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  • Robert MacCulloch

Election 2020: Welfare State Reform has gone missing

The most extraordinary aspect of the election campaign so far in NZ has been the almost total absence of debate about welfare state reform. It's remarkable since the economic crisis unleashed by the virus is mainly centered on our welfare institutions. Most countries health and unemployment benefit systems were not prepared to cope with the surge in numbers. The vast majority of people do not have enough private savings to see them through a sustained downturn. Yet not a single one of the policies being promoted by our major political parties in the lead up to our election is aimed at solving these kinds of problems.


A reform to improve the daily lives of all Kiwis would help each person to build up their own savings and independent source of wealth. These savings could be held in a Kiwi-Risk account which could be drawn upon in the event of unemployment. People should also hold funds in their own Kiwi-Health account to enable them to spend more on their health-care, over and above what the public system already does. The existing Kiwi-Saver scheme should become mandatory so everyone benefits from a source of capital upon retirement. The government should help fund these accounts from subsidies currently being paid to wealthy individuals and firms, sometimes referred to as "privilege".

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