About robglennie000

Kia Ora This blog is my vent for releasing my frustrations with the state of New Zealand, the New Zealand Government and things going on in New Zealand society, as well as around the world. I post daily at 0900 New Zealand time. Please feel free to leave comments. Please also feel free to follow my blog. Best Regards, Rob

Adrift in the political sphere

I am adrift. After 9 years of supporting New Zealand First and 7 years of being a member, I think I can safely say that I do not identify with the party at this time. And as I look out across the ocean of New Zealand politics, I wonder whether I should try to rejoin whilst I am not too distant, but the dismissal of the Capital Gains Tax, the betrayal of party members on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement and a desire to try other things are pushing me further out to sea.

That cuts me adrift. Bobbing along among the waves of the big open sea with no real clue about who to support in the immediate future, where do I go? I am too conservative for the Greens whose defence, justice and foreign policies do not match mine. Also, some of their Members of Parliament seem to be averse to accepting that it is okay to be a man. At a time when we are supposed to be helping the MeToo movement address abuse of women, listening to some members

The big red island out there in the distance is Labour. It looks bright and vivid like their immediate future, but I am reminded that underneath, Labour still have work to do in returning to being a party of the centre-left and not the centre. It looks like some kind of party is going on there and that anyone is welcome, but what is it actually doing?

What about The Opportunities Party, or the Social Democrats?

Whilst I like the looks of the Democratic Party for Social Credit (a.k.a. Democrats for Social Credit) policy platform, the party has a major problem. It is – without significant time and effort – unlikely to win any seats in Parliament. It is then going to have the problem all new parties to Parliament will have: no experience in the rules, procedures, Parliamentary debating and so forth. Of course it has to start somewhere, but for the next while its priority would have to be simply building up a base of supporters for any future attempt at Parliament.

I have to be honest that The Opportunities Party did not initially appeal to me, not so much because of policy, but because of the personal politics of its original founder Gareth Morgan. Calling then Labour leader/Leader of the Opposition and now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern “lipstick on a pig”, is rank and file misogyny right there. Mr Morgan has since left the Party altogether and it is now run by Geoff Simmons.

There are two parties that know right now they can count on me not voting for them. National and A.C.T. I am philosophically opposed to market economics, especially now in a resource hungry world generating much waste that it is failing to recycle, despite the technology and the know how existing. As the Government does not wish to be accused of rigging a market, it tends to stay out when it could provide leadership by enacting policy or financial measures to steer certain aspects in a different direction. National and A.C.T.’s tendency to adopt Americanized policies such as Three Strikes, supporting U.S. led wars – good or bad – instead of developing home grown policy I also find hugely troubling. And the nail in of the coffin of both parties in terms of getting my vote or support is a lack of regard around human rights, which I think they view as “nice to have”.



In solidarity with our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters

Over the weekend devastating attacks against western targets occurred in Sri Lanka. The devastating bombings at the weekend of hotels and churches in Sri Lanka by militants comes at the end of a a 10 year lull in violence following the end of their civil war in 2009. Thus far 300 are known to have died and another 500 have been wounded.

Unfortunately the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has admitted that his Government failed to heed warnings that militant violence was being planned. It is too early to really contemplate what punishment Sri Lanka will place on him and other relevant officials for failing to act.

It is also too early to determine what the impact will be on a country that is trying to turn the page after a bloody and brutal civil war. Recent tourists groups to visit had reported a hope that the tourism industry could look to the future, rather than over its shoulder at the legacy of past events.

There is concern that there might be communal violence in Sri Lanka following this. Sri Lanka has a history of scattered harassment of its Hindu, Christian and Muslim minorities, but the known violence on Sunday far exceeded any prior anti-Christian harassment. Six near simultaneous blasts occurred on Sunday and were followed a few hours later by two more.

What can I say that did not get said after Christchurch?

Arohanui (big love). Assalamu alaykum (Peace be on you). Big love to the Sri Lankan community one and all. May peace be on you in these dark hours. We in Christchurch can understand your pain, your grief. We stand with you just as you did with us a bit over a month ago.

I hope that we invite Sri Lankan officials to New Zealand so that they can see how we are handling the grieving process following the Christchurch attacks. It would be a chance for Sri Lanka, a country that has experienced terrorism in the past – numerous cricket tours of the country have been abandoned because of bomb blasts over the decades – to see how an approach built on empathy, a police response that is balanced and careful reform of intelligence is working. In return New Zealand officials might gain insight into how to deal with co-ordinated attacks should the unfortunate day arise when we have such horror.

Kia Kaha Sri Lanka.

The year in which the Government must deliver

There is such a vast broad platform of policy on which this Labour-led Government is promising to deliver, that it is a bit difficult to know where to start. There are some Ministers holding substantial portfolio’s such as Social Welfare and smaller yet critical ones like Local Government who have yet to pop their heads above the parapet. Maybe they have significant work in progress that is simply not ready to face the harsh glare of the voting public, but it would be good to know that they are not “Missing In Action”.

This is a year in which Labour and its New Zealand First and Green Party cabinet colleagues will need start delivering significant policy. Reviews can only go for so long before they start to imply that the incumbent government is frozen on policy making.Such a freeze tends to send a clear signal to the voting public that the Government does not know what it is doing, which 18 months into its first term would be a really dangerous sign.

It has so far been a year where the major call has been to scrap a capital gains tax which will give attempts at equality reform the wobbles. This move will pile on the pressure in terms of expecting the minimum wage increases the state of a living wage to perform. It potentially locks away billions of dollars in tax that could be used to help fund projects that might now struggle to be seen or heard. And it is a move I am disappointed to see happen.

There are things that I am expecting the Government to deliver or start work on in this term:

  1. A comprehensive waste recycling programme that covers wood, paper, glass, plastics and aluminium – we have the know how, but do we have the will?
  2. Announcing how it will reform New Zealand’s schools 30 years after Tomorrow’s Schools, which was seen as a visionary programme in 1989, but is not so now
  3. Reform of Ministry of Social Development – I have mentioned in the past, the failings of this Ministry, which is straight jacketed by a legislative framework
  4. Reform of the justice system, which has lost the confidence of victims of crime and seems to be failing to address the reoffending of youth
  5. Sustainability – we might be phasing out oil and gas, but is electricity able to sustain New Zealand’s energy needs on its own; the reduction of carbon emissions affects the marine ecosystem; fresh water quality and usage is not sustainable
  6. Transport – a much larger investment in railways is needed; New Zealand also needs to look at a long term plan for the sea going merchant ships

Of course the terrorist attacks have overtaken all of this and we need to revisit how we gather and use state intelligence. We will need to revisit our constitutional arrangements sometime in the next decade or whenever the Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II passes on. And if that is not enough the West Coast flood event of 25-27 March 2019 raised some alarming questions about the readiness of the West Coast for a bigger disaster.

Much going on, but how is the Government going at delivering? Find out this year (and next).

The annual chocolate shortage (Easter)

Every Easter on the Sunday there is a temporary spike in the collective weight of the humans living in New Zealand. It stems from the massive annual splurge on chcolate treats that comes with Him having risen from the Cross 2000+ years ago. Except that I am quite sure 2000+ years ago when Jesus was nailed to the Cross, no one could have had the foggiest clue that it would be acknowledged as much by the dollar as by the Christians around the world.

So, enjoy your chocolate overdose tomorrow. I am sure it will be fun and that many of you will go to bed wondering whether that was such a grand idea after all, yet already thinking about how you can make 2020 even better. I will not be one of these many people – unfortunately I do not see Whittakers making easter eggs or other Easter related chocolate treats, and I have sworn off Cadbury and anyone else who uses palm oil. And at  the end of the day to me, Easter has become one vast commercial con where the dollars speak louder than the meaning of it.

Can we still address poverty in New Zealand?

New Zealand has just ruled out one of the best measures for helping to address poverty. Is it still possible to do so?

Good question and one that irrespective of governing coalition, New Zealand must try to. The country that likes to think it is egalitarian and that the spirit of giving people a fair go is alive, has no choice if it wishes to reasonably continue thinking this.

It is a question that will rankle the supporters of the Labour-led Government of Jacinda Ardern. It will rankle many of them because the C.G.T. to many was a fundamental part of any policy platform for dealing with poverty. It would appear New Zealand wants to address poverty, but is absolutely loathe to introduce any sort of measure that check the unsustainable wealth accumulation by the top 5-10% of income earners. So, to cut to the chase, what are the options?

Is New Zealand even agreed on a definition of poverty?

To me poverty is the inability to afford and access the essentials for a life of dignity. What is life if it cannot be lived in a state of dignity where a human being is not degraded? To me, nothing. It is when one is unable to afford basic medical care, shelter, food, transport and education.

In one respect New Zealand is making progress, in that we are enacting a progressive increase in the minimum wage. It rose last year from $15.25/hr to $16.50/hr; from 1 April this year to $17.70/hr; from 1 April next year to $18.90/hr; from 1 April 2021 to $20/hr.

One thing New Zealand can do is ensure that the benefits administered by the Ministry of Social Development are fixed to a Consumer Price Index or other appropriate measure, and adjusted annually on 1 April each year. The rules for administering the schedule of benefits should be reviewed at the same time.

New Zealand can also try to implement the nearly 100 other recommendations that were made by the tax working group.

I still believe though that New Zealand should broaden its income tax regime. Currently the brackets sit at:

  • 10.5% for income up to $14,000
  • 17.5% for income between $14,000-$48,000
  • 30.0% for income between $48,000-$70,000
  • 33.0% for income above $70,000

A top tax rate of say 37.5% could take effect on incomes over $250,000 per annum, whilst the others are more evenly spread instead of a tight range covering just $56,000 between the end of the lowest bracket and the start of the highest.

No mention in the T.W.G. report appears to have been made of a luxury goods tax. Some might call it a jealousy tax. I disagree as it would be on assets that probably out of the reasonable reach of 95-99% of the worlds population. How would it be implemented and at what financial value does something become a luxury good? To be clear to me a luxury good is something that is surplus to the reasonable maintenance of life, and purchased simply because the buyer wants it for reasons of prestige and can afford it. As for what passes as a luxury asset, it would be any car, property, jewellery, aircraft, helicopter, rare items such as art works, other collectables. One can discuss valuations at which such assets can be defined as luxury goods upon inspection, however I think the following could be a good start (and exclude family homes, immediate business assets):

  • vehicles worth $250,000+;
  • yachts worth $1 million+
  • property other than the family home worth $1 million+
  • any helicopters, private jets