With the election fast approaching, here’s a non-exhaustive list of policies I would like to see from a 4th term Labour-led Government. Hopefully, other Standardistas will have time to make their own wish-lists too:
– Serious investment in low-oil/low-carbon infrastructure. If we’re not to let peak oil catch us unprepared, we have to get serious now. I would like to see a fourth term government set sustainability rules for new housing developments, switch far more money into public transport, and subsidise sustainable building techniques.
– Deepen democracy. We need to rebuild people’s interest in politics and empower them to believe they can make a difference. Citizen assemblies should be used to tackle tricky policy issues – like electoral funding and euthanasia. Citizen assemblies have popular legitimacy because the policy is developed by ordinary people and put to the people in referenda. Overseas experience shows that when ordinary people are asked to learn about an issue and develop a policy response they come up with leftwing answers. There needs to be a new emphasis on teaching democratic participation in schools. And the parties of the Left need to focus on rebuilding themselves as the mass parties they once were. This helps to protect social democracy from the Crosby/Textor, ‘me, me, me’, false popularism of the new Right.
– A sovereign wealth fund run along the lines of the Cullen fund with a mandate to bring into public ownership assets of importance (both in NZ and abroad) to the New Zealand economy. Economic conditions globally are undoubtedly going to get more difficult in coming years. We need to act to ensure that important assets are run in the interests of New Zealand, not foreign owners. The fund could receive its investment money from an annual injection by the Government, by offering bonds through Kiwibank, and/or by setting up a Kiwisaver fund for the purpose.
– A review of the Reserve Bank Act to find better ways to keep the lid on inflation than strangling the export sector.
– Lifting the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, improving the bargaining power of workers through MECAs, preventing passing on of union-won benefits to other workers (a union-busting practice).
– Re-nationalise Contact and reunite the power companies to get rid of this ridiculous system we have now.