These are extraordinary times. COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it.

In the light of the Ministry of Health guidelines, I write to advise that we have decided not to continue to hold public meetings for the time being.

It’s great to have data-led decision-making being the basis of the advice we are getting and a resolute government guiding our way through the complications.

The advice is not to hold indoor gatherings of more than 100. We get close to that number on occasions but with caution in mind and awareness of the people who come to Fabians are in the risk demographic, we feel it is prudent to go to alternative ways to ‘excite debate’. We could find it difficult to trace people from seating patterns in venues.

It is also likely that venues may become restricted so planned events may need to be cancelled at short notice. As an alternative we hope to try a couple of strategies.

One is asking keynote speakers on topics of interest to us, if they would allow us to post a copy of their material in a paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a podcast, a link to an interview or a video. We can then post these to our site and perhaps enable interaction with the person to enable a Q&A.

We do not want to distract contributors with persistent discussion but keeping abreast with content continues the chance to engage and keep our community stimulated and aware of persuasive argument.
 
Second, we can consider using interactive technology to bring debate together. We could use Facebook or Zoom, for example, as ways to create exchange and networks of conversation. We would value some feedback on this.
 
·      Are you familiar with these platforms?
·      Do you feel confident you could participate?
·      Would you use it if we went down this track?
 
Of course, we can help here by posting guides on how to access such platforms. It may take a while for us to become robust at it but it can be the way we continue to inform members on issues and debates that are relevant to a progressive future.
 
It is amazing to see how much traffic there is informing the emergent post-viral world. Some seeks a speedy return to traditions but the more interesting stuff sees huge innovation in what might become the new normal – greater equity, social justice and better outcomes for the environment and climate.  For example; 
 
From a Next Systems Project: blog on: Learning from the crisis
 
Social Europe: How governments need to step up
 
So let’s get through this. It changes the dynamic of our events but does not prevent getting together in for now in smaller groups in pubs, homes and in networks.
 
Be strong, be kind and be Fabian


Phil Harington


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Reflections on Gough’s Heat, Greed and Human Need 

Stern dismissed any significant relationship between environmental and social policy, by saying that there is little point in equitable access to a train wreck.  Gough in his book, Heat, Greed and Human Need disagrees.  He states that equity, redistribution and prioritising human needs, far from being diversions from the basic task of decarbonising the economy, are critical climate policies.  The move to a green economy can only be successful if both environmental and social policies (eco-social policies, defined as policies that pursue both equity/justice and sustainability/sufficiency goals) are integrated.  When it operates within a global economy of gross inequality (between and within countries) it will fail to raise standards of wellbeing to a sufficient level, or it will fail to reduce emission at a sufficient rate, or it will fail at both. 

Bill Rosenberg was a member of the Tax Working Group. His presentation at the Fabian Society in Wellington is summarised here. The summary is taken from his article in the NZCTU monthly economic Bulletin. The full article will be published in the Papers and Presentations section of the website.

The Tax Working Group (TWG) has reported back. The reactions to the proposal for taxing the income from capital gains have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous and from “it doesn’t go nearly far enough” to “this is the end of the kiwi way of life”. They have exposed a class society where one group of people seemingly believe that almost everyone owns at least one investment property and a bach (no wonder they didn’t believe there is a housing crisis) while the experience of most is that buying even one house is increasingly unaffordable.

Tax Justice Logo

Why a #TaxJustice campaign – and why now?

New Zealand’s tax system is unfair and we need to fix it. A fair tax system is a powerful tool in building a society where every New Zealander gets a fair go.
The Tax Working Group has given us options to help fix our tax system. On matters like the Capital Gains Tax, the Tax Working Group has presented yet another solid case for treating all income the same whether it is capital income or earned income.

But, so far, there has been insufficient public focus on how tax reforms could create greater tax fairness. And the role of options such as the Capital Gains Tax in promoting fairness and reduced inequalities has not been prominent in in the public domain.

Tax Justice Aotearoa New Zealand sees a rare opportunity to emphasise that, if we want to reduce inequality and poverty, we need to make real changes to our tax system. The time to mobilise more voices that support a fair tax system, including a Capital Gains Tax, is now!

Who is Tax Justice Aotearoa NZ and how can you help?

Tax Justice Aotearoa New Zealand is an independent non-governmental organisation, linked to the global Tax Justice Network. We want transparent, democratic and fair tax systems for people and planet to flourish. To do this, we have initiated a #TaxJustice campaign. We have sufficient initial funding to go public with a couple of
billboards in Wellington and ads in several major newspapers.

The messages for this will be simple and direct, along the lines of ‘We need a fairer tax system involving CGT and we need it now!’

We can’t do this alone. The Fabian Society is supporting this campaign.  Can you chip in some putea/ funding to help make this happen?

The passing of Ian Shirley brings to mind that period in time before bad Roger got us so totally off-piste. Within a few years of Ian fronting concerns about the endemic homogeneity of the then welfare state, how it lacked capacity to hear the concerns of Maori, the poor, women, new migrants, suburbia and new ghettos, Roger had us responding to attacks on the welfare state that were far more distracting. We were turned from supporting many claims for equality and emancipation – addressing power structures that denied rights and equal opportunity to diverse communities, to defending the gains, and even the edifice, assumed post-1938. The welfare state was blamed for many things and the market was offered as the centre of opportunity. Neo-liberalism took over the narratives and the issues Ian had raised were dissed as 'identity politics'.

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