Reforming the New Zealand economy: Part II

In my previous post I mentioned what I thought are the problems with the New Zealand economy. Everyone has and is entitled to their own views about what should be done to make the New Zealand economy grow. The New Zealand Parliamentary spectrum of economic thought ranges from the Association of Consumers and Tax Payers (A.C.T.), which espouses market economics with minimum government intervention, through to the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand which espouses green economics.

The two major parties have much in common, despite not wanting to admit it when it comes to economics. Both National and Labour seem reluctant to embark on significant changes to the taxation system, with little real change in the income tax rates. Both have a tendency to let the Goods and Services Tax rise. When it comes to trade both seem to prefer so-called Free Trade Agreements that are usually neither free nor fair. And despite plenty of warning signs that New Zealands love affair with dairy is reaching its limits, neither seem keen to diversify our export base for the day when New Zealanders decide enough is enough.

So, what do I think needs to happen? Quite a few things:

  • Restrict house sales to only the nationals of countries where New Zealanders can buy land – that will cool the housing market
  • Broaden the income tax brackets – in Australia the top tax is 45c/$ starting at $180,000; New Zealand it is 33c/$ starting at $70,000
  • Close as many loopholes in tax system as possible and substantially increase punishments for corporate fraud/tax evasion, etc
  • Diversify the export base so that biotech and/or nanotech technology become significant players
  • Pass legislation setting non-negotiable minimum standards for trade agreements to meet; agreements to require ratification by minimum % of Parliament
  • Establish a biofuel programme with A.A., fuel company and other stakeholder buy in – the idea here is to reduce reliance on imported oil
  • Establish quarantine facilities at major container ports to deal with invasives – everything must be screened
  • Determine how best to increase the volume of freight going by rail and the merchant marine
  • End asset sales and increase the minimum portion of an asset that the State must own to 60%
  • Establish a nation wide blue print for recycling – far too much is going to land fills; we have a very rich waste stream that could be tapped in for energy, developing composite materials and so forth

There are other things I would like to see New Zealand do, but the list is quite a bit longer. In terms of where this would fit in a Parliamentary spectrum, this is probably closest to New Zealand First. The two larger parties I do not believe have the best interests of New Zealand at heart and the fringe parties have clear ideological bents that mainstream New Zealand probably would not identify with. Nations talk about maintaining their sovereignty, but their Governments undermine it by committing them to trade agreements at the behest of corporations which donated to their election campaigns, where the corporates come out best.

Rather than booting them all out as some on the far left would want, or assuming that the so called market will sort out the good from the bad as the far right would want, smart legislation laying down clear and reasonable standards of conduct is the way to go.

But New Zealand sovereignty – economic or otherwise – is not for sale. Not now. Not ever.


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