Some Interesting Ideas
The New Zealand politician Hone Harawira won the Te Tai Tokerau by-election recently and considering the low turnout he did moderately well. But he was standing in a Maori seat which doesn’t necessarily react in the same way as general electorates so I don’t think we should read too much into the fact that Hone (who is a radical and a bit unorthodox) and his new party have gained this victory.
It is significant that the Maori Party (which previously held the seat with Hone as its candidate) failed miserably. I guess that when a single issue party gets “cozy” with a right wing conservative party like National there will be consequences. Who knows whether the Maori party will win any seats at all at the next election. They don’t really deserve to.
It’s interesting to note the trend that small parties which cooperate with big ones tend to fail shortly afterwards. Winston Peters could probably attest to that and Act are having to re-invent themselves (or is that really a return to their original mission) to survive being in coalition with National.
But those political musings aren’t what I am actually interested in. At this point I am more interested in the Mana Party’s new policies. On the surface they look fairly extreme but are they really? And do they actually have any merit?
The first policy is “GST off power bills”. Great idea, except let’s also take GST off other items which are basic to a reasonable life style. I would prefer to see the whole competitive electricity market dismantled and electricity sold by the government at a subsidised price but removing GST is a good step in the right direction at least. So that policy is a good start. Points out of 10: 7.
The next is to “review the tax regime”. Obviously there is not enough detail there to really comment but I would imagine the review would lead to increased taxes on the rich and to introducing a tax system which reduces some of the recent gross gains by corporations and the richest members of society. Again, great idea. Without details it’s hard to really score this but let’s say 7 out of 10 as an interim score.
Then there is “campaign for a Hone Heke tax, a financial transaction tax of one cent in the dollar”. I don’t know if I like the label “Hone Heke” but let’s get past that and look at the idea itself. Yes, let’s do it. One cent is almost nothing but it would still generate a lot of revenue because it would apply to so many things. And if it discourages some of the meaningless investment in New Zealand then I say bring it on! Score: 8 out of 10.
Next is “review ETS scheme. Polluters pay.” Of course. Why not? It’s obvious that this is only fair. If we are going to have an emissions trading scheme let’s have one which is fair. If agriculture is polluting (which it clearly is) then it must pay. Now. Score out of 10: 8.
Next is “oppose youth rates.” Again I can’t argue with that. Employers are always saying they want to pay based on productivity. There’s no good reason why productivity should be significantly related to age, just like there’s no reason that it should be majorly affected by gender. Youth rates are just inherently unfair. Score: 8 again.
Now we come to the more controversial policies relating to Maori issues. First is “no Treaty settlement deadline.” Actually I agree. I would like to see treaty settlements only made on very clear cases of wrongdoing and I would like to see the proceeds shared amongst all Maori, but I can’t see why there should be a limit on the time to do this. But I don’t think Hone would agree with tightening the process so he only gets 4 out of 10 for this.
Then there’s “Te Reo compulsory.” Does this mean every New Zealander has to be fluent in the Maori language? Sorry Hone but that’s a silly idea. Most people both aren’t interested in learning Maori and probably have more important things to do anyway. Making a politically inspired idea compulsory is a sure way to create resentment. I know that some subjects are unpopular but are still taught (maths would be an example) but maths is useful. Learning what is essentially a dead language seems far from having any utilitarian value. Points out of 10: 2 (and that’s being generous).
Finally there is “The Treaty of Waitangi and 1835 Declaration of Independence at heart of constitutional arrangements.” And this is where everything starts falling apart. Can I give negative points? OK, I’ll be generous and give this zero!
So as long as they keep away from silly Maori radical politics I think these ideas are good. I think the Green Party is good too, until it lapses into silly extreme policies. Even Act has some good ideas until it starts pushing its discredited extreme economic dogma. Unfortunately there is no party (except for possibly Labour) which hasn’t got some extreme political views.
So while a lot of people see Hone (notice how I use his first name unlike other politicians where I use their surname – he’s just that sort of person) as a nutter or an extremist I say we need a few people like that around. If all politicians were totally professional and followed the standard model of behaviour what would be the point? We need some diversity in politics and having people like Hone around certainly gives us that!