The thoughts and opinions shared in this podcast, including those from our guest David Seymour, may not match the views of our podcast, its hosts, or Lighthouse Financial. This episode is meant for information and education. We aim to encourage open discussions from various viewpoints, but we don’t endorse any political party or opinion.
In our latest episode, James Blair sat down with David Seymour, the leader of New Zealand’s ACT Party. Covering everything from the current state of New Zealand politics to looming questions about financial literacy and the nation’s economy.
While the Labour and National parties have been vocal about incorporating financial literacy into the school curriculum by 2025, David Seymour took issue with the lack of a concrete plan. For Seymour, simply declaring an objective isn’t sufficient. There needs to be a well-thought-out strategy involving key stakeholders. He emphasised that groups like Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand should have a say in the curriculum, given that their expertise has been largely ignored in the past.
Seymour also warned that implementing financial literacy in schools wouldn’t yield instant results, likening it to long-term infrastructure projects. While the ideal time to start was years ago, the next best time is now.
Declining Business Confidence
Despite having the same global conditions as 157 other nations, New Zealand’s business confidence is at a worrying low, at -13%. Seymour rejects the government’s tendency to blame external factors and suggests the root causes lie closer to home.
- Lack of Leadership: The New Zealand government’s relationship with the business community is strained at best. New taxes and regulations have only further discouraged business activities.
- Ineffective Government Spending: The government’s expenditure has ballooned without a corresponding improvement in public services like education, healthcare, and public safety.
- Regulatory Overreach: Businesses are suffocated under the weight of excessive regulations, which severely limit productivity and innovation.
The Ripple Effects of Declining Business Confidence
The negative sentiments in the business community have wider social implications. Seymour highlighted the emigration of skilled workers to countries like Australia and noted that restrictive immigration policies and rising crime rates make New Zealand less appealing for potential new residents. To reverse this trend, Seymour believes New Zealand needs to offer better quality of life and job opportunities.
The Housing Crisis
While both major political parties have implemented various demand-side policies, they have failed to address the crux of the housing affordability crisis: supply shortage. Seymour strongly advocates for supply-side solutions. For instance, sharing GST revenue from construction projects with local councils could incentivise them to green-light more developments.
There’s a popular perception in New Zealand that landlords are “the bad guys,” which Seymour believes is counterproductive. Government policies that add more taxes and regulations on landlords ultimately have an adverse effect on tenants as well. Seymour called for a paradigm shift in the conversation, advocating for policies that encourage, rather than discourage, property investment.
The discussion also touched upon the National Party’s proposal to reintroduce $5 prescriptions to fund certain cancer drugs. While this could be a lucrative revenue stream, the real issue lies in who gets to decide the allocation of these funds. Seymour criticised the politicisation of healthcare funding, arguing that it can lead to inefficient allocation of resources.
Seymour and his party propose raising the age of entitlement for superannuation gradually, aiming to save taxpayers a significant amount of money over time. While means testing is popular among some quarters, Seymour argued that it might disincentivize productivity and success.
While KiwiSaver offers a way for New Zealanders to save for retirement, Seymour pointed out that it hasn’t necessarily increased the overall savings rate. He argued that for some people, paying down debt might be a more financially sound choice.
Despite the challenges, Seymour is optimistic about New Zealand’s future. Citing historical precedents, he believes that with open dialogue and proper planning, the country can reinvent itself for the better.
The conversation with David Seymour painted a vivid picture of the pressing challenges facing New Zealand. However, what stood out was the emphasis on the need for strategic thinking, transparent dialogue, and actionable plans. For Seymour and many others, it’s not merely about identifying the issues but finding sustainable solutions that would benefit New Zealand in the long run.
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