Gareth Morgan’s new political party has already got three fulltime staff and another three contracted workers.

Morgan is clearly putting his fortune behind it.

And he is getting a response.

Over 1000 people have contacted the party seeking to become members even though it has yet to publish any detailed policy.

That will come on December 8 when the first of a series of policy papers will appear.

But in the meantime, those signing up are doing so on the basis of his already published work.

His biggest proposal for the New Zealand economy – outlined in “the Big Kahuna” — would introduce a flat 30% tax; a 1.8% annual capital tax on all property and a $11, 000 payment to all New Zealanders.

The flat tax is straight out of Rogernomics and ACT.

Only Labour have proposed anything resembling a capital tax, and at their conference, at the weekend Michael Stiassny warned them that anything that touched the family home would see them rejected by the electorate.

If Morgan pursues his capital tax, he would do so ignoring Stiassny’s warning.


The $11,000 payment to all New Zealanders sounds suspiciously like a universal basic income though the $11,000 figure is far too low.

But though one of Morgan’s associates, Economist Geoff Simmons, says the party sees itself as a centrist party, much of  “The Big Kahuna” is closer to ACT.

Yet at the same time, Morgan seeks to address income inequality in New Zealand, and that is a priority for Labour.

Labour’s David Parker believes that the way to do this is first to start collecting tax from multi nationals who can shift their tax obligations to other jurisdictions.

Then Parker would redistribute that revenue.

Morgan’s capital tax – which he suggested be 1.8% would mean the average Auckland house owner would pay $18,000 — that is unlikely to be taken up by any party.

He has also been strongly critical of the Government over climate change; particularly its two for one subsidy for some industries, leaving agriculture out of the ETS and the way New Zealand relies on extremely cheap international carbon credits.

The subsidy has now been removed, and the international price of carbon has climbed making the panting of forests more attractive. The Government is also talking about further subsidies in that area.

The Greens would include agriculture so in that area he could find an ally there.

Simmons says that the party would also like to involve people in the decision-making process by holding “Citizens’ Assemblies” where policy background facts could be out to people and then decisions made.

“Gareth trusts the people to make a good decision when they have all the facts,” he said.


But the experience of ACT is surely that no matter how lofty the ideals and ideas, politics at the end of the day is about winning votes and that is often a grubby business.

At this stage the TOP party looks strong on policy development; in fact much stronger than most other parties — but its test will be how well it can market itself and win support.

And that may mean trying to reconcile democracy with the best of intentions. That is not always easy.