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Positive Money NZ celebrates one year

News and views from New Zealand

Don Richards

Positive Money New Zealand, a campaign to reform the NZ banking system by having the government issue our money debt free, was launched on 17th October 2011 to a small but supportive audience in Wellington.

The idea to launch Positive Money NZ when co-founders Don Richards and his wife Sue Hamill viewed “The Secret of Oz” a documentary by Bill Still that suggested that the movie “The Wizard of OZ” was an as an allegory for the political, economic and social events of America in the 1890s. The documentary explained the history of money from biblical times to modern day and documented the battles the Americans engaged in, and ultimately lost, to gain control over issuing their money. The film also asserted that the current banking system enabled private banks to force recessions at will by refusing to offer new loans while simultaneously demanding payment on existing loans.

Don and Sue’s initial reaction was one of anger, followed by resignation and despair. However after reading the Positive Money UK website they became empowered and approached Ben Dyson, founder of Positive Money UK, asking to be allowed to become their New Zealand branch.

Ben was happy to oblige and provided the content of their website which was customised to the NZ environment. A kiwi version of their “One Good Cut” You Tube clip was also created which has had a modest 1,800 hits.

The “Positive Money” approach is for the Government to exercise its sovereign right and issue money debt free into the economy. This approach is summarised in the draft Executive summary of the Creation of Currency Bill. Another aspect of the Positive Money approach is the creation of an expert independent body within Government called the Monetary Policy Committee which would decide how much or how little money needs to be created in any one year. The Government could decide how this money would be spent, but could not mandate how much is created.

A precedent for this sort of thing was set back in 1936 by the First Labour Government who introduced money into the economy to allow kiwis to buy state houses. This put people into meaningful work building the houses, created tangible assets and New Zealand emerged from the Great Depression sooner, and in better shape, than a lot of other countries.

Back in 2011, little did Positive Money New Zealand know their first 365 days was to be so eventful. During October 2011, their first month in existence, the “Occupy Movement” took off and Sue and Don spoke and handed out fliers at “Occupy Wellington”.

The following month was the national elections and Don stood for parliament as an independent, on the platform of debt free money. Not only did the message get great profile, but Don stood against Annette King, the then deputy leader of the Labour Party, Russel Norman the co-leader of the NZ Green Party and Chris Finlayson, a Cabinet Minister. They heard the message at every public meeting.

During the same month of the Election Raf Manji, an economist living in Christchurch , was interviewed by National Radio’s Kim Hill. Kim’s programme is one of the highest rating NZ radio programmes and Raf did a great job of explaining the current system in 30 minutes. The rebuild of Canterbury after the devastating earthquakes is an obvious candidate for direct injection of debt free money and this was mentioned by Raf and also during the election.

In addition New Zealand Investor magazine came out with a front page article on debt free money that was supported by a scathing editorial and a four page article, written by Deidre Kent on how money is created. Deidre wrote the book Healthy Money, Healthy Planet. During 2012 the following initiatives were taken:

  • In January letters and supporting material were sent to the Head of Economics and the teachers of year 12 and 13 Economics of the 33 largest secondary schools in New Zealand. A follow-up email indicated that few were prepared to use the material provided.
  • Letters were sent to the Mayor and Councillors of Christchurch and Wellington and letters are ready to send to their counterparts in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton.
  • Don was interviewed by Steve Hart, a freelance journalist and contract editor on a special 10 minute podcast.
  • Separate meetings were held with David Parker – Finance spokes person for the Labour party, Grant Robertson – Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Russel Norman – co leader of the Green Party. They appeared interested in what we had to say, but we did not think they would take it further.
  • A very good article by Raf Manji called “Make the Boat go faster” was posted on the PMNZ website.
  • Our Minister of Finance Bill English refused to meet with Positive Money NZ, but he did assure us in September that all was well as New Zealand was following “International Best Practice with our banking system. PMNZ responded with a few observations of their own and are awaiting a response.
  • Sue spoke before the select committee on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill 27-1.
  • Don wrote an article in the October New Zealand Investor magazine on the IMF Working paper titled The Chicago Plan Revisited.

To cap off a very good first year, Russel Norman, co-leader of the New Zealand Green Party announced their proposal to have the Reserve Bank create money to fund the rebuild of Christchurch and as a consequence bring down the value of our overpriced dollar. This idea was met with ill-informed ridicule by the current government, but it is heartening to see New Zealand’s third largest political party having the courage to make such a stand.

With such an eventful year, who knows what their second year has in store for Positive Money New Zealand.

Don Richards is associated with Positive Money NZ, a campaign advocating banking reform.

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