Category Archives: The Opportunities Party

The Opportunities Party Campaign Launch – Gareth Morgan. 

New Zealand was founded on the idea of a fair deal, the concept that peoples from different backgrounds could come together and work out their differences without resorting to warfare and hatred.

The idea of that deal was to allow everyone in this country the opportunity to pursue their dreams.

That deal hasn’t always been honoured, but it is at the very core of what we as a nation are all about, fairness and opportunity.

This land of egalitarianism and opportunities has seen Kiwis achieve some remarkable things in the past century and a half….

A scientist from Nelson became the first person to split the atom

A beekeeper from Auckland conquered the highest mountain in the world

A girl from a tough background in Rotorua became the greatest opera diva of her generation

Writers, artists, sportspeople, thinkers, inventors people from every walk of life in New Zealand have proved time and time again that given the opportunity Kiwis can be the best in the world.

We have led the way in woman’s rights, social welfare, anti-nuclear activism and gay rights……..we have much to be proud of.

The opportunities that allowed us to do that were also based on the notion that each generation would pass on to the next a better country than they were born into.

A country with better education, healthcare and economic openings.

A country that was fairer, more egalitarian more civilised……in short, a country that offered ever greater opportunity.

But something has gone terribly wrong with that idea… the current generation…..the baby boomers ….. may be the first to leave behind a New Zealand of shrinking opportunities, less fairness and more inequality than they were born into.

We are in the process of flicking an intergenerational hospital pass to our children and grandchildren

We’re leaving them loaded with debt for their education, while we ask them to pay for our retirement.

We’re pricing them out of the housing market so we can make tax free capital gains.

We’re importing cheap unskilled labour to cut them out of entering the job market..and turning the country into a low wage, treadmill economy.

And when they don’t conquer the massive hurdles we put in their way we make them jump through hoops for welfare payments while calling them lazy dope heads.

We’re screwing the environment they will have to live in, by tolerating farming practices that degrade our waterways…..paying lip service only to the idea of climate change and the solutions needed to overcome or adapt to it, while pandering to industry sector groups without regard to the sustainability of their businesses.

We are criminalising and locking up ever growing numbers of men and women who don’t even get a chance in this shrinking world of opportunity, and we are standing by as the gap between the haves and the have nots widens.

You don’t need me to tell you how wrong all this is, you hear about it every day when you read our suicide statistics, homeless numbers, real estate ads, and crime stories.

And what is our political establishment doing…..pretty well nothing. Stuck in outdated left versus right political ideology with a tax & targeted welfare regime that is obsolete, they trade insults and argue at the margins as New Zealand, the land of opportunity, slips away.

They fight, not to restore the fairness of our society but to perpetuate their own political power in some vain belief that an ideology is what’s needed to get this country back on track.

Let’s be very clear TOP doesn’t care who leads the next government.

Those who campaign to change from blue to red or right to left are like a bunch of kids screaming “DAD’s burnt the dinner…let’s get the dog to cook”.

What New Zealand desperately needs are ideas to restore opportunities…..policies that aren’t designed to get a party into power but to fix the problems we have, reduce inequality, and take us forward into a world where our children again have more opportunity than we did.

If we don’t, we’ll end up with a select few owning million dollar houses in a ten-cent economy.

We know what those policies are.

Fair tax reform to close the 11 billion dollar property loophole, and deliver income tax cuts to every worker.

A UBI to end witch hunt welfare, underwrite human dignity, and ensure that when any of us are at our most vulnerable, our society is backing us.

Tenancy reform to give renters real rights so they can build secure homes without the mission Impossible of property ownership.

Real action on cleaning up our waterways, and having polluters pay, while encouraging best environmental practice from all industries.

A democracy reset to give us all clear constitutional rights, curb the power of cabinet and recognise the Treaty of Waitangi.

Real commitment to confront and deal with the challenges of climate change and make the country resilient to its inevitable assault.

A justice policy that wages war on prisons not prisoners

Education reform that recognises schools should lie at the centre of communities, and that the role of education is to prepare New Zealanders for a world of ever-increasing automation and diminishing income from mundane work.

And health policies that stop us literally killing ourselves, be it through suicide, or the ever increasing consumption of deadly foodstuffs.

None of these policies are rocket science, they are based on expert, evidence-based analysis of what New Zealand needs and can achieve with the resources we have available right now.

The only thing lacking has been a political establishment with the will to see, and courage to embrace the way forward.

We are all here today as part of the TOP movement to make a change……… not a change of government, but a real change of direction and focus…to make a real change in the lives of all New Zealanders to restore opportunities for future generations.

We’ve come a hell of a long way since November, thousands have put up their hands to join TOP, hundreds have volunteered, and we have awesome candidates standing across the country.

It hasn’t been easy – we’re the new kids on the block, so we don’t get the sort of coverage or funding the old establishment parties have access to.

But we have one huge advantage, we are free of the hatred of old tribal politics, we know what we stand for, and we can work with anyone who is genuinely prepared to implement policies that restore opportunities to New Zealanders.

I want to thank all of you for putting your hands up and having the courage to be part of a real change for good in New Zealand.

For having the courage to leave behind the class warfare and name-calling that has dominated politics for so long.

For having the brains to know that more of the same-old-same-old isn’t going to cut it for future generations

And most of all, believing that good ideas and genuine dialogue will beat self-interest and political game playing any day of the week.

We have already moved the policy debate in this country without a single vote being cast for TOP.

Acceptance of the need for cannabis reform is now widespread, our tenancy reforms have been lauded for their foresight, the UBI is now an accepted part of this country’s welfare debate.

But there is a long way to go.

I know we will be in Parliament after September the 23rd……just how much we can change the direction of this country will be up to voters.

You are the people that will help them make the right decision, to restore the values this country was founded on, and give equal and growing opportunities for everyone no matter what their gender, age, social status or ethnicity.

You can do that by sharing our ideas, reaching out to the good in every Kiwi’s heart, and making sure every New Zealander makes the decision to

CARE, THINK, VOTE and TICK TOP

The Opportunities Party

Housing Affordability, The Opportunities Party.

The Opportunities Party has a bold new plan to address the major problems confronting New Zealand, housing affordability.

While TOP’s ground-breaking Fair Tax System will stop residential properties being misused as tax free investment vehicles for the wealthy and suppress rampant house price inflation, TOP believes structural reform of the rental and social housing markets is also needed to solve the country’s most pressing social issue.

TOP will adopt a German type model to vastly improve the rights of private market tenants while demanding minimum standards for all homes and gifting current state housing stocks to non-profit social housing organisations.

The Opportunities Party intends to develop a deep market for long term rental accommodation so that families can be secure knowing that investing in home ownership is not the only way that security is achievable.

Party Founder and Leader Dr Gareth Morgan says, “Homes not Houses will alter the profile of New Zealand home ownership so the modest and low incomed no longer need to climb the mountain of home ownership in order to create a stable long-term home for themselves and their families.”

The ability to evict tenants will be greatly reduced and rental properties will need to be sold with existing tenants in residence. While market rents will still apply there will be regulations to prevent existing tenants being priced out of their homes.

The benefits of this policy package do not accrue to tenants alone. Reducing the social disruption of constantly moving home will result in less stress on families, higher educational achievement and reduced spending on social services to address the problems caused by that disruption.

“Solving the housing crisis isn’t just about increased building or decreased prices” says Dr Morgan, “It’s about the way a civilised society should regard residential property as a social asset for an entire nation rather than a financial asset for a select few”.


UBI, Realistic Goal or Pipedream? – The Opportunities Party. 

A number of people have asked me what the ultimate objective of “The Opportunities Party” is. We have a tonne of policies, so which are the most important? What are we trying to achieve?

It’s a more than fair question given that the policies we’re promoting are radical by recent New Zealand measure – although I’d argue they’re not by historical comparison in the land of the 1893 Woman’s Suffrage Electoral Bill, our 1938 Social Security Act, 1975 Treaty of Waitangi Act and 1987 NZ Nuclear Free Act.

The answer is simple: reform of the tax and benefit system is central to creating a fair and prosperous society. If our ultimate goal of an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) were enacted, that would certainly rank alongside the other pioneering policies listed above.

Instead of continuing to be pioneers, agile and farsighted, New Zealand has lost its mojo of late and our society has degenerated into one where Establishment parties are loath to provide leadership on anything lest they lose votes. This. in a society where more and more people are living their day-to-day lives on a treadmill of fear, is unacceptable lethargy and intellectually lazy.

The “fear” I’m referring to is the trepidation we all feel from job insecurity, astronomical housing costs, the future we’re leaving for our children and grandchildren, and of course our own future once we’ve passed our ‘used by date’ insofar as paid work is concerned. It’s ironic that we should have these emotions when on paper our society is markedly more prosperous than it’s ever been – at least insofar as GDP measures and even GDP per head is concerned.

So at TOP we say “stop”. Enough is enough of this imbalance of power – New Zealanders need to care for our most vulnerable citizens and ensure all participants pay their fair share of tax. This stuff is not hard, but there has to be a will. Sadly we don’t see that from National; and Labour really has yet to prove itself given that these trends have been underway for 30 years now.

So what is The Opportunities Party’s philosophical approach? You have had plenty of policy detail from us for each of our TOP 7 Policy Priorities, you know our whole package is fiscally neutral (meaning any spending initiatives are accompanied by detail on the source of funding), and you know that we are championing the rights of those at the wrong end of the inequality gulf that has opened so widely since 1990.

But where are we heading? We’ve introduced the first steps toward a UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) which will sit at the centre of the rejuvenated approach to fair capitalism, but we haven’t laid out how we’ll make that truly universal yet. We know how to, but the first step has to be integrity in the tax regime – and our Policy #1 confronts that head on. We can’t  be sure the public is up for and it’s essential before we even dream of making a full UBI a reality.

We’ve suggested that the level a UBI can be set at is confined by (a) fiscal affordability and (b) the minimum wage. In short it cannot cost so much that taxpayers can’t tolerate the tax burden nor as high that the incentive to perform paid work is removed. With those constraints in mind you end up with a UBI that plays a role more akin to bridging finance as people are between jobs or retraining or off work for family reasons. It does not replace targeted benefits but it does allow us to roll them back significantly – particularly those that are the worst of witch hunt welfarism – the impossibly tightly targeted ones with the atrociously steep abatement rates or poverty traps. Returning the humanity to social assistance and getting rid of this victim targeting that gives the Hard Right their jollies, is a priority at TOP.

Ultimately a UBI will be affordable with an income tax regime that has a single or flat tax rate –the UBI makes the lower of the graduated tax rates redundant. And progressivity of the overall tax regime remains because we include accumulated capital (or wealth) within the tax base. Wealth is far more accurate indicator of ability to pay than income is.

It will take time but it is certainly possible. A future where everyone pays their fair share of tax, where our tax and welfare systems are hugely simplified, where the stigma and poverty traps associated with welfare are removed, and where unpaid work is honoured. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

TOP

The Opportunities Party – UBI and Thriving Families. 

The Opportunities Party is starting along the road to an Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) by ensuring two groups are the first to get it.

As covered in the book, The Big Kahuna, a UBI:

  • empowers people through giving them more choices on how to spend their time, invest their means;
  • recognises the contribution of the 1 million people who work but are not paid, and without whom our society would collapse;
  • provides a cushion to lessen the impact of the casualisation of work;
  • eliminates the poverty trap, the disincentive to work accompanying targeted benefits; and
  • winds back the dehumanisation and stigmatisation of benefit targeting.

The major constraints on how high that a UBI can be set includes its cost to the taxpayer and its relativity to the rewards for paid work. If fiscal overload is to be avoided then the taxpayer cannot be expected to foot the bill for whatever level of UBI proponents dream of. Likewise, the incentive to seek paid work cannot be undermined by the level of the UBI otherwise the resultant lack of labour available and the rising costs of production faced by New Zealand firms, would impart serious consequences to our economy.

A full UBI is our firm objective but requires first that integrity be restored to the income tax regime as per Policy #1 and then we will introduce further taxation reform to fund this aspiration. It is unlikely that a UBI will ever totally replace targeted social assistance but it certainly will markedly reduce our reliance on targeting, with its stigma-laden selection criteria and its perverse impact on behaviour.

A UBI can relieve poverty without creating poverty traps. This will be increasingly important as the job market becomes more and more disrupted. The key difference between the UBI concept of social assistance and the targeted approach of the current regime is the absence of work testing. There may be broad criteria for certain types of UBI – age, income, family type for example – but those delineations will be nowhere near as granular and onerous as the poverty traps that targeted, work-tested benefits entail. In time there will be an underlying UBI for everybody – it must be modest of course and not compromise the incentive to take paid work.

The Policy … 

The Opportunities Party UBI Policy

The Opportunities Party to run for Mt Albert. 

While we are still nascent and so far have only announced 3 of our 7 policy priorities, let alone socialised them with the public, yet another forced by-election gives us the opportunity to do the right thing by the people of Mt Albert.

Frankly we were a bit surprised National couldn’t be bothered. In fact it seems to be a bit of an insult to a large portion of the Mt Albert electorate – the 10,000 who voted National last time – almost as though you don’t matter. The taxpayer is paying for this by-election, one might at least expect those on the taxpayer payroll to show up. The people of Mt Albert do deserve representation from now until the election and it looks like the Nats just don’t care

The Opportunities Party