Cannabis reform the catalyst for youth vote turnout, claims Gareth Morgan
It's called a 'gateway' drug by some, and Gareth Morgan believes cannabis decriminalisation will be a gateway for young voters - straight to the ballot box.
Speaking during the Rotorua leg of his Opportunities Party roadshow on Wednesday night, Morgan said he would shortly announce proposals to change the law on cannabis in New Zealand, claiming their research found that was the number one issue that would get young people to vote.
Asked directly whether he was about to advocate decriminalising cannabis, Morgan said "something along those lines".
He stopped short of calling for a weed free for all, however.
"That's [decriminalisation] what they're all baying for," he said.
"But what we know is that marijuana with undeveloped brains does damage so you can't just say I'm going to decriminalise it.
"You've got to have a massive investment in education. You don't want to go inflicting stuff on your kids so it's structuring that will be the issue.
"It's a huge issue for them [young voters] so I'm just going to respond to it, but I'm not going to be stupid and say something irresponsible.
"What we've been doing is pulling together all the research on it and trying to get something sensible."
Morgan used the roadshow to outline a number of key Opportunities Party policies, focusing on tax reform and efforts to tackle poverty in New Zealand.
He said that New Zealand's current tax system made it very easy to accumulate wealth - provided you're already wealthy.
"I go to bed each night and wake up richer," he said.
"I make so much money in a year I can't spend it all without being obscene."
Morgan's solution was to change the 'unfair' income tax system and impose a flat tax on assets, including property.
"It includes the house. Each and every year, that's the bad news."
He said housing market investment created nothing, was pricing the young out of homes and putting the squeeze on renters.
Morgan said the tax rebalance would also see a 30 per cent reduction in tax rates.
"You hit guys like me, a fair tax regime and far more efficient."
He said when he acquired his first house the mortgage was three times the average salary. It's eight times now, 11 for Auckland.
"This policy directly addresses that issue."
He also lifted the lid on the 'one percenter' view of New Zealand, telling an anecdote about the visit of a rich Swiss friend.
In the space of one week, he said the man acquired four farms.
"We're bending over backwards for foreign capital, we're a tax haven by any other name," Morgan said.
In total he said his tax reforms would generate $11 billion a year and leave 80 per cent of the population better off financially.
He also took aim at New Zealand superannuation, calling for the payments to be cut in half and the remainder means tested.
"I'll get $40,000 a year [in superannuation]. I don't need a cent of it. It's ridiculous, it's obscene."
He also directly addressed the argument that Super is a right.
"Well it's not actually because if that was the case it'd be an accumulated fund that you'd see at the back, and the Cullen Fund is the only accumulated fund and it's about 14 per cent of [Superannuation]. It's actually being paid by your children, so it's not a valid argument."
Morgan said the Super reform would generate $3b a year, cash he said he would use for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) which he said would help address poverty.
He also said it would recognise the contribution of around a million kiwis who work as carers and volunteers for no pay.
"This society would collapse if they downed tools in the morning," he said.
Morgan said the Opportunities Party "had no aspirations to be the Government," but instead wanted to secure enough influence via a coalition to see some of their proposals become reality.
While he said he was assembling a team to continue the party work, he also revealed that personally, it's a one-shot at politics.
"I'll have one lick. Otherwise I'll got back to my life of Riley, which is very enjoyable."