Permission to tackle tough issues?

17/10/2011

The Main Report’s sacred cow survey was designed to show where respondents stood on some of the critical issues which the major parties are generally reluctant to tackle.

Some conclusions from responses include:

•   Labour is campaigning the election is a choice between Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Asset Sales. However 18% of our respondents support both a capital gains tax and partial asset sales.

•   There are some interesting differences between supporters of MMP and opponents of MMP. MMP supporters tend to favour a CGT (68% in favour) while opponents are opposed (67% against).

•   Likewise 60% of MMP supporters are against partial asset sales, while amongst MMP opponents the same number (60%) are in favour.

•   Some issues resonate regardless of the views on MMP. Strong support for raising the retirement age, supporting more immigration from MMP supporters and opponents, plus strong opposition to selling land and rural assets to foreigners. •   One ironic result is with the Maori seats. MMP supporters are split on retaining the seats with 35% in favour and 37% against. Amongst MMP opponents, only 9% are in favour and 82% opposed. The irony is under First Past the Post the number of Maori seats would grow from seven to 12.

•   As to whether Parliament has too many MPs, only 38% of MMP supporters agree compared with 75% of MMP opponents.

•   MMP  supporters are  also  more interventionist,  with  38% supporting  a  more economically  interventionist  Govt compared with 19% of MMP opponents.

•   There is an interesting correlation between those who support raising the retirement age and those who support a capital gains tax. Only 24% of those who are against increasing the retirement age support a CGT, while 52% of those who support increasing the retirement age also support a CGT. They are presumably the fiscal hawks.

•   We also get a correlation between support for raising the retirement age and supporting partial asset sales. Partial asset sales are only supported by 38% of those again raising the retirement age and by 62% of those who do support lifting the retirement age.

•   Republicans and monarchists also have quite different profiles. 39% of monarchists support a CGT compared to 54% of republicans. On the issue of partial asset sales 53% of monarchists are in support as opposed to 47% of republicans.

•   Monarchists are not fans of MMP with only 30% support, while amongst republicans it has 53% support. Republicans tend also to be more economically interventionist with 41% wanting more intervention in the economy compared with 21% of monarchists.

•   Finally it is of little surprise economic interventionists tend to support a CGT, oppose partial asset sales, support MMP, support a republic and oppose foreigners being able to buy land.

The Main Report concludes:

As NZ moves into an election campaign, The Main Report Group sought to probe the opinion of those who subscribe to its publications, and met surprisingly vigorous responses to some of the issues the main political parties keep ducking. Those responses were accompanied by sophisticated and highly intelligent commentary.

It’s clear a majority believe a rise in the retirement age is inevitable. The Govt should get on with framing a new policy. But will it
continue to shackle itself to no change, because it is fearful of antagonising the elderly, the most powerful voting bloc?

The elderly won’t be affected by any change to superannuation it’s people younger than 50 who would face a higher retirement age. The affordability of the retirement age can’t be taken in isolation from other costs.

That said, I am not opposed to increasing the age, gradually over time so people have plenty of notice and time to prepare for working longer or supporting themselves until eligible for state help.

One of the really surprising outcomes of our survey was the number who don’t support MMP. They outnumbered those in favour of MMP. Could this be a pointer to the outcome of this year’s referendum?

I’m not sure why MMP is included as one of the sacred cows that parties won’t touch when the government is giving us a referendum on the issue at the election next month.

Even if more people support change, and other  polls indicate opinion is still tending towards a small majority in favour of the status quo, the challenge is to find an alternative which will get majority support in the second referendum.

Parliament has too many MPs, the Maori seats should be abolished, and NZers are not yet ready for a republic.

If we still had FPP we’d now have more than 100. One reason we have so many is the attempt to ensure electorates have a similar number of people without making the rural and provincial ones too big.

I agree Maori seats are no longer needed and that the issue of republicanism isn’t a priority.

As for partial asset sales, the National Govt may draw comfort from the survey which shows support in moderate or strong terms ahead
of those expressing opposition totally or to a degree.

A capital gains tax met a more equivocal response. And there is no appetite for a return to Muldoonist-style intervention in the economy.

So, as we look at the results of this survey, we ask – are NZers ahead of their leaders in realism and courage?

To answer that question you have to look at the survey and respondents.

It got 534 responses. They don’t say how many people were asked to complete the survey but they come from its database which includes: politicians, civil servants, embassies, financial and legal industry associations, business executives;  road, rail, sea air operators, customs brokers, forwarding agents, importers and exporters; energy & environment professionals, service providers, legal advisors, local government planners;  dairy, sheep, meat & wool and arable farmers and agricultural executives.

They tend to be better educated and earning more than the general population and not a representative sample of all New Zealanders.

That doesn’t mean that leaders shouldn’t be looking at some of the sacred cows but most of those identified in the survey won’t be in election manifestos nor be priorities for whichever parties are in government after the election.

However, I think the electorate understands the difficulties facing the country and the world.

Tough times provide the opportunity to tackle some of the tougher issues – but does that mean a majority are prepared to give a government permission to provide some tougher solutions?


Sacred cow survey

09/09/2011

The Main Report (which publishes Trans Tasman) is carrying out what it calls a sacred cow survey.

It gets that name because it asks for views on issues the two bigger parties are usually reluctant to go near, although this year Labour is promoting the first and National the second.

The questions it’s seeking views on are:

1. Do you support a Capital Gains Tax for New Zealand?

2. Do you support a policy of partial asset sales?

3. Do you support MMP?

4. Do you support raising the retirement age (by which I presume they’re asking about eligibility for superannuation)?

5. Do you support the premise New Zealand needs more immigrants.

6. Do you support retaining the Maori seats.

7. Do you support the claim parliament has too many seats.

8. Do you support New Zealand becoming a republic?

9. Do you support a more interventionist Government stance on the economy?

10. Do you support foreigners being able to buy New Zealand land and rural assets?

Each question had five options from not at all through somewhat, neutral/not bothered either way, and in favour to strongly support.

My answers, from memory were:

1. Somewhat – only if it was simple, comprehensive and part of a total package which reduced taxes overall.

2. Strongly.

3. No – seats are too big geographically and the system gives poorer representation for people and too much power for parties.

4. Somewhat – I’d support a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for superannuation and/or choice of receiving a lower amount at an earlier age or delaying retirement and getting a higher amount.

5. Strongly – our natural population growth is too low to be sustainable. We need immigrants to do work locals won’t and for skilled positions where we have shortages. They also add to cultural diversity.

6. No, they are an historical anachronism, no longer needed and give poorer representation for Maori.

7. Not bothered either way – we’d have about 104 seats now if we’d stuck with FPP.

8. Not bothered – am republican in my head and monarchist in my heart.

9. No – governments should get the policy framework right and leave the rest to us.

10. Yes – they can’t take it with them, they have to abide by the same  laws and regulations as we do and often pay more which benefits vendors who then have more to invest in other areas.


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