GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Simon says…


Simon Bridges has a new mantra – that the recently released tax review is “ an assault on the Kiwi way of life.” It’s a piece of political rhetoric that piles one myth on top of another to avoid reality.

In a recent social media release he explained he means we live in a land where all New Zealanders can achieve their aspirations by working hard
“New Zealanders understand” he says “ that people who work hard, who save or invest, who take risks, deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour.”
All of which he says is about to be taken away by some of the recommended tax reforms in the Cullen report.

OK, well let’s just have a quick reality check

1. Home ownership has fallen to 62.5% . That’s the lowest rate since the 1951 Census. So more than 1/3rd of us are now living in rental properties and most can’t see how they will be able to afford to own a place of their own one day. (If it was possible the ownership rate would be rising not falling.)

THAT’s the Kiwi way of life and Neoliberalism – the economic theory Simon Bridges clings to- created it.

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2. Thirty years ago the Lange / Douglas Labour government handed the mortgage market to private banks. Prior to that the Post Office was the only government guaranteed bank and it offered better rates than the commercial banks. We also had the State Advance Corporation which issued 3% p.a. home loans for 40 years.

THAT was the Kiwi way of life and Neoliberalism – the economic theory Simon Bridges clings to- put an end to it.

3. For many New Zealanders – especially millennials – the Kiwi way of life means living in a “gig “ economy where you have to have several jobs just to make ends meet. One reason for that is it was a National government under Jim Bolger that destroyed collective bargaining when it introduced The Employment Contracts Act .

As a result we have become the low wage economy neoliberal politicians think is ideal , because it allows the owners and shareholders of capital to exploit the people who create their wealth.

THAT’s the Kiwi way of life and you have Neoliberalism – the economic theory Simon Bridges clings to- to thank for it.

4. “The Kiwi way of life ” once meant that the State paid for your education up to and including university. National’s Ruth Richardson and the neoliberal agenda Simon Bridges believes in also put an end to that.

I could go on but this is just a quick piece.

My point is that while some people might think the Kiwi dream is to live inside your own tax shelter and have a bach you occassionaly use while other New Zealanders sleep in the streets, it’s not mine.

A more rigorous Capital Gains tax would be a step in the right direction towards the fairer, more equitable, country we once had , when by working hard you really COULD improve the quality of life for yourself and your whanau.

So let’s get our fact’s straight.

It’s Neoliberal economics and the politics of selfishness introduced by Labour and put on steroids by National that destroyed the Kiwi way of life which gave me my chance at higher education and the opportunity to live in a place I can call home.

I want all New Zealanders to have those opportunities again and the truth is it can only happen if we address the wealth inequality neoliberalism has created in our country.

The wealthiest 10% of us now hold half the wealth of our country

The wealthiest 20 per cent of households in New Zealand hold 70 per cent of it.

The bottom 40 per cent of households now account for just 3 per cent of total wealth.

THAT, Simon, is the reality of today’s Kiwi way of life because the economic theory you believe in, that gives tax breaks to a few at the expense of the many, destroyed the fairer society we once had.

There is another way.

We followed it once, we could follow it again….where capitalism was made to serve the State, not the other way around.


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. BB may have cast me to the ether some years ago (for what methinks neither knows) but to this I say..
    Hear! Hear! Bryan Bruce

  2. These historical facts about the neoliberalism corruption of NZ should be carved in stone somewhere and reiterated every election time. That way Jacinda and company could still be nice, but they would get the facts out there and save themselves thinking up new, usually ineffective, ways of getting the “wellbeing” message across. Every election the supposed “left wing” is forced to invent new routes to victory and keep from offending right-wing people at the same time. Why don’t they just tell the facts instead?

  3. Now I remember where I saw the two thumbs up nonsense I heard mentioned on the nation this morning by the ambitious woman.

  4. Discussion point. A truly equitable CGT would mean claimable losses during periods of downturn, such as 2007 – 2012. While there have been some ludicrous gains since, the balancing effects of inflation and periods of loss (e.g. recently in many Oz cities) could mean govt nets very little from CGT in the long term. The failure of minerals prices has hit the Oz economy hard. Their CGT has had minimal or no impact on house prices, and has certainly not created equality. NZ needs a much broader review of tax and income, it needs a much narrower range of salaries, and it needs to focus the economy on genuinely sustainable growth based on environmental protection. The CGT is a red herring and is a soft option for govts unwilling to make hard decisions.

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