The Blog

Budget openness survey has mixed news for NZ

Earlier this month the results of the latest Open Budget Survey were released – and they make mixed reading for New Zealand, despite our high overall score. The Open Budget Survey is one of those classic international comparison tools, in which independent observers run the rule over a country’s practices in a particular area –…

Building a bridge across the coronavirus ravine

Yesterday I had the pleasure of appearing in front of the Epidemic Response Committee in a session about the potential economic and social shape of the recovery from coronavirus. My fellow speakers were Rod Drury, Traci Houpapa, Ian Proudfoot, Oliver Hartwich and Ayesha Verrall. The video of the session is here; below is a version,…

More political donations ideas

Political donations are once more back in the news, and the Spinoff has been running a series looking at different ways to clean up this mess. I have two pieces in the series: an account of the history of donation scandals, and how we got here; and two ideas for building a much better system….

A wealth tax for New Zealand

Tax Justice Aotearoa have just published my paper on the case for a net wealth tax in New Zealand. Below is a brief summary of the proposal. The idea A wealth tax would be a small annual levy, perhaps 1% or 2%, paid by individuals on the wealth they have above a certain threshold, perhaps…

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…