The Opportunities Party calls for TVNZ to be sold, four year political cycles, a written Constitution, and an Upper House to keep Parliament in check

The Opportunities Party calls for TVNZ to be sold, four year political cycles, a written Constitution, and an Upper House to keep Parliament in check

The Opportunities Party (TOP) is calling for a revamp of our political system to better protect our democratic values. 

In its fourth policy released today, Gareth Morgan's party proposes a single New Zealand Constitution be written and an Upper House formed to provide feedback on legislation going through Parliament. 

TOP also wants to extend politicians' terms from three to four years, and to sell TVNZ (which is now a commercial operation) and use the proceeds to set up a Public Journalism Fund as part of NZ on Air.

Here is TOP's full 'Democracy Reset' policy:

It is our view that the strength of our democracy has been eroded over recent decades. The question now is how to restore full public participation.

We see too much power in the hands of the Cabinet, which results in decisions made for short-term political gain, or to appease the wishes of vested interests. No wonder people are turning away from the system. We need to restore the sovereignty of Parliament, and hand more power back to the people.

To achieve this TOP is calling for: 

  • A written Constitution to protect the Kiwi way of life
  • An Upper House charged with a providing parliament a learned and independent check on pending legislation, as well as a focus on upholding the Constitution.
  • The Constitution should cover rights as defined in our current Bill or Rights and Human Rights Act, or more specifically:
    • Individual freedoms, rights (including religious rights so long as they don’t contravene other rights of the individual).
    • Women’s rights
    • Ethnic rights
    • Equal opportunity
    • Rights of the child
  • In addition the Constitution needs to
    • Honour the Treaty of Waitangi
    • Grant rights to Nature – the right of our endemic ecosystems to exist and thrive
    • Protect the political independence of Public Service advice, and require transparency of government
  • Communities to have more say in the decisions that will affect them.
  • Honouring the Treaty without creating division. Rangatiratanga can be achieved by devolving decisions and giving Maori equal representation in the Upper House. Pakeha must understand our Treaty obligations and to achieve that Te Reo must be compulsory in schools.
  • Restoring a transparent and independent public service.
  • Ensuring citizens know their rights through civics education and strong public interest journalism. To fund this we will sell the commercial state owned enterprise TVNZ.

Protecting full participation against the ongoing threats from sector interest groups and the unbridled power that Cabinet wields are the main challenges. This is going to take a number of reforms, but the dividend is priceless – a democracy where the people feel they have a real say, where the government serves all citizens, and where intergenerational equity is respected. With these checks and balances in place we believe New Zealanders would be open to a four year parliamentary term.

1. The data

Fewer and fewer people have confidence in our democracy. They simply don’t see voting as something that impacts on their lives. This is illustrated by the voter turnout.

In addition there’s a difference in the enthusiasm to vote between the age groups. The babyboomers are the most enthusiastic voters. In the 2014 election, 85% of eligible Baby Boomers or older voted (81% of that total cohort).

But for those under 50, only 70% of registered (or 51% of that total cohort) voted and it gets a lot lower for those under 30. For this cohort – weighed down by student debt and the prohibitive cost of getting on the first rung of the property ladder – only 62% of the registered (45% of the number of under 30’s) bothered to vote.

This alienation from the democratic process is not just a New Zealand phenomenon – right across the Western World, people are increasingly frustrated that their democracies are not serving them. There is even a significant difference in opinion on the value of keeping democracy between young and old. In the US 43% of oldies see it as illegitimate for the military to take over if the government is incompetent, yet only 19% of millennials feel like that. And in Europe the numbers were 53% and 36% respectively. The generation divide – wherein younger ones feel our so-called “democratic” government is not serving their interests – is stark.

Such a dichotomy between young and old can be seen from the following graph.

Percentage of people (identified by birth year) who believe it is "essential" to live in a democracy

In our view there are three issues to address;

  • the absence of an independent body that holds the government of the day to account on long term issues
  • not enough empowerment of communities and direct participation for voters
  • the lack of a well articulated and widely valued Constitution that makes it clear what all New Zealanders’ rights are

2. An Upper House

Correcting the concentration of power requires the resurrection of an Upper House that can consider legislation that parliament has passed and can ask it to reconsider, especially if it feels that constitutional rights are at risk. Typically in Western democracies the Upper House is not sovereign, it can only recommend, but in so doing it highlights to the public the risks that proposed legislation poses. That is, we find out before the damage is done.

New Zealand’s second chamber was abolished relatively recently (in 1950) and under our one House system we’ve seen the government of the day steadily moving power further and further away from parliament. Contrary to popular perception and what the constitution claims, parliament is no longer sovereign. Bringing New Zealand back to a two House system – which is the most common model internationally – will discourage the government of the day from cutting off debate on its legislative programme through measures such as urgency, supplementary order papers and closure motions.

Our view is that democracy in New Zealand has become authoritarian. In reality it’s the Executive or Cabinet that is sovereign nowadays, the other parliamentary members of the ruling party are simply voting fodder. The power of Cabinet to ramrod legislation through is without precedent in the Western world. There is no longer any sign of the “slow and steady forms that are necessary for good lawmaking” 

We have stripped layer after layer of safeguards away leaving us with virtually none of the checks and balances that prevent parliament legislating against the interests and possibly the constitutional rights of some members of our society. Our government’s Cabinet is able to fast track policy through without check. Even US Presidents have nowhere near as much power as that – they need approval of both Houses to legislate.

While voters feel increasingly disenfranchised, so are ordinary MPs. Parliament has become little more than a place for ritualistic statements of position of Government and Opposition – nothing more. Then once that say is had, closure is called and the legislation is passed. There is no real debate any longer – no debate that actually amends the proposal.

An Upper House would in effect, restore the sovereignty of Parliament and take sovereignty back from the Executive. The question of membership of the Upper House is beyond this paper but suffice to say it must be via a very different process than election to Parliament. Perhaps a mix of appointed and elected members would work best with a term of office that is differentiated from the 3 year political cycle. The role of this body is to independently consider legislation.

Indeed with this additional check in place, New Zealanders may be willing to grant politicians a 4 year term and reduce the huge costs associated with constant electioneering. Encouraging longer term thinking would be no bad thing for parliamentarians.

3. Empowerment of People

While at a national level power has become more and more concentrated in the Cabinet, to the extent that parliament is pretty much neutered – there’s a strong case to suggest that the empowerment of citizens is also required if we are to rediscover our belief in democracy. There are three aspects to this process that we propose;

(a) Further devolution

The idea of community-led initiatives, that central and local governments facilitate and support, is one that is not just central to the Maori concept of rangatiratanga, but also finds support in the non-Maori world. The idea is that communities sort out what’s best for their interests and so long as their plans fit within an overall national framework, then regional or community variation is fine. Electricity trusts, school and health services (so long as national minimum standards are met) enable more participation by communities in self-determination. Such an approach would de-emphasise the influence from national politicians who often have no appreciation of community differences and certainly are not able to accommodate them in their decision-making.

The risk with devolution is definitely that it comes with higher costs (replication of resourcing). But what we have seen in New Zealand of late is an almost worst of all worlds – where responsibility is devolved but no resourcing is provided so small communities are incapable of exercising their mandates. The RMA, the freshwater guidelines, requirements for local bodies to comply with Treaty of Waitangi principles – are all examples of initiatives that some communities really struggle to fulfil competently.

So devolution is fine in theory but it must be adequately resourced otherwise it is little more than buck-passing by central government. And the result of that is that people are alienated from what nominally is a democratic, empowering process.

(b) Deliberative democracy

We also need to remodel the way we engage citizens in democracies. Modern technology means people are more suited to continuous interaction, and less suited to queuing up at a polling booth once every 3 years. There is also (thankfully) a blurring of traditional, tribal approaches to party alignment. The old two-party left-right ways are obsolete. This is a challenge to the current model, but opens the way for more thoughtful and deliberative democracy, if it is well designed.

If elected, TOP intends to make strong use of deliberative democracy such as collaborative software, participatory budgeting and citizen’s juries/assemblies. To walk the talk in the mean time, once our TOP 7 policies are released we will be trialling some of these deliberative democracy approaches amongst TOP members to determine our policy in areas where we don’t have a position. Our members have already given a strong signal that they would like the first cab off the ranks to be drug law reform.

Of course the problem with deliberative democracy, as we have seen with various referendums, is that the public is capable of choosing contradictory positions. In California for example people have voted for more spending on education as well as for tax cuts. You can’t run government that way, so more sophisticated methods are needed to ensure the public has a say but in a way that is informed. TOP is committed to learning from experiments overseas, such as in Taiwan, and developing models of deliberative democracy that work in the New Zealand context.

(c) Civics education

As well as getting a short, crisp Constitution in place, one that means something to everyone, introduction of civics education is a prerequisite for democracy reset. If New Zealanders aren’t acutely aware of their rights and, equally important, their duties – then we are vulnerable to the influence of elites that reflect the preferences of just one sector of society, not the whole. That education needs to begin in school, so that by the time they are entitled to vote, New Zealanders are acutely aware of their rights and will staunchly defend them. 

Finally with all the above in place we see no reason why compulsory voting is not introduced, albeit with an option “None of the Above”.

4. The Importance of a Constitution

Why Do We Need One?

Because ordinary people want a central reference in plain English that summarises what the values of our community are.

What Should it Do?

Be a reference for all New Zealanders to identify with, take pride in, defend the principles of, and live our lives by. Necessarily it must be dynamic.

Is it primarily for Constitutional Lawyers?

You might think this given recent debate initiated by constitutional lawyers Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler. For sure law provides the skeleton and mechanics of how a constitution is defined and implemented. But the soul of a Constitution is the value set our citizenry holds dear. This comes first and has very little to do with the legal definitions of entities and due processes of government and the judiciary. India presents a plain English meaningful template – way more meaningful to citizens than the effort at a codified constitution from Palmer and Butler.

The seven fundamental rights recognized by the Indian constitution are:

  1. Right to equality: Which includes equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.
  2. Right to freedom: Which includes freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association or union or cooperatives, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality), right to life and liberty, protection in respect to conviction in offences and protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
  3. Right against exploitation: Which prohibits all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic of human beings
  4. Right to freedom of religion: Which includes freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion, freedom to manage religious affairs, freedom from certain taxes and freedom from religious instructions in certain educational institutes.
  5. Cultural and Educational rights: Preserve the right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  6. Right to constitutional remedies: Which is present for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
  7. Right to education: It is the latest addition to the fundamental rights

In forming a Constitution for New Zealand there’s an opportunity to include issues that are distinctly New Zealand – such as obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, and the rights of Nature wherein ecosystems have the right to exist and flourish and government is required to remedy violations of this right. Given how important natural capital is to the New Zealand way of life, codifying the rights of Nature is well overdue. But central to ours will be the Bill of Rights and our Human Rights Act.

As with the Indian example above, the Constitution should cover all the individual and group freedoms that are protected, protections of the cultural, language and language rights of all ethnic groups, and of course the undertakings of both treaty signatories. We see scope for the rights of the child to be strengthened to cover equality of opportunity when it comes to healthcare, housing and education and we like the Brazilian approach wherein any advertising to children is see as child abuse.

Taken together, this is a set of democratic rights that is unique to New Zealand. We all need to understand them, and our unique constitutional rights are what differentiates us, the New Zealanders. Constitutional rights should be part of our DNA and we should be immensely proud of them. Right now, most New Zealanders haven’t a clue what they even are. 

Only this way can we prevent our rights from being run roughshod over by fast-tracking, political actors in future. 

5. Role of the Treaty of Waitangi

The treaty is our founding document. It defines the relationship between the two societies that signed it, how they coexist in occupation of these lands and work together to ensure the aspiration of their members are fulfilled. The signatories are Maoridom and all subsequent settlers in New Zealand, as represented nowadays by the Government. Together the populations constitute the New Zealanders, one citizenry, albeit comprised these days of a multitude of ethnic groupings.

The treaty and its established principles is not that difficult to summarise – it establishes the Government as the ultimate authority (the Kawanatanga Principle) , with the right to govern, although that right is subject to conditions outlined in the other two clauses. Clause 3 (the Principle of Equality) acknowledges that every individual New Zealander has equal rights under the law. Clause 2 establishes that Maori (meaning Maori society) has the right to rangatiratanga (self determination), and has autonomous authority over all unsold natural resources and taonga (intangible cultural assets).

The principle that binds the Crown to active protection of the signatories and a duty to consult is known as the Principle of Cooperation while The Principle of Redress confirms that the Crown has a responsibility to provide a process to resolve grievances that arise from the Treaty.

To date Government has almost completed negotiating settlements with Maori over all historical treaty breaches. It remains uncertain as to how honouring the treaty will be achieved going forward, but in essence there is a duty of care required of both signatories to ensure the above principles are honoured. In general, Maori understand these principles, but Establishment party governments have avoided the challenge of communicating the process to the public. Many Pakeha remain unaware of their Treaty obligations.

TOP’s vision is to ensure Maori receive equally effective delivery of public services such as health, education and social welfare through the devolution of provision.

This is consistent with the principle of rangatiratanga as well as the obligation under Article 3. Devolution, rather than a centralised, homogeneous, one-size-fits-all delivery structure recognises there are significant differences between what’s appropriate delivery for Maori and the other treaty signatory.

So the parameters that define New Zealand’s democracy nowadays need to acknowledge the unique rights that Maori have in terms of the right for its society to be protected and its role in the determination of our country’s future. 

This is another reason why it is sensible to establish an Upper House as a safeguard to ensure the House of Representatives executes its duties in a manner consistent with the defining principles of our democracy. It also suggests that that the Upper Chamber should unambiguously reflect the reality of the treaty; that it has two signatories who have a duty of care to one another. To that end each signatory must be represented in that Upper House so that in restoring the sovereignty of the Lower House, the Upper Chamber also protects the constitution.

Equipping citizens to respect the role of the Treaty

Honouring the Treaty of Waitangi plays a vital part of the democracy reset that TOP sees as vital to our future. One of the fair criticisms of the treaty breach and settlement process has been the lack of understanding of many non-Maori as to the rationale, the purpose and the limitation of that process. In particular there still prevails an urban myth that aligns with the fiscal envelope concept, and holding that after settlements end, the treaty becomes irrelevant.

Nothing could be further from the truth, In order to assist non-Maori New Zealanders appreciate fully the obligation the treaty requires on both signatories and what actually ‘honouring the treaty’ means, it is vital that young New Zealanders continue to grow up with a far stronger appreciation of its importance, than has been common in the past. It is to the credit of our education system that major efforts are being made in this regard through the schools. However, the treaty is of such importance that it behoves us to ensure that all New Zealanders feel that importance in their hearts, respect it and nurture the principles of the treaty.

New Zealand’s constitution is unique, the presence of the Treaty of Waitangi ensures it always will be.

To ensure New Zealanders forever empathise with our bicultural foundations and our multicultural reality, it is critical that the understanding all New Zealanders have of the treaty is clear and durable.

To that end, te reo Maori the other official language of our country needs to be afforded the same rights as English. That includes the requirement it be taught in all schools. Unless this step is taken the language will continue to be under-resourced, the connection between non-Maori New Zealanders and our cultural heritage will remain weak, the underestimation of the importance of the treaty will remain common amongst non-Maori – and most importantly we will simply not respect the duty of care that has been promised.

6. Restoring an Independent Media and Public Service 

Media plays a crucial role in an informed democracy. With the shift to online media from print and television, advertising revenues have shrunk and largely been snaffled by large overseas corporates (which is another good reason to make sure they are taxed). Combined with heightened competition for the public’s attention, this has led to fewer resources being devoted to true public interest journalism.

TOP will sell TVNZ (which is now a commercial operation) and use the proceeds to set up a Public Journalism Fund as part of NZ on Air. The existing Platinum Fund money will be folded into this. RNZ will be able to compete for this funding alongside other platforms. 

Finally, the public sector itself plays an important role in ensuring an informed public. While New Zealand has a good record with transparency and low public sector corruption, in recent years this has been slipping. There is an urgent need for more open and transparent government, starting with greater investment in open data, more independent evaluation of policies and a refreshed approach to official information.

Conclusion

While our economic policy (yet to be announced) seeks to rebalance the economic strength of firms, employees and consumers, doing the same with political power would make it incumbent upon governments to ensure the slide in voter participation is reversed, that voters have more reason to exercise their rights in our democratic system, and that our democracy makes parliament, not the Cabinet, sovereign. As well we would devolve decision-making to an extent that individuals and communities feel and are, sufficiently empowered to champion our democracy.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

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Our Democracy is doing just fine . Of course this is just my personal opinion , others may have a different view

I think politicians should be held to account as currently they do what they like with little or no repercussion

I don't follow what you mean where or when have they been not held to account ?

... one example , Auckland's Mayor Goofy wasting $ 600 million on those 100 or so light armoured vehicles for the army ... when the army didn't want nearly so many , nor that particular model ...

The ones he bought as Helen Clark's minister of defense didn't fit inside our Hercules aircraft ...

... plain and simply unaccountably goofy ...

Government making retro-active legislation to make the GCSB spying they had done retrospectively legal. Nobody held to account.

Gerry Brownlee, minister of transport, breaking aviation security rules by barging past security doors. Nobody held to account, though maybe the poor security guard.

Murray Mcully, sending hundreds of pregnant sheep to die in the desert, plus some cold hard cash for an already very rich arab. Bribery. Didn't even get the trade deal it was all supposedly about for us in return. Nobody held to account.

John Key, sold off power station shares. Share buyers have already made back the cost of their shares in dividends and capital gain. Now the government has spent the sale price and has a hole in its books. Power stations have not become any more efficient due to the magic of the market, as was what we were sold. Nobody held to account.

I could go on...

when have they been not held to account ?

How much time have you got? Seriously.

The abuses of Executive power in NZ are legend. Key's government were particularly bad. Thank goodness it is no longer Key's government is all I can say!!!!! But don't take my word for it - the abuses of their Executive power is much better documented by the Law Society here;

https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/lawtalk/lawtalk-archives/issue-834/new-zea...

And of course that only covers up to 2013.

The Key Cabinet/Government made a joke of parliamentary democracy - and largely ignored the very limited checks and balances we have (such as Select Committee processes and the three Officers of Parliament) - in addition to ignoring the advice of the Attorney General and removing individuals rights to access the courts.

Really, our democracy could not be in worse shape - and now that others have witnessed Key's government getting away with it..... we do desperately need constitutional change. One UK constitutional law academic recently wrote that in New Zealand, Parliament has become the plaything of the Executive.

TOP have got that very, very right.

Common they just do as they please

Government of the people by the people for the people? That's democracy. Don't think NZ is actually anywhere close to that, regardless as to what lot is in power. Without wishing to appear cynical, one could suggest quite reasonably, that the like of Mr Brownlie could hardly spell democracy let alone know what the word means. But agree our state run broadcasting is a joke. On the radio we used to have one of the best and most enjoyable commentators of all time in Jim Mora in the afternoons, so obviously that could not be left to be. And why is it that Mr Williams on TV news talks to us as if we are 10 year olds, every sentence accented up at its end??!!

New Zealand is Authoritarian? Nonsense.

Nope, not nonsense at all. See the link above.

Interest.co.nz Editors can you please tell me the financial interests that Gareth has with your website as there is not way so much garbage could be printed in one article as I scanned over today, I think it only fair if you pretend to be impartial that you own up that this is in some way or form an advertorial, if not then I beg my pardon, but would put money on it you have been paid to print this codswollop

27
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Good grief, Keywest. It is election year. We run stories, articles and opinion pieces from all parts of the political spectrum, and this is one of them. 

GM has zero financial interest in interest.co.nz (it is 100% me), and no one ever 'pays to play'. We never take advertorial, ever. We do run pieces we think readers may find 'interesting' in a variety of ways.

One thing we don't do is filter content to meet a particular point of view - even (or especially) yours. GM's Opportunities Party will be contesting this years election and it will have something to say about the economy. We will cover it in a variety of ways. Just as we have done with others (Labour, Greens, already and I am sure content will be posted by us from ACT and National, even NZ First, and probably many times before election day. What parties says is an important element in the election contest.)

We assume readers are able to make up their own mind about the strength of the arguments made in these pieces. We aren't trying to tell you what to think. And it is insulting for you to accuse us of not following a variety of issues fairly with a range of content perspectives. Pull your head in.

Good on you , David ... the introduction of Gareth Morgan and his TOP has finally breathed some life into Kiwi politics ...

... it was so boring under the Jolly Kid ... anything he didn't like , he shut the debate down on ... thank goodness he's cleared off ...

And we're now hearing some bold new initiatives ...

... for what it's worth , the 4 year term , and an upper house are excellent suggestions ...

". it was so boring under the Jolly Kid ... anything he didn't like , he shut the debate down on "

Our media allowed Key to do this time and time again. (infact they cheered him on) , and we are now reaping the results of that conjob.
Fake crime stats, Fake foreign investor stats, Water quality in some towns below third world status. record debt.

... farmers' encroaching on river margins ... Selwyn River drying up .... the list of cruddy behaviours happening on the Gnat's watch is truly staggering ... and yet , Dr Do Little's Labour & the Greens are so freaking ineffectual at gaining any traction on these issues ...

Thank goodness for the sparring matches between Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters .... they're leading the way in lighting up this election year ... more power to each of them ...

I reckon its good to let Gareth Morgan have his space, his ideas are novel ( to say the least) and worth reading , even if I dont agree with this view in particular .

Its done for other politicians from across the spectrum and even Phil Goff got lots of space on this site when he was running for mayor .

I am really looking forward to Labour's policy on housing for the next election

Pull my head in? instead of regurgitating GM's complete manifesto free of charge, why don't you add a bit of editorial to it? McGillycuddy serious party will get more votes than this joker...

If it isn't published here, then where will it be published?

The MSM aren't going to pick up this sort of story - just look at today's front pages.
The only political party to come out with well designed, targeted policy and everyone (except interest) is dead silent on it.

TVNZ should be shut down, not sold. It's archaic model is doomed to technology anyway.

... I reckon we should go back to the old NZBC model for the government owned TV & radio stations ... more along the lines of the BBC ...

To provide an arts and cultural service which the commercial enterprises won't ...

... and the BBC in the UK does act as a seed for innovative and fresh shows ... such as the very popular Great British Bake-off , and the inimitable Top Gear ...

I'll never hear classical music again on the airwaves if RNZ is shut down ... and I do like a little Mozart ... he was only 5 foot 4 !

These guys contradict themselves in one breath. More democracy AND an upper house? effectively more pollies! God Save Us! Don't the understand, Trump and Brexit carry a message - THE POLITICIANS CANNOT BE TRUSTED! THEY ARE SELF-SERVING AND ONLY INTERESTED IN POWER AND PRIVILEGE!

Four years???!!! So give them more time to feather their own interests? What a joke!

How about this. The prime minister is independent of any party and must be elected by popular vote. Any Government or MP can be impeached by the public through a petition. That MPs pay and conditions reflect those of the average worker in the country! That would be a better democracy than what is proposed here!

You obviously didn't understand anything from this article.
Nor do you understand anything about political incentive.

Nymad your arrogant and belittling response is unworthy. I understand and understand well. I suggest that you are the one who doesn't understand.

In the 70's 60+% of the country were employed in unskilled jobs, that provided a reasonable living standard for the time. Today, as a result of the free market economy, most of those jobs are gone. The jobs that have partially replaced them are minimum wage jobs, forcing many to have to take on more than one just to make ends meet. In the 70's only one member of a family had to work for the family to live well, today that just can't happen. Ask Why!

Over the last 30-40 years, several times pay and conditions for politicians have come under scrutiny. At every turn they ignore the call to accountability. They have better pay and conditions, and job security than any other kiwi in the country. Why? Over the same period they have steadily eroded the pay, conditions and living standards of working kiwis, while protecting their own. This is both National and Labour!

I understand that we are a small player in the world, but the government could easily do more to protect jobs in this country.

They are so thoroughly wedded to the Free Market economy and globalisation that they cannot see that it may be free (or virtually) of regulation, but is most certainly not free of manipulation. The housing market is a classic case in point.

Well discussed on these pages, housing, a most basic requirement for everyone in this country has become increasingly unaffordable. In Ak even people on very good wages struggle. Why? Because the politicians have too much personal interest invested to stop the manipulation. They have forgotten who they are supposed to represent - the most ordinary, most common, least privileged of us, ordinary kiwis. Instead they suck up to money. The banks take $1000 profit out of the country for every man woman and child, here. How is that good for the country? What is the Government doing about it?

They are selling the country to overseas buyers who rock up here with fat wallets, the OIO has not protect NZ interests in the selling of NZ land, it has instead supported the rampant increase in value of NZ land to a level that kiwis now struggle to afford it!

As to more politicians - we are a nation of only 4.5 million people, how can we afford this? As to more democratic responsibility, once our government is in it cannot be removed except by the Governor General, in extremis. This is our protection. To argue that another layer of politicians will provide that protection is nothing more than laughable, when one considers their track record to date. Accountability would occur if they put a law in that allowed a chunk of the people to approach the Governor General to sack the Government and force a new election. This would be more effective than another layer of pollies. Oh yes and tie the pay and conditions to that of the average worker - that'll make them sit up and take notice!

They manipulated setting up MMP structure trying to make it too unpalatable, but we were so sick of the FPP system that anything was better so we went for it anyway. And it goes on ....

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men
It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again!

Yes, I agree Murray - interesting how the Left and the trendy/worldly corporate elites have joined together and are quite happy to keep the masses in low wage, high housing, conditions, and 'protest' when someone dares to take a stand against the manipulative system.

When you use the word "left" do you just use it to save you writing "stuff I don't like". That is TOTAL garbage, those issues you've laid out are EXACTLY what the left is fighting against!!!!!!! Thing is, the "left" sees straight through the likes of Trump and his "draining of the swamp" What a joke that is.

"In the 70's 60+% of the country were employed in unskilled jobs, that provided a reasonable living standard for the time. Today, as a result of the free market economy, most of those jobs are gone."

I think this is an unrealistic, rose-tinted view of the 1970's economy. You forget we were in recession for much of the 1970's - it was no picnic. Also, the low jobless level was false. The Post Office and Railways were the soaks for huge amounts of make-work employment that was pointless.

Do you really want to return to a time when the range of goods and services you could buy was very limited, principally by capital controls? Virtually no-one would actually want to go back to such a primitive time. The comparison with today is extreme.

Back then mortgage rates were 8% on their way to 20%. Inflation was +5% on its way to +17%.

You are dreaming if you think many people actually pine for a return to such a past. Today's living standards are far higher than in the 1970s.

As for 'selling of the country to foreigners', yes there has been some of that but far less than you imply. Remember in a sale, the seller (NZ) gets the money to invest in better places. That is why NZ ownership of most things is much higher than those who rail against selling anything suggest. Only about 10% of New Zealanders are employed by foreign firms, a good signal that the actual levels are not that high. But because definative stats are not available, that allows people to wildly guess the levels. (Note NZ First support is also about 10%.) My guess is that about 90% of New Zealand is owned by New Zealanders. And that level has been pretty stable for quite some time. Just using banks as your benchmark is superficial.

In the 70s...
You cannot blame the free market economy for eradicating employment rate and lowering the living standard. Especially when it was not great. The living standard we enjoy now, like all successive periods in modern economic history, is substantially better.
Think the industrial eras... Didn't employment rates and standards of living increase significantly during these periods?

To say that the politicians have systematically eroded the pay, conditions and living standards of New Zealanders is also unfounded. Any elementary examination of taxation rates, workplace regulations, and social policy shows this.

"The politicians have too much personal interest invested to stop the manipulation."
The only vested interest they have is in their constituent's best interests. In NZ, the constituents are Baby Boomers - blame them and every other property owner who doesn't want to be taxed on capital gains. Don't blame the politicians - they are doing exactly as you advocate; defending the interests of their electors..

This is exactly why we need fresh political thinking. A second house gives more power to the minority; exactly what you appear to advocate for.

It isn't the Bastille that you should be marching on, it's the myriad of Versailles' that you need to storm.

David and Nymad, I wasn't advocating a return to the halcyon days of the 70's. My point is that successive Governments, too blindly wedded to flawed economic theory have essentially betrayed the general populace, while they could have done much more. Nymad do you really believe the general populace, the constituents for our Government are happy with the current housing situation? If so you are more blind than I thought. Remember 8 years ago Key refereed to a housing crisis when the average AK house was at $500 k, and approaching $1 mil, there was no crisis, and many more people living on the streets. Do you really believe that this is what their constituents wanted? No, both parties are too wedded to a flawed economic theory and the moneyed elite. I am not advocating for a second house for the minority, I am saying housing MUST be affordable to all and that will require regulation to limit the manipulation!

Pay and conditions, the Government has established labour laws that has removed much of the balance when negotiating pay and conditions. I do not advocate the return to compulsory unionism, but to enable collective bargaining to be undermined is what has occurred which has resulted the the erosion of pay and conditions - thus the Government is responsible.

Reading through this model proposed by Morgan I don't see fresh political thinking, i see more of the same, wearing a different skin, further entrenching the current conventional wisdom. This is exactly why Brexit and Trump happened. More democracy means more power to the people not less.

Morgan is by stealth advocating a republic. Leaving the monarchist model. I see this as dangerous. While not a royalist, the Government having to seek permission from the Governor General provides the people of NZ with a safety valve in extremis. A higher house of Parliament would only entrench a ruling elite to further protect their own interests.

But isn't that exactly what GM seeks to rectify - the promotion of long term planning by government?

And yes, given National's pretty consistent polling numbers, the status quo is exactly what the voting populace wants. It's not what I want. It's not what you want. However, it is definitely what a majority of New Zealanders appear to want.
We cannot pick and chose when to apply and adhere to the democratic doctrine. Just because the results don't support your rhetoric, it doesn't mean that they are wrong - the exact same thing that is happening with the left in the USA.

Collective bargaining is the worst thing for long term income. There would be no industry in New Zealand if we still had a dominant union membership.

How is what he is proposing a removal from the monarchist model?

I don't necessarily accept what the polls state - structured questions, but also a topic much discussed here, the quality of choice and the (tongue in cheek) uneducated masses unwilling to think for themselves.

Take Abraham Lincoln's statement "For the people, by the people, of the people" - Governments the world over at the most have reduced to just paying lip service to this adage. To make it true - more power must be handed to the people, making the Government more accountable. A higher house will not do this. In fact America is a good example of that - the house of representatives has largely forgotten who they represent and have become too self serving. We are no different.

Don't agree with your statement re collective bargaining - Talley's method of running meat works is a good example of why.

Once again we have a group of folk aiming for Utopia. A utopia that can never happen, Humans being who they/we are. Introduce more rules, to watch over the other rules because so and so has more than me and they're not playing fair .... yeah right.. !
So they have an economic policy yet to be announced. We can assume it will NOT include freedom do carry on business without rules and rules to watch the rules being shoved in said business / day to day life.
Will their education policy include the practise of "Common Sense" ?

TOP aren't advocating a utopia.
TOP are advocating equality; something that is an attainable, existent norm.

Why will their forthcoming economic policy be aimed at restricting business?
If anything, previous policy has indicated that they aim squarely to increase the productivity and scope of private enterprise.
It's the Nationals and Labour that want to restrict the scope of private enterprise, if you consider the extent to which they advocate/incentivise property ownership.

Advocating Equality .... as in everyone has to be the same. As in we must forget we are all born different. Not one single person on earth is the same as the next. There are different cultures around the world and within each society. That is Humans as they/we are. So How TF is equality attainable ? Stop pushing the notion that everyone is and must be the same. That is NOT how we are built !!
Rules and regulations restrict business.

Well, you miss the point. Again.
Equality isn't about the fact that we are born different. It is about ensuring that that no one person or demographic is able to seek privilege or rent.

I am not a sophisticated person.
Please explain in practical persons sense what "seek privilege or rent" means.
Thanks.

I suggest you do a wee bit of googling and familiarize yourself with some of this stuff, because I suspect there are people in this world prepared to use your admitted lack of sophistication against you, as in leading you to believe that dealing with inequality will render everyone the same.

Well put, PA.
Here we have an example of the perfect voter.

Viz a viz the perfect politician.
Sad but true.

We used to have an upper house that self destructed, must have been to the amazement of the House of Lords.
Ours was a bunch of no good wasters I believe, frequently said now about our house of representatives.
But were they?

You have to remember that when the move to MMP was being put to the vote, the commission or whatever, stated there would be no need to increase the number of MP's, in fact they could be reduced. So that current lot of MP's all voted to go to a parliament of 120 members. The reasoning being that if the public detested them all so much at that time, then the public would hardly vote for MMP if that meant another 25 or so of them. David Lange I think mentioned that as the most despicable and corrupt action he ever witnessed whilst in parliament. Great democracy!

I believe most nominally democratic countries have a upper house or state federal structure, what makes us so different?

We have the select committee process which allows direct input by the people into the legislative process. This arguably makes us more than just nominally democratic.

I thought most nominal democracies conduct hearings.
We were part of the English law tradition, long if not good.
They have two houses with different electoral bases forcing checks and balances, i think.
We could do the same, baby boomers electing the upper house for example.

Compulsory te reo for maori only,optional for others ,their language they should learn it.

Compulsory English for pakeha of English descent only, their language, they should learn it.

But above all, they must be bilingual, i suggest Latin.

Not a fan of any of this, except the civics lessons, which would illustrate how unnecessary or potentially dangerous the rest of the policies are.

I am no fan of TVNZ, but would you really sell it to Rupert Murdoch. Remember that Murdoch was the essential support in the UK to back the Iraq War, and Tony Blair was necessary for Bush/ Cheney to give the war some sort of endorsement. Murdoch decided to go to war with Iraq.
Similarly he single handedly got Trump elected, through his Fox News mouthpiece, where facts are often an inconvenience. Trump's election may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view, but the manner of his election was terrible in my view, in terms of the representation of his case (and the mock outrage at Clinton), in particular by Murdoch's crew.
And if not Murdoch, what would stop some other person who thought he/she knew best.
At least with TVNZ there is some sort of check through its management understanding that power may shift every three years.

One thing both Gareth and Winston should make a stand on... only NZ citizens should be allowed to vote, like every other first world country... in fact probably every other democratic country...

Yes, I have always wondered the origin in NZ law/history that gave non-citizen residents a vote. It is unusual.

Haha. TOP want to make sure we understand the Treaty better. Are they going to set up the Treaty police. I think lots of us already understand the treaty, and it's not what the TOP dogma say it is ? An upper house made up of 50% maori is nowhere near anything the signatories understood or intended. TOP will never get my vote with that sort of superior elitist crap.
According to TOP citizens are equal, but some citizens are going to be more equal than others.

TOP take note,

A written Constitution to protect the Kiwi way of life - YES

An Upper House charged with a providing parliament a learned and independent check on pending legislation, as well as a focus on upholding the Constitution. - YES, BUT ONLY IF THE NUMBER OF POLITICIANS IS REDUCED & CITIZEN BINDING REFERENDUMS ARE INTRODUCED.

Restoring a transparent and independent public service.
Ensuring citizens know their rights through civics education and strong public interest journalism. To fund this we will sell the commercial state owned enterprise TVNZ. - YES AND INTRODUCE A PUBLIC SERVICE TV/INTERNET BROADCASTER - NZ On Air alone is not enough

TOP shows itself to be an equally clueless alternative...
- democracy is expensive. Growth is dead. Only an economist could reconcile the two.
- democracy belongs to the era of cheap easy energy & energy surplus .... it cant possibly function as soon as the economy can not be rigged to keep debt growth going... we are running only on fumes now supplied by Central banks who cant stop their "easing"/printing because it will definitely stall... but its stalling anyway
Have a look anywhere where energy problems have hit...
- a constitution to protect the Kiwi way of life ... please ... you cant vote/legislate abundunce! Completely clueless as to where wealth actually comes from ... clue; Gareth; its not printed pixels.

Wonder when Winston will write his piece ...?