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Green is a shade smarter

When most voters think of the Green Party, they think about the environment.

The Greens have championed the need for clean rivers, natural forests, pollution-free beaches and healthy oceans.

Some people know that the Green Party has led social policies for warm homes, better trains, safe cycling, affordable energy and ending child poverty that affects one in four New Zealand kids.

It also has a strong vision for a smarter greener economy.

A smarter economy is founded on knowledge and innovation, processing our natural resources to create decent jobs, tackling inequality through fairness and equity, and supporting small business.

A greener economy taps into the growing market for clean technology, builds our international brand as a clean, green country and protects our environment.

A smarter greener economy can create better opportunities for Indian communities in New Zealand.

Shaky foundation

Currently, the New Zealand economy sits on shaky foundations.

Our trade has become highly dependent on the export of a few commodities, mainly dairy products. Manufacturing has declined sharply, spending on research and development is amongst the lowest in the OECD, and the recent fall in dairy prices shows the risk of relying on unprocessed commodities.

Commodity dependence carries a price. The government has pushed mining, deep sea oil drilling, more dairying and low wages. This is not a good strategy. If we want to support good jobs paying decent wages, we need to process our natural products and support high skill, high value production.

Innovation imperative

Innovation is crucial. The Greens will provide more funding for innovation, tax credits for research and development, cheaper broadband access and support for universities to strengthen our ability to participate in the rapidly growing knowledge economy.

We will establish an investment fund to support investment in clean technology and knowledge-intensive sectors, with decisions taken by an independent panel of experts.

This economic transition is also supported by a tax shift.

The Greens propose to shift taxes from productive activity onto pollution and speculation. A capital gains tax, excluding the family home, will reduce speculation on house prices and make housing more affordable. The Party’s Climate Protection Plan will tackle climate change through a tax on polluters that is returned to households through a tax-free threshold of $2000 and a cut in company rate of 1%

Small enterprises

Small business is crucial for employment and growth in a smart economy. Rather than deals with big business, such as the Sky City Casino, the Party will use procurement policies to encourage small business, reduce compliance costs and encourage consumers to buy New Zealand-made products.

Our monetary policy proposals will help reduce high interest rates and an over-valued exchange rate.

And a smart economy is more inclusive. The Green Party will increase the minimum wage, restructure the electricity sector to reduce power costs for consumers and support home ownership through a rent-to-buy scheme.

We welcome skilled migrants. We are committed to ensuring a warm welcome and ensure ensuring that they get a fair opportunity in job appointments.

There is a wave of change sweeping the world.

The path to a better future relies on unleashing people’s ingenuity, creativity and generosity to live sustainably, equitably and with a high quality of life.

The Green Party has a vision for the future – a smarter greener economy.

Barry Coates is the Green Party candidate for Mt Roskill. He was the Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand for 2003 until March 2014. He has a degree in Economics and a Masters from Yale University. *

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