Last Friday I sat down with Gareth Morgan to talk about why he had started The Opportunities Party and to try to gain a better understanding of his policies.
It’s the first of what I intend will be a series of conversations with politicians leading up to this year’s General Election.
I use the word “conversations” rather than “interviews” because as you will see the style is that I listen to what the person has to say for quite a long time before asking some searching questions.
If you don’t want to watch my whole conversation with Gareth here are some highlights.
Gareth ultimately wants to give everyone, rich or poor, $200 a week unconditionally as a basic income. He acknowledges he cannot do this all in one go, so he wants to start with 18 to 25 year olds and families with young children.
He says no one would be short changed. If you are on a benefit that is more than $200 you would continue to get it.
Where does he propose to get the money for the UBI for young people from? By taxing the superannuation of over 65 year olds.
All pensioners would get the first $10,000 as of right, the next $10,000 would be subject to a means test. So if you are a wealthy oldie you won’t get the second $10,000 – that money instead would go to younger people as a UBI.
He also proposes to tax people every year for living in a house they own because he wants to tax the total equity of a person i.e. a wealth tax.
During the conversation you will hear me raise a number of issues which I think are flaws in Gareth’s scheme – but he doesn’t.
For instance , if you are over 65 , receiving the superannuation and living in your own house you would have to pay tax each year on the estimated value of your property.
Now, unlike Gareth a great many superannuitants are not wealthy and will not be unable to pay the tax because they don’t earn enough each year.
No problem says Gareth.
The yearly house tax owed would roll over until you die. The trouble is, if you live for a long time then the State could end up owning your house and you would have nothing to leave to your children or grand children.
Do you think that’s fair?
Gareth thinks so, because he “doesn’t believe in inheritance”.
He also says that he doesn’t have any preferred coalition partners. He will work with any government that will instigate some of his flagship policies.
I put it to him that if voters cast their vote for TOP then it is a vote for uncertainty (as it is with NZ First) because they will not know what government he is prepared cooperate with until after the election.
He doesn’t see that as a problem.
I of course do see it as a problem because I think voters want to have a very good idea of what kind of coalition government they are electing before they vote.
As you will hear – while I understand why Gareth wants to propose this radical tax reform I do think there are more than a few fish hooks in his plan – some of which I raise with him on camera and some I didn’t because if people don’t buy into his main proposals then arguing about details that would then never happen would have been a waste of his time and mine.
I appreciate Gareth took the time to have this conversation and I have to say, I did enjoy it.