Yesterday I had a very wide ranging and interesting discussion with Farmer James and Jono Frew.
You can view it on Farmer James’ FB page. I realised how important it is to offer ideas about a way ahead in the vacuum created by Ardern’s abrupt departure. We are facing Chris Hipkins as PM, who is firmly identified with Ardern’s failed policies.
More importantly, we are living in a broken society. Our health system is overwhelmed. Excess all-cause mortality is at record highs. Our school system is in crisis. Social cohesion is at a low ebb. Crime is rising. The cost of living has skyrocketed. More of the same policies are not going to solve these crises. If nothing is changed, the coming year will bring a harvest of bankruptcies and mortgagee failures.
You may feel like me that we don’t need more government, we need less. With some trepidation (I know that many will differ with good reason) here are a few suggestions to kickstart a debate:
Housing: Repeal the Resource Management Act and amend building and planning regulations. We live in a country the size of the UK but we only have a population of five million (UK has 60). Why are planning regulations herding us into inner city multi-unit dwellings known to breed crime and pollution? Why can’t we build our own houses on our own land? Why can’t farmers provide dwellings for their children? Why can’t groups of young people buy land, subdivide and build for themselves? This single measure will enable Kiwi enterprise to solve the housing affordability crisis, soften the impact of Labour’s interest rate rises, and stimulate the economy.
Cost of Living: Remove GST on primary produce, fruit, and vegetables. Come to think of it, why is the US economy more flexible than ours? They don’t use the European taxation model at all. They just have a retail (end-user) sales tax, removing at one stroke the huge bureaucratic nightmare of GST. GST is a burden on every enterprise and a disincentive to start ups, investment, and economic resilience. GST pushes up prices of staple commodities across the board as they pass from hand to hand in the supply chain taxed at each transaction point.
Youth Crime: Jail time has to take on an educational and aspirational character. We have among the highest rates of imprisonment in the developed world, but it is not working. Prisons are turning out hardened criminals. There are models of reforming success in Scandinavian countries for example that we can adopt. They really do reduce crime.
Education: One size does not suit all, especially in our rapidly changing modern world. Educational achievement is falling. Children are not inspired. Mastery learning schemes will help children to acquire the basics, no child will be left behind. At the moment, only those able to afford private education have a choice. Consider instituting an education voucher system which would give all parents, teachers, and pupils a choice of content, providers, and systems. We should explore good practice.
Health: Mandated health workers should be allowed back to work. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. A July 2022 study undertaken in Qatar found that natural immunity offers long term 97.3% protection against reinfection, higher than the protection of mRNA vaccination which in any case wanes rapidly. Over the longer term, more proven complementary preventive approaches to health should be co-opted into our health funding system. They work. In contrast the present government is planning to regulate and restrict availability of Natural Health Products. This Bill should be abandoned.
Politics: The NZ Bill of Rights should be entrenched. Reduce the MMP threshold to one per cent. Remove parliamentary privilege—MPs should be held to the same standards as the rest of us. Use modern electronic communication systems to make MPs and Parties more closely accountable.
These are a few ideas. You will have lots. We have always been a can-do country. It is time for a positive new direction.