TOP propos­ing rad­i­cal changes

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS -

While I think that New Zealand has fared bet­ter than many other West­ern states, we are slip­ping into a so­ci­ety of have and havenots. For this rea­son, I have joined The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party (TOP), with the de­sire to use my back­ground ed­u­ca­tion and pas­sion for this coun­try to help set New Zealand on a bet­ter path. This is the only party that has poli­cies with a vi­sion for the next 30 years. We fore­see a time with much higher lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment, pol­lu­tion and inequal­ity — un­less dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary changes are made now.

TOP is propos­ing rad­i­cal changes to how prop­erty is taxed, how much in­come tax peo­ple pay, and other poli­cies such as le­gal­is­ing cannabis, pe­nal­is­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­luters, rais­ing the drink­ing age to 20, re­mov­ing the con­stant test­ing of stu­dents at high schools, a smarter im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy de­signed to make sure New Zealand does not be­come a low wage coun­try, and even­tu­ally cre­ate an un­con­di­tional ba­sic in­come for ev­ery Kiwi. In ad­di­tion to these ini­tia­tives we want to see a more re­for­ma­tive jus­tice sys­tem de­signed to re­duce our pris­oner pop­u­la­tion by 40 per cent, and give New Zealand ten­ants greater se­cu­rity and qual­ity of life through a re­form­ing of the Ten­ancy Act.

These poli­cies act­ing in uni­son will make New Zealand a fairer coun­try whereby al­though the mar­ket will still be the driv­ing force be­hind our econ­omy, a greater num­ber of peo­ple can share in the prof­its made. While un­em­ploy­ment was the plague of the 20th cen­tury, inequal­ity is the plague of the 21st cen­tury. The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party is the only party with for­ward look­ing poli­cies de­signed to deal with the next 30 years rather than the next three years.

TOP’s main mes­sage to Waitaki vot­ers is that prop­erty prices are out­strip­ping wages to the ex­tent that a large por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion can­not en­ter the prop­erty mar­ket. Our party plans on rec­ti­fy­ing this by tax­ing prop­erty and re­duc­ing wage and salary earn­ers’ tax by 30 per cent.

Of course we’re not happy with cur­rent polling. How­ever polling is not as in­stru­men­tal as it has been in the past. Ex­am­ples of this can be found through Bexit and Trump’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

The Waitaki elec­torate has a very di­verse vot­ing de­mo­graphic; young en­tre­pre­neur­ial peo­ple as­pir­ing for a fairer chance to en­ter the prop­erty mar­ket, and an older de­mo­graphic of cap­i­tal hold­ers whose pri­mary con­cern and fo­cus is wa­ter pu­rity and in­fras­truc­tural pres­sures.

TOP has costed a tourist levy to help in­fra­struc­ture at $20, based on ev­i­dence from sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions found in north­ern Europe and cer­tain states in Amer­ica.

TOP’s tax pol­icy is the only prop­erty tax that is ab­so­lute in na­ture, and there­fore can­not be avoided by wealthy landown­ers and crafty ac­count­ing.

Many older vot­ers have ex­pressed to me that they think pen­sions should be means tested, and that un­con­di­tional ba­sic in­come will be re­quired in the fu­ture given our ris­ing un­der­em­ploy­ment through forces such as mech­a­ni­sa­tion and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

❚ Kevin Neill is The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party can­di­date for the Waitaki elec­torate. There is no can­di­date for Clutha-South­land.

MAR­JORIE COOK

Kevin Neill, 35, a for­mer teacher, is re­train­ing to be an elec­tri­cian in Wanaka and stand­ing for The Op­por­tu­ni­ties Party in the gen­eral election.

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