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Tax the Rich And Free the Poor

Tax the Rich And Free the Poor

Budget Speech

Thursday 24 May 2012

MANA Leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira

Kia ora Mr Speaker.

We’ve heard what National’s budget will be for the next 12 months, but before we look forward I suggest we take a good look at where we are right now.

§ We’ve got 160,000 unemployed
§ Another 107,000 who can’t get enough work
§ We’ve got 500,000 people earning less than $16 an hour
§ And we’ve got 200,000 kids and their families living in poverty

And because of all that we’ve also got 52,000 Kiwis leaving for Australia every year, because the wages are higher, there are heaps more jobs and the first $18,000 is tax-free.

And Maoris are leaving in their droves because they get a chance to show what they can do away from a deeply racist society, and I say to them all – go with our blessings – flourish and succeed, and then come back one day and turn this place on its head.

So that’s where we are at right now …

And where is it this government is taking us over the next 12 months? What is the nature of the budget that they propose, to help rebuild our nation?

Well, Bill English calls it a “zero” budget – and for once I suspect, a lot of people agree with him, because it is certainly a budget that offers zero opportunity, zero growth, zero solutions, and zero hope for the thousands of Kiwis who are asking why they bother to stay here.

Yes, there’s a global financial crisis, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow the failed austerity policies from the other side of the world.

The fact is that we have been conned into thinking that a zero-budget is what we need to get back into the “global” game, to become a player again in the “global” economy.

But just what is this zero-budget and what does it mean?

§ What it means is that if you want money for health, you’ll get zero.
§ If you want money for education, you’ll get zero.
§ If you want money for housing you’ll get zero.
§ If you want money for decent wages, you’ll get zero.
§ If it’s money for old people, you’ll get zero.

And of course, the Maori Party insists on being an equal coalition partner so they got zero as well.

§ They got zero dollars for köhanga reo.
§ They got zero dollars for kura kaupapa and zero for wananga.
§ They got zero dollars for hauora Maori.
§ And they can now boast that they got zero dollars for marae development, for Maori employment initiatives, Maori economic development, matauranga Maori, for implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, for Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights, for Te Reo Maori, for Maori broadcasting and for Maori land and resource development.
§ And all they got was a squeak for their flagship program Whanau Ora.
§ And as for Te Puni Kokiri, the future is even worse, because not only will they lose money, they will also lose many of their programmes, and a whole bunch of their staff as well.

You see, what the whole zero-budget beat-up is about, is making poor people think that they have to give up something, just like everyone else, when in fact they’re the ONLY ones giving anything up. The rich aren’t giving up bugger all!!

In fact, with the assistance of this government:

§ Rich people will still be able to play the financial markets & pay no tax
§ Finance companies can still fail knowing that National will bail them out.
§ Company directors can still steal hundreds of millions and keep their knighthoods while poor people steal from the dairy and go to jail.
§ Wealthy private contractors already control much of our health sector; now they’re lining up to take over our education system, run our prisons, and take over accident compensation.
§ Rich people pay a lower tax rate here than in France, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK & even the USA
§ Government is proposing to let Big Business walk away from wage negotiations while fining workers for daring to strike.
§ Rich people will be the only ones who can afford to buy our state assets
§ And as we’ve just seen over the past few days, filthy rich people with filthy little minds will still be able to give the unbackable ACT Party, unbelievable amounts of money, to do unspeakable things to Maori, while the Race Relations Commissioner huffs and puffs and does nothing about it.

Somehow this whole zero-budget thing only seems to zero in on the poor and the dispossessed.

So what does MANA think we should do? Simple.

Ignore the demands to cripple the poor to keep the rich afloat - that’s the solution they tried in Europe and the people over there are finally waking up to the fact that it ain’t working.

Then redistribute the wealth, to ensure that all New Zealanders can become positive contributors to our nation’s recovery.

Yesterday Bill English called on MANA to support off-shore oil drilling if we really supported job creation.

MANA’s response is that we won’t be supporting off-shore oil drilling, because that’s not about job creation; it’s about wealth creation for overseas businesses who this government licences to rape our seas, leave the mess, and sail away with 94% of the profits.

MANA’s response is to say tax the rich and free the poor.

1 Reverse National’s $2 billion of tax cuts to wealthy New Zealanders.
2 Lift the tax rate for the super rich from 33% to 45% like in Australia.
3 Establish a proper capital gains tax where all income, regardless of where it comes from, is taxed at the personal tax rate.
4 Replace GST with a financial transactions tax, which will put money straight into the hands of the poor, reduce speculation on the Kiwi dollar, and increase our export earnings.
5 Commit 20% of tobacco taxes to tobacco cessation programmes.
6 Make the first $27,000 a person earns tax-free, so that everyone gets a decent start in life.
7 Spend whatever it takes to eliminate acute rheumatic fever. At the moment 98% of those who get this disease of the super-poor are Maori and Pacific island children. If it was Pakeha kids suffering, I guarantee that it’d be on the front pages of the nation’s papers today, the first item on the news tonight, a national scandal tomorrow, and by next week legislation would be passed to eliminate the problem. A measly $3m for throat swabs just because the kids are brown is a bloody disgrace, and an indictment on the racism that underpins the way in which health funds are spent in this country.

8 Help new mums get a start in life by offering them assistance with newborns instead of contraception, and helping them with money for their kids to go to school; it’s not hard – it’s what they do in Australia.

9 Drop the lie about bigger classes being good for a child’s education. The research doesn’t support it, teachers don’t buy it, parents don’t agree with it, and I bet no government minister is going to let their kids get put into bigger classes. So if you’re not going to have it for your kids, don’t impose it on anyone else.

10 Make it easier for kids to go to university by increasing access to student allowances, and extend student allowances to cover post-graduate study.
11 Lift the minimum wage from $13.50 to $20 an hour like it is in Australia.
12 Launch a programme to build 20,000 state houses over the next two years. This would reduce unemployment, and create apprenticeships in building, plumbing, electrical work, painting and cabinetmaking, and be a huge social and economic investment in the future of our nation. It will create jobs, begin to lower our startling levels of homelessness, reduce health problems for the poor, and it can all be paid for by people renting the houses.

13 And cancel prescription charge increases, because they hurt poor people and old people. Here’s an email I got from a constituent just yesterday. It reads like this … “Kia ora ra, My mum is 80 this year, worked 2 jobs most of her working life to feed us when we were kids, and still feeds her mokopuna from her garden. She turned her hot water cylinder off 3 years ago when her partner died to keep the power bill down. My mokopuna went to stay with her one night - and she says "oh I had to have a cold bucket bath at Nan's". My mum and her peers are really stressed about the $2 hike in prescriptions. Like most elderly she takes up to 10 pills a day.”

Mr Speaker – these are common sense proposals, which a generation ago would have been mainstream polices to build a decent New Zealand. We can’t go back to the past but we can bring forward the values of previous generations to turn our future around.

Tax the rich and free the poor. It might sound like a radical suggestion in this house, but it is one that is gathering strength on the streets of this country.

Kia ora tatou katoa


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