With a little over 5 months to go until the 2017 General Election, and the policy announcements starting to ramp up, I sat down and thought through what my priorities are in this election and what will guide my thinking in deciding who to vote for. My voting record is fairly unorthodox, and something I have written about before on this site. Of the four elections to date that I have been eligible to vote in, I have voted twice and abstained twice – with both my votes going to minor parties. As is well-known to those who read this site regularly, I am a member of the maori party and consider it highly likely that they will once again receive my vote this year. That said, my priorities are in 5 areas:
Priority #1: Nation Building
- Implement a written constitution and make the switch to a republic
- Finalise the resolution of historic Maori claims
- Reduce barriers to immigration
My number one priority is nation building. My vision is for Aotearoa-New Zealand to be an inclusive society, governed by the rule of law with a deeply held respect for the Bill of Rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which welcomes foreigners with open arms. We should be removing barriers to immigration and increasing the number of refugees we bring into our country instead of building walls – actual or metaphorical.
Priority #2: Infrastructure
- Continue rebuilding our infrastructure with a $100 billion infrastructure fund
- Invest in alternative energy sources
- Finalise the roll out of the ultra-fast broadband initiative to every town and city
My second priority is continuing the rebuild of our infrastructure. At the core of this is taking advantage of low borrowing rates to implement a $100 billion fund that, over 10 years, funds the completion of large-scale infrastructure construction to future-proof our nation. This will allow for the completion of the Christchurch rebuild; fixing Auckland’s transport and housing problems; providing strong transport links between regional centres; and providing a fund for Maori economic development to build on the successes of the past 20 years.
Priority #3: Regional Development
- Decentralise Government departments
- Implement regional development plans linked to the infrastructure fund
- Promote and encourage remote working arrangements
My third priority is to promote regional development activities and reverse the internal migration to Auckland which is causing problems both for those regions losing their brightest talent and alleviating the increasing pressure on Auckland. Remote-working arrangements, made possible by the completion of the ultra-fast broadband initiative, will continue the decentralisation of Auckland and Wellington; allowing the regions to capture a more representative share of our economic activity. Wellington could become the centre of technology and film production; the Waikato as the centre of agriculture; Rotorua the hub of Maori development; Taranaki for alternative energy; and so on.
Priority #4: Reform the Tax Code
- Reform personal tax rates by increasing a new top tax rate of 40% for income over $150,000 and implement inflation-indexing
- Realign incentive taxation by lowering GST to 10%, removing tax on savings, and implementing a tax on pollutants
- Replace business related grants and subsidies with a R&D tax credit and lower company tax rates for new and small businesses
My fourth priority is to reform the tax code in New Zealand to enhance the progressive structure and tax externalities properly. The reduction of GST and tax on savings can be offset through the implementation of a new top tax rate on those who can afford to contribute more. The vast system of Government grants, subsidies, and sweetheart deals will be removed, replaced by a more efficient, and universal R&D tax credit system. The Government should not be in the position of picking winners through a bureaucratic grant and subsidy system that benefits a select few.
Priority #5: Social Services
- In health – additional support for prevention activities
- In education – training opportunities to train / retrain for the modern workforce
- In welfare – investigate, with the aim of implementing, a universal basic income
And last, but by no means least, social services. A continued investment in health, education, and welfare is required and I would adopt a forward-looking approach to each of the three main areas to ensure that everyone is receiving the support and education that is required to live a prosperous life.