The Blog

Pressure for mayoral candidate transparency begins to bear fruit

Transparency International’s Wellington Mayoral candidate forum last week showed contenders promising – and providing – greater transparency and citizen participation, going well beyond what the law requires. The pressure for more openness, created by many years’ work by civil society groups, was evident at the forum, held at Wellington’s Old Government Buildings on Thursday 26,…

Three decades of Rich List growth

I’ve just run the numbers on the latest NBR Rich List, released earlier this month. The graph below shows how the List has grown in the three decades of its life. Very rapidly, is the short answer: from $13 billion to $84 billion (in constant 2015 dollars). It has almost doubled – increased by 95%…

The politics of love and power

In recent years the idea of love has become increasingly important in political thinking. It’s one of life’s main driving forces, of course. But it’s not a word that has in previous decades been much associated with politics. In the New Zealand context, Max Harris – channelling a range of thinkers including bell hooks –…

Wealth taxes

Many people feel that, following the prime minister’s decision not to implement a capital gains tax while in power, there is no longer any prospect of taxing wealth in New Zealand. I beg to differ. While a capital gains tax is clearly off the table, the government has not ruled out other forms of wealth…

Social Income costings

This week I’ve proposed a Social Income, essentially a more generous though means-tested unemployment benefit set at the poverty line of 50% of average income (currently $19,000 a year approximately) and available for people doing a range of socially useful activities, including caring for sick relatives, raising children and volunteering for a registered charity. For…

Media’s disclosure of interests under spotlight

One fascinating development this week has seen the long-running concerns about undisclosed interests in the media finally burst out into the open. First, it was revealed that a commentator on Radio New Zealand, supposedly an ‘independent’ PR consultant, was actually working in the Prime Minister’s office. Then, even more strikingly, the NBR column of prominent…

Rumblings about transparency

For people interested in greater transparency, the last seven days have been filled with little rumbles that could turn into earthquakes. The biggest deal was an announcement by the Green Party over the weekend that its MPs would stop accepting corporate hospitality, and its ministers would soon publish the diaries that detail who they have…