The Blog

Green shoots of open government

One of the current government’s most famous commitments was Clare Curran’s statement that it would be the “most open, most transparent” administration ever. I think this is technically true, in the sense that it hasn’t unwound any previous open-government policies, problems like abuse of the Official Information Act are probably no worse than previously, and…

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…