Cyclone Gabrielle has fundamentally changed the political debate: Building state capacity – who to tax & how

If Chippy's Bread and Butter politics is to mean anything, he has to tax the rich to pay for the rebuild. 

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Dear Maureen Pugh - Exhibit A

Cyclone Gabrielle has fundamentally changed the political debate in New Zealand.

Since Rogernomics, the neoliberal experiment has cut the NZ State back to the bone and the Right’s political agenda ever since has been to starve the State of revenue so there is no political expectation of redistribution.

The enormity of the storm damage and the ongoing threat that rapid climate change causes forces an entirely different perspective politically, economically and culturally.

This is now the age of consequences.

Business as usual simply can’t work.

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Bernard Hickey argues that even if we agree to the neoliberal Wellington Consensus of 30% GDP debt, we could still borrow $60Billion and remain within that absurd ideological economic straight jacket so where should that $60billion be spent on resilience and adaptation?

We need future proofing ideas, we need a Ministry of Works to do it, we need big ideas and we need big new taxes to fund those big ideas, we need to build in self sufficiency, we need mitigation and adaptation.

Unlike Covid, whose worst was avoided, this Cyclone damage is real world and physical. The magnitude of what is required from the State politically resets National and ACT’s small Government agenda.

No one wants to hear about amputating the State when they are running to the State for protection.

This was the exact same mistake the Right made last time with Covid.

The Rights usual slash and burn of the State simply isn’t sustainable in face of how invested the State is going to have to be in the rebuild.

Big ideas are needed, and Labour should use the MMP majority they still enjoy to force through some desperately needed regulation over the Forestry Industry, Trucking Industry, Telecommunications Industry, and the Industries who are emitting the gasses that are ultimately driving this catastrophic climate change.

We need to build resilience into a new infrastructure landscape that is urgently implemented with radical policies.

This is the age of consequences now, we will either chose our direction or be forced by the weather events themselves to blindly scramble.

There is the change for another Cyclone this season before April.

This election year is about State capacity.

National and ACT want to slash 14 000 public sector jobs, 5 Ministries and the Human Rights Commission. The political project of the Right is to strangle off State revenue so it doesn’t have the money to redistribute.

The Left’s response is universal services, a tax system that moves the yoke from workers onto corporations, Banks and the wealthy alongside a State with far greater capacity.

We don’t just need more Drs and Nurses, we need more hospitals and ambulances too. We need more teachers, more schools, more, prisons, more corrections staff, more military, more police, more universal free services.

Argue for a State that has the capacity to build our resilience while preparing us for a different world, economy and culture.

As we struggle to comprehend the impact of climate change in front of us, it is clear we are in desperate need of legislative regulation.

Here are some starters:

 

REGULATE 2DEGREES, VODAFONE, SPARK:

The Government must immediately look an an omnibus of legislative change as we rapidly move to adaptation and one of those new focuses should be on the Telecommunications industry and force them to spend to upgrade the resilience of our communications network.

They managed to build a cheap network, addicted us to their services and then failed completely at our most critical time.

Instead of building resilience into their systems, they have a mere 4-8hours battery system.

Not one Radio tower was knocked out. Not one!

2Degrees was making $30million in profit in 2020 before the made a Billion dollar merger with Orcon!

Vodafone turns over $2billion a year while Spark tuns over almost $4billlion, yet these greedy fucks can’t build resilience into a telecommunications network they have addicted us to!

They all pay lip service to resilience but have built their empires off the back of the cheapest network possible and it has had real life real world consequences.

Regulate them now!

 

STOP COUNCILS FROM BUILDING ON FLOODPLAINS:

The Greedy Developers and the lazy Councils have sold tens of the thousands down the drain!

This was the following statement from National Party Candidate and former Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer in the wake of the Auckland Floods:

Last decade some Special Housing Areas were built in pretty marginal places, but it seems to have got worse since the 2016 Auckland Unitary Plan and the latest residential building boom,” 

“We were all promised the Unitary Plan was more about going up than out, but in the past few years it has been mostly ‘greenfields’ development on the outskirts of Auckland, and some of it in totally unsuitable locations.

“We got rid of the Auckland Regional Council in 2010 because many thought they were too litigious and a drag on development. Much of their work and warnings, however, are now being borne out.

“In 2009 the regional council published some amazing fine-tooth mapping of the entire region identifying rapid flood hazard areas. Alarmingly in the intervening years, some well identified risk areas have been built on and in this latest event many sadly endured flash flooding.

“In the rush to get into the housing market, many Aucklanders have had little choice but to buy or rent properties in flood plains and rapid flood hazard areas. Developers have also headed to very problematic flood basins, with too many getting their way.” 

 

…Auckland councillor Shane Henderson, representing West Auckland where there was a lot of flood damage, says “We have locked out people from building on the best land in the city. We have to confront this.”

He is right.

We can no longer allow intensification to be dominated by those with the wealth to keep the poor out.

Bypass this nonsense, cease the golf courses under the Public Works ACT and build State Housing and owner occupier affordable housing on them while building the infrastructure to them.

 

New Drainage rules for small companies: 

Chippy needs to refocus 3 Waters on drains and promote more work to be done by small drain layer companies by ensuring 15% of drain contract procurements go to independent/small Drain companies.

Currently the large players choke off the small companies and the work doesn’t get done!

Once again the under regulated drainage industry is allowing price gouging and that means we won’t get the repairs done.

FORESTRY SLASH:

The Greedy Forest owners have had it too good for too long. Not only do they get to kill workers while paying them remarkably cheap rates, not only did they get the weight lifted on trucks to damage our road so they can hock logs off to China but they also get to destroy our infrastructure with slash!

It’s time to get medieval on these pricks with vast new costs to clean up their mess!

The newly announced investigation shows they have lost their social licence.

 

Emergency Management Bill:

Right now, the Emergency Management Bill is stalled in Parliament because the Labour Government are concerned the co-governance elements in the Bill that will enable and resource Marae will be seized upon by National and ACT as another dog whistle to spook the electorate…

Emergency management generally garners cross-party consensus in Parliament, but the Government’s effort to legislate for Māori participation in emergency management governance in the bill promises to be politically fraught. The Opposition has routinely attacked Labour’s work on co-governance between the Crown and Māori.

…this concern for political narrative may be strategic, but tactically it has left Marae without the agency to face the very challenges they are now enduring.

Many Marae are located in places because of very specific culturally important factors. Moving them would be traumatic. Where we can, Marae should stay where they are and get repaired with extra resourcing to ensure they are points of resilience in those communities.

Universal Left

Let’s ensure taxation is targeted at the corporates and the wealthy while subsidising the costs of the poorest.

I present the 11 point Left wing Economic Justice Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand.

1: Feed every kid in NZ a free nutritious and healthy breakfast and lunch at every school using local product and school gardens with parents paid to come in and help.

2: 50 000 State Homes for life built using the best environmental and social architecture standards using the public works act to seize land and immediately start building satellite towns using upgraded public transport hubs.

3: Free public transport plus vast infrastructure upgrade for climate crisis.

4: Doubling welfare payments and student allowances minus any bullshit claw backs from MSD plus Living Wage universally adopted as minimum working wage.

5: GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and essentials like tampons, toilet paper, condoms, oral health.

6: Free Dental services for everyone through public health.

7: Debt cancellation – student loans, welfare overpayments, beneficiary debt, easier debt cancellation.

8: Renter Rights – (rent freezes, end accomodation payments, long term tenancy arrangements) 

9: Buy out houses that can’t be saved, look at universal insurance for climate change events to cover those with no insurance, survival packs in every home, solar panels on every roof, vast increase in Civil Defence equipment, social licence of essential service resilience.

10: Properly funded public broadcasting with TVNZ advert free and merged with RNZ alongside properly funded journalism through NZ on Air with more money for the Arts and Science. If you can’t have good public journalism, the right wing media will destroy these other 9 advances. 

Don’t tell me we can’t afford any of this because we can if the wealthy are taxed!

There are 14 Billionaires in NZ, let’s start with them, then move to the Banks, then the Property Speculators, the Climate Change polluters and big industry.

There’s no point making workers pay more to rebuild our resilience, tax the rich!

-Sugar Tax

-Inheritance Tax

-Wealth Tax

-Financial Transactions Tax

-New top tax rate on people earning over $250 000 per year.

-Capital Gains Tax

-Windfall profit taxes

-First $10 000 tax free

The Reserve Bank Governor is clearly telling us to raise taxes to pay for the rebuild, if Chippy’s Bread and Butter politics is to mean anything, he has to tax the rich to pay for the rebuild.

 

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34 COMMENTS

  1. National and ACT are right to slash bureaucracies and jobs and reprioritize that money to building better infrastructure rather than pipedreams of cycle bridges and light rail.

    • That’s spurious Jason. There’s no evidence that National and Act use ‘savings’ from smaller govt to fund infrastructure. Quite the opposite really.

      • the nats would slash spending and give tax cuts to the rich and you know it jase..it’s their MO and they’ve got form.

    • They had 9 years to build better infrastructure as they flooded NZ with 1million more people. They didn’t, so you’re fucking deluded Jason, you really are .

  2. I still maintain the last point on Martyn’s list, the one about ending the dominance of the press barons, is the most important.

    It’s doubtful even the very minor reforms listed here are even possible when the population receives such poor quality newspapers, television and radio. The propaganda has so far erased all memory of pre-1985 life, to the point that people have simply rolled over and accepted the slide into Third World conditions (if they didn’t seize the initiative, and simply leave for good).

    However, it will have to start with rebuilding the labour movement press, including broadcasting. State media is no use to working people if it is broadcasting neoliberal economics 24/7.

    The simple demand to ‘Return everything that was looted in the 1980s’ — the lowest demand anybody on the Left should be making — needs to be explained in the pages of the Labour Press by left-wing economists. That cannot happen today, because they are effectively blacklisted from even state media.

    Such a press should be an international effort. Once it is operating, the basis for recruiting the next generation of (genuinely progressive) labour leaders is laid.

    Once you actually have volunteers and an informed audience, you can start putting up candidates for the trade union leaderships, and eventually progressive election candidates — something which is virtually impossible at the present time.

    • make it illegal to own media if you are not a resident/citizen….I hate to labour the point but it works for the germans

  3. While I can’t fault you for ambition & we may even see some of your ideas happen in NZ climate change is a global problem & the emissions outside NZ totally swamp any improvements we can make. I am not suggesting that we do nothing but history would suggest that some sort of forced worship of a church-state combination when things get really bad is the most likely international response that most of the good sheep in NZ will follow.

  4. You’re not wrong MB. What is said about doing the same thing over and over again – can simply expect more of the same.

  5. Fantastic plan, it’ll definitely happen like Kiwibuild, the Tram, Uni Tech, etc. after all Chippy gets things done (oh, wait! He doesn’t?!?)

    Also, why do we want to load debt onto the next generation to pay for the Boomers mistakes? I can hear Shirley Bassey belting out that classic, just a little bit of history repeating itself…

  6. Government is much worse as been pushing intensification at all costs when the houses being built are failing and putting the poor and communities as great financial risks, to constantly pay for it all.

    Affordable and social housing plan could backfire over flood risk, lobby group says
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/climate-news/126857863/affordable-and-social-housing-plan-could-backfire-over-flood-risk-lobby-group-says

    This is happening EVERYWHERE – the most stupid places are the ones they are building mass houses on, often because the land appears cheap!

  7. It has been the age of consequences for a very long time.

    We call it disaster when those consequences threaten or bring terrible harm suffering and death to people we consider worthwhile.

    There is a class eugenics in this country in the destruction of lives. And the ‘respectables’ even imagine themselves to be proven right when those chosen as not mattering commit crime or are caught in slow deaths of despair – within the community’s apathy, blame and contempt in response to their suffering and destruction.

  8. Water, water everywhere … I think we should all be looking at this as an opportunity! NZ could become a Water Park! We should be drilling deep holes in the ground to catch all of this water!

    Project, Water Farming!

    With nearly every country in the world having or nearing a fresh water crisis and water priced in just as expensive as oil.

    If we ‘depopulate’ a bit and turn off the immigration tap and just focus on the Water Farming and Building some fuckn Houses! We’ll be rich!

  9. We’re not so much as taxing the rich, as curbing greed. Which is the Christian thing to do.

    Because, the rich will be fine.

    But the moaning from them, is going to painful for the rest of us. But that’s what a preys are for, to help them with the pain of losing one of their seven super yacht. Or one of their seven mansions, or one of their seven rental properties.

  10. Said it before – $250K might seem obscene to some people, but it is what many specialist medical staff are earning, and I’m not talking about who you may first see in ED. Dunedin, last I knew, only had one neurosurgeon and near retirement. We’re not gong to find a replcement in this country – they are going to have to come from overseas. Now, why would they if they can earn vastly more in Australia (or elsewhere – a skill in demand throughout the world) and not have to do a cultural safety course? While there are some earning over $250K that could be classed as a waste of time, there are a lot of others (scientists, etc.) that it would pay the country to retain – do we want to lose these people? $250K per year isn’t exactly rich, rich – though we may all like to be on it. Is this an envy tax being proposed?

    • Thomas, sometimes people come to a country like New Zealand to escape the rat race of their own. Sometimes the salary while important is not everything. We think our health system is bad but there are much much worse out there. Australis is mooted as better for our nurses, if thats the case why haven’t all these nurses left already.

    • I agree with you Thomas. What IRD call ‘high wealth individuals’ tend to pay a low rate of personal income tax. They don’t declare large salaries, their wealth is in trusts and corporations etc.

      Salaried professionals with rare and expensive skills – usually with huge training costs and personal debt – are a key group that can’t obscure their high incomes (public system hospital specialists, specialised engineers etc). NZ pay rates are comparatively lower – up their taxes and watch them go. Good luck finding that neurosurgeon. This is tall poppy / envy taxation, it doesn’t target the truly wealthy. IRD knows this, the government knows this.

  11. Neo-liberalism wasn’t an option. It was NZ deregulating and privatising
    to open up to the world market and rescue the falling profits of international capitalism.
    Capitalism faces a terminal crisis, made certain by its destruction of its ecological base.
    Future proofing of humanity from death and destruction means getting rid of capitalism.
    After all the pandemic caused by environmental destruction resulted in a $1 Trillion transfer of wealth from workers to property owners in this country.
    Future proofing means saving humanity, and that means a revolutionary shift to stop destroying nature and rescuing it from the capitalocene.
    Anything less is pissing in the pockets of the capitalists.
    The response to global warming has to be an end to the rip, shit and bust, capitalist system.
    Workers must refuse to pay the funeral expenses of capitalism.
    No bailout of dirty business of the rip, shit, bust variety.
    Nationalise the land and offer leases with cheap state loans to those who will use the land sustainably.
    Nationalise all the private monopolies from banking to retail.
    No compensation for those who have ripped us off for generations.
    Put all production, distribution and exchange under the control of workers and working farmers councils, organised and managed by a workers’ and working farmers’ government.
    For a socialist republic of Aotearoa that breaks from all imperialist alliances and rejects all imperialist wars.
    Build economic and political ties with other socialist republics for a global socialist plan to fix climate change and restore the balance between humans and nature.

    • Always amusing to see this kind of nonsense. How do you propose this glorious revolution will occur? Will you kill for it? Who will you kill to bring it about? Will you die for it? Will you sacrifice those you love for your revolution? Do you have the weapons to fight for your revolution? If not, which foreign power will provide & what will be their true cost? I’d love to hear your answers, because those you will face in your revolution, will happily slaughter you, those you love & those who would stand with you. What will you sacrifice to save us? Or is it just an aging Marxist’s pipe dream?

  12. It’s a bit early to say yet whether the debate has been changed but from where I sit in Hawke’s bay I see the all too familiar signs of Labour implementing yet another inquiry (chaired by Hekia Parata, for goodness sake!) and Stuart Nash giving the rabbit in the headlights impression for the TV cameras so don’t hold your breath.
    Labour and Nash must be compromised in some way, otherwise surely they would have considered acted on this report commissioned by Gisborne Regional Council I think in 2018 – the last time the slash problem came up:

    https://www.envirolink.govt.nz/assets/Envirolink/Reports/1879-GSDC152-Best-practices-for-reducing-harvest-residues-and-mitigating-mobilisation-of-harvest-residues-in-steepland-plantation-forests2.pdf

    • Daniel very well said but we all know this Labour Government doesn’t do things.
      Quite simply they don’t know how.
      Look at education in NZ,worst position ever,who was in charge of that?

  13. Quick thinking, wall the water in and have cheap training grounds for pup yachts with an eye on future America Cup races and off to Australian ones.

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