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English 'dug his finger into my chest' says sloppy-speaking Wade

Visiting academic Robert Wade is feeling bruised.

A combination of abusive emails and what he says is a physical altercation with Finance Minister Bill English has left him feeling less than welcome.

Professor Wade says the finance minister intimidated him in a backstage exchange during Television New Zealand’s Q & A programme on the weekend.

The exchange blew up over Professor Wade’s claim New Zealand economic and social policy is made by the most wealthy one per cent of the population – a claim he now says he did not mean to make.

“In the course of the interview I said, while he was waiting outside for his interview, I summarised the point I was making about the US and UK that increasing economic policy is made by the top one per cent for the top one per cent.

“He apparently exploded out of the ante room like a volcano and said 'that is an outrageous thing to say in the New Zealand context' – which I had not said.

“When he came into the studio, and I was going out, he sort of dug his finger into my chest and said in a very menacing voice 'economic policy in New Zealand is not made by the top one percent for the top one percent - don’t you say that again.’”

Mr English says there was no physical altercation with Professor Wade although there was a verbal exchange.

“There was no physical contact – it he meant finger point that may have happened but there was no prodding,” Mr English’s press secretary Craig Howie told NBR ONLINE.

In fact Professor Wade’s comments clearly link New Zealand to his wider claims about the top one percent around the world, and stemmed from a comment about the absence of a capital gains tax in New Zealand

“I mean, it is I think quite outrageous that in New Zealand there's no capital gains tax,” he said in the interview.

“That’s a really major area that more political attention should be given to. But of course if you have a situation where economic policy is being made by the top 1% for the top 1%, then the last thing you're going to get is political movement towards a capital gains tax.”

Pressed by NBR ONLINE about this, he now says he did not mean to include New Zealand in this, and that New Zealand in fact has a relatively good picture on inequality.

“That was sloppy speaking on my part: certainly New Zealand in equality has gone up a great deal – it is in fact in the upper quarter of the OECD according to some measures.”

Professor Wade also told NBR ONLINE any capital gains tax should be used to lower personal income tax rates – rather than, as proposed by the Labour and Green parties, increase them.

But he also says he does not know much about New Zealand’s tax system, and was not aware of the range of specific capital gains taxes which apply to financial sector investments.

Nor was he aware regular property investors have the capital gain on their properties included in their income, and taxed as part of their income tax.

More by Rob Hosking

Comments and questions

If Professor Wade were to set up one of those PledgeMe sites for donations to buy a plane ticket back home, I'll give five bucks.

I find him quite outrageous. The UK economy is a complete mess, doing much worse than our own: perhaps too many governments have been listening to him before their current coalition.

Since when do the neoconservatives listen to any opinion other than their own? That's why the UK is stuffed. I would give $5 to pledge me to get you an economic education.

I'm not conservative. Google my blog.

Libertarian is even worse.

This unprepared idiot should never have have been given the chance to comment on NZ economic policy.

The way policy is made here is, in general, amazingly accessible.
We may discuss and argue the proposed policy and law and then win or lose, but the process is open and the work behind it almost always superb. To my mind we only run into problems when a party puts rhetoric ahead of facts, and that's rare.

According to the OECD, income inequality in NZ is about the same as the United Kingdom. There 10% of the population own about 44% of the wealth. It is probably much the same here. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bill English gets upset when someone reminds him of this inconvenient truth.

And what did your wonderful Chairman Helen do about it? Or was she to busy signing other people's art works - painted by Helen - in the back of police cars racing through the countryside to get to the rugby?

Still it is much better than the US that your hero Crony Capitalist Key wants us to become where the top 1% own 40%. And he will make laws that cannot be challenged in court and then spy on you to see if you dare disagree. He is a cryptofascist.

You, falsely, assume that anyone that raises their voice against the Government must necessarily be in the Labour/Green camp. Clark's government followed essentially the same policies apart from being willing to fund a larger public sector.

Thank you, IJB,
Both Labour and National believe the same failed Chicago school economics that have doomed us to the boom/bust banking cycles of the last three decades.

Points to Wade for being willing to admit his error.

Professor Wade should have done his research better before opening his mouth. Clearly his self-proclaimed "sloppiness" and "I don't know much about New Zealand's tax system" proves his ignorance, and justifies the comments in NBR Online to date, and the reaction of the Minister.

Why the media even interviewed him, I have no idea and probably proves their own "sloppiness". Looking at his "CV" demonstrates he doesn't have a clue about these matters. Perhaps a poke in one of Professor Wade's eyes may have been more appropriate and then he would have truly been seen for what he is - one eyed! Like Mark, you have my $5.00....

Why not poke him in the chest?

Crazy comments on things he knows nothing about - good on Bill for telling him he is a turkey.

Get your own backyard sorted bucko before you stick your oar in elsewhere.

Typical POM though - always keen to have their say where they really have no idea

Who on earth brought this uninformed fool to NZ and why give him air time when he clearly had diddly squat knowledge about NZ economy or taxes - his alleged area of expertise.

Good for English. Well done!

It is an outrageous assertion that economic policy in New Zealand is set by the top 1% for the top 1%.

From where I sit, economic policy seems to be set for the unmotivated, and funded by the top 12%.

That's why in this country if you steal million you get to stay in a luxury mansion on home detention and if you steal a bag of pineapple lumps you go to jail for 18 months. You 1% are so special and precious.

Good on you, Bill.

Left cross would be preferable to finger in chest.

People who have no idea about how this country is run should keep their mouths shut.

I am not a New Zealander (yet..) but policy and politics are a pretty decent thing here, still. They are open, debatable and still relatively free of partisan hatred. So far. let's keep it like this, we see how Europe and U.S. are faring....

"But (Wade) also says he does not know much about New Zealand’s tax system, and was not aware of the range of specific capital gains taxes which apply to financial sector investments.Nor was he aware regular property investors have the capital gain on their properties included in their income, and taxed as part of their income tax."

This says it all really.

Though what exactly is a "regular property investor". A regular property trader will pay tax on the difference between the purchase cost and net sales proceeds, just as anyone else who is a 'dealer' does (e.g. car dealer, retail shop owner).

But are you sure that someone who buys real estate as an investor and holds for investment is required to pay a 'capital gains tax' if they sell it years later for more than it cost?

Why waste air time on an academic clown who has probably contributed very little to society.
Well done Bill English

Well done Bill English. Good to see a bit of backbone.

Some of he comments on this article are hostile, rude, dismissive and bullying.

Some of the contributors should be ashamed of yourselves.

Inequality is rising in New Zealand.

More families are struggling.

My nephew is finding it hard to get a job even though he has a 1st class Hons degree in Maths

The government hammers welfare recipients and demonizes them to save a few million and then writes multi-million dollar + cheques to bail out Finance Houses.

The National Business Review needs to look at how it wishes to be viewed, Not every successful businessman is a hard-nosed close-minded right-winger

...maybe your nephew should have spent 4 years studying for a degree more directly related to a vocation...

and not sure about inequality rising but intergenerational dependency on government handouts sure is

Time for revolution! Bastille day is a holiday for a good reason.

Oh, come on!

How many 16 year olds can predict the employment market 20 years hence when they make the choices?

I followed a vocational path as a professional engineer but this was a lucky guess.

My nephew would have been snapped in China or Germany - here we only seem to have time for lawyers or real estate agents.

It's not inequality, it's financial ignorance and bad life choices that is rising. If you choose to smoke, take drugs, alcohol, live at the pokies, have HP on depreciating items, have very unwise relationships, you are doomed.

If you enhance strong family values, constantly improve yourself, study and adopt a good attitude to work, save and invest a portion of income you will do very nicely.
The choice is up to you.

Who brought this academic out here to opine on what we should be doing when it clearly hasn't worked in the UK, other than increased taxes and boosted those jobs working in compliance? Hopefully it wasn't taxpayers money that funded this venture south. As for "The Truth is out there" commentator , perhaps your nephew should have looked at what jobs were out there before embarking on a taxpayer funded interest free loan for a degree where you now complain there aren't any jobs for his skills set. If we had a capital gains tax, then perhaps he would have a job managing all the complicated calculations and compliance matters? Is that what you are really aiming for?

The Prof would give his students a C- if they had done this little research for an assignment.

The mark would have depended on their political views and suggestibility.