At a time when so much political journalism is focused on analysis of image management it’s nice to see a major Sunday paper throwing its weight behind a push for some real world issues.
Anthony Hubbard’s piece in the Sunday Star Times today looks at 10 real issues the election should focus on:
1.) Power to the people
Start at the beginning and take away the PM’s power to set the election date. John Key announced last week that the voters will go to the polls on November 26. Why should he decide? The politician who has the most power to sway the outcome of the election also decides its timing: it’s nuts.
I agree but setting a regular date could bring conflicts with other events. Better it the rule is the date is fixed at least a year out. At the risk of being churlish I’d also point out that the British term is five years not four.
2.) Fix the Gap
Do something serious about the gap between the rich and the poor. The evidence is now clear that inequality breeds a wide range of serious social ills, ranging from educational failure to mental and physical health problems and violence. The old argument – make a big pie and don’t worry how it’s sliced – turns out to be dead wrong. So greater equality now has to be put back as an urgent political goal.
Couldn’t agree more. However a Parliamentary Commissioner for Equality is a bit of a cop out. A much more progressive tax system is the only way you’ll fix this gap in a capitalist democracy. We all understood that, left and right, for fifty years before the
first ACT fourth Labour government. Why the hell is it so hard to understand now?
3.) Expose politicians’ spending
Drag the MPs into the light by bringing parliament under the Official Information Act.
4.) Turn TVNZ into a public service channel
There is no point in the taxpayers owning a populist television company. The private sector can do that perfectly well, or perhaps even better: TV3 proves it every day.
As I understand it TVNZ makes a better profit than TV3. However public service television is seriously lacking in this country.
5.) Finally, get tough on Big Tobacco
Increase the price of cigarettes by 25% each year, put them all in plain packs, and ban in-store advertising of any kind.
No. Hiking the price on cigarettes is just going to hurt a lot of poor people. Smoking is an addiction – the best way to deal with it is ban it, allow addicts to register and then supply them cigarettes via prescription on a weekly basis. Much the same as the methadone programme.
6.) Hold a referendum on the future of the monarchy
Everyone agrees that the monarchy will disappear in due course. “It’s absurd,” said Helen Clark. “It can’t last forever,” said monarchist John Key.
I doubt it’ll come as any surprise to anyone that I’ve no time for the monarchy but even so this is a lot further down my list than the top ten. And, to be honest, after watching the Supreme Court at work I’m not confident we could make a decent job of becoming a republic.
7.) Bring in a capital gains tax, with the family home exempt
Many have called for a capital gains tax, from the right (Treasury head John Whitehead) to the left (the Greens). Many other western countries have some form of it, yet we continue to insist that it’s “politically impossible”.
Yep. But do it in conjuncture with a significant strengthening of capital market regulations because there’s no point steering investment away from property if it’s just going to end up in Hanover or SCF.
8.) Cut ministers’ salaries by 10%
It’s called leadership. Every time the politicians cut income taxes, the pundits point out how much ministers stand to gain. Here, for once, they would stand to lose.
If we’re going to assume cutting ministers’ salaries is a Good Thing then I’d rather they stood to lose by having to pay more tax. When Phil Goff announced his tax plan that’s in effect exactly what he was talking about doing.
9.) Give a big boost to foreign aid
Our record on this is woeful, and it collides with New Zealanders’ image of themselves as a caring and generous people. In fact, there is a bipartisan approach to aid, as the last 30 years have shown: both National and Labour-led governments are misers.
10.) No more holiday rip-offs
Mondayise Waitangi Day and Anzac Day when they fall on a weekend. Why wouldn’t you? John Key seems to think that allowing the following Monday as a paid holiday would somehow interfere with the solemnity of the occasion
I’ve got to say as Top Tens go it’s a hell of a lot better than that one John Key did on letterman…