I went to a fascinating discussion the other day, run by the newly resurgent NZ Fabian Society. The talk was presented by Ganesh Nana (Wellington-based economist with BERL Forecasts), Selwyn Pellett (wealthy entrepreneur), John Walley (CEO of the Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and economic commentator Rod Oram.
Pellett and Walley both stated this wasn’t a matter of left and right. I’m not sure Walley would have even bothered to make that statement a year ago (I could be wrong, but I assume it would be accepted he was of the right, back then).
All were terrific speakers, and all had something to say. Considering the political and economic span they represented, I found it notable they all pressed the same four points:
1/ New Zealand needs leadership. It doesn’t have it.
2/ NZ’s currency needs to be regulated.
3/ We need a Capital Gains Tax and;
4/ An economic crisis is coming. We can manage our way down through it, but if we ignore it, it will be more calamitous than we seem able to imagine.
Lefter goes on to say:
One idea mooted at the presentation was overall tax reform that actually benefits the country and does not tinker with GST. I got the impression these four guys could work out a proper tax reform in a week how come the government task force did such a bad job of it?
Oh yeah, Don Brash was involved.
The Fabian Society is worth a look, by the way. I know there have been some notably bad Fabians but there have also been some notably great ones. The Fabian Society has the opposite of the Anarchist â€˜direct action’ ethos. It promotes left wing thought by discussion and dissemination of knowledge. So it can lead to fascinating insights if well managed, as this inaugural event patently was. And if good speakers are presented. Once again, tick.
Chris Trotter was also at the seminar, and made some comments about it on Jim Mora’s panel with David Farrar – “an interesting seminar, a very interesting debate, and more people there than he expected”. Farrar was horrified to find that the seminar had been advertised for free on Kiwiblog, so took the ad down – he’d have left it up if it had been paid for!
The seminar will be re-run in Wellington on Sunday 28 March and in Christchurch on 18 April. I was there too; I’m a member of the Fabians and I found it the most grounded and stimulating discussion about the critically important issues facing the New Zealand economy that I have heard in years. With such a high-calibre panel, I am confident that the outcome of the on-going debate will be very positive.
All are welcome, the seminar is free, you can register for it on the Fabian website.
The Fabian Society is also running a lecture series on the 2010 Budget. The first is in Auckland on Tuesday 23rd, then in Wellington on Wednesday 24th; both with Peter Harris as main speaker, and Selwyn Pellett commenting. Details are also on the website. Again it’s free and all welcome; come along if you’d like another view than Bill’s.