I’m paying in interest – then the property is negatively-geared and y becomes tax deductible, as does every single expense to do with the property, since on paper I’m losing money by owning the house.

    • Lanthanide 13.1

      Works the same here, except you can only claim mortgage interest, not mortgage principle.

      If you were using a LAQC then you could claim the entire mortgage expense.

      • SHG 13.1.1

        And then you can sell the house, pay off the mortgage, and pocket everything remaining as pure profit, untaxed?

  14. Thinking more about the way this debate is working it is a very neat skewering of John Key himself.  If he objects and complains all that he will be doing is adopting a position where he can be accused of acting out of self interest.  As I/S points out he is essentially favouring those with capital over those who work for a living.
     

    • Jim Nald 14.1

      “skewering” – hehe

      Might we see John Armstrong’s headline for his upcoming piece to read:

      “Labour’s CGT: John Keybab Getting The Heat From His Doners”

    • Lanthanide 14.2

      Wonder if they would fly in a debate in parliament.

      “The prime minister, and other ministers of the cabinet, between them own xx properties. It’s easy to see why they don’t want a CGT introduced into this country”.

  15. tsmithfield 15

    We already have a capital gains tax in NZ. Its called GST. If the price at sale is higher, the GST is higher.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      ?

      GST doesn’t apply to shares or established rental properties

    • rd 15.2

      And if the property is sold with the tenants as a going concern the GST is 0 rated.

    • lprent 15.3

      Huh. Perhaps you should look at this as a very short summary.

      It is a sales tax that is applied at the universal rate of 15% on almost everything you buy – notable exceptions are:

      house sales
      house rentals
      privately sold second-hand goods
      financial services such as mortgages, loans and investments
      the sale of a business that is capable of being a going concern.

  16. mikesh 16

    CGT is still problematic. A better approach would be to disallow, for tax purposes, all expenses related to property, on the grounds that they are capital related rather than income related.

  17. Craig Glen Eden 17

    Yup the Nats are worried theirs no doubt about that, this tax is polarizing. This policy (CGT) on top of others Labour has released makes a clear difference between National and Labour. National have no more dead rats to swallow last time they pretended they were light blue and you can trust the nice MR Key he will deliver a brighter future. Facts are he hasn’t, wage gap with Aussie isnt closing,Government debt is up not down, increased people unemployed the whole aspirational brighter future is looking a lot like some bad investment rip off. Labour just has to weight for the Hanover effect and it will be very interesting to see which way the investors chose to spend their vote.

  18. tsmithfield 18

    So that seems to be more a problem with GST law than an argument for a CGT.

  19. tsmithfield 19

    Sorry. My comment above didn’t attach to the correct thread for some reason.

    I would be interested in comments on how a CGT copes with inflation. If an asset increases in value at the rate of inflation there hasn’t actually been a true gain, so should it be taxed?

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      I’ve learnt that’s probably why the CGT is set significantly under the marginal income tax rate.

  20. tsmithfield 20

    Perhaps. But it still doesn’t completely deal with the inequity of the situation. Capital gains are quite different to trading gains, where the profit usually accrues in close proximity to the purchase. So inflation isn’t such an issue. But with a CGT an asset might be sold 20 years after the purchase. In that case the government is likely making a windfall gain on the basis of inflation.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      You’re just not with it today are you? That’s why it’s set at 15% and not 30%. Personally I’d prefer proper indexing but it seems people are already too scared about it being “complex”.

    • Colonial Viper 20.2

      Yeah an outlier case like that is likely to end up with a higher effective tax rate, once inflation is factored in.

      While properties sold within a few years of acquisition (which form most of investment property transactions I figure) are likely to end up with a lower effective tax rate.

      Remember a family home sold after 20 years occupation and ownership is exempt from the CGT.

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    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    2 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    3 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    3 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    5 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    5 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    5 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    6 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    7 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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