The Opportunities Party

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The Opportunities Party
Abbreviation TOP
Founder Gareth Morgan
Founded 4 November 2016
Dissolved 9 July 2018 (2018-07-09)
Headquarters Level 1, 190 Taranaki Street, Wellington
Ideology Radical centrism[1]
Environmentalism[1]
Political position Radical centre[2]
House of Representatives
0 / 120
Website
www.top.org.nz

The Opportunities Party (TOP) was a political party in New Zealand. It was founded by economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan in November 2016. The party supported "a prosperous, fair and equitable society", tax reform, stricter immigration, environmental sustainability, a written constitution, the adoption of a universal basic income for families with children under 3, and the legalisation of cannabis. Gareth Morgan also announced he wanted to reduce the prison population by 40%. During the 2017 general election, TOP gained 2.4% of the vote and won no seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives.[3]

In December 2017, three months after the election, Morgan resigned as leader and the party's deputy leader Geoff Simmons and two candidates also stepped down from their roles. Morgan said the party would contest the 2020 election but he would not lead it.[4]

In July 2018 the party announced that it had asked the Electoral Commission to deregister it, as it did not plan to contest the 2020 election.[5][6] In late July 2018, the party's board suspended their plans to de-register the party while it considered expressions of interests from a number of people sympathetic to the party's policies.[7][8]

Policies and principles[edit]

TOP lists its policies on the party website. In summary, these include:

  • Deem a minimum rate of return for all assets (including housing, land and business assets) and charge a tax on it. At the same time, reduce income tax rates so that the total tax take remains unchanged.[9] The changes will be done gradually to ensure house prices remain stable while incomes grow. The party considers the existing tax regime to favour owners of capital and to over-tax wage earners, to favour home-owners and to disadvantage those who rent their home, and to encourage investment in real estate rather than productive businesses.[10]
  • Tightening immigration laws and shifting the focus to attracting highly skilled migrants. Criteria for immigrants will involve demonstrating they can help improve the living standards of all New Zealanders. Limiting net immigration to 1% population growth per annum, and making access to permanent residency harder and longer.[11]
  • Ceasing intensification of land use until impacts on rivers and lakes is offset. Adopting a policy that polluters pay.[12]
  • Establishing a written constitution and an upper house of parliament.[13]
  • Eliminating fossil-fuel use in New Zealand by 2050.[14]
  • Providing free full-time early-childhood education. Reducing testing in schools so teachers spend less time marking tests and more time teaching.[15]
  • Implementing a 'universal basic income' of $200 per week for all families with children under 3 years of age, and for all over 65s. This would be funded by means testing current superannuation.[16]
  • Legalising cannabis for purchase and use at age 20. Ensuring sales through Cannabis Licensing Trusts and taxes from sales will go into education on the risks of cannabis harm. The policy aims at minimising total harm and advocates decriminalisation and legalisation.[17]
  • Reduce the prison population by 40%. To achieve this, among other strategies, the Party would repeal the Bail Amendment Act of 2013 which has led to a dramatic increase in the number of people being held in prison on remand.[18]

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

Morgan launched the party on 4 November 2016 outside Parliament House in Wellington. On 10 January 2017 the party announced that it had 2000 members and was applying for registration. It also announced that it was considering standing electorate candidates.[19][20] The Electoral Commission posted notice of the registration application on 21 January.[21]

The party announced that then party chief of staff Geoff Simmons would contest the Mount Albert by-election on 25 February 2017.[22] During the by-election the party was criticised by David Seymour for offering free rides for Mount Albert voters, which he asserted breached the Electoral Act.[23] However, the Electoral Commission cleared TOP of any wrongdoing.[24] Simmons initially received 600 votes, or 4.6% of the vote.[25] After counting special votes, Simmons officially received 623 votes, with 4.56% of the total vote, placing him third.[26]

2017 general election[edit]

The party was registered by the electoral commission on 6 March 2017.[27] On 24 May 2017, Gareth Morgan announced the party's first four electoral and list candidates for the general election on 23 September 2017. They were Geoff Simmons who would be the deputy leader of the party and would be standing in Wellington Central, Lesley Immink standing in East Coast, Jessica Hammond Doube standing in Ōhāriu and Jenny Condie as a list candidate and TOP's Tax Spokesperson.[28] TOP announced three more candidates on 1 June 2017 – Nicky Snoyink standing in Selwyn, Olly Wilson standing in Rangitata, and Kevin Neill standing in Waitaki.[29] In mid-June 2017, it was announced that artist Mika Haka would stand in Auckland Central.[30][31] On 28 August 2017, it was announced that former Green Party candidate Teresa Moore (standing in East Coast Bays) would join Geoff Simmons as co-deputy leader.[32][33] In total, the party ran 21 electoral candidates and 26 party list candidates.[34]

During the 2017 general election, TOP gained 2.4% of the vote and won no seats in the New Zealand House of Representatives.[3] Party leader Gareth Morgan vowed to continue fighting for a "fairer New Zealand" and maintained that TOP was not a failure since it was the fifth most popular party based on the provisional results.[35]

Post election developments and dissolution[edit]

In December 2017, three months after the election, Morgan resigned as leader and the party's deputy leader Geoff Simmons and two candidates also stepped down from their roles. Morgan said the party would contest the 2020 election but he would not lead it.[36]

In the week that followed the resignations, the two candidates, Ōhāriu candidate Jessica Hammond Doube and list candidate Jenny Condie announced the launching of a splinter group from TOP with the placeholder name "Next Big Thing". Both candidates attributed their low list rankings to their having raised questions over Morgan's controversial remarks during the election campaign.[37]

On 9 July 2018, Morgan announced that the Board of The Opportunities Party had decided to cancel the party's registration since the party lacked the time and resources to contest the 2020 general election.[5][6] In late July, Morgan and the party's board announced that he would reconsider his decision to cancel the party's registration after receiving expressions of interest from people sympathetic to the party's goals. Morgan also indicated in a Facebook post that he was willing to fund candidates and leaders sympathetic to the goals of The Opportunities Party.[7][8]

[edit]

The previous logo for the Opportunities Party, a variant on Wā kāinga.

The party's registered logo is the letters, T, O, and P in black, red, and dark blue. The party applied to register this with the Electoral Commission in April 2017[38] and it was approved in May 2017.[39]

The party has used as a logo a variant of the Wā kāinga / Home flag. In a November 2016 blog post, Gareth Morgan noted it had won the Morgan Foundation's flag competition in 2016 and that it symbolised "the transition we currently have underway in Aotearoa".[40] The creators of the Red Peak flag criticised the party for using a logo similar to their flag without discussing it with them.[41] The party attempted to register this as their logo in January 2017 at the same time as the party;[21] the party was registered in March 2017 but the logo was not.

Electoral results[edit]

General elections[edit]

Election Candidates nominated Seats won Votes Vote share % Government
Electorate List
2017 21 26
0 / 120
63,261 2.4% Not In Parliament

Office-holders[edit]

Leader[edit]

Office Holder Assumed Office Left Office Notes
1. Gareth Morgan 4 November 2016 14 December 2017 party founder

Deputy Leader[edit]

Office Holder Assumed Office Left Office Notes
1. Geoff Simmons 24 May 2017 14 December 2017
Teresa Moore 28 August 2017 9 July 2018 appointed co-deputy leader

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Vision". TOP. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Mt Albert by-election to test how palatable The Opportunities Party's 'radical centrism' will be in the general election; Geoff Simmons explains why 'it's time for something fresh'. Interest.co.nz. Author - Jenée Tibshraeny. Published 10 February 2017. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "2017 General Election - Official Result". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "TOP loses leader Gareth Morgan and three other candidates in matter of hours". Stuff.co.nz. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Lee, Julian (9 July 2018). "Gareth Morgan's The Opportunities Party is over". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 10 July 2018. 
  6. ^ a b "The Opportunities Party Will Not Contest 2020". The Opportunities Party. 9 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018. 
  7. ^ a b Bennett, Lucy (30 July 2018). "The Opportunities Party puts deregistration on hold after new interest". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "The Opportunities Party won't deregister, will make comeback with new leader". Newshub. 29 July 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  9. ^ Cantin, John; Elwela, Darshana (15 December 2016). "The Opportunities Party asset tax policy released" (PDF). TaxMail. KPMG. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "TOP1 - Tax reform". TOP. Retrieved 13 August 2017. 
  11. ^ "TOP2 - Smarter Immigration". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  12. ^ "TOP3 - Our Environment". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  13. ^ "TOP4 - Democracy Reset". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  14. ^ "TOP6 - Climate Change Action". TOP. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  15. ^ "TOP5 - Education Reform". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  16. ^ "TOP7 - Thriving Families and UBI". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  17. ^ "The Real Deal Cannabis Reform". TOP. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  18. ^ Positive justice
  19. ^ "The Opportunities Party to Register". The Opportunities Party. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  20. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (10 January 2017). "Gareth Morgan registers political party to prepare for potential early election". Stuff. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 
  21. ^ a b "Registration of The Opportunities Party (TOP) and Logo". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 21 January 2017. 
  22. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (1 February 2017). "Gareth Morgan's party to take on Jacinda Ardern in Mt Albert by-election". Stuff. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  23. ^ "ACT Party says TOP's offer of free bus rides to voters breaks the law". Stuff. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  24. ^ "The Opportunities Party cleared of 'treating' after giving free rides to voters". Stuff. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017. 
  25. ^ "Landslide win for Jacinda Ardern in Mt Albert by-election". New Zealand Herald. 2017-02-25. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 2017-02-25. 
  26. ^ "Mt Albert By-election Official Results". Electoral Commission (New Zealand). 8 March 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017. 
  27. ^ http://www.elections.org.nz/news-media/registration-opportunities-party-top
  28. ^ "Gareth Morgan Announces The Opportunities Party (TOP) First Set of Candidates". TOP. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
  29. ^ "Gareth Morgan Announces The Opportunities Party (TOP) Second Set of Candidates". TOP. Retrieved 2017-06-03. 
  30. ^ Jones, Nicholas (15 June 2017). "Mika to stand in Auckland Central for Gareth Morgan's new party". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  31. ^ "Mika Haka". TOP. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  32. ^ "Teresa Moore". TOP. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  33. ^ "Gareth Morgan adds new deputy co-leader of TOP, releases party list". Stuff. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 9 September 2017. 
  34. ^ "Party and candidate lists for 2017 Election". New Zealand Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  35. ^ Swinnen, Lucy (24 September 2017). "Party 'for a fairer New Zealand' falls flat, as Gareth Morgan's TOP falls far short of 5 per cent". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  36. ^ "TOP loses leader Gareth Morgan and three other candidates in matter of hours". Stuff.co.nz. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 14 December 2017. 
  37. ^ Cooke, Henry (19 December 2017). "Ex-TOP candidates start new political action group". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 19 December 2017. 
  38. ^ "Application to register political party logo". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2017-04-12. 
  39. ^ "Registration of party logo for The Opportunities Party (TOP)". Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2017-05-14. 
  40. ^ Morgan, Gareth (6 November 2016). "Why I chose this for The Opportunities Party logo and what it means". TOP. Retrieved 12 April 2017. 
  41. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (4 November 2016). "Explainer: Why is Gareth Morgan entering politics, and what are his chances?". Stuff. Retrieved 11 January 2017. 

External links[edit]