Archives for March 2024 | Josie Pagani




Josie argues national has not funded its tax cuts while Labour needs to press for tax reform, not increase taxes to pay for more spending.

The Government says some of the cost of tax cuts are funded by cuts to public sector staffing. But it also says those cuts in Wellington are designed to move more services from head office to the “front line”. We will be borrowing for tax cuts.

One reason the cost of living feels so high is that we take far too much tax from families on the way up the hill instead of applying the tax when you make it to the top. We treat the bulk of taxpayers as consumers rather than producers of wealth. Imagine how many more people would be at the top, if we gave a tax break to the wealth-makers of tomorrow still struggling up the slope?

Labour has previously found it enormously difficult to sell a new tax. If it wants to do a tax switch and introduce, say a capital gains tax, it will not be able to get away with also promising spending increases.

Time to overhaul government

Cabinet is constitutionally the centre of executive government, but no committee of 20 members can function effectively at strategy. The reality of our own Cabinet is that there are only ever four or five individuals who drive strategy.

As with any change, from alcoholism to weight-loss, changing behaviour begins by admitting you have a problem. We have a highly centralised system, but a weak centre. Cabinet is enormous. There are twice as many portfolios as found in most European cabinets.

We have a Minister for Building and Construction, another for Housing and yet another for Infrastructure. Yet it takes years to decide to build anything and decades more to build. We have ministers for child poverty, children, social investment, social development and youth, and no fewer children in poverty. The Auditor-General is telling us the public service can't tell us what difference it is making. Ministers and the public are unable to judge what we get for our money.

Cabinet is unwieldy because it is politically convenient to pretend that 26 members of caucus are valued members of the top team. Everyone gets Player of the Day once.

A smaller executive cabinet and a unit coordinating government priorities and making sure departments deliver would make governments more effective. This could be enforced by much stronger parliamentary select committees. Some MPs are better suited to being legislators than executives. If they can’t be in a four or five- minister executive cabinet, some would make a different kind of impact.

Read Josie's case for radical reform of government.

What Efeso Collins' example tells us about leadership

In his maiden speech, Efeso quoted the American writer, James Baldwin. “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.“

Facing change takes courage. Courage in leadership is the epitome of selflessness, of putting purpose ahead of personal interest. I see clearly the leader that Efeso Collins was, and the leader he would have become. Humble in his love for others. Mighty in his determination to fight for us.

Josie's tribute is here.

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