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Guest Post – Labour Candidate Deborah Russell

Written By: - Date published: 12:01 pm, February 25th, 2014 - 45 comments
Categories: election 2014 - Tags:

Deborah RussellThis is a guest post by Deborah Russell who the Labour Party candidate for Rangitikei.  She holds a BCom (Hons) in Accounting and Finance, and a PhD in Philosophy.  She has worked as an accountant in the private sector and the public sector, and she has been a self-employed consultant.  She has taught Philosophy, Political Theory, Ethics, Business Ethics, Professional Ethics, Accountancy, and Taxation at universities in Australia and New Zealand, and she has worked as a senior policy analyst for the Inland Revenue Department.  Dr Russell is currently a senior lecturer in Taxation at Massey University.

The first time I came up against a capricious boss, I was a student.  I was working in a shop during the summer holidays.  I worked hard in the run up to Christmas, and my supervisor was pleased.  I was looking forward to the party in the staffroom after late closing on Christmas Eve, but about 4pm that day, the boss and owner of the store came in and threw me out.  “You’re not working tonight.  Off you go at 5pm.”  No explanation, no courtesy, no acknowledgement of my hard work.  Just an order to get out.

It was a small incident, but it was one that taught me about vulnerability.  I had no redress, and no power, and because I needed that job, I couldn’t afford to fight back.  I was vulnerable to his whims and his power.

I do not want to live in a society where people who have less are vulnerable to being ordered around by people who have more, where people who have less are treated as being less worthy of consideration, and are shut out from participating in our society.

I am standing for Labour because I want to help to build a society where each person can flourish, and can live the good life.  This is an ancient ideal, coming to us from the Greek philosophers, and it’s a very contemporary ideal, manifested in our welfare and health and education systems.

In order to flourish, or to live a good life, people need to be free to order their own lives.  They need to be able to choose work they enjoy (or can at least tolerate), live where they are without the threat of being ordered to move away from their community, attend church or not as they see fit, marry or not marry whom they will, and so on.  They can live free from interference, and free from the threat of interference.

As it turns out, we are committed to this ideal in New Zealand.  We may not think of it in the abstract terms of freedom and equality, but in practice, this is how we organise our society.  In our country, if you become ill, then you will get medical care.  If you lose your job, then you will be able to eat, because you will receive the unemployment benefit.  If you are young, then you will receive a top quality education, good enough to take you anywhere in the world.

All of these things make us secure.  We can live free, without needing to bow our heads and scrape before the powerful.  Each of us is worth just as much as anyone else.

That’s the ideal.

The reality however, is sadly different.  Too many of us live in profound insecurity, worrying all the time about whether you will get enough work hours this week, or about how to pay for the kids’ school books, or what you will do if the car breaks down, or you get sick.  Then there’s finding enough money to pay the rent, and trying to manage in cold and draughty houses. Too many of us are looking nervously over our shoulders at politicians who tell us we are failures, business people who see us as cheap expendable labour, or a social welfare system that makes onerous and ultimately pointless demands in return for granting us subsistence.

If you live in a constant state of worry and fear, then you cannot flourish.  And that’s what we have forced on too many people living in New Zealand, through undermining our health and education and welfare systems and developing a horrid narrative of blaming the poor.

Even on straightforward prudential grounds, it’s a bad thing to do.  Each of us may be subject to outrageous misfortune, losing jobs or health or housing, and so becoming vulnerable to the caprices of the powerful.  Our social systems provide a form of insurance for us, so that if the bad times come, then at least we will be able to put food on the table and educate our children so that they have a chance to do well.

Back in the 1930s, we made an agreement in New Zealand, that we would look after each other when times were hard.  Our welfare system was never luxurious.  But it was enough.  We need to renew that agreement.  Not through some sense of charity, but because we are committed to real equality.  It’s the kind of equality that means that even if a capricious boss cuts your hours of work, you can still manage to get along, because there will be something else out there for you.

True equality is hard work.  It doesn’t just happen because we say some magical words.  Instead, we need to work together to ensure that each person has the basics of life.  Enough to live on, and enough to be able to participate in our society, as free and equal citizens.  “Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and something to hope for.”  That’s what we’re aiming for.  It’s not much, and yet it is the most audacious goal we can have.

45 comments on “Guest Post – Labour Candidate Deborah Russell”

  1. karol 1

    Thanks Deborah, for this. I like that you have included a focus on the importance of social security. I have yet to see those kind of ideals realised in current Labour Party policies.

    How can those abstract ideals you have expressed be realised in practical ways?

    I checked where this quote comes from:

    ”Someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and something to hope for.”

    It was said by Norman Kirk apparently.

    To that I would like to add something about community and how people spend their time when not “working for the man”.

    Wasn’t Marx’s ideal of a the day, one where there was time for choosing to do what one chose, rather than what was chosen for a worker by the employer?

  2. Te Reo Putake 2

    Excellent post! I wish there were more candidates who are prepared to say they want freedom and equality as a basic right. There’s more than a few current MP’s who’d be confused by the concept.

  3. fender 3

    Great post, excellent narrative, and what a fine candidate Rangitikei have. Will be great to see you do damage to the large majority National have in this seat that they have held since 1984.

  4. Stephanie Rodgers 4

    Great post, Deborah!

  5. her 5

    We’d all like to make the world a better place. What I’d like to hear is how you plan to do it.

    • Tim 5.1

      Indeed …. Josie Pagani would like to make the world a better place too. How does your plan coincide with hers – if at all?
      …. and do you “tend to agree with Mathew” ever? or do you put principle and belief over and above the party political machinery?

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Deborah, given that one of your specialist areas is taxation, I’d like to know your personal views on the contribution to economic inequality in NZ played by:

    the highly regressive tax that is GST
    this country’s lack of a comprehensive asset/wealth tax (including the lack of an estate tax).
    whether you feel that large foreign corporates like the banks, Telecom, Apple, etc. are paying their way in our society given the monies they extract out from our communities.

    and whether or not you see changes around those (or other) tax areas as playing a pivotal role in reducing income inequality in this nation.

    • On its own, GST is regressive, and I find that easy enough to demonstrate. It’s a little harder to show that it’s regressive if you combine it with income tax. If you’ve got a person on say $100,000 income, then that person pays $23,920 income tax, leaving them with $76,880 in the hand. Say they spend $20,000 of that on interest or rent, and the rest on GST-able goods and services. They would pay about $7,419 on GST, giving them a total tax bill of $31,339, or 31%.

      Compare that to someone who earns say, $50,000. The income tax on $50,000 is $8,020, leaving them with $41,980. Say they pay $10,000 in rent a year (a little unrealistic, but perhaps there’s an accommodation allowance or something like that), and they spend whatever else they have on GST-able goods and services. They would pay $4,171 GST, and their total tax bill would be $12,191, or 24%.

      (Obviously, there are lots of other confounding factors, like Working for Families, and student loan repayments, and all that. But I’m trying to present a simplified example.)

      So while by itself GST is regressive, when it is combined with progressive income tax rates, it is not so clear that the overall tax package is regressive at all. What we need to think about then is the relationship between GST rates and income tax rates, and the overall package, not just one tax in particular.

      But as you point out, we don’t have a Capital GAins Tax. I think this is a big gap in our tax system, for a variety of reasons, but for me, it’s mostly to do with equity. If you earn your income quickly, through labour or through buying and selling (retail etc), then it is taxed, but if you earn your income slowly, over a long time, then it’s tax free. The artificial distinction between short term income and long term income ends up creating serious unfairness.

      (I’ve got to go and get my kids from school. I’ll come back to your other questions later on.)

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Thanks for your detailed answer, Deborah.

        My main point was not so much that the overall personal tax situation comprising GST and income tax is now regressive in absolute terms, but that it is, in relative terms, far more regressive than when GST was first introduced.

        Also in your example of the person on $100K p.a. – it seems a stretch to say that such a person spends every dollar spare they have in a way which attracts GST, instead of saving it, or investing it paying off their house or in some other financial assets in a non-GST attracting fashion. Someone who is earning the median wage of $42K pa would be far more likely to be in that situation, I reckon.

        • Deborah Russell 6.1.1.1

          I’d have to go and look up some old tax rates and thresholds, and crunch through some numbers before I could make a reasonable comment about whether GST was much more regressive now than it was when it was first introduced. And yes, my example is very much simplified, and if we fiddle around with the assumptions, we can probably get a different answer. As you say, the person on $100,000 is probably spending at least some money on non-GST-able things, like investments, so that reduces her or his current average tax rate. The point is more that I prefer to look at a whole package of taxes, and benefits, and abatements of benefits, and try to think about whether or not an overall tax package is fair.

          • Herodotus 6.1.1.1.1

            The attackers on paye tax top marginal tax rates hits a nerve with me as most left siding contributors here centre all their attention of taxing the wealthy by paye tax scales. As all this IMO achieves is a divide and rule strategy. Even those who some may consider to be earning obscene salaries still pay their paye taxes at the highest marginal tax rate, so the govt collects what is entitled to be collected.
            How about how and Yet another blind follower who centres all the issues of taxing the wealthy by paye tax scales. No wonder nz is troubled, divided and rule allow in fighting between the workers. Even those who some may consider to be earning obscene salaries still paye the highest marginal tax rate. How about how and where wealth is concentrated or created at the detriment to nz inc. or how different mechanisms are put into place to allow some to take advantage of what the state offers yet contribute nothing ?
            Find out who the “real enemy” of nz inc/the state and place structures into effect to capture their contribution to nz. E.g. As a small token Nat did eliminate the stupidity of allowing depreciation to be deducted off an appreciating rental/investment property. But there are plenty of other areas that can be attacked.where wealth is created and then concentrated to the detriment to nz inc. or how different mechanisms are put into place to allow some to take advantage of what the state offers yet contribute nothing ?
            As a small token Nat did eliminate the stupidity of allowing depreciation to be deducted off an appreciating rental/investment property. But there are plenty of other areas that can be attacked, whilst many of these opportunities would fly over most people a coherent tax review is IMO required instead of reactionary responses from govts. That create a greater tax imbalance as those who can afford to manipulate the system do.

    • thechangeling 6.2

      Good post and plenty of thought provoking socialist ideals within it.
      I can’t help thinking though that to pay for many of those ideals our current tax rates are far too low (hence the continual creeping in of user pays (neo liberal) types of charges) compared to the ‘model’ nordic social democrat countries.
      I’d like to see a financial transactions tax (FTT) introduced along with the capital gains tax (CGT) as a first part of a progressive tax plan in New Zealand. GST as it is, is a standard of living attack on beneficiaries and the working/middle class poor in New Zealand so we need more ways to alleviate this via the taxation system as well as a host of other labour market related policy changes.
      Oh, and booze as well as fags should be taxed and regulated at a higher rate to control consumption too!

    • Are large corporates paying enough tax? Well, it’s hard to have a definitive answer to that without the exact numbers, but on the face of it, no. Having said that, it’s actually incredibly hard to write the law in such a way that they end up paying a fair share of tax. It’s comparatively easy to tax wage and salary earners, because the way we measure their income is very straightforward. However there are whole sets of complex rules around the measurement of business income. It’s something that the entire OECD is trying to grapple with at present. One of the things that companies can do is use transfer pricing, and debt equity (c/f plain old capital equity) so that profits are counted in one country, or one tax jurisdiction, rather than another.

      When it comes to income inequality, then intuitively, if we can collect more tax revenue from corporates, then we can tax people on lower incomes less, and that leaves them with more money in their pockets. But I would have thought that a more straightforward way of tackling income inequality would be to focus on increasing wages.

  7. karol and her and Tim, you’ve all asked in one way or another about working from ideals to practical realities. It’s still only February, so a lot of our policies haven’t been announced yet, and I think I would rapidly become a non-candidate if I started announcing them here. But there are a couple of concrete things that I can point to.

    The first is our big plan for building affordable homes for first home buyers. We’re aiming to building 10,000 homes a year, over ten years. There are all sorts of good reasons for doing this, including the basic one of helping people to be secure. A person who has a roof over their head is has a much more secure base to operate from. At present, far too many New Zealanders can’t access this kind of security, because of the surge in house prices. Helping people to get over the threshold of their own home really will make a difference to people. I’ve written a bit about the connection between property and citizenship and freedom here: Property divide creating second class citizens.

    We’ve got other policies in connection with housing too, around the loan to value ratios, and warrants of fitness for rental property, and rebuilding the stock of state houses. The whole thrust of these policies is to work towards ensuring that people have warm, dry, secure homes.

    And another big policy is our Best Start policy, which means that families with a new baby (who are not currently on paid parental leave) will get $60 a week to help with costs. That’s a big help for low income families, and for other families too.

    Tim, I’m sorry, but I don’t get the “tend to agree with Mathew” reference.

    • mickysavage 7.1

      Thanks for doing this Deborah. I agree with you about the importance of housing and arguably more devastation is caused by poor housing than anything else. If the accommodation is substandard and cramped then kids will be compromised by bad health, their education will suffer and the chances of them suffering adverse events increase.

      The “tend to agree with Mathew” was a dig at Mike Williams. It is something that he says far too often on the Radio New Zealand politics program to Matthew Hooton!

    • karol 7.2

      Thanks, Deborah.

      As a life time renter, I tend to get a bit frustrated at the dominant stress on home ownership. It’s a security for some, and a stress to achieve and maintain for others. And European countries tend not to put so much stress on home ownership.

      I am pleased to see state housing on your list. I haven’t seen anything on it in Labour’s current housing policy. Does rebuild the stock of state housing many increasing the number of them, or does it refer to replacement of the current stock?

      • I really can’t say much more at present, karol. But it’s a long time until the election, and we do have things to say about housing in the next few months.

        • karol 7.2.1.1

          OK. Thanks, Deborah.

        • bad12 7.2.1.2

          Thanks for your Post here at the Standard Deborah Russell, i like Karol, among many more, have expended quite some energy in the past 3 years talking State Housing and await with interest a Labour Party announcement on a much needed rebuild of both the HousingNZ stock and the offices of HousingNZ,

          Aghast, is not a suitable descriptive at the National Parties moving of the allocation function of the States Housing stock to the Offices of WINZ which is a signal that in the future National intend that the States housing stock will become solely the province of beneficiaries,

          My contention is that just as many low income working families need and deserve to be housed by the State as these low income families as far as i can ascertain will not qualify to partake in the KiwiBuild program,

          Here’s the simple numbers,(to abridge the comment into what might be a readable ‘bite’), at its peak the States housing stock numbered some 75,000 homes servicing a population of some 3.3 million,

          Now??? to service a population of some 4.2 million there are barely 60,000 State rental properties, this would suggest on a numbers alone basis the the actual need is for 100,000 State rental homes, and while the numbers of those who can afford their own home out of that extra million plus population could definitely said to have risen dramatically it simply points out that the numbers of those who are in the demographic best described as the working poor has also increased in number…

  8. ianmac 8

    A clear vision from Deborah is just what we need. And she is young, experienced and very well educated. A future leader in the making?

  9. Ad 9

    OK anyone who can quote Nichomachean Ethics – “In order to flourish, or to live a good life” – in daily life, without sounding BBC4-ish, has my vote. May the caucus have more Phd’s in philosophy!

    I question the 1930s nostalgia for the old social compact. I would rather see a new form of one written that reflects the era in which we live.

    Great to have substantive engagement apparent from a candidate with policy-dense proclivities. Rare.

    Cunliffe needs a speech that talks not only about a new compact, but a New Ladder. And within weeks not months. Deborah, I hope you can help him.

    • Jim Nald 9.1

      “A New Ladder”

      I like that.

      Btw, why is that your gravatar or identicon is sometimes the green one or is that someone else, Ad?

  10. flip 10

    Thanks for your post and comments. I have a couple of questions which hopefully given your background and position you may answer if not now then at some point in the future. I guess you could answer personally but that might make things difficult.

    Will Labour continue with targeting of benefits and the complexity and intrusion into peoples private affairs that involves or will it consider a more universal approach with less intrusion and bureaucracy?

    Will Labour continue with benefit targeting of households and taxation of individuals and the inequity involved in that?

    Other answers around asset tax, CGT, FFT to broaden the tax base would be interesting as well.

    Be interested in the answer if not now then when appropriate. Thanks.

    • They’re pretty specific questions, flip, and at this stage, I can’t give you answers, so yes, for the future, I think. And probably for our Finance spokesperson rather than me.

      And Stuart M (below), the same thing applies to your questions, more-or-less. We’re working on our manifesto, and it will have the answers to some of those questions.

  11. Lionel 11

    Great post Deborah you sound well intentioned hope at the very least you have a high list placing there is some cleaning out required in Labour you have talent I would hope Labour make good use of that talent.Good luck won’t be an easy seat to take

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    It’s a promising start Deborah, and it’s nice to see some technical depth developing in Labour.

    One of my concerns is that, since Rogergnomics, the proliferation of user charges has built a relatively profligate and certainly enthusiasticly grasping culture in local government and regulatory areas. There are many examples of this:

    passport price increases
    building inspection costs (which were not effective in preventing leaky homes)
    the acquisition of Wof fines by local councils as an income stream
    the proliferation of IRD deeming options

    I believe the recent waterfront dispute in Auckland also relates to quasi-coporatist activism from within local government.

    Is there any plan to carry out a significant review of these kinds of activities? They embed fresh layers of cost on almost every kind of activity.

  13. Jenny 13

    Kia ora Debra, Just a few rote questions that you may get asked, and may want to answer here first.

    Debra what specifically do you seek to achieve in parliament?

    As a legislator do you have any burning issues that you wish to address?

    Will we see any private members bills from you on these issues?

    • Thanks for asking these questions, Jenny. I saw them yesterday, and while of course I have answers to them, they’re still in quite diffuse form.

      So what do I want to achieve in Parliament? Very broadly, I want to see legislation and policy that enhances people’s security, rather than decreases it.

      Less broadly, but still at a quite an abstract level, I’d like to see the way we set and deliver social assistance based more on people’s needs, and more aligned with the realities of our economy. That would mean, for example, that if there is a policy which says that sole parents must seek employment once their children turn five, then in order to facilitate that employment, we would need to look at how we provide before and after school care, and holiday programmes, and whether there are flexible jobs available, and so on. (In any case, I think that sending sole parents in search of jobs the moment their child turns five is a solution in search of a problem: most sole parents only spend a limited amount of time using the DPB to survive.)

      I would also like to see some effort put in on helping small business. Small businesses provide employment for their owners, and often enough for other people too, and they provide services in small towns and rural areas, and yet they have to grapple with difficult bureaucratic structures, and finding their way through tax law, and all sorts of things. I don’t think either major party, or even the larger smaller parties (c/f the tiny small parties) pay much attention to small businesses, and yet they’re a vital part of our economy and our social structures. They help to create thriving communities, and that’s part of a good life – living in a great community. (Of course, there are some people who prefer not to engage in community, or who prefer community in small doses, but most people enjoy being part of communities.)

      I think we also need to do some serious work around domestic violence. I know, we do a lot better now than we used to do, but there are still too many women, and children, and men, who live in dread of a violent partner, or parent. I’m thinking in particular of how ineffective protection orders are. It could be that this can be solved by legislation, possibly by a private members bill, but it could also be a matter of getting policy right.

      I want to see unions strengthened. I think that one of the reasons for the drop in wages and productivity in this country is because we decimated our unions. Wages are lower, and when wages are low, it’s usually cheaper for employers to put on more unskilled labour than to invest in new machinery, so productivity drops too. I think that one thing that might help there is creating some form of legislated union preference, so that where a union negotiates a deal of behalf of its members, there is a delay before that same deal can be made available to non-union members. (NB: this is me personally saying this). Even a standard right winger should be happy with this, because it helps to solve a free rider problem.

      Private members bills: well, I do have a couple of things in mind, but again, I’m concerned that saying them out loud here would be interpreted as Labour Party policy, and at this stage, I don’t want to pre-empt the manifesto.

  14. adam 14

    Am I the only lefty who is worried by this post. Nice rhetoric Deborah, Obama does speak in liberal phrase as well. Not one point about fundamental structural problems our society faces. Not one point about the power of corporations and their drive for the all mighty dollar. Not a thing about the embedded corruption and lobbying that infest the beltway. Me thinks you are a good speaker Deborah – but like all your ilk in the beast of labour you do sound very much like a liberal elite trying to win a meal ticket – opps I mean, seat.

    Oh and we going to talk about NZ in the 1930’s cool. How about the antisemitism that infested labour party and the treatment of south island jews by other so called decent kiwis.

    And finally because I’m over that right-wing party called labour. Stop calling it welfare, the middle class get entitlements (which are essentially welfare – mainly via tax credits) and I don’t see national or the press beating people up for that. So this talk of welfare must stop – we are all entitled – or none of us are.

    • Murray Olsen 14.1

      No adam, you’re not the only one. The tone of the post lacked the fire in the belly that I look for. The attempt to explain away GST by appealing to complication worries me. Obama could well have made the same post.

      Still, if Deborah can take Rangitikei off NAct and help open up parliament for Green and Mana participation, good luck. If she gets a seat and manages to do something for the workers of our country from within Labour, even better. I’ve just given up on holding my breath.

    • Oh and we going to talk about NZ in the 1930′s cool. How about the antisemitism that infested labour party and the treatment of south island jews by other so called decent kiwis.

      My God yes, she totally ignored that vital issue. What a giveaway!

      • Murray Olsen 14.2.1

        Well, first they came for the South Island Jews, but I wasn’t worried because……..

        I’ve never heard this side of Labour history before. Is it documented anywhere that’s worth reading?

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    What are your views on ditching the huge bundle of “accounting standards and the detailed prescriptive approach” for something more principled along the lines of “don’t lie, cheat or steal “.

    All these standards over quarter of a century do not appear to have not slowed down the poor behaviour of corporates who still go broke, leaving founder wealth intact, with even more regularity now than they did 25 years ago.

    • It would be nice if we could rely on people to just be decent. As it turns out, most people are reasonably decent, but when it comes to business, it does seem to me that there are some who take Milton Friedman and the business of business is business too seriously. So we do seem to need rules and regulations for the conduct of business.

      One of the problems that I’ve become very aware of in the last few months is interest swap deals, particularly in the farming sector, but I understand elsewhere in the economy too. It seems that some banks may have engaged in some very dubious practices, and they’re now facing legal action, following a Commerce Commission investigation: Commerce Commission takes banks to court. Our institutions have worked in this case, but not before several, or indeed many, businesses have gone to the wall. So perhaps we need to have a look at regulations in this area.

      Another example is building companies that fold, leaving subcontractors unpaid and out of pocket. Not just for time, but for materials supplied. We need to have a look at how to protect the small downstream operators, and that’s something I would like to do some work on, if I’m elected.

      I’m using the word, “perhaps”, a lot. But as I’ve said several times upthread, it’s a matter of waiting for our manifesto at this stage. I have been involved in drafting parts of the manifesto, but it’s not public yet.

      • RedbaronCV 15.1.1

        Sorry I didn’t express myself very well:

        I wasn’t suggesting that we rely on people to be “decent” – that hasn’t a hope but we have gone for very prescriptive legislation that gives us a huge book of rules – that people then work around.

        I was suggesting that we may do better with “principled” legislation – rather like the fair trading act which basically says, have a bit of fun if you like but “don’t fib” when you are selling something. Something along the lines of behave as well as possible, hand out all the facts, don’t enrich yourself unduely and then claim the money has run out.

        And:
        could you see labour investigating a solid look into the clashes between tax and welfare to try to minimise them
        and making the FBT Act residual as just a means of valuing fringe benefits with the value then being added to and taxed as part of the PAYE salary. This then counts the value of the benefit for WFF and Child support and any other government means testing.
        dealing with the depreciation regime by lifting the value to be capitalised and having many, many fewer rates.

  16. best of luck with your campaign, deborah. the equality thing is really important for me as well, and the fact that people have the right to live their lives in dignity. which means they shouldn’t be just struggling to survive, whether working full time or on a benefit. time for empathy, caring & compassion to become more than just ideals but real values that affect our every day decisions.

  17. andy (the other one) 17

    Deborah:

    You have been in the news lately after commenting on the Air NZ swimsuit video. IMO I don’t think this is helpful in an election year to give the right wing a stick to beat you with. I am not interested in the rights or wrongs of the video as such, I think its goes to a wider messaging discipline problem with Labour.

    For the last few years we have seen Labour MP’s and candidates on the news for stupid things, banning facebook, Jacinda Adern giving out lollies at the Gay Parade etc. To my mind the average punter looks at these as side issues, not dinner table bread and butter stuff. How many people fly regularily? Bugger all, so they tune out very quickly.

    The right wing noise machine loves to bash lefty’s and Labour is the gift that keeps giving, what are your thoughts on Massage discipline and getting traction on wider important issues.

    • That was interesting… a reporter rang me for comment one Friday afternoon, via my work phone, and suddenly, I was being quoted world wide.

      I’ve written a bit about the Air NZ video on my personal blog (c/f my candidate blog): That Air NZ safety video.

      I think we can talk about more than one thing at once, and I’m not sure that it was a distraction this early in the year. Perhaps later in the year it might have been more of an issue. And even then, MPs and candidates are not supposed to be rigid clones of each other. So while we want to stay on message, particularly as we get closer to the election, I don’t think it’s a huge deal at present.

  18. Jenny 18

    Deborah, as a tax consultant and a lettered lecturer on taxation, you must have some considered and informed views on taxation. Could you give us your critique of Financial Transactions Taxes, the so called Robin Hood Tax.

    Pros?

    Cons?

    • I can, but it’s going to have to be in a day or two, I’m sorry. I’m just starting to run into the evening rush hour in my home (kids, homework, meetings, dinner etc.). I’ll get back to you on this.

      • Jenny 18.1.1

        Ta for this kind and timely reply Deborah. No rush. When you are ready. Any past lecture notes will do, or even if you are busy some references you might want to point out, that you consider represent your thinking would be valuable.

        I agree, a considered reply is more valuable than a rushed sound bite.

        Thanks again Deborah. Looking forward to your response.

  19. greywarbler 19

    I was looking forward to the party in the staffroom after late closing on Christmas Eve, but about 4pm that day, the boss and owner of the store came in and threw me out. ”You’re not working tonight. Off you go at 5pm.” No explanation, no courtesy, no acknowledgement of my hard work. Just an order to get out.

    This is an interesting memory because it embodies a lot of what I see as wrong about NZs today. When Deborah was young, she did not know how to test a decision, how to ask questions about it, and unhappily obeyed the instruction. She thought she understood, and may have been correct, but she didn”t test her understanding and ask if she could stay on and go to the party.

    NZs do accept too much without seeing if their own wishes can be met. Others call the shots and we just accept that is how it is. If you don’t ask, you don’t find out whether you can get something that has not been offered directly. In Deborah’s example, maybe the boss thought she would be happy to get off and do her own thing.

    One thing that we need to learn in this country is assertiveness. How to look up and ask a question about something, not just look down and accept what we are told. There may be more that the answer to the question may reveal. We may get more, and certainly it is wise to do this as often as possible. The question to put to oneself is ‘What have I got to lose by asking this?’ If it won’t make anything worse, then ask away.

    Assert yourself and find out what you really want to know. And learn how to assert yourself well, there is an art in doing it, but not being aggressive or demanding. Let’s speak about what is on our minds in a straight-forward way, let’s ask and not stew away about something. When that happens the question may grow till it absolutely must be confronted, and then it comes out aggressively. That ratchets the matter up to an otherwise avoidable argument or disagreement, which would not happen if it had been traversed earlier.

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