As we head into the elections, Bay residents have an opportunity to hear two leading New Zealand academics address their findings on the problems they see in the financing of the country’s political parties.
On Tuesday, 13 October, Auckland University’s Timothy Kuhner and Victoria University’s Max Rashbrooke will discuss their research into economic inequality and its threat to democracy and the wider functioning of society.
The lecture at University of Waikato – Tauranga, hosted by Mackenzie Elvin Law, is set amidst multiple SFO investigations into political financing in New Zealand, affecting both major parties and New Zealand First.
The academics argue that, although New Zealanders like to think their democratic system is one of the least corrupt in the world, the system has a massive blind spot when it comes to political finance and inequality. There are no meaningful curbs on political donations, allowing major imbalances in access to politicians and influence over decisions, they say.
Meanwhile, the continuing revelations by professor Anne-Marie Brady of Canterbury University and others have raised concerns about the influence of the Communist Party of China and other foreign actors on our democratic system, the academics say.
Kuhner’s work explores the nexus between rising inequality and political corruption. “When it comes to combating the undue influence of concentrated wealth over law and policy, New Zealand’s electoral and parliamentary framework does not reflect a love of fairness,” he says.
“I have reason to believe that New Zealand’s reputation for being corruption-free and its sense of wellbeing don’t fully align with reality.”
Rashbrooke, the editor of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, has written extensively on the subject and the need for democratic renewal in New Zealand. His recent Guardian article, “New Zealand’s Astounding Wealth Gap Challenges our ‘Fair Go’ Identity”, attracted widespread media attention while showing that the wealthiest 10 percent of the country has 60 percent of all assets. “Such findings are challenging to New Zealand’s self-identity,” he stated in the article.
The organisers said that Kuhner and Rashbrooke will explain the issues and offer ideas for renewing New Zealand’s democracy.
Tuesday 13 October, 2020, 5:30pm to 7:00pm,
Wharekauhau Lecture Theatre, University of
Waikato, Tauranga Campus.
Free admission. Contact www.mackenzie-elvin.com