Look­ing for change at elec­tion time

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Local News - GORD STE­WART

Time for change, or more of the same?

It’s surely an ex­er­cise in fu­til­ity to crit­i­cise the Na­tional Party in this elec­torate, but here goes any­way. The is­sues are too im­por­tant to re­main silent.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties can only tout what they’d do if they were in power. The Na­tional Party, on the other hand, has had nine years to show us what it stands for. How are we do­ing un­der their lead­er­ship?

The re­cently pub­lished NBR Rich List notes that some Ki­wis are do­ing swim­mingly.

‘‘I think it’s con­tin­ued boom times for the rich, the rich get richer and the rich are hav­ing a re­ally suc­cess­ful pe­riod at the mo­ment,’’ said NBR edi­tor, Dun­can Bridge­man, on pub­li­ca­tion of the list.

Mean­while, real wages are fall­ing and home own­er­ship rates are at their low­est level in 66 years.

Some 110,000 chil­dren live in a home that has a ma­jor prob­lem with damp­ness and mould. A dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of these are owned by the Gov­ern­ment it­self through Hous­ing New Zealand.

Yet the econ­omy is ‘‘purring’’ along nicely Na­tional tell us. They cite strong growth in GDP – gross do­mes­tic prod­uct – as ev­i­dence. They con­ve­niently leave out the fact that our un­prece­dent­edly high im­mi­gra­tion num­bers give a false sense of suc­cess.

Growth through im­mi­gra­tion comes at a cost, in­clud­ing in­creased con­ges­tion on Auck­land roads, tight rental mar­kets, con­tin­ued high hous­ing prices, over­crowd­ing in schools, and dif­fi­culty reg­is­ter­ing with a doc­tor if you are new to an area.

The re­cent surge in tourism fur­ther con­trib­utes to GDP growth and now de­posits some $2 bil­lion an­nu­ally into cen­tral gov­ern­ment cof­fers in the form of GST.

So far, Na­tional has doled out mod­est mil­lions for some new toi­lets and car parks in spots around the coun­try. Oth­er­wise, it’s a cash grab they can use to help achieve a sur­plus and, in turn, tell us what great eco­nomic man­agers they are.

Mayor Barnes has called for more of the GST take to go back to where it is earned. New Zealand First, for its part, prom­ises GST will be re­turned to the re­gions.

Both the OECD and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund have called for a broad cap­i­tal gains tax in New Zealand. So it’s not a wacky, left-wing pol­icy the Labour Party just dreamed up. It is but one part of an eq­ui­table tax sys­tem long used in ad­vanced coun­tries around the world.

With an ap­pro­pri­ate cap­i­tal gains tax we’d be bet­ter placed to tackle press­ing prob­lems – like high rates of child poverty cited by the UN Com­mit­tee on the Rights of the Child. In spite of the tremen­dous ben­e­fits it could pro­vide, the Na­tional Party staunchly op­poses such a tax.

Gord Ste­wart is an en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity con­sul­tant and ru­ral prop­erty owner.

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