Cunliffe’s first 100 days

By   /   October 7, 2013  /   30 Comments

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Cunliffe needs to live up to the expectations of the passions he is about to unleash if he hopes to win, and if he misses out, the ABCs will assassinate him. There’s no motivation like ‘this is Sparta’ to focus the political mind.

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In the winter of 2000, Helen Clark faced a ‘Winter of discontent’. It was the corporate masters of NZ threatening to derail the economy if Helen progressed with her social policies and economic reforms. From that moment, Helen backed down and downgraded to mere management of NZ for 9 years rather than any real structural change.

For the Greens, Labour and MANA, the possible winning of the 2014 election is only the start, progressives must force through the change they want in the first 100 days and then spend the next 2 and a half years defending those changes.

Cunliffe needs to live up to the expectations of the passions he is about to unleash if he hopes to win, and if he misses out, the ABCs will assassinate him. There’s no motivation like ‘this is Sparta’ to focus the political mind.

In terms of the narrative structure for the 2014 election, Labour need to claim the word ‘rebuild’. It is active, it is positive and it acknowledges the sense that under National something very NZ has been allowed to slip away. That the egalitarian self belief we hold onto is as cheap and as compromised as our 100% Pure slogan.

Rebuild our jobs, rebuild our public services, rebuild our economy, rebuild our affordable housing, rebuild NZ.

You get the idea of the power of that word.

The agenda Cunliffe needs to consider for the first 100 days should be:

-Repeal of anti-union laws and giving the Unions real teeth
It’s not good enough to promote a Living Wage and the repeal of the crap labour laws National have pushed, the next Government needs to give Unions real teeth. One of the few mechanisms to counter inequality are Unions, empowering them has to argued from the good of NZ and in those terms allowing Unions to negotiate awards across all industries and allowing Unions to strike in sympathy with other Unions would go some way to rebalancing industrial negotiations in this country.

-Capital gains tax, death/estate duties and a higher tax rate on the rich
There has to be a fairer tax rate that penalizes property speculators, forces the wealthy to pay more tax and redistributes a large chunk of that wealth when the wealthy die. A progressive Government is going to have to fund their social programs some how.

-Universal Student membership, universal allowances and full resourcing of adult education
Students are doing it tough and a universal student allowance so that they are not drowned in debt is a responsibility. Bringing back universal student membership is important and those who recoil from their fees going to lefty associations can always apply to have their fee given to a charity of their choice rather than the association. Adult education is a vital thread that binds the lonely and gives adults real opportunities to bond and learn new skills. The gutting of adult education by this Government was a terrible crime for all those who have benefitted from it.

-First $10 000 tax free, reversal of social welfare reforms and giving working for family tax credits to beneficiaries
Tackling poverty through carrots rather than sticks is a must.

-Halt discrimination of family members caring for sick and disabled
This has been a horror story that needs to end.

-Revoke the GCSB and TICS legislation
This will be an election issue, and any progressive Government coming in must revoke these vile mass surveillance laws.

-Massive re-investment into the Regions
Regional tax incentives will help our productive regions in NZ generate more wealth, but the most important thing that could help the regions is high speed internet.

-Faster ultra fast internet roll out and passing of the NZ Digital Bill of Rights
One of the most important infrastructure investments a progressive Government needs to look at is high speed internet. This would future proof the economy while eroding the digital divide.

-Radio NZ 2, the resurrection of TVNZ7, the creation of RNZ TV and transferring News & Current from TVNZ to RNZ
If you have a hostile corporate media attacking everything you attempt to do between 2014 and 2017, you better provide balance to that media landscape with genuine public broadcasting. Beefing up Radio NZs budget to run RNZ2, RNZ TV and make them accountable for news and current affairs within TVNZ so that TVNZ are merely the carrier of the news rather than the created of the ratings dominated tripe it’s descended to are all smart moves. Without real public broadcasting, Gower, Espiner, Armstrong, Vance, Garner, Hosking, Smith, the entire editorial teams of the Herald and Dom Post etc etc etc will decimate the new progressive Government.

-End of Private Prisons
They are an anathema to progressives.

-Maori inequality
It was the ‘closing the gap’ policy by Clark that generated the massive racist backlash during the Winter of Discontent. The universal application of welfare focused on those at the bottom are going to benefit Maori most. Personally I’d want to see real progress made on constitutional change that would cement the Treaty into a more permeant feature of our Parliament. I think some type of symbolic change is also necessary, replace the Lords Prayer by the Speaker with some solemn Oath to uphold the principles of the Treaty.

-Equal pay and 50-50 gender split for Government boards
If women are going to advance beyond second class citizens, the glass ceiling needs to be shattered and the female cleaner who has to clean up the shards has to be paid equally. Private business always decry the lack of talented woman to step up onto boards, promoting them through the ranks into Government boards provides the training and career path direction for those women to gain the experience necessary to step up.

-Mass investment into Green economy
The Greens need to be around the Cabinet table and their plans to Green the Economy are vital for NZs long term future and our long term economic success. Making 100% Pure as aspirational as possible should be the focus of the Greens.

-Feeding the kids
If a deal is cut with MANA, they would need a policy win and feeding all kids in decile 1-3 schools would be the price.

-Mass state housing and affordable home rebuilds
Like Savage before him, Cunliffe’s answer to the housing problem in NZ needs to be a mass state sponsored building program, not to only build 100 000 affordable homes – it must also include a vast new state house building program. Labour should focus less on town houses for their affordable housing plans and more an family sized apartment buildings.

The first 100 days of winning the election are the only 100 days any progressive Government gets, Labour + Greens will only get one shot at this, they can’t afford to miss.

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30 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Winning the leadership of the labour party was the easy part but forming a coalition is next to impossible for Cunliffe. Mana and Greens are not interested in the slightest in a coalition with Labour. They are a centre right treaty breakers that cater for only mainstream New Zealand. It proved that when Don Brash managed to pull them to the right in the Orewa hate speech. Where is the apology for the Terrorist raids for the people of Ruatoki –Labour hasn’t even apologised for Norman Kirks Dawn raids against Pacific migrants. Labours doesn’t care for minorities it’s the Pakeha Party.

  2. Julian Haworth says:

    You forgot rolling back the RMA reforms, assuming Dunne does his usual flip and they get through

  3. kevin says:

    Why have Labour stopped talking about the great idea David Shearer suggested of ‘banning foreigners’ from owning land and property in NZ?

    Surely Kiwi’s in their own country are more important than non voting, rarely tax paying ‘foreigners’ making money off the backs of normal Kiwi’s in their own country?

    I’m shocked that this idea has seemingly been dropped without a discussion by Labour.

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Banning foreign ownership of NZ land and businesses needs to be done very quickly. As it is we’re becoming serfs in our own land. Just need to look to Palestine to see how well that works out.

  4. I like the ideas Martyn as always, but I have some concerns that would be easy to iron out…

    1. Finance. We cannot rush in headlong on a spending spree. David, being an economist, is aware of this, and to make these changes National-proof, they need to be fiscally solid. After all, I remember the original “Winter of Discontent” in the UK, and that is what we get if we do not proceed quickly sure, but with caution.

    2. Democratic Process. I love the Unions and see the real need. Believe me, some of the cases I have as a Lawyer emphasise the desperate need for good, strong Unions. However, I also see some Unions charge ridiculously high fees for no services. How many people have I had with Employment Law who said that the Union either would not help, or sent a complete amateur? Unions need to be accountable to the membership, and run not by entrenched stalwarts, but by the people. Then they can be powerful, strong, and have a real mandate to put shonky employers on notice.

    Gender split – This is a real headache for everyone as it is so emotive. I still stand by the view however that gender equality will never happen whilst we have such severe inequality in other areas. As you know, my area is disability. In Parliament, we have 0.83% representation (Mojo Mathers) for 20% or more New Zealanders. To push for total equality for one group whilst another has none is like making sure that one child has the perfectly balanced diet whilst the twin starves to death. We need to work not on the gender gap, but on the equality gap. If we do not, then the right wing twonks will simply point to a worse area and tell the people seeking self interest equality that they are lucky. Women need equality. Real equality and not some ‘act like a bloke and we will pretend that you are equal’ patronising crap. However, so do all the other groups treated like second class citizens by this corrupt Government.

    However, yes. I agree with you. David has a huge job to do, and we need to support him and Labour in doing it. If people support Mana or Green in preference, that is fine. However, stop bagging other progressive Parties and people for your own gain. I have never in my memory bagged Mana or Green, though I do draw out differences for consideration. Perhaps we all need to be more supportive, whatever our political colour?

  5. Tom says:

    Most of these are a distraction.

    Cunliffe’s only real job is to change the economic paradigm NZ operates under and increase intervention and regulation. Ordering the Reserve Bank around would make a good start, and various other neo-Keynesian policies would also be good.

    The goal is to eliminate neoliberalism from the commanding heights.

    Everything else follows from that.

  6. Jenny says:

    Great stuff Bomber.

    You are doing the journalistic work and raising the issues that no other political blog, or printed journal is doing.

    I particularly liked your stand on state housing. They say, “he who frames the argument wins the argument.”

    The NZ Herald, HoS yesterday, had an editorial on state housing in which they tried to frame the argument of state housing as “emergency housing” and only for short fixed term tenure for those in greatest need. Which after a certain period they are kicked out of.

    Even before their fixed term tenure expires, If tenants circumstances change and they are no longer considered “in need”, they can be kicked out. They can even find themselves facing charges before the courts for fraud.

    When it comes to housing, the government and the Herald have revived the 19th Century punitive philosophy of the deserving poor.

    The Government took a first tentative step in that direction in 2011 when it introduced reviewable tenancies for new tenants. Now, with the Social Housing Reform Bill before Parliament, it has summoned the courage to extend reviews to all Housing NZ tenants who receive an income-related rent
    .

    These reviews will end the idea that a state house is for life. Too many tenants have come to regard their state house as a permanent right. One moved on from a high-value Glen Innes property this year spoke tellingly of “my house”. Tenants should never be in doubt that their house is a transitory arrangement. They must move on when their need no longer exists or if the state, as landlord, needs to put the house to better use.

    Herald on Sunday Editorial: 5:30 AM Sunday Oct 6, 2013

    The Herald have tried to claim through their false ‘framing’, that this is what state housing is all about. And in a nod to George Orwell, ‘was always about’.

    In fact its a lie. State housing in its original form was all about making long term secure housing a right for everyone. The original decision to make state houses rentals and not to made available to buy was for two reasons. But the primary one reason was ‘socialistic’, that a state house would not be personal property in the capitalist sense of private property to be bought and sold and traded, or to become part of a property portfolio. But it was seen as a way of providing cheap secure long term housing “fixed” at 25% of the tenants income for as long as they wanted not just needed them. There was never any fixed term period before you had to get out, nor even any obligation on state tenants that they would be expected to move out as their situation improved. In fact it was hoped that people’s situation would improve and keep on improving the longer people had decent cheap affordable rental homes.

    What we are seeing now is that state tenants have less security of tenure than private tenants no matter how extreme their need.

    As I said great stuff Bomber.

    And I support all the other demands you raised. But I do have a gripe about your handling of environmental issues. Climate Change will become the defining issue of our age.

    But facing up to the challenges of climate change seems to have become the third rail of politics, and even left politics.*

    I think it is just not good enough to dump this all into a box labeled “Greens” to let them sort it out. No matter how well the Greens do, they will still be a minority in cabinet and will be outvoted on every contentious issue.

    Some hard specific demands need to be placed on Labour on the environment and the climate, for Labour and the Labour leader to match their actions with their rhetoric.

    These specific demands must to be agreed to before the Greens agree to sit at the cabinet table with Labour otherwise the Greens will be outvoted on every issue that is not party of their coalition agreement. This could possibly see the Greens bound under cabinet collective responsibility supporting Deep Sea Oil Drilling, or Fracking or a huge increase in new coal mining, all things which currently Labour nominally support. Such an outcome would see a huge slump in their core support probably flowing into electoral death for the Greens in 2017.

    Bomber you have listed all the reforms you say are necessary for Labour to “rebuild“. I am happy to grasp onto the third rail, and add to your list my list of things we need Labour to unbuild, if they intend to become the modern sort of world class leaders, in the second decade of the new millennium, that were in the third decade of the last millennium.

    No Deep Sea Oil or Gas exploratory drilling

    No new coal mining on the Denniston Plateau

    No Fracking

    No new motorways (instead switch the the $billions set aside for motorway construction to free public transport).

    No more taxpayer bailouts for failing fossil fuel companies (Instead switch funding to jobs intensive renewable energy projects like bureaucratically stalled <a href='http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/9066601/Waikato-windfarm-backtrack-costs-hundreds-of-jobs'>Rauauru Ma Raki.)

    *For instance, witness the difficulty The Standard is having in getting out a statement on the Bail out of Solid Energy.

    • Jenny says:

      One thing I forgot to add to the list is:

      Honour The Majuro Declaration on Climate Change

      The Declaration:

      • Recognizes the gross insufficiency of current efforts to tackle climate change, and the responsibility of all to act urgently to reduce and phase-down greenhouse gas pollution;

      • Confirms the Pacific Islands Forum’s climate leadership in the form of their ambitious commitments to reduce emissions and the significant benefit in transitioning to renewable, clean and sustainable energy, and their desire to do more with the cooperation and support of international partners; and

      • Calls on others – in particular Post-Forum Dialogue Partners**, but also other governments, cities, the private sector, and civil society – to commit to be Climate Leaders by listing specific commitments that contribute more than previous efforts to the urgent reduction and phase-down of greenhouse gas pollution.

      The Majuro Declaration is also a dynamic document, which strongly encourages committed Climate Leaders to continue to scale-up their action by listing new and more ambitious commitments over time.

      An incoming Labour led Government must ratify the Majuro Declaration

      Respect for this international treaty, to which New Zealand is a full signatory, should from now on be used to underpin and inform legislation in regards to regulating green house gas emissions.

      In a dirty act of complete disrespect and treachery towards our Island neighbors, only weeks after signing the Majuro Declaration On Climate Change, in which all the signatories, including New Zealand, agreed to try and cut their greenhouse gas emissions, the New Zealand government released tens of millions of dollars to prop up our biggest and dirtiest CO2 emitter, at the same time holding up major renewable energy projects Rauauru Ma Raki, prevented from going ahead because of the abundance of cheap coal.

      At the time of signing this treaty John Key lamented the fact that the big polluters the US and China were unlikely to sign it. As it turned out, Australia also refused to sign up to the Majuro Declaration. Maybe these big emitters felt that if they signed up to the Majuro Declaration, they might feel honour bound to adhere to it.

      John Key let no such scruples get in his way. Signing this international treaty, probably knowing as he signed, that within weeks he would be using tens of millions of tax payers dollars propping up New Zealand’s biggest coal company.

      • Jenny says:

        My apologies, I have had trouble inserting the link about Rauauru Ma Raki. Which is a massive wind farm project just a short commute from Huntly that could as well as providing hundreds of jobs during construction provide 1033 permanent jobs enough to soak up all the currently laid off coal workers and more.

        Here is the naked link:

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/9066601/Waikato-windfarm-backtrack-costs-hundreds-of-jobs

        What is interesting about Rauauru Ma Raki is that low priced electricity generated by subsidised coal makes it uneconomic.

        Eric Pyle of the Wind Energy Association says all that is needed is the “right policy settings” for this to project to proceed.

        • Stephen says:

          “The right policy settings” being code word for we need a large tax payer subsidy to keep us afloat.

          • Jenny says:

            “The right policy settings” being code word for we need a large tax payer subsidy to keep us afloat.

            Stephen

            Well actually, no.

            Take away the huge subsidies handed to the fossil fuel companies including Solid Energy.

            Bring in a carbon tax to cover the true cost of the damage and the mitigation costs to overcome that damage that fossil fuels cause.

            As well as these measures the import of cheap Indonesian call must be stopped. This coal mined in Indonesia under the worst imaginable conditions, is currently what is undermining (pardon the Pun) projects like Rauauru Ma Raki and also costing local miners their jobs.

  7. Yep , can’t argue these…Just do it…Strengthen unions
    And don’t forget charter schools… I would go even further and stop any govt funding of toffee nosed private schools… Feck em…their snouts have been in the trough for too long…

  8. My word search found no mention of charter schools.

    oops, otherwise spot on.

  9. Draco T Bastard says:

    For the Greens, Labour and MANA, the possible winning of the 2014 election is only the start, progressives must force through the change they want in the first 100 days and then spend the next 2 and a half years defending those changes.

    Nope, in the first 10 days the new government needs to make one change that removes capital’s power over the country. After that they can make all the changes they want and the beneficial aspect of those changes will shine through.

    That one change? Remove the power of creating money from the private banks and make it so that only the government can create money.

    After that one change capital can do what it likes but it won’t affect the country.

    Unfortunately, Cunliffe has already said that he won’t do that.

    • Kingi says:

      AGREE. We can’t afford a mere tinkering with the fine tuning when bold and courageous action is needed. Plus they should legislate for a financial transactions tax.

  10. Stuart Munro says:

    Many of NZ’s problems stem from the thicket of neoliberal deadwood in Treasury. This department is long overdue for the kind of reform it has perpetratrated on more useful branches of the civil service. Neoliberal agendas should disqualify people from state employment – “You love the free market? Go work in it.”

    • Jenny says:

      Well put Stuart. Don Brash the biggest neo-liberal of them all, never once let go of the tax payer teat once he had latched on. It was Don Brash who oversaw the whole Rogernomics Revolution and advised Roger Douglas every step of the way. The joke used to be Treasury (under Brashe’s leadership) should stand for government as they are running the country anyway. That this unelected and unelectable bureaucrat and out right Rightwing kook, wielded so much power for so long was a blight on our democracy.

    • Stephen says:

      Well most people who love the free market do work in it, as it offers them freedom. All the deadwood are those socialist civil servants who couldn’t cope in the real world which is why they are fans of big government. Funny thing is that describes a lot of Labor Party members.

  11. Scott says:

    I would add smashing the monopolies. There was a Fletcher ad on this page. What better symbol of our economic stupidity than Fletcher who own building materials, steel, land banking, build homes. They completely dominate the market and we wonder why we have a housing crisis? Government needs to get serious about competition laws.

    • Stephen says:

      Yes smash the monopolies, as that is what socialism is all about. Capitalism is based on competition and the free market which benefits the consumer.

      • Francis says:

        Actually, the “free” market is strongly reliant on the idea that competition causes the markets to regulate themselves (which of course doesn’t happen in reality).

        Monopolies are a sign of the failure of the free market, since a lack of competition effectively means the monopoly can do and charge whatever the heck it likes. After all, what will consumers do if they charge too much and/or provide an inferior product/service? Go somewhere else? Oh, wait, they can’t. There’s only one company providing the good/service…

        More often than not, a completely free market will lead to huge monopolies (or duopolies, in some cases) where there is no true competition whatsoever. As a result, consumers are seriously overcharged, receive an inferior product build via slave labour (in a factory which pumps tonnes of unfiltered crap into the atmosphere), while the managers and shareholders pick up huge profits. At least with government-run monopolies, the profits go towards things like health and education, while they are required to be run in a socially desired way.

        However, the best way is a mixed economy, where the government owns the essential services, core infrastructure, and other areas which are likely to form a Natural Monopoly and intervenes in the marketplace to ensure that consumers are not being overcharged, any externalities are either regulated for or taxed (or subsidised/provided by the government, in the case of positives), and to prevent monopolies from forming.

  12. Ant says:

    There seems to be a global movement underway with a view towards fixing the economic system long term.
    If we can get everyone involved in moving to a system with more equality, including the global elite who control monetary conditions, we all stand to gain in the long run.

  13. philg says:

    Oh, and limiting all party donations from private citizens only, to $50, and no corporate donations or lobbyists allowed. Period. Big Brother and NZ Inc woild not be pleased. Oh and extra security for the PM!

  14. Stephen says:

    Higher tax on the rich and death duties eh? Well nobody works to pay tax, so all those rich people you want to sponge off will stop being rich, they will do less work or they will simply leave the country as most of them have transferable skills. Where will you get your money then? Also a death duties, what will happen is towards the end of someones life they will simply spend the money in their golden years, go offshore or establish a joint bank account with their children.
    You really do live in cloud cuckoo land, if you want social programs how about you fund them yourself or volunteer your own time? Very easy to be altruistic with somebody else’s money.

    • hunter says:

      We’ll get the money from you Stephen. Yes that’s right, we’re coming for your pennies, you miserable mcscrooge. We bludgers love nothing more than to drain the vitality from hard-working, entrepreneurial types like yourself. Quick, leave the country while you still can!

  15. phil says:

    Hey Stephen, The USA needs you, and your ideas. People will, and are coming to NZ for a quality off life that is not deteriorating as fast as many other countries around the world..



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