Newshub Nation full interview: The Opportunities Party leader Raf Manji outlines election-year tax policy

Imagine a super-tight election, a dead-heat between the major parties and their coalition partners.

One party holds the balance of power but it's not Te Pāti Māori.

It's a new party to Parliament, born from the Christchurch electorate of Ilam.

The leader of The Opportunities Party, or TOP, Raf Manji believes he can win the seat. 

So what are his bottom lines?

He joined Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation for a deep dive into his political journey and TOP's policies. 

Asked whether he had a political hero, Manji replied "not really".

"I'm a problem solver, so for me, it's a question of how do we deliver the outcomes that people want?

"We currently have an 18th-century political system, which to me looks like it's on its last legs. 

"We have an MMP system here which is stale, which has been around for 27 years, and we need something different."

Manji then added that if he thought about it, he would say that Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, is one inspiration for his political career. 

"Macron came through the centre out of nowhere. 

"I'm not saying I'm going to do that, but what happened in France is the traditional left and the traditional right parties basically collapsed, they stopped working."

While he admits that France and New Zealand are very different, he said "it is time for something new, for something fresh".

Something fresh that TOP is proposing is a 'Teal Card' for every New Zealander under 30. 

The card would allow for $1500 towards an e-scooter or bike, provide free public transport and health care, and $5000 towards training or Kiwisaver, amongst other things.

"Essentially this is a gold card for young people," Manji said.

However, he said: "There are actually a lot of older people, parents, grandparents who go, this is a great idea. 

"We need to invest in our younger generations. 

"We need to give them a sense of what the future might look like."

TOP's policies generally focus on younger voters, who are less likely to vote.

Only 500,000 Kiwis under 30 voted in the last election out of a total pool of 2.9 million, but Manji said "it's not just about voting, it's actually what are the policies that we need".

He added, "When I look at my support in Ilam, a lot of that is from actually older people."

"They voted for me on council, they saw what I did, they saw the type of person that I was, that I was a straight shooter and that I was able to solve problems for them."

One policy that may scare away older voters is TOP's proposed land tax of 0.75 percent on residential property.

"We have to rebalance the income housing relationship, we've been trying to do it for ages," he said.

"From December 2001 to 2021, wages using the labour cost index rose 56 percent. In that same period, house prices rose 456 percent. 

"I mean, this is untenable," he said.

"We have to rebalance it and the way we're doing that is, yes, a small tax on residential land, on the land value, not the house value. 

"We use that to pay for income tax cuts."

TOP is also proposing an income tax-free threshold on the first $15,000 earned. 

Manji said that this essentially balances out. 

"If you're going to tax property, this is the best way to do it.

"You can have a capital gains tax, but it doesn't actually incentivize the productive use of land.

"This is a serious question, do we want to rebalance this situation? 

"This is where young people will have to get involved and make their feelings known."

Watch the full interview for more. 

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