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Labour should front-foot tax

Written By: - Date published: 12:53 pm, May 28th, 2016 - 167 comments
Categories: labour, leadership, tax - Tags: , ,

Good advice for Labour from Standard author Simon Louisson, writing on The Spinoff:

The left will go on losing as long as it is so muddled and apologetic on tax

National gets away with mixed messages over tax cuts because Labour has failed to grasp the nettle and frame tax as both a fairness and patriotism issue, argues Simon Louisson

The left’s failure to frame the tax debate since the last election has put it firmly on track to spend three more years in opposition.

This, despite amazing contortions by National last week, when, days after the finance minister, Bill English, said his government would behave responsibly and repay debt and investing in infrastructure rather than cutting taxes, the prime minister put tax cuts back on the agenda.

Any discussion on tax is automatically framed in such a way that less tax is seen as good, and new, or higher tax rates, are deemed bad.

The left needs to frame tax as both a fairness and patriotism issue. For example, in the current Panama Papers scandal, Labour has failed, by trying to pin instances of tax dodging on Key and his mates, instead of broadening the issue out to one that portrays the rich as finding immoral ways not to pay their fair share, legally or not, so the rest of us have to take up the slack.

Yesterday, Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson acknowledged Labour will increase taxes for some before the next election to finance initiatives in health, education and housing. He said a Tax Working Group would be set up after the election “to correct imbalances”.

“I think it is only fair to New Zealand we go to the next election with some sense of the direction of our tax policy,” Robertson said.

Labour has finally woken up to Key’s comments last week that a tax cut plan will be put before the electorate for the next election guaranteeing tax will be front and centre of any campaign.

Yet the tone of Robertson’s comments are abjectly apologetic. Little and Labour need to front-foot this. They have telegraphed the policy with no detail so National can wade in with counter punches before Labour has begun the frame, let alone the rational narrative. It’s an action replay of the half-baked announcement of the Universal Basic Income and a repeat of the CGT fiasco.

The frame Labour should be presenting is its moral vision of empathy, responsibility, protection, fairness, equality and empowerment. The narrative should be reiterated that New Zealand, thanks mainly to previous Labour governments, has a history of looking after people, and Labour plans to build on that.

Finally, Labour has to be able to get across the startling message of an OECD study, (PDF) published in 2014, which unequivocally showed that more equal societies have had better economic performance – or, to look at it another way, the more inequality grows the worse the economy performs.

This study totally contradicts the hogwash that lower taxes result in better economic outcomes.

Unless Little and his colleagues grasp this tax nettle properly and find the framing and language that demonstrates how paying tax improves our society, they can expect to languish in opposition and will doubtless then tear themselves further apart in the ensuing frustration.

Go read the full piece on The Spinoff.

Labour won the 1999 election on a tax increase because voters were so worried about the damaged state of health and education. The same conditions – and more – exist now. In contrast to Key’s greedy and irresponsible tax cut bribe, Labour should front-foot tax!

Michael Savage here to serve

167 comments on “Labour should front-foot tax ”

  1. johnm 1

    100% right and true.

  2. Sigh 2

    Who says they won’t? Little and Robertson have said they will announce their tax policy before the election, and that it will likely mean the rich paying more. You do realise you can’t launch a formal, costed tax policy before the Budget preceding an electing right? Otherwise you look like idiots when the forecasts change and the numbers don’t add up.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      The point is that the opposition need to frame tax in a way of it being about fairness and patriotism. Then, when they do announce their policy that puts tax rates up for some, they can say it is about fairness and patriotism, and if they’ve spent months talking about those same things already, then the public will better understand their tax package.

      Personally though, I don’t know what Simon actually expects them to do. Labour can talk about fairness all they want, but if the media doesn’t report it in a balanced way and just replays the government’s line on the issue, then it doesn’t matter what Labour do. Similarly, I’m pretty sure around 3/4 of people don’t care about politics at all until it gets to a couple of months before the election, so again if Labour spend all this time talking about fairness, there’s no guarantee any of it will sink in.

      • weka 2.1.1

        I heard Little on RNZ last night, a segment from parliament, where he sounded really good. Strong, forthright, competent. He was talking about how National have mismanaged the country and this is why we have the housing/homeless crises. I think if Labour were front footing like that more they’d get more respect from the MSM. Not that they’d get a free ride, but they’d put themselves back in the game. It’s not just about the content of what they say, it’s how they do it.

        Louisson has already said what they could do. Present the framing differently and do so directly and forwardly rather than apologetically. Myself, I think the problem is that too many in Labour don’t actually think that tax is fair or good.

        • Peter

          The MSM are owned by people with an agenda. The better the Left do the more they will sabotage them one way or the other. It’s naive to believe otherwise.

          • leftie

            Spot on Peter !!!!

          • weka

            I don’t believe that everyone in the MSM is part of that though. Still enough good journos, editors, producers etc.

            • mauī

              All it takes is the political reporters on TV1 and TV3 news to give their opinion of how a Labour conference/policy went and that effectively does a good hit job on Labour. They did this just the other day, and I can’t really say I trust them not to do more hit jobs running up to the next election.

              • weka

                Of course. But that’s not all of NZ media. And they’ll do that to National or the Greens etc too if it serves them.

                Did they do it do Helen Clark? Why didn’t it work? It’s not just about the media, it’s about Labour too. Remember when the Greens used to get hammered in the press. Not so much now, so what has changed?

                • Mosa

                  They did the same to Helen,Cullen and Labour in general.
                  What’s changed is the current govt .always sympathetic to the right wing especially the print media they won’t put the blow torch to the govt and pm they support !!!
                  Foreign control of our MSM and financial favours by Key to media works buys influence pure and simple.
                  I remember the very nasty editorials the NZ Herald ran against the last Labour govt after Helens second term ,and who can forget led by Duncan Garner Labour is “STEALING OUR MONEY” when they would not cut taxes and put the country in debt and invested in social infrastructure instead.
                  And this is a democracy and level playing field.
                  Yeah Right !!

                • leftie

                  But then again, most people do watch TV 1 and TV 3, and are influenced by it. More often than not, the media, including TV, gives John key and National a free pass and are often whitewashing National’s lies, transgressions and wrong doings.

                  Helen Clark said she was fending off at least 6 attacks a week. The media never made it easy for a Labour government to get on with the job. They have always been pro Nats even when the Nats are in opposition, but their bias has never been as bad as it is now under John key.

                  Labour are being more targeted, that and the Greens not being seen as a threat to National, is why I think the Greens are getting less hammered, but come election year, that will all change, its going to be an all out assault against the opposition.

            • leftie

              But most are part of that though Weka, there are very few good reporters left. Personally, I don’t think real journalism exists anymore, if the media had of told the truth, John key and his government would have been history long ago.

        • AmaKiwi

          Threatening new taxes = electoral suicide.

          • weka

            Which is why the post is suggesting a way of making taxation fairer rather than threatening new taxes.

        • AmaKiwi

          “I think the problem is that too many in Labour don’t actually think that tax is fair or good.”

          I don’t think ANY politician can be trusted. Bad enough are parties that promise not to raise taxes but do it anyhow. I think that includes every party that’s ever been in power.

          I’m not stupid enough to vote for a party that says they intend to increase taxes.

          • weka

            Have you looked at what Labour are proposing? It’s not about ‘raising taxes’. It’s about making taxation more fair at the same times as being able to run the country to include social services and other things that National have been cutting.

  3. Macro 3

    Totally agree – and they should also be up front about introducing a Carbon Tax. and how the monies from that would be used to help people transition to less Carbon intensive lifestyles.

    • weka 3.1

      Keep things simple, they could just steal the Green Party policy (or god forbid actually work with the GP).

  4. Ad 4

    I’d like to see Labour and NZFirst front 2017 with identical tax policies. Whatever they are. Just look united.

    • AmaKiwi 4.1

      “I’d like to see Labour and NZFirst front 2017 with identical tax policies.”

      And I’d like to see a cow that can jump over the moon.

      Winston Peters is smart. He’d never publish a tax policy unless it meant lowering taxes across the board. Why do you think he’s still around and polling better than Andrew Little?

  5. weka 5

    “The frame Labour should be presenting is its moral vision of empathy, responsibility, protection, fairness, equality and empowerment. The narrative should be reiterated that New Zealand, thanks mainly to previous Labour governments, has a history of looking after people, and Labour plans to build on that.”

    Spot on. The problem is to front foot that you have to believe it and I’m not sure Labour does. Are they being apologetic because they believe taxes are bad but inevitable?

  6. ianmac 6

    Tax Bad. Relief from Tax good. The Right here and USA have got it sewn up.

    But if people were given a choice of slightly increased taxes for everyone except the low incomes, meaning that we could better fund schools, hospital, security, then it is possible that everyone except the very rich would buy into it.
    After all, parents are dismayed that education is not fully funded and Hospitals are understaffed. This could be an answer.
    I think sometime past this was put to a survey. “Would you support increased taxes to better fund schools and hospitals?” Yes/No? Sure that 60%+ said yes.

    “Would you support increased taxes so that MPs could ride in expensive cars and have much greater salaries?” Yes/No?

  7. Pat 7

    Labour need to spend this time before the election campaign educating the public on the mechanics of taxation….if the electorate still decide they will be “on the winning side” in a divisive regime then so be it.

    a little light reading to set them on their way

    t is often hard to pin down what antitax crusaders are trying to achieve. The reason is not, or not only, that they are disingenuous about their motives — though as we will see, disingenuity has become a hallmark of the movement in recent years. Rather, the fuzziness comes from the fact that today’s antitax movement moves back and forth between two doctrines. Both doctrines favor the same thing: big tax cuts for people with high incomes. But they favor it for different reasons.

    One of those doctrines has become famous under the name ”supply-side economics.” It’s the view that the government can cut taxes without severe cuts in public spending. The other doctrine is often referred to as ”starving the beast,” a phrase coined by David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s budget director. It’s the view that taxes should be cut precisely in order to force severe cuts in public spending. Supply-side economics is the friendly, attractive face of the tax-cut movement. But starve-the-beast is where the power lies.

    The starting point of supply-side economics is an assertion that no economist would dispute: taxes reduce the incentive to work, save and invest. A businessman who knows that 70 cents of every extra dollar he makes will go to the I.R.S. is less willing to make the effort to earn that extra dollar than if he knows that the I.R.S. will take only 35 cents. So reducing tax rates will, other things being the same, spur the economy.

    This much isn’t controversial. But the government must pay its bills. So the standard view of economists is that if you want to reduce the burden of taxes, you must explain what government programs you want to cut as part of the deal. There’s no free lunch.

    What the supply-siders argued, however, was that there was a free lunch. Cutting marginal rates, they insisted, would lead to such a large increase in gross domestic product that it wouldn’t be necessary to come up with offsetting spending cuts. What supply-side economists say, in other words, is, ”Don’t worry, be happy and cut taxes.” And when they say cut taxes, they mean taxes on the affluent: reducing the top marginal rate means that the biggest tax cuts go to people in the highest tax brackets.

    The other camp in the tax-cut crusade actually welcomes the revenue losses from tax cuts. Its most visible spokesman today is Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who once told National Public Radio: ”I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” And the way to get it down to that size is to starve it of revenue. ”The goal is reducing the size and scope of government by draining its lifeblood,” Norquist told U.S. News & World Report.

    What does ”reducing the size and scope of government” mean? Tax-cut proponents are usually vague about the details. But the Heritage Foundation, ideological headquarters for the movement, has made it pretty clear. Edwin Feulner, the foundation’s president, uses ”New Deal” and ”Great Society” as terms of abuse, implying that he and his organization want to do away with the institutions Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson created. That means Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — most of what gives citizens of the United States a safety net against economic misfortune.

    The starve-the-beast doctrine is now firmly within the conservative mainstream. George W. Bush himself seemed to endorse the doctrine as the budget surplus evaporated: in August 2001 he called the disappearing surplus ”incredibly positive news” because it would put Congress in a ”fiscal straitjacket.”

    Like supply-siders, starve-the-beasters favor tax cuts mainly for people with high incomes. That is partly because, like supply-siders, they emphasize the incentive effects of cutting the top marginal rate; they just don’t believe that those incentive effects are big enough that tax cuts pay for themselves. But they have another reason for cutting taxes mainly on the rich, which has become known as the ”lucky ducky” argument.

    Here’s how the argument runs: to starve the beast, you must not only deny funds to the government; you must make voters hate the government. There’s a danger that working-class families might see government as their friend: because their incomes are low, they don’t pay much in taxes, while they benefit from public spending. So in starving the beast, you must take care not to cut taxes on these ”lucky duckies.” (Yes, that’s what The Wall Street Journal called them in a famous editorial.) In fact, if possible, you must raise taxes on working-class Americans in order, as The Journal said, to get their ”blood boiling with tax rage.”

    So the tax-cut crusade has two faces. Smiling supply-siders say that tax cuts are all gain, no pain; scowling starve-the-beasters believe that inflicting pain is not just necessary but also desirable. Is the alliance between these two groups a marriage of convenience? Not exactly. It would be more accurate to say that the starve-the-beasters hired the supply-siders — indeed, created them — because they found their naive optimism useful.

    A look at who the supply-siders are and how they came to prominence tells the story.

    The supply-side movement likes to present itself as a school of economic thought like Keynesianism or monetarism — that is, as a set of scholarly ideas that made their way, as such ideas do, into political discussion. But the reality is quite different. Supply-side economics was a political doctrine from Day 1; it emerged in the pages of political magazines, not professional economics journals.

    That is not to deny that many professional economists favor tax cuts. But they almost always turn out to be starve-the-beasters, not supply-siders. And they often secretly — or sometimes not so secretly — hold supply-siders in contempt. N. Gregory Mankiw, now chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, is definitely a friend to tax cuts; but in the first edition of his economic-principles textbook, he described Ronald Reagan’s supply-side advisers as ”charlatans and cranks.”

    It is not that the professionals refuse to consider supply-side ideas; rather, they have looked at them and found them wanting. A conspicuous example came earlier this year when the Congressional Budget Office tried to evaluate the growth effects of the Bush administration’s proposed tax cuts. The budget office’s new head, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, is a conservative economist who was handpicked for his job by the administration. But his conclusion was that unless the revenue losses from the proposed tax cuts were offset by spending cuts, the resulting deficits would be a drag on growth, quite likely to outweigh any supply-side effects.

    But if the professionals regard the supply-siders with disdain, who employs these people? The answer is that since the 1970’s almost all of the prominent supply-siders have been aides to conservative politicians, writers at conservative publications like National Review, fellows at conservative policy centers like Heritage or economists at private companies with strong Republican connections. Loosely speaking, that is, supply-siders work for the vast right-wing conspiracy. What gives supply-side economics influence is its connection with a powerful network of institutions that want to shrink the government and see tax cuts as a way to achieve that goal. Supply-side economics is a feel-good cover story for a political movement with a much harder-nosed agenda.

    This isn’t just speculation. Irving Kristol, in his role as co-editor of The Public Interest, was arguably the single most important proponent of supply-side economics. But years later, he suggested that he himself wasn’t all that persuaded by the doctrine: ”I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” Writing in 1995, he explained that his real aim was to shrink the government and that tax cuts were a means to that end: ”The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority — so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

    In effect, what Kristol said in 1995 was that he and his associates set out to deceive the American public. They sold tax cuts on the pretense that they would be painless, when they themselves believed that it would be necessary to slash public spending in order to make room for those cuts.

    But one supposes that the response would be that the end justified the means — that the tax cuts did benefit all Americans because they led to faster economic growth. Did they?


    • Andre 7.1

      “The starting point of supply-side economics is an assertion that no economist would dispute: taxes reduce the incentive to work, save and invest.”

      Maybe some economists need to start looking hard at that assertion. Faced with a cut in disposable income due to a tax raise, is someone more likely to work less, thereby compounding their reduction in lifestyle, or are they likely to try to boost their after-tax income in order to maintain their lifestyle? Growing up in the 70s and 80s, a mate’s dad owned a small contracting business, and had expensive tastes in toys. There was a change in regulations that effectively amounted to a substantial tax increase. His comment was “if I want to keep enjoying my toys, I’d better figure how to earn more”. And he did, doing things he would have preferred not to in order to grow his business. Then when Douglas cut his taxes, he didn’t need the extra gross income anymore and decided he would rather do without the aggravation of extra employees, and allowed the business to revert back to a smaller size.

      In any case, is it such a bad thing if some top earners reach the point where they would rather go out and enjoy their income rather than grubbing for more? If top lawyers, doctors, marketers, engineers turn down work because their marginal tax rates make it not worth their while, then that work will go to someone else, expanding the number of employed people in that field.

      • Pat 7.1.1

        “The starting point of supply-side economics is an assertion that no economist would dispute: taxes reduce the incentive to work, save and invest.”

        think it would be a fair assertion when measured in total…certainly at an individual level there will be factors that may appear to disprove it but then economists don’t work at that level

        “In any case, is it such a bad thing if some top earners reach the point where they would rather go out and enjoy their income rather than grubbing for more? If top lawyers, doctors, marketers, engineers turn down work because their marginal tax rates make it not worth their while, then that work will go to someone else, expanding the number of employed people in that field.”

        In my opinion no, unless perhaps their role is critical to the functioning of society and there is no one else to perform those tasks, and that is why planning is critical to ensure that doesn’t occur….I also note it is not an uncommon refrain from many high achievers that to step away from the “rat race” and refocus their energy elsewhere is a positive step.

        • Andre

          “think it would be a fair assertion when measured in total…certainly at an individual level there will be factors that may appear to disprove it but then economists don’t work at that level”

          The US non-partisan government body Congressional Research Service doesn’t seem to reach that conclusion


          The Republicans really didn’t like it when this report was published…

          • Pat

            ‘The US non-partisan government body Congressional Research Service doesn’t seem to reach that conclusion’

            Not entirely sure that is what they are saying…

            “Initially, it is important to make a distinction between the effects of policies aimed at short-term stimulation of an underemployed economy and long-run growth. In the short run, both spending increases and tax cuts are projected to increase employment and output in an underemployed economy.”


            “In summation, the evidence in this section suggests that changing tax rates is likely to have small effects on supply of labor and capital and on output.”

            Think there are two aspects that need focusing on in both pieces, because in the main they are saying the same thing and the initial statement around economists acceptance of the impact of tax on growth is neither quantified nor timelined…1).it may have been more accurate to say while there is dispute around what impact and over what period, but I see it as part of an introduction later covered in detail so is not required….and 2) the impact of tax reductions can now be studied with real life examples over time whereas in the past inadequate modeling was used to predict…and this was what economists based their opinion on.

            I can well imagine the Republicans did not like the tenor of that report for it showed the lie that they have maintained for decades….as said these two articles agree…

            So did the tax cuts promote economic growth? You might think that all we have to do is look at how the economy performed. But it’s not that simple, because different observers read different things from Reagan’s economic record.

            Here’s how tax-cut advocates look at it: after a deep slump between 1979 and 1982, the U.S. economy began growing rapidly. Between 1982 and 1989 (the first year of the first George Bush’s presidency), the economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.2 percent. That’s a lot better than the growth rate of the economy in the late 1970’s, and supply-siders claim that these ”Seven Fat Years” (the title of a book by Robert L. Bartley, the longtime editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page) prove the success of Reagan’s 1981 tax cut.

            “But skeptics say that rapid growth after 1982 proves nothing: a severe recession is usually followed by a period of fast growth, as unemployed workers and factories are brought back on line. The test of tax cuts as a spur to economic growth is whether they produced more than an ordinary business cycle recovery. Once the economy was back to full employment, was it bigger than you would otherwise have expected? And there Reagan fails the test: between 1979, when the big slump began, and 1989, when the economy finally achieved more or less full employment again, the growth rate was 3 percent, the same as the growth rate between the two previous business cycle peaks in 1973 and 1979. Or to put it another way, by the late 1980’s the U.S. economy was about where you would have expected it to be, given the trend in the 1970’s. Nothing in the data suggests a supply-side revolution.”

            Read the whole thing, it isn’t called Tax Cut Con for no reason.

            • Andre

              With respect to “The starting point of supply-side economics is an assertion that no economist would dispute: taxes reduce the incentive to work, save and invest.”, the most relevant bit in Krugman’s article is about halfway down:

              “For Clinton did exactly the opposite of what supply-side economics said you should do: he raised the marginal rate on high-income taxpayers. In 1989, the top 1 percent of families paid, on average, only 28.9 percent of their income in federal taxes; by 1995, that share was up to 36.1 percent.

              “Conservatives confidently awaited a disaster — but it failed to materialize. In fact, the economy grew at a reasonable pace through Clinton’s first term, while the deficit and the unemployment rate went steadily down. And then the news got even better: unemployment fell to its lowest level in decades without causing inflation, while productivity growth accelerated to rates not seen since the 1960’s. And the budget deficit turned into an impressive surplus.”

              Using economic growth as a proxy for “incentive to work, save and invest”, it seems higher taxes are in fact a higher incentive to work, save and invest. After Krugman wrote it in 2003, we’ve also had Obama’s reversal of the Bush tax cuts, showing yet again that higher top marginal taxes correlates well with higher economic growth. Real-life evidence is exactly the opposite to the “assertion that no economist would dispute: taxes reduce the incentive to work, save and invest.”

              Tax Cut Con is putting it very mildly…

              • Pat

                “Using economic growth as a proxy for “incentive to work, save and invest”, it seems higher taxes are in fact a higher incentive to work, save and invest.”.

                You could equally argue no taxes are a higher incentive to work save and invest as with no taxation or public services it is a case of survival as the “starve the beast” advocates do (after they have amassed wealth by using the advantages taxation provides), that however is a very selfish and short term view….the point that needs to be hammered is if we keep reducing taxation society will cease to function for everyone …it is as simple as that.

                and we are rapidly approaching that point.

                • Andre

                  “You could equally argue no taxes are a higher incentive to work save and invest as with no taxation or public services it is a case of survival as the “starve the beast” advocates do”

                  Thing is, the only real world examples of “no taxes” are failed states such as Somalia. There’s plenty of examples of low tax “starved beasts” in third world countries. Real world evidence from functioning developed states disproves the supply-side con that cutting top marginal tax rates stimulates growth, as shown in the articles you and I linked to.

                  On the other hand, I’ve never seen any reliable looking info on correlating bottom tax rates and economic growth. I suspect that low tax rates at the bottom of the income scale do cause economic growth, for the simple reason that putting more money in the hands of people that will spend it immediately in the local economy is a powerful stimulus. Not because of any discredited bullshit right wing cherished fantasies that low taxes are incentives to work, save and invest.

                  • Pat

                    “On the other hand, I’ve never seen any reliable looking info on correlating bottom tax rates and economic growth. I suspect that low tax rates at the bottom of the income scale do cause economic growth, for the simple reason that putting more money in the hands of people that will spend it immediately in the local economy is a powerful stimulus. Not because of any discredited bullshit right wing cherished fantasies that low taxes are incentives to work, save and invest”

                    horrors …..that would run counter to the true purpose.

                    The question of tax needs to be addressed in terms of spend ratio GDP…and then the argument about who and how its paid…..your point around lower taxation at the bottom has merit imo, though we in effect do that with WFF (for those with children at last) and feel sure there will have been studies on the GDP impact of that, will have to have look
                    Is worth noting that “the ability to pay” was the basis of taxation in NZ prior to the neolib coup

                • Andre

                  Another thought on the taxes/incentives to work relationship: which US states are particularly attractive to a lot of high income earners? New York and California spring to mind. Which states levy particularly high marginal income tax rates? New York and California spring to mind.

    • AmaKiwi 7.2

      “Labour need to spend this time before the election campaign educating the public on the mechanics of taxation”

      Talking down to the public will get you what you deserve: you’ll be ignored.

      Ask the people what THEY want.

      • Pat 7.2.1

        “Talking down to the public will get you what you deserve: you’ll be ignored.”

        interesting take on it…..explaining the benefits in dollar terms of social provision of services as opposed to private may be “talking down” to the public in your books……me? I think a significant proportion of those “middle NZ” voters would be quite happy to see some numbers put up.

        Believe its called a costs/benefits analysis…worthless things that they are.

        Voters arnt interested in rubbish like that of course.

  8. Bill 8

    I tend to agree with Simon’s argument but would add a little something. Labour has to stop running scared of corporate media. It’s probably true that most major outlets wouldn’t give much traction to a positive tax message – that’s the degree of capture.

    So Labour has to ignore the ‘gatekeepers’ and speak directly to the electorate…as Sanders and Corbyn have successfully done in spite of a constant negative onslaught from major media.

    For a reiteration of the basic message in 2014 OECD report linked in the post, here’s an article on a current one from the IMF. Yup…I know.

  9. Mosa 9

    Labour has a proud progressive history with great policy that was so good John Key stole it and won an election promising to care about the underclass and won again on retaining working for families, Kiwisaver and not selling Kiwi rail and too continue funding infrastructure.
    And even think it’s had a surplus like Cullen’s except Labours were real and not smoke and mirrors like Bills missing billions.
    They do actually have a platform to work from and go hell for leather.
    Bullet points ,humour and knowing the govt has weaknesses and exploiting them.
    Nothing else has worked in 8 years and Keys friends will begin undermining Littles poll rating as a diversion and talk about a leadership challenge , they will need to handle these attacks and stay on message.

  10. Sacha 10

    Selfishness underpins the current govt.

    If Labour were to frame its fundamental point of difference as *working together for a shared future*, for instance, it can communicate that continuously across many different examples. Tax becomes a joint investment, in that frame, but you don’t need to talk about tax to embed the frame in public consciousness.

    However, it requires nous and discipline they seem to lack. Shame for the rest of us.

    • AmaKiwi 10.1

      People do not vote FOR someone. They vote AGAINST someone.

      Right now National looks bad. For the LEFT to win they need to hammer home National’s failures.

      Key’s hoardings might just as well have read, “A Brighter Future than Labour/Greens will give you.” That was Key’s real message. It worked.

      • Sacha 10.1.1

        People vote against a government if they see a credible alternative to vote for instead. That credibility is achieved by consistent, coherent messages over time and social proof of good team management and viable coalition partners.

  11. save nz 11

    I disagree. Labour’s increases in taxes were not welcome last election.

    The big problem for the left is that they fail to understand that rich people are not paying tax and by rich I mean rich listers like 50million plus. So the left targeting the so called rich who are on PAYE (mostly Labour supporters!!!) like doctors is crazy. Yep, maybe they earn more but even on big bucks for NZ, with the cost of student loans, the cost of studying for 7 years and the cost of living – being told you should pay more – all the while while letting foreign investors and recent migrants flush with money driving around in Mercedes and with will make people see red. The left seem to be living in a world without tax havens, without globalism and without neoliberalism, where everyone is on PAYE and without accountants who can legally avoid taxes. Only the honest even tax now. It is so bad now, that only the poorest are bringing in the taxes in the budget aka smoking and beneficiary debt!

    With Nationals election fraud such as increasing our population by 1.5% per year – nearly 5% over an election cycle they can also change the profile of voters while at the same time remove the poor from Auckland and off the electoral roll by poverty. If you are homeless, if you are being chased by creditors or an abused spouse are you on the electoral roll? If you are new to NZ and hearing in MSM how amazing John Key is, and how he is giving everyone a tax break – who do you think they are drawn towards vote wise?

    Labour need to be strategic. And the Greens should be picking up more votes, it is their tax stance I think holding them back – lots of middle NZ believe in the green movement, but increasing the population while campaigning for sustainablity and wanting middle NZ to pick up the bill for an artificially increased population, is not working for them. NZ does not have to follow the rest of the world and try to fit in as many people as possible – instead think of the possibilities of a small population.

    • Tory 11.1

      So using your logic that immigration to NZ is “National Election Fraud”, I can only assume the exodus from NZ to countries such as Australia during the reign of comrade Clark was “Labour Election Suicide” due to your party supporters leaving?, or is this just another example of KDS?

      • save nz 11.1.1

        @Tory – there is a difference between an exodus and increasing the population of a social democracy with high unemployment, housing and public transport shortage of 1.5% per year. No other country is stupid enough to change it’s population so dramatically and telling them to invest and buy up property as part of their application.

        In a time where there is a massive refugee crisis – if the government was so keen to increase the population why not be Europe’s hero and invite 67,000 refugees here rather than the paltry 750?

        Because the wealthy migrants who are coming to NZ are going to vote National and refugees will not.

        I heard there were only 10,000 votes in last election, about the amount of the new prison population who are not able to vote under National.

        Seems to be a trend going on here. $5000 now for beneficiaries to move out of Auckland, which has 1/3 of the vote. Who are they likely to vote for?

        As for KDS, National selling 2700 state houses while telling everyone for 8 years they are building affordable housing. Now that is a derangement syndrome!

        • Tory

          And what is your reference for the statement that “wealthy migrants who are coming to NZ are going to vote National”?, given at least 25% are expats returning http://www.expatforum.com/new-zealand and the other largest proportion of migrants are students http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/71329261/NZ-migration-boom-nears-60-000-a-year-as-Indians-and-returning-Kiwis-flood-in.
          You infer in your post that National is somehow changing the voting demographics by encouraging migration from supposed National voters. This is bullshit and a fantasy that cannot be substantiated by anything other than your own left leaning dislike for the current Government.

          • Stuart Munro

            Well your criminal in chief is recruiting Chinese embezzlers and Latin American tax evaders – these folk aren’t keen to part with a cent in tax or they would not be criminals (in some cases on top ten most wanted in their countries of origin). So, they will be bad citizens and hence natural National supporters. National is the party of criminality and gross incompetence.

  12. Your Average Voter 12

    Much ado is made of tax increases and the rich and wealthy paying more to supplement social spending. Fair enough. But when it comes to tax you can’t speak in general terms. It has to be black and white.

    I’d be interested to see what people think on this forum.

    What gross income defines wealthy?
    What gross income defines rich?
    Is there a difference between the two ?
    Would new tax income brackets be introduced or keep the existing ones?
    Higher tax rates for exactly what income brackets?

    If Grant Robertson thinks he can go into an election promising tax hikes with the vague idea of a tax working group after they are elected then he will be crucified by the Nats because they will be talking tax cuts. All the Nats have to do is put the fear of God into voters that the “rich pricks” start at $45k (or whatever)

    Don’t forget the Nats are doing away with provisional tax for businesses under $5m which is a great idea and long overdue. They are also talking of raising tax thresholds to accommodate rising incomes.

    Robertson is being lazy and he would get better traction if he had a well thought out plan with actual figures in advance of the election instead of gauge generalities. After all, that’s his job to provide real financial alternatives for us to vote on.

    A patriot issue will be laughed at and make voters eyes roll. Voters don’t give a toss about OECD studies as we are bombarded with studies all the time and they are often contradictory or so much political speak that it just becomes background noise.

    What we all really want to know what’s in it for us, the voter. More money in our pockets or better infrastructure, health systems, educational institutes, social services etc.

    • McGrath 12.1

      Summed up perfectly.

      I’d like to know Labour’s definition of “Rich”. Currently it seems like anyone who’s not on some sort of benefit. Going into an election vague on tax increases will see Labour crucified.

  13. Sabine 13

    From the Lady who should run for Presnit in the States

    Elisabeth Warren:

    You built a factory out there, good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads that the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

    and i think that people who have made some money in their life very hard try to forget that they did not make themselves. Even the ones that aspire to be Housing Millionaires. We all made ourselfs, no the state never helped with nuthin, and i will never need the state.

    • Here’s an idea if they cant get it through their heads they didn’t need the rest of society to be Mr/Ms/Miss/Mrs flash pants:

      Place said property speculator in jungle. Hand knife. Wave goodbye. Leave.

    • Craig H 13.2

      Your contracts were safe because of the court system that the rest of us paid for – no predatory leases, safe land titles, safe mortgages/loan contracts, sales contracts that are adhered to, the ability to take legal proceedings whenever any of these are breached etc.

      Business relies heavily on contract law and common law, and courts and the mechanics of state to enforce them – much more so than the average punter.

  14. BM 14

    I agree, Labour really needs to pick this up and run with it as hard as they can.

    • James 14.1

      +1 – hell they should also dig up the old capital gains tax and run with that as well.

      And tax all those richs pricks on 70k per annum +

      Huge vote winners

  15. Nic the NZer 15

    Did you know that the Savage government financed parts of its house building policy, not by taxing, but by simply issuing and spending directly into the economy.


  16. We didn’t get where we are today by worrying about social issues…..

  17. Colonial Viper 17

    To echo Nic the NZer, why does Labour want to take away money from Kiwi households income and savings, when they could just take money directly from the Reserve Bank to spend into the NZ economy?

  18. Incognito 18

    I agree 100%!

    Labour must own its vision, it must be it, and become the embodiment of its vision. And by Labour I mean all its members, its caucus, everybody – if this is not your vision, if cannot share it, which is entirely o.k. BTW, you don’t belong with this particular group of people who do share in this vision.

    In my personal experience, if you do stand for something, truly believe in it, then you live it and it shows in things you do and say. This is called being genuine, honest, and authentic.

    If so, you’ll have little problem with conveying this to journalists, in interviews, in writings, in speeches, etc., because it will show and people will pick up on your authenticity. You will have no problems with getting the message out in a consistent non-contradictory and non-confusing manner – there won’t be any real need for spin doctors and prescriptive scripts from TC although communication experts can help.

    If you stay on message you’ll more easily come across as positive as there won’t be any need to attack the opposite and your (political) opponent.

    A vision is not dogma though! Doubt is good, because it forces you to question your beliefs, to re-assess and re-evaluate. It also allows others to question you and criticise your reasoning without becoming defensive and closed-minded.

    Increased taxes are the means to an end – focus on the end, the vision.

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Labour aren’t capable of any of these things, they haven’t been for years.

      You can’t suddenly decide on a new vision for the country as if it’s a new PR narrative.

      • Incognito 18.1.1

        Who said anything about a new vision? For example, did Corbyn or Sanders formulate a new vision?

        A properly expressed genuine vision does make for an excellent PR narrative – I’m ignoring the usual negative connotations that these words evoke.

        I don’t know what Labour is or isn’t capable of; I hardly know what I’m capable of myself at the best of times but when put to the test it is usually much more than or very different from what I’d ever anticipated. Life is such a wonderful experience, don’t you agree?

        • Colonial Viper

          I appreciate your optimistic sentiment, but if you don’t think that our 21 st century requires a new vision to deal with climate change and the end of fossil fuels why bother with change.

          • Incognito

            Nah, I am no optimist; I’m a dreamer.

            “To deal with climate change” is not a vision as such IMO.

            This whole problem of climate change is not as new as many seem to think or believe. The concept of “peak oil” has been around for yonks. What could be loosely described as “environmentalism” goes back hundreds of years even though Greenpeace was founded in only 1971, a few years after the term “climate change” was first suggested (according to Wikipedia).

            In other words, the vision, whatever it is, has already been around for quite some time; it is not specific to the 21st Century in any way, shape or form. It is just (slightly) different names, banners for or emphasis on the same things as before.

            • Colonial Viper

              You’re wrong I think. Regardless, even if the vision has been around since the 1970s it is not a Labour vision.

              • Incognito

                Please correct me if I’m wrong; simply stating asserting the fact is not helpful in the slightest!

                I honestly look forward to learning but regardless:

                We call it the Kiwi dream.

                It’s a home to call our own. Opportunities for everyone’s kids to succeed, no matter where they live. Security and freedom to make our own choices. Pride in our independence and a passion for our environment.

                That’s the New Zealand we want and deserve.

                We’ll care for the environment so we can all enjoy it, now and in the future.


                • Colonial Viper

                  excuse me, is that what you consider a new vision for the 21st Century?

                  • Incognito

                    @ Colonial Viper,

                    I have already explained to you that IMO there’s nothing new about this and nothing specific to the 21st Century. But you don’t seem to (or don’t want to?) get that!? Why is that, I ask myself.

                    You pulled CC and the end of fossil fuels into the conversation @ although my original comment @ 18 or my second one @ 18.1.1 had absolutely nothing to do with these as it was a comment on the OP! Anyway, and again, I pointed out that there’s nothing new about that either. I’m wrong, you said, but you still haven’t corrected me and I’m still in the dark about what I was wrong about.

                    Labour does not specifically mention CC or fossil fuels in its Vision Statement. So?

                    You’re obviously not satisfied with the way Labour’s Vision is worded or what it might encapsulate and I’m sorry to hear that but I cannot help you with this. If your pet issues or words don’t appear, if your ’cause célèbre’ in environmentalism does not prominently feature, do you spit the dummy or do you seek common ground and try move forward together?

                    BTW, I am not blown away by Labour’s Vision but for different reasons, which I have previously explained as well. And BTW, I also think CC is a real threat to humankind.

                    You are free to frame any issue that is close to your heart in any way you like but please don’t expect everybody to fully agree with you or frame it in exactly the same way and certainly don’t assume that if they don’t they 100% disagree with you. I think you and I have more in common than separates us.

                    Have a good night.

                    • Colonial Viper


                      BTW CC and fossil fuel depletion ain’t a ’cause célèbre’ like it was 30 plus years ago.

                      Today it is the massive asteroid blotting out the sun in the sky, on a direct collision course for our Earth.

                • AmaKiwi

                  @ Incognito

                  Wow! Apple pie and motherhood and enough b.s. to drive an ocean liner through. I’m so inspired . . . not.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Labour is still trying to coast on its historical legacy of the 40s 50s and 60s.

                  • Incognito

                    @ AmaKiwi,

                    FWIIW I am not impressed by it either but this doesn’t mean I cannot use it in and as reply to Colonial Viper, does it?

                    For the record, this Kiwi Dream stuff is too vanilla, too much of a nostalgic sentiment to be the Vision of the second major political party in NZ that is NZLP. It is too vague and it is incomplete; it lacks imagination and it lacks true political vision. That said, it makes for an excellent narrative, but no more. IMO that Vision needs a lot of work.

  19. Jack Ramaka 19

    Labour need to have sound economic policy that people can understand, announcing Capital Gains Tax b4 the last Election was political suicide. Labour needs to understand itself and its target market, if it wants to get back into Government, they tried to become like National/ACT and destroyed their traditional voting base, now they still don’t have clear policy and are perennial fence sitters and finger twiddlers.

    • Sabine 19.1

      Luckily we have National then ey?

    • Stuart Munro 19.2

      So the MSM have said – but even the IMF told us we need a CGT. Half the reason NZ is so attractive to speculators is the lack of a CGT.

      Speculation is poison to economies – it wrecks productive and sustainable industries and it does not provide vital public goods.

      NZ is perfectly capable of building plenty of good, affordable housing – once the speculators are removed from the equation.

      CGT is desirable because untaxed sharemarket gains are equally corrosive to productive sectors. Dairy for example has moved in the last twenty years from productivity to capital gains. The gains accrue chiefly to foreign banks, and the sector is no longer either innovative or a path to financial security for young families.

      The party that presently claims the mantle of responsible economic stewardship has created this debacle – they are dangerously stupid in those areas not already compromised by their incontinent greed. Getting rid of the Gnats is frankly an urgent matter of national interest.

      • Colonial Viper 19.2.1

        Labour won’t reannounce the CGT.

      • AmaKiwi 19.2.2

        @ Stuart Monro

        “Capital Gains Tax is desirable because . . . ”

        Labour screwed themselves. They should have shut the f*ck up.

        After the election “in consultation with Treasury and the IRD modest adjustments to accounting procedures for the calculation of taxes will be implemented. ” Surprise! Their “modest adjustments” are a capital gains tax.

        No, Labour had to piss away 2 elections shouting from the rooftops about how virtuous they were.

        God, save us from loud mouth do gooders.

  20. Wainwright 20

    Only two answers to the question why Labour are apologetic about the need to icnrease tax on the wealthy to spend on public srevices. Either they’re too stupid to see they’ve adopted the right’s way of thinking, or they don’t see any problem with it. Either way they’re stuffed.

    Look at the way the usual RWers are panicking on this thread. They know the vast majority of Kiwis have no problem telling CEOs and lawyers to pay their fair share, and it’s a strategy National can never try to coopt.

    • James 20.1

      Whats wealthy according to you?

      • Colonial Viper 20.1.1

        you can lose your job and not have to change a single thing in your life including looking for another job for at least 6 to 12 months.

  21. Tom 21

    I am not sure labour will want to go into an election saying they will not only reverse tax cuts but will increase taxes. Unless of course labour have completely given up on winning an election and just want to cement the support of the left at the expense of middle NZ’s vote. Not sure its a good tactic.

    • Pat 21.1

      If they have a program that can be demonstrated as beneficial and is costed then they should not fear the possibility of restructuring taxation….it would also be wrong to assume that increased taxation requires upping the PAYE rate on “middle NZ” as a matter of course…..its been done before and there is no reason why it can’t be done again….it all depends on what 50%plus one of the country think is best for the future, theirs and the country as a whole.

      • Colonial Viper 21.1.1

        Restructuring taxation is only of any use if it is part of a vision to restructure the entire economy.

        • Pat

          so its all or nothing?….how do you come to that conclusion?

          …would add that or all nothing positions usually result in the later.

          • Colonial Viper

            Can you explain what the benefit of restructuring the tax system is if the 10,000 richest Kiwis still decide the future of the nation?

            • Pat

              oh i don’t know, maybe a functioning health system, or a social housing program or a funded education system that doesn’t penalize the children of the poor or maybe even attempting to alleviate the worst impacts poverty…….you know, the little things.

              • Incognito


              • Colonial Viper

                You’ll simply lose power again in a term or two.

                • Pat

                  perhaps…..but at the very least it will be a term or two sans Key et al

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Labour had 3 terms and AFAIK there were st least 150,000 Kiwi children in poverty by 2008. Something better and longer lasting than Not John Key is required.

                    • Pat

                      well then your choice is simple….vote for him

                    • greywarshark

                      You are very ‘umble. I don’t ask much of you rich people, just put a clueless Keyless term in my bowl. Touches forelock, oh thank you sirs.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Pat, the voting public is also looking for something far better than just Not John Key.

                    • Pat

                      im a voting public and not john key is the first order of business imo

                    • Pat


                      “you are very ‘umble. I don’t ask much of you rich people, just put a clueless Keyless term in my bowl. Touches forelock, oh thank you sirs.”

                      ah very good……except that it aint…..the reality is that all those great and/or necessary actions you desire only have the remotest possibility of occuring AFTER Keys administration is gone……not a difficult concept for someone as intelligent as yourself and CV

                    • stunned mullet

                      Pat you have a very grave case of KDS

                    • Pat

                      “Pat you have a very grave case of KDS”

                      lol…i hope so…as any thinking person should

                    • Colonial Viper

                      btw you don’t need more taxes depleting the incomes and savings of ordinary Kiwi households in order to increase government expenditure.

                    • Pat

                      “btw you don’t need more taxes depleting the incomes and savings of ordinary Kiwi households in order to increase government expenditure.”

                      believe I made that point previously….you may or may not depending on what you wish to fund and how you determine to fund it….increasing PAYE for instance is not necessarily the path but tax as proportion of GDP is the point…Nationals goal is to decrease it further (i.e less public provision and we’ve seen what that produces)…so one way or another that percentage needs to increase, be it by closing loopholes, closer enforcement, increased rates or whatever.

                    • Pat

                      Scandinavian countries are often held up as examples we aspire to, for many reasons but particularly for the fact they have not followed the neolib model and are considered successful social democracies.

                      Well you can’t be a successful social democracy at the tax ratios we have (and National’s stated goal is 30% of GDP)

                      at 2015 tax as proportion GDP

                      Finland 43.6%
                      Norway 43.6%
                      Sweden 45.8%

                      and Denmark (just because its in the region and I like it) 49%

                      New Zealand 34.5% and falling

                    • greywarshark

                      The choice is very simple according to you, get Key out. And I agree that the Jester has to give up the thorny crown. But some of us are afraid a lame duck Labour will take his place. That they have just been cooling their heels waiting for him to fail and people to give up on him and in the process we have had the various coats of coloured paint stripped off the country till we are down to the basic all black.

                      And we don’t want years of careful negotiating without any bold efforts to change anything. We want slogging Labour getting wages up gradually, apprenticeships up, work up with temp schemes, rail up, business up, clever tourism, not the glut we have now. Kiwibank strengthened so that we have more business money provided by and staying in NZ, a Grameen bank for people to try their own tiny businesses, the right sort of regulations that don’t oppress small business initiatives…and we will get somewhere and rise up from dire poverty to better poverty, and the ability to join a work gang and do a few hours per week for pocket money and a room for the aimless etc. All without diminishing our middle class, that provide the professional services.

                      When Austin Mitchell was here years ago he noted our quirks and Labour got the name of being chardonnay socialists. When he came back he still commented on Labour’s taste in wine. Now they can bloody well stop being so conformist middle classed. Wine is passe’ now its craft beer. And let’s get on side with the people who should be the salt of our earth doers and shakers in the beer bars, the wine bars, the tea, coffee tastings (tried Tulsi?). out of the swish clubs and Bellamys and in with the everyday neighbourhood place to see and be seen. Staying in touch with reality.

                      We want a renewed Labour not a row of white teeth and glamour pussies. The new Labour will break the style convention in Parliament and all turn up in black singlets to show that they are real men and women getting ready to get down to it.

                      I know, dream on you fool you are thinking. But there is something noble in Cervantes Don Quixote with faithful Sancho.
                      Do we have a Don out there?

                    • Pat


                      nothing wrong with expecting better from Labour, I do too however the past 8 years have convinced me they don’t possess the “Don” you seek.

                      Having said that, it seems to me that anyone with concerns re CC, or inequality or even something as basic as housing has to admit that no matter how inadequate a visionless Labour led coalition may be it will be infinitely more likely to begin to address those concerns than the Key led administration….you must remember that what has occurred under National is not an accident or the result of unfortunate circumstances.

                      Hows that for KDS?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      A weak centrist one term Labour followed by another 3 terms of National. Who is that going to help. What is this, if not short term thinking of the worst kind.

                    • Pat

                      so you’re happy to allow a further 3 years of neoliberalism to destroy what remains of our society and a further 3 years of CC denial and inaction?….all in the name of purity.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If you want to keep thinking short term, this is the way to do it. Put another way, Labour will never ever change if they think they will get rewarded for their centrist, mildly softer, market led neoliberalism, which will inevitably result in National continuing to spend more years ruling than they do.

                    • Pat

                      well if you believe your own rhetoric then conditions will force their hand…..in any case whatever your opinion you have the same opportunity to express it at the polls as everyone else.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Each of us here on TS have far more options to express and influence opinion than casting a single ineffectual vote on election day.

                    • Pat

                      I suspect not……those of us on TS are outliers……the overwhelming majority of the electorate consider the likes of us as mad obsessives who need to get a life……and they may well be right.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      we are far more connected with ordinary Kiwis than the 1%ers who live inside the Thorndon political bubble.

                    • greywarshark

                      A lot of what you are saying now was said by us before the last election – which a number of us believe might have been won if Labour had used all their potential opportunities vigorously. We expected National to carry on seagulling us from a great height, and lo our predictions and prophesies have come to pass. We are as flat as that poor dog in the famous ‘bugger’ ad.

                      And we’ve been disappointed, and angry, and wary of Labour’s ruling elite hegemony. And their professed values and plans, leading to too little, too late policies that would concentrate on one showcase issue but skirt other important issues, jobs with secure, social hours, weekends to maintain family life, housing, garden care. Living wages and affordable housing. Plus having a fund of say $5mill released in small loans to fund a multitude of micro business thrusts with possibly only a third achieving long term success, but also giving encouragement for citizens to try NZ goods first, and enter a contest to win a short holiday in the regions in their off seasons. The whole country needs NZ support, buying our stuff helps put money in our pockets and reduces our imports. Though that would hurt some easy riders in this country.
                      However if we’re in TPPA it will loom all the time like a dark cloud filled with Depleted Uranium particles that will sap our ingenuity, and our will to give it a go.

                      And your comment about us being obsessed, TS has been going for how many years, how much skin from our fingertips has gone into comments, jibes, sneers, ideas, odes to despair, hope, dashed hopes, dreams and blah blah? It’s raised some sort of rash on many NZs proud chests, but they haven’t diagnosed yet why and what the background virus is.

                      We have to go on, there is little enough serious talk showing commitment to the country. As a result most citizens are planning their next low cost meal. Many are planning their next weekend away with the gang in the 4WDs. Now which piece of unspoiled, or regenerating, isolated NZ can we plough up next? Or which part of town can we race our supercharged, ground skimming cars up and down all night? Motorheads, spaceheads, and lost boys and girls in a treasure island dreamtime. Which can’t continue, climate change won’t support it.

                      But the resistant symbionts are talking about being saved by technology, or denying scientific findings, or arguing that there isn’t anything going on because the label has changed from global warming to climate change. In their deeply analytical minds that is proof that the scientists are making it all up and just change the name of their theories as each one is disproved. What will it be next Fireball or Apocalypse hah hah. Well we’re not looking at your stupid ideas and that’s final!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Robots are taking over all our jobs, so the answer is re-training people for those remaining jobs which haven’t quite been taken over by robots yet.

                      Classy strategy.

                    • greywarshark

                      Colonial Viper
                      “Classy strategy”. Glad you like it. It seems a way forward for the next five years to me. So we get going on the achievable straight away.

                      So we can have time to formulate more bridging policy which then becomes working policies that are more future oriented, with time to start them off as pilots, and then refine them, and then start others which take a different form. catering for different people, different needs, different ways of working.

                      We should be into ceaseless work either thinking, discussing, formulating, assessing ideas or then checking, analysing for practice and practicality. And forming into compatible working groups that are supported with expertise, finding out how the project works and fine-tuning along the way, measured against criteria that is achievable with ability to adapt further as future changes and needs dictate.

                      Sound like good strategy, more, CV?

                    • Nic the NZer

                      Pat the figure of interest with regard to public input to the economy is government spending G, not taxation T. You clearly can’t assume that these two figures are in balance. If you are looking at scandinavian countries as a model then Finland should be looked at quite suspiciously as a model. They are presently trying to impose domestic Austerity and to (they believe) regain their competitive position by so doing. Of course this is failing.


                    • Colonial Viper

                      Nic the NZer – oh yes, Finnish workers competing against low paid workers in Romania and Estonia, the capitalists dream of driving all workers pay down to Bangladeshi levels while they cream off the difference for themselves.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      “Classy strategy”. Glad you like it. It seems a way forward for the next five years to me. So we get going on the achievable straight away.

                      I can think of few things more depressing for a family than to be told that their breadwinner(s) have to spend years retraining for a new job which might not exist by the time they finish their course, and then they might have to spend more time re-training yet again.

                      Put it another way, why doesn’t the Government provide actual jobs instead of endless rounds of pretend and extend retraining for employment which either does not exist, or will shortly thereafter not exist.

                    • Pat


                      “But the resistant symbionts are talking about being saved by technology, or denying scientific findings, or arguing that there isn’t anything going on because the label has changed from global warming to climate change. In their deeply analytical minds that is proof that the scientists are making it all up and just change the name of their theories as each one is disproved. What will it be next Fireball or Apocalypse hah hah. Well we’re not looking at your stupid ideas and that’s final!

                      ??????? its not entirely clear but I think you may have me confused with someone else.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      @CV the Euro is doing exactly what its intended to. Here is a story about one of its architects showing its actual purpose.


                      Of course Godley predicted the same before it even started but his moral judgement said this would be a disaster. But its always been clear what the idea is and where it would lead to those in the know.

    • AmaKiwi 21.2

      @ Tom

      “I am not sure Labour will want to go into an election saying they will increase taxes.”

      The martyr’s self destructiveness knows no limits.

  22. Richard McGrath 22

    Let’s tax ourselves to prosperity!

    • Sabine 22.1

      legalise the weed, tax it.


      • AmaKiwi 22.1.1

        @ Sabine

        We can now get hard data from US states that have legalized and taxed weed.

        Can you research this for us? This is not a joke. I am serious.

        Decriminalizing weed could have numerous benefits in terms of lower prison population, increased revenue, social use rather than abuse, etc. We also need to know the downsides.

        This could be a vote winner for the Left and a benefit for the country.

        Can you do some research for readers here?

    • Chris 22.2

      Like the Civilian Party’s policy of taxing the poor as a disincentive to be poor, eh? Sad thing is you probably think it’d work.

      • Richard McGrath 22.2.1

        Duh, no – taxation is violence. Lifting all taxation would reward hard work and allow poorer people to become wealthier.

  23. BlueSky 23

    Tax is not shared fairly across the parties in the economy at present. Corporations are not paying their share as they can hire people to dodge tax.
    Simplify it so that any income earned in a country should be taxed in that country/tax jurisdiction. Remove the dodge that taxable income is reduced by expenses. A worker cannot reduce their taxable income by the expenses they incur in earning it so why should a company. The only expense that reduces taxable income is wages paid to NZ workers in exchange for their time and effort.
    Keep it simple people. It makes it harder for corporate and capital dodges and political manipulation.

    • stunned mullet 23.1

      I think there may be a few flaws with your plan.

      • Richard McGrath 23.1.1

        You’re not kidding! Removing the ability to deduct expenses from gross revenue means you are taxing receipts rather than profit. Better to have a flat tax rate with individual and corporate tax the same and abolish GST.

    • AmaKiwi 23.2

      @ BlueSky

      Taxing OTHER PEOPLE (foreign corporations) is a great election platform.

      Threatening higher taxes that might hit ME are election suicide.

  24. whispering kate 24

    We need compulsory registration for voting like Australia so that all the disenchanted people who keep saying “the government has done nothing for me, they don’t listen to us” will have to get out and vote. It could be aligned with the benefit so that, to gain the benefit you have to register and be ready and able to vote, it should be for all people, benefits or not who choose not to bother but at least with the benefit system they would have a captive audience. It should be enshrined in law regardless anyway. Sounds massively radical but this Government is pretty fascist with how it feels about the underclass. Only problem with it is, it’s the last thing this Government wants, to have disenchanted people rolling up to the polling booths. I cannot understand why it isn’t compulsory, Australia has it enshrined in law – why shouldn’t we do the same. We might get a better balance on election day and a more accurate indication how the electorate is feeling about how they are being dealt to. Just my thoughts for the evening.

    • Clare 24.1

      absolutely agree with you, how about compulsory civic education in all our schools?

    • Richard McGrath 24.2

      Whatever happened to freedom of expression enshrined in Palmer’s Bill of Right Act 1990? Why shouldn’t I be able to express my disgust at the candidates and parties on offer by refusing to participate in their triennial farce?

    • lprent 24.3

      I’d agree with compulsory voting, provided that there was clearly defined and reported “none of the above” option.

      As much as I hate to agree with Richard McGrath @ 2.4.2, as voters we sometimes get poorly selected candidates in area elections.

      I’d guess that it is also often hard to get a political parties that conforms to the uncompromising religious intolerance that Richard’s politics leads him into.

      For instance I have no idea who I’m going to vote for in Mt Albert next year – but it very unlikely to be David Shearer. His public stance on just about everything appals me, especially the TPPA. His quite apparent inability to abide by caucus discipline is just deliberately destructive – especially when it came so shortly after the MPs went into a retreat to hammer their collective position out on it.

      Unfortunate because as it turns out (because I’m slack about cancelling VFL automatic payments) I am still a member of the NZLP Sandringham branch in Mt Albert. Time to make an effort and point that donation elsewhere.

  25. maninthemiddle 25

    “This, despite amazing contortions by National last week, ”

    Unfortunately for Labour, the ‘contortions’ last week were Little and Robertson talking tax increases one day and King denying them the next.

    • Colonial Viper 25.1

      linkies please or it didnt happen.

      • AmaKiwi 25.1.1

        National’s amazing contortions last week were topped by Key telling Little, “The member made that up” or “The member is mistaken” and then laughing in Little’s face.

        In effect, Key said Little is a liar and then his whole caucus laughed at Little.

        Helen would have never tolerated it. She would have had Key’s balls for breakfast.

        I was ashamed.

        • maninthemiddle

          You’re right, of course, but then Clark would not have allowed Cullen etc to make the sort of inane comments Robertson, Twyford etc are making. There was far more discipline, despite the divisions. Now we just have the divisions.

          • Words

            What divisions Maninthemiddle? I think Andrew Little has done a great job pulling Labour together. On the other hand, National is showing that its ministers don’t converse with each other.

            • Colonial Viper

              *Shakes head*

            • maninthemiddle

              It intrigues me you even need to ask. The TPPA is a classic. So is tax policy. The Urban/Rural limit. There are many and varied, including the caucus support for it’s own leader!

              All political parties contain factions, but Labour is split on so many fronts it is no wonder it polls so low.

        • Words

          But everyone knows that any word that comes out of John key’s mouth is a lie Amakiwi. It’s not Little looking bad, it’s key and his government looking extremely defensive, and arrogant. How did John key react when the entire parliament laughed at him when Winston Peter’s floored and shamed him with Key’s own quote?

      • maninthemiddle 25.1.2

        Tax increases:

        Monday last week.

        No Tax increases.
        [audio src="" /]

        Wednesday last week.

        • joe90

          No Tax increases.

          Actually, King said no decision yet.

          • maninthemiddle

            Listen again. She specifically countered Joyce’s claims about what Robertson had said. And even ‘no decision yet’ contradicts what Robertson did say.

            • joe90

              And even ‘no decision yet’ contradicts what Robertson did say.

              Nope, unless you can cite Robertson, transcript please, it contradicts what Vernon Small wrote.

              • maninthemiddle

                “While we want a comprehensive review there will be some interim steps that we will announce before the election … to ensure that we have the revenue to address pressing issues, particularly in health, education and housing,”

                “Need more revenue” can mean only one thing.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Well it might mean two things.

                  More taxes, fines and fees

                  More borrowing

                  Actually 3, asset sales – but one presumes that is off the table, like selling Kiwi Bank . Right Labour?

                  • maninthemiddle

                    I would add that at no time has Robertson refuted the headline of the article I quoted, which was ‘Tax-increases-on-the-table-for-Labour-for-2017-campaign’.

                    It’s very obvious what he meant.

  26. Lloyd 26

    New Zealand was largely built by emigrants from the feudal English society working a 40 hour week and who knew Jack was as good as his master. This is the socialist basis for our present society and economy. Most of the good legislation National will point to as being their best work was first suggested by Labour.
    If Labour wants to get back into power they need to tell New Zealanders they have a clear choice – Somalia or New Zealand. The Nats are the ideal government for Somalia. New Zealand is a country with a socialist backbone and the Nats are eating that backbone away a little more each day.

    • Colonial Viper 26.1

      Well, Labour can continue to suggest good policies and National can continue to steal and implement them.

      National have constantly raised the minimum wage during their term in government. They didn’t in the 1990s.

      Basically, they have learnt what it takes to stay in government and they are going to keep at it hard out over the next 12 months.

      • Olwyn 26.1.1

        The difference is, National does not give an inch without taking two. So while it adopts Labour policies, it puts them to its own purposes. Putting up the dole by $25 is a way of gaining approval for making it harder to get on the dole. An an increase in the minimum wage does not address job insecurity, exorbitant rents or homelessness – in most cases the few extra dollars will mean a reduction in the accommodation supplement rather than a gain. But it does let those who are not in the firing line rest content that the government is a”centrist” one and that there is nothing to complain about. Where social policy is concerned, I think Key has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with Labour – taking whatever can be fitted into the current socio-economic paradigm and daring them to step outside it.

        • Colonial Viper

          There are plenty of examples of Labour 5 under Helen Clark making it harder for people to get benefits and making it easier for them to be kicked off benefits. ACC as well.

          As for Auckland house prices and rents…they had become exorbitant for the ordinary worker by 2005/2006/2007.

          This of course all sounds like “Labour did it too” but, well…they did.

          What it boils down to is what you called “cat and mouse game” which both major political parties are playing with peoples lives.

          National appearing as social democratic as they can while simply giving capitalism free reign, Labor looking as free market capitalist as possible while still exercising a degree of social democratic conscience.

          And what do voters think of this cat and mouse game.

          • Olwyn

            I agree that it is high time that serious issues were faced squarely, and the cat-and-mouse games abandoned. The above was a description, not a prescription.

            • Colonial Viper

              I think the global western electorate has come to your way of thinking. Both Trump and Sanders are perfect examples of this IMO, in some ways from opposite sides of the fence.

              But their basic message is the same – things are going badly, the current way of doing things has been ill considered and is not sustainable, and a major shake up is needed now.

        • greywarshark

          Olwyn and Colonial Viper
          Spot on with the tweedledum/tweedledee nature of Labour and National and the cat and mouse game with us by both.

    • Olwyn 26.2

      @ Lloyd, (26): I more or less agree with you. In the Stuff article I noticed that Grant Robertson said there would be a shift from taxing productive efforts to speculation, which seems like a good move. I think you need two things – a big picture story and a participation story. You cannot run your country ragged with speculation rather than production and expect it to continue to sustain you. How can you run a bona fide shop in an area where the rents are pumped beyond your reach by money launderers? And so on. That’s the big picture story. We need everyone on board to achieve this change. That’s the participation story.

      I think the “caring society” idea is these days met with suspicion unless it comes with a more substantial backbone. For the middle class it means “tax us, and not the rich, to support people who have not been as prudent as we have.” For the poor it means inaction accompanied by “I feel your pain” statements. The practical business of saving the country from destruction by speculation, and the invitation to be part of it has more sure appeal.

      • Colonial Viper 26.2.1

        I noticed that Grant Robertson said there would be a shift from taxing productive efforts to speculation, which seems like a good move

        One thing to note is that taxes on income and profits bring in real money to fund government.

        Taxes on speculation however, if successful, cause the behaviour taxed i.e. the speculation, to stop – so while the tax changes behaviour to what society wants, it brings in no significant money to fund government with.

        • Olwyn

          I am certainly no expert on taxation, but reducing speculation might be needed anyway if we want to rebuild a productive base. And I did not suggest that taxing speculation would be a magic bullet, just a good move.

          • Colonial Viper

            My response was to Grant’s statement – he is going to remove taxes which bring serious money in, and go to taxes which will bring very little money in.

            So how is he going to pay for government spending?

            • Olwyn

              Blame my clumsy wording, sorry. From the article “…Grant Robertson said a Tax Working Group would be set up after the election to develop ways to correct the imbalances between the productive and speculative parts of the economy.” I did not imagine him making a wholesale change from taxing production to taxing speculation, but rather ensuring that speculators did not escape tax. I certainly could have worded my comment more clearly.

              • Colonial Viper

                Robertson is kicking the CGT, FTT, tax on foreign trusts, etc. to touch.

                Imagine the coming election campaign. What tax policies does the public get if they vote for Labour? None. They get a tax committee, though, which Labour may or may not listen to.

                English is going to rip Robertson to little bitty shreds.

                • Olwyn

                  You’d have to hope there would be a few more pointers than a projected working group by the time of the election.

  27. Dudley Harvey-Smith 27

    Spot on Simon.

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